FREE Book with Practical Help for Autism Parents – April 3-6 2016

amazon_book_coverIn honor of the United Nations World Autism Day, the Kindle version of the book Chaos to Calm: Discovering Solutions to the Everyday Problems of Living with Autism is FREE in the Amazon Kindle store from April 3-6, 2016.

Please tell an autism parent about this. Change a life!

Click Here to get your free copy.

If you are outside the US and you don’t have an account, you can get the book at your own country’s Amazon site. Search Google for Amazon + [name of your country].

If you get your free copy of the book, please help us out by writing a review on Amazon.

“This remarkable book is something that any ABA person would be proud to offer parents. TAGteach has an important future in the treatment of autism and other developmental delays and this parent has shown the way. I will be recommending the book to both parents and ABA therapists.”
Joseph Morrow, PhD, BCBA-D
President, Applied Behavior Consultants
Professor of Psychology and Behavior Analysis (Emeritus)

California State University, Sacramento
Licensed Psychologist, State of California

“I am on the Autism Spectrum. I’m both high and low functioning but have achieved a level of integration in neurotypical society because of my higher functioning attributes. It has been a difficult path to walk alone though. If TAGteach had been around when I was a child I am one hundred percent sure I would have a had an even more successful, less frustrating, anxiety ridden childhood and been a higher achiever than I currently am.”
Katie Scott-Dyer

“I completely enjoyed this book. It was an engaging and easy read with the appropriate amount of personal testimonial and practical generalization. I wish I could have read it years ago. Parents and practitioners alike will benefit from reading this book regardless if your child is high functioning or severe. After reading, you’ll know that all those other books you read on autism, sensory processing disorder, auditory processing disorder, apraxia, etc. were mostly a big waste of time and money. Don’t let your child’s doctor or other professional convince you that nothing can be done. It’s not true and this book proves it.”
Aimee Taylor – Autism Parent

Click here for more reviews from parents and professionals

About the Book

Chaos to Calm describes how Martha Gabler discovered that effective solutions really did exist for the overwhelming behavior problems of her own son with profoundly nonverbal, severe autism.

Here are some of the things Martha explains in this book:

  1. How to observe your child
  2. How to use positive reinforcement to shape simple behaviors
  3. How to notice even tiny moments of desirable behavior
  4. How to break behaviors into tiny pieces
  5. How to add simple behaviors together to build complex behaviors
  6. How to communicate to the child “Yes!” without using words
  7. How to organize the child’s environment to maximize success
  8. How to arrange the day’s activities for maximum success
  9. How to stop tantrums, aggressive, destructive and self-injurious behaviors
  10. How to teach the child to go to bed, stay there and sleep
  11. How to manage and teach without force, threats or coercion

When Doug turned five, Martha realized that she and her family were basically on their own. During the “dreadful early years,” Doug’s behavior worsened and worsened. The family floundered. Daily, if not hourly or even more often, there were screaming, tantrums, self-stimulatory “verbal stimming,” running off, and even violent, self-injurious and destructive actions. The Gablers were exhausted beyond description by lack of community understanding, by lack of help that they could afford, and perhaps worst of all, by night after night of severe sleep deprivation.

A chance reference in an email listserve lead Martha to TAGteach, a teaching system based on the structured delivery of positive reinforcement. TAGteach gave Martha the tools she needed to observe Doug’s behaviors, break them down into manageable pieces, and reinforce his previously-rare positive actions – in fact, positive actions that sometimes lasted only a few seconds in the beginning, but which gave Martha the precious key she needed to unlock major improvements. With a few basic rules and a commitment to practice them, Martha was able to apply step-by-step solutions to Doug’s disruptive behaviors. In TAGteach, Martha found a powerful supplement to other scientifically-based behavioral interventions, many of which required difficult-to-find behavioral experts whose costs would have taxed the family’s financial resources in the extreme

The result? A boy who was once wild and chaotic now has the skills that enable him to be a charming teenager who loves life and enjoys going places.

This book explains, step-by-step, how Martha taught Doug to vocalize appropriately, go on walks, wait in line, go to the grocery store, ride a bike and many more skills that are normally taken for granted, but for a child with autism, they do not come easily if at all. Perhaps the most important skill was how to lie quietly in bed and go to sleep, so the other exhausted members of the Gabler family could themselves get some badly-needed sleep. Martha uses simple language and engaging prose to explain how she achieved all this. The book is in turn heartbreaking, humorous and brutally honest.

Every autism family seeks the light in an ocean of despair. Every autism mom, every autism dad, in fact every person who loves another person with autism, can use TAGteach with ease. This book shows you how.

What is TAGteach?

TAGteach stands for Teaching with Acoustical Guidance. TAGteach is a teaching and communication method based on the scientific principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

TAGteach enables extremely precise positive reinforcement of behavior by using an acoustical signal to “mark” the behavior – at the precise moment the child performs the behavior! The acoustical signal is a short, sharp sound made by a handheld device (the “tagger”). When the child performs the correct action, the parent/instructor immediately presses the button on the tagger and hands over a treat (candy, treat, token, praise, social recognition, or money) as a reinforcer.

With TAGteach, it is easy to reinforce behaviors precisely and quickly. The immediate, accurate feedback and positive reinforcement result in the child performing the correct action more often, and for longer periods of time. With immediate feedback and learning tasks broken down into small steps, children can learn many new skills with TAGteach — at their own pace.

TAGteach in Action

Watch this video that shows TAGteach in action in an autism school setting. This approach is unique in that it allows the child to “be the teacher”. The child gets to be the teacher before he takes his turn to try the new skill. This is fun, gives him control over his own learning and lets the teacher know for sure that he understands the skill before he tries it himself. One of the critical features of the TAGteach approach is that only one aspect of a skill is worked on at a time. There is no error correction by the teacher. If the child makes a mistake, it is up to him to self assess or try again. There is also no physical prompting, nagging, coercion, cheerleading or verbal coaching in TAGteach.

In this example the teacher gives two tag points, with five tags for each. The first tag point is “paper in lines” so that the child will know how to position the paper for printing. The second tag point is “hand on paper” so that he learns to hold the paper still with his other hand. Notice that even when the tag point changes to “hand on paper”, the child still remembers and tries to position the paper properly.

Connect with Us!


autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcementCheck out the TAGteach International website.

Join the free TAGteach Yahoo Group.

See Martha’s book about TAGteach for Autism or ask a question (with no obligation).

Sign up for Martha’s mailing list  to receive updates, new articles and free tips right in your inbox!

If you liked this post, please share it on social media. Thank you!

TAGteach for Autism: How the Science of B.F. Skinner Helped Our Family Gain Happiness

doug martha beachArticle originally published in Operants, the newsletter of the B.F. Skinner Foundation

I am the mother of a nonverbal teenage boy with severe autism. I’d like to tell you a little bit about my family’s journey with autism, and a lot about the wonderful method known as Teaching with Acoustical Guidance (TAGteach).

I will describe how TAGteach meets the three essential conditions for effective teaching, as delineated by Dr. B.F. Skinner, why this simple method is so effective for learners with autism, and how it can be a boon for autism families and autism professionals. At the end, I hope you will be inspired to try TAGteach for yourself!

Our autism journey

I love ABA now, but came to it by chance, not choice. The day my son was diagnosed with autism was the day that the world turned upside-down for us. It also ended up being the day that eventually brought us to ABA. After that fateful day, we had to deal with a devastating diagnosis, try to get services, find out that the best services (ABA) were out of reach, and then, figure out a way to move forward.

Read More

Got autism? Want your child to exercise and have fun outside? Use TAGteach to increase gross motor skills.


This article focuses on gross motor skills, and how to use the always helpful and easy TAGteach method (Teaching with Acoustical Guidance) to encourage your child to get out, move his body, and have fun outside.

Physical activity and exercise offer many benefits to children with autism, including improved muscle tone, improved social skills, and stronger attention skills. Exercise and outdoor activities are important for the health of adult individuals with autism. We can increase our children’s physical skills and their comfort in exploring new physical environments with the right tools and facts.

FACT 1: “Behavior” is “movement”

Here’s the rule about behavior:

Behavior is movement, physical movement of the body. (1)

Read More

Martha Gabler BAM Radio Podcast

BAM radio logo


Martha was a recent guest on BAM Radio, talking to host Sharon Plante about TAGteach and helping kids with autism learn at their own pace.


[button_1 text=”Click%20to%20Listen” text_size=”32″ text_color=”#5c5151″ text_bold=”Y” text_letter_spacing=”0″ subtext_panel=”N” text_shadow_panel=”N” styling_width=”40″ styling_height=”30″ styling_border_color=”#c15e34″ styling_border_size=”1″ styling_border_radius=”6″ styling_border_opacity=”100″ styling_gradient_start_color=”#c15e34″ styling_gradient_end_color=”#c15e34″ drop_shadow_panel=”N” inset_shadow_panel=”N” align=”center” href=”” new_window=”Y”/]

Got autism? Want to increase a child’s self-care skills? Use TAGteach to increase fine motor skills.


This article focuses on fine motor skills, and how to use the effective, scientific TAGteach method (Teaching with Acoustical Guidance) to help your child build these skills.

If you are not familiar with the basics of the TAGteach method, please visit the Resources pages on this site:

Why work on fine motor skills?

Recent research has shown that an important factor for success for individuals with autism in adulthood is the level of self-care skills: individuals with higher levels of self-care have higher levels of employment and needed fewer supports. This fact alone is an important reason for focusing on these crucial skills. Self-care skills also make for a less stressful, more smoothly running and ultimately happier household. We can increase these vital skills with the right tools and through understanding certain facts.

FACT 1: “Behavior” is “movement”

Here’s the rule about behavior:

Behavior is movement, physical movement of the body. (1)

Read More

TAGteach: Task Analysis and Tag Points

Task Analysis hand washingTAGteach is an excellent method for teaching children, especially those with autism, because of the precise positive reinforcement of desired behaviors.

In addition to timely and effective reinforcement, it is also important to think about the details of a task, and how to set tag points. This post will address both of these issues.

Task Analysis

A task analysis describes the many small steps that go into performing a single activity. For example, we often tell children to “wash your hands” when they come home from school. It seems simple to us. For a child with autism, it can be a complex task. The child has to:

  • take off a coat
  • hang it up
  • walk to the bathroom
  • open the door
  • go to the sink
  • stand still
  • turn on the faucet
  • grasp a bar of soap (or hold one hand under the nozzle of a soap dispenser while pushing down on the pump with the other hand)
  • place hands under the water flow
  • rub the slippery soap over his hands
  • continue holding his hands under the water flow until the soap is rinsed off
  • turn off the faucet (with wet hands)
  • reach for and grasp a towel
  • rub the towel over his hands
  • replace the towel on the towel rod
  • walk out of the bathroom

This everyday task has at least sixteen steps involving the legs, torso, arms and hands! There could be many more steps if you were to break it down even further.

Read More

Okay, TAGteach. How do I get started?

Congratulations on your decision to use TAGteach to increase functional behaviors in your child with autism. Here are some suggestions for how to get started. Once you have tagged your child a few times, you will find it easy and natural to do.

We are frequently asked how much background and explanation is needed before getting started with tagging. The answer is: as little as possible. Just jump right in and start tagging! Your child will figure out very quickly that the tag is followed by a treat and that his actions are causing you to tag. This gives your child an unprecedented degree of control and he will be excited to play the game. If your child needs some explanation, just use as few words as possible to explain that the tag sounds means he did something right and he will get a treat after each tag.

1. Gather your materials: A tagger and reinforcers

autism, TAGteach, tagger, positive reinforcement, ABAA TAGteach tagger is a small plastic box clicker; available here. You can use any object that makes a quick, sharp click sound: a ballpoint pen, a flashlight, or if need be, a spoon to tap.

Reinforcers are any items that your child values. Get some treats that your child likes: very small pieces of candy, pretzel pieces, cereal pieces, tic-tacs, or anything similar. Put them into a small container that you can hold in your hand. A desired item can by anything: candies, treats, a chance to play with a toy, tokens for special treats or privileges, or money; social praise or recognition can sometimes serve as a reinforcer.

For more ideas about reinforcers, do a Google search on “reinforcers for autism”. The key point with a reinforcer is that it must be something the child likes and will work for. The easiest way to start is with food or drink – so unless this is impossible, we suggest that you use an edible treat for your first attempts at TAGteach.

2. Think about what you want

Each child with autism has a unique profile of skills, sensory issues and behaviors. Each family has a unique combination of people, responsibilities and resources. Take a few minutes to think about your priorities:

What issues are at the top of your mind right now?

What functional skills or behaviors would help your child with autism, and/or help your family situation?

Take a few moments to jot these down. Be sure to write these in positive terms so that they are statements of what you want your child to DO (as opposed to what you want to stop or prevent).

Read More

Positive Reinforcement Opens the Doors to Learning

white girl opening old doorWhen we hear about positive reinforcement most of us like it because we believe in being nice, positive and supportive.

In the field of Behavior Analysis, “positive reinforcement” is a technical and scientific term; it has a precise meaning that goes beyond general notions of being polite and encouraging.

What is Positive Reinforcement?

Here is the technical definition of positive reinforcement: “The offering of desirable effects or consequences for a behavior with the intention of increasing the chance of that behavior being repeated in the future.” (

Basically it means that an action followed by a positive consequence (reward, money, praise, social recognition), will increase, or, be performed more often.  So, positive reinforcement is a way to increase desired behaviors.  Positive reinforcement is not only a definition, it is a scientific law.  Years of research in experimental and applied Behavior Analysis have proven that positive reinforcement increases behavior.  See “What is ABA and Why is it so Important to Autism?

Read More

TAGteach for autism — it’s not Harry Potter, it’s behavioral science!

Zauberer mit magischen Kräften

When Hermione wants to pass through the locked door to the Chamber of Secrets, she waves her wand and cries out, “Alohamora!” In a flash the door opens. This is magic.

As autism parents, we don’t have magic wands. We do have taggers, small plastic boxes with a “magic button” that makes a click sound when pressed. TAGteach taggers, plus two facts, can help parents transform the behavior of their children with autism. With TAGteach it is easy to teach your child helpful skills like Safe Walking, Safe Car Trip Behavior, Going to the Grocery Store, and Sleeping. It’s also great for tantrum de-escalation.

TAGteach stands for Teaching with Acoustical Guidance. TAGteach is a teaching and communication method based on the scientific principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

The two facts are:

  • “Behavior” is “movement”
  • Positive Reinforcement Increases Behaviors (physical movements of the body)

TAGteach enables extremely precise positive reinforcement of behavior by using an acoustical signal to “mark” the behavior – at the precise moment the child performs the behavior. The acoustical signal is a short, sharp sound made by a handheld device (the “tagger”). When the child performs the correct action, the parent/instructor immediately presses the button on the tagger and hands over a treat (candy, treat, token, praise, social recognition, or money) as a reinforcer.

With TAGteach, it is easy to reinforce behaviors precisely and quickly. The immediate, accurate feedback and positive reinforcement result in the child performing the correct action more often, and for longer periods of time.

Let’s look at the difference between Harry Potter and TAGteach. With magic, here’s what Harry and his pals do:

  1. They wave their wands (action)
  2. Then something happens (event)

With TAGteach, here’s what autism parents can do:

  1. Wait for something good to happen (event)
  2. Then press the tagger (action)

The order is reversed. The wand makes something happen once. The tagger makes something good happen again. TAGteach is an excellent tool to help your child perform more great behaviors more often.

In order to help autism parents understand and apply these concepts, I have created a free online course that explains the basics of behavior science, how to observe your child and how to use reinforcement effectively.
[button_1 text=”Click%20Here%20for%20Free%20Course” text_size=”28″ text_color=”#ffffff” text_bold=”Y” text_letter_spacing=”0″ subtext_panel=”N” text_shadow_panel=”N” styling_width=”30″ styling_height=”20″ styling_border_color=”#c15e34″ styling_border_size=”1″ styling_border_radius=”6″ styling_border_opacity=”100″ styling_shine=”N” styling_gradient_start_color=”#c15e34″ styling_gradient_end_color=”#c15e34″ drop_shadow_panel=”N” inset_shadow_panel=”N” align=”center” href=””/]