Autism: Turning liabilities into assets with TAGteach

Family walking in the woodsHello. My name is Martha Gabler and I am the parent of a nonverbal teenage boy with autism. I would like to invite you to learn about a teaching approach known as “Teaching with Acoustical Guidance” (TAGteach), and how it turned the “liabilities” of autism into “assets” in our house. I will also give an example of how I used TAGteach to teach my son two useful behaviors that greatly improved our quality of life. I hope you will want to learn more, and if you do, I invite you to contact me with any questions.

The liabilities

If you ask, “Why is it so hard to teach a child with autism?” you will get a long list of “liabilities.” These include sensory issues, speech and language difficulties, and challenging behaviors, many of which are severe. Recent findings show how just a few of these problems can create confusion for a learner with autism. Research at the University of Rochester has demonstrated that children with autism perceive movement as occurring faster than it actually is. So, if you demonstrate something with objects or your hands, the child will perceive the movements as happening faster than they actually are. Combine this perception problem with research from SFARI which demonstrated that children with autism take longer to listen to and process speech. Now, imagine the confusion for the child: objects, people’s movements and activities are moving too fast, but language comprehension is going too slowly: everything is out of snyc. No wonder the child has a hard time with learning and becomes frustrated. These negative emotions can lead to anger, acting out and all those challenging, sometimes aggressive behaviors we hear about.

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