Intensive ABA Services
The Lovaas Model of Applied Behavior Analysis, and ABA therapy in general, is often associated with one method of teaching: discrete trial teaching. While discrete trial teaching often plays a critical role in helping children with autism learn, it is only part of a comprehensive program. Even the 1987 research by Dr. Lovaas mentions other important components of treatment including: 1) generalization of skills in school through systematic prompting and fading by a 1:1 aide and 2) facilitating socialization through peer play dates. A third component of treatment, incidental teaching, is also an evidenced-based practice frequently used at the Lovaas Institute. In incidental teaching, "the instructor assesses the child's ongoing interests, follows the child's lead, restricts access to high interest items, and constructs a lesson within the natural context, with a presumably more motivated child." (Anderson and Romanczyk, 1999) Below are some strategies for implementation and examples of how this powerful teaching technique can help children with autism learn new behaviors.
Incidental teaching can be used to teach new language as well as expand upon the language a child already uses. A few examples from the research include teaching children to:
One way of setting up incidental teaching opportunities is to capture initiations that occur in the natural environment. When someone captures an initiation, they take advantage of opportunities that arise in the natural environment. For example,
By creating a rich environment, allowing a child time to explore, and being mindful of typical objects and activities in which that child demonstrates interest, one is able to capitalize on a child's motivation to learn new skills.
Realistically, some children with autism allow for more opportunities to capture initiations than others. Another way of setting up incidental teaching opportunities is to contrive situations that do not already occur in the natural environment. For example,
Because contrived situations do not occur in a child's everyday life, one must be careful to determine the extent to which these situations will need to continue to be set up in order for the child to maintain a new behavior. Regardless, by contriving situations that build upon a child's interests, research has shown that children can not only learn a wide variety of new skills, but will often more easily generalize these skills.
Do you have an experience with a creative format to typical programming? Share them with us here
The names of all children in this newsletter have been changed in respect for family confidentiality.
You asked. We'll answer. Thanks to the many suggestions submitted by readers of past newsletters, we are in the process of determining some of the content for our upcoming newsletters. We hope you'll keep sending us feedback so that we can continue to provide a resource you find of practical value. Below are some of the upcoming articles, based on that feedback. I look forward to continuing our discussion next month.
Magician's Chain! Make a magician's chain of kerchiefs and stuff them all in your sleeve. Let the child pull them out. When will they end? Possibly tie a reinforcer onto the end of the chain.
Wind-up Hand! Wind up your hand like it's a toy - use cranking sound effects - then let it go and flap your hand wildly over the table and child's tickle spots in a flip-flop motion.
Life can seem like a never-ending series of challenges when your child is diagnosed with autism. For the Bronwyn family, the challenges also lead to an epiphany.