Intensive ABA Services News and advice on Autism treatments - The Lovaas Institute

Meeting Point: Latest From Lovaas

June 07

Meeting Point: Latest From Lovaas

Transition to Middle School

Because autism is a spectrum disorder, the amount of preparation necessary for the transition from elementary school to middle school varies from child to child. Below is an example of one transition plan that helped one child successfully transition into middle school. In particular, the plan addressed recommended steps to be taken during the transition and a summary of the support services that were deemed necessary as part of the transition. Other helpful information regarding transitions is available from the Indiana Resource Center for Autism and Wrightslaw.

IEP Addendum-Necessary supports for Sophie's continued academic and behavioral success.

Sophie is a student with autism who currently attends Elementary School. She will be transitioning to Middle School for the 2007-08 school year. Her team has been working since January 2007 to plan for a successful transition because this is expected to be difficult for her. Team members have completed the following:

  • Elementary teacher and aides have been to Middle School several times to observe the different classrooms
  • Middle School teachers have been to Elementary School several times to observe Sophie in her various school environments
  • Sophie's parents have visited Middle School several times and have met with the special education coordinator to share and exchange information
  • Members from both Middle School and Elementary teams have participated in joint team meetings to discuss appropriate and needed supports and structure
  • Videotapes of Sophie engaged in academic tasks and behavioral incidents have been watched by Middle School team members
  • A consultant with the Lovaas Institute, employed by the family to assist Sophie's team, has been to Middle School for observations and also participated in the team discussions

Below is a list of Sophie's current services including the rationale behind them:

  1. Aide support - Sophie receives support from two well-trained aides throughout the school day for transitions and assistance with learning. Training was initially provided by the Lovaas Institute (specific to Sophie's needs) for both the aides and Elementary staff. It also included ongoing training during monthly meetings. Although Sophie has made much progress in her ability to transition independently, she still must be closely monitored; especially when transitioning from more preferred to less preferred activities.
  2. 1:1 intervention/instruction to address reading and math goals – Sophie has demonstrated the ability to learn many academic skills, but must receive this instruction via a different modality than what other students require. We have attempted to teach reading and math through small group methods, and have had only limited success.
  3. Small group participation with peers - Sophie demonstrates difficulty participating in larger groups, unless directly supervised by a well-trained aide. Small groups (primarily with "appropriate role model" students) allow Sophie more opportunities to participate with peers. Sophie also is learning to tolerate attention given to a few other students in the small group work time.
  4. Support from peers - The help of selected "trained" peers has allowed the aide to fade back more frequently throughout the day. It has also fostered some positive forms of peer interaction. Sophie follows the peer's instructions and on occasion has been known to make a comment or ask for help from these same peers.
  5. Participation in peer groups - Sophie's social interactions with peers continue to need development. These interactions have only been successfully maintained during small groups of 1-3 peers, facilitated by an appropriately-trained adult.
  6. Speech / Language Services - Sophie receives 20 minutes of speech each day, focusing on language skills that are not easily incorporated into the school day. The time allows for consistency and repetition, which are vital for her to learn new skills.
  7. Input from a behavior consultant and monthly team meetings - The meetings allow for the incorporation of ideas from a behavioral perspective, stressing principles of applied behavior analysis. Team members brainstorm how to address any issues that arise with Sophie in a proactive manner. Sophie's difficulties (whether with the morning routine, in reading, with specific academic work, etc.) fluctuate from month to month.
  8. Training for staff in basic principles of Applied Behavior Analysis – This is especially vital for any new aides working with Sophie. One component involves a new aide shadowing an aide who is already proficient in working with Sophie. The new aide is given opportunities to practice, which is followed by feedback from her current aide. The training period should be based upon the new aide's ability to demonstrate competency in supporting Sophie's needs.

Part of the transition plan will allow Sophie to spend portions of her school day at Middle School this spring. Some aide training can occur during this time. Sophie's team has determined that this is an important feature of the transition plan, and expect this shadowing feature to be needed for the first quarter of the 2007-08 school year.

Sophie has required intensive support, due to difficulties with behavior, communication, and safety. She has had individualized aide support for much of her school day. The team is continually reassessing this need. Attempts are always made to reduce the amount of aide support needed, and data is available to support her continued need and the team's ongoing efforts to achieve more independence for Sophie.

The team has identified that this high level of support will be necessary at Middle School and want to ensure that the support exists prior to the transition. Team members will meet with the district level administrators to discuss and plan for these needed supports.

Would you like more information on other issues that often arise at school? Let us know here

The names of all children in this newsletter have been changed in respect for family confidentiality.

On the Lighter Side...
...5 outrageous reinforcers sure to add fun in therapy

Hand Grenade! Deliver reinforcers like a hand grenade. Instead of giving an M&M, pretend to send it through the air with a whistling sound until it gets to child's mouth then explodes (i.e. you make an exploding sound). Run from the child and toss the (soft) reinforcer back to them.

Reinforcer Presents! Wrap the reinforcer like a real present. Sustain the anticipation by gradually unwrapping across many trials.


ABA and the Older Child
by Kristina Chew, Ph.D.

When I first heard about ABA and what a home therapy program entailed, my thought was I certainly don't want to be doing this when Charlie is five years old. That was the summer of 1999 and Charlie, who had just turned two years old, had just been diagnosed with autism.

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