Saturday, September 25, 2010

Autism DVDs blogspot

10 Autism Myths

Nearly everyone knows someone who has been touched by Autism. Despite its prevalence, Autism is still misunderstood. Perhaps the myth and mystery come from the fact that its etiology remains unknown. Here are ten common myths of Autism:

1. A special diet will get your child to talk.

A healthy diet can do a lot of things, but it isn’t that “magic pill” that we are all searching for to increase speech. Some parents swear by a gluten or casein-free diet, thinking that it alone can help their child with Autism to talk and acquire skills. Although there have been many studies on this topic, there is no evidence that that these special diets increase verbalizations.

2. A child will grow out of Autism.

In the early stages of an Autism, many parents are under the assumption that the developmental delays are just a phase that their child will grow out of. This denial can cause parents to avoid getting a diagnosis and appropriate treatment. When parents suspect something is wrong, they should go to a developmental pediatrician to get it checked out. Therapy and early intervention can help a child tremendously, but avoiding the issue will only do harm in the long run.

3. People with Autism do not like physical contact.

Some people with Autism don’t like physical touch, however this is not the case for all. Autism is a spectrum disorder, so the manifestations and behaviors of Autism vary. Many people with Autism are very affectionate and thrive on physical contact, “cuddle time”, or really strong physical hugs, just like any typically developing child.

4. People with Autism live in their own world.

Many people with Autism are overstimulated by their environment. Tuning out, or seeming unfocused may be the only way to effectively block out people, sights, sounds, or smells. It is possible that this behavior is used as a way to escape difficult situations that are hard to process. Therapy can help teach coping skills to children, so they find less of a reason to tune out and are more motivated to stay engaged.

5. People with Autism have parents that are poor disciplinarians.

Contrary to popular belief, the behaviors of a child with Autism aren’t the result of lenient parents or “cold” mothers, as was previously thought. Parents of children with Autism often feel guilty, however they didn’t cause their child’s Autism and shouldn’t be blamed for it. Believing parental actions contribute to Autism is a common misunderstanding but has no research basis.

6. People with Autism have a “hidden” talent.

Call it the “Rain Man” effect, but many people think individuals with Autism are all genius’ with amazing memories, math skills, or abnormally high intellectual aptitudes. Fact is, it is rare that people with Autism are savants. Some are, but the numbers are probably similar with individuals with Autism as they are in the general public.

7. You can be “cured” from Autism.

While I wish it were true, there is no cure for Autism. There is no way to change the brain’s biology, however, there are effective ways to implement change over time with lots of hard work. The earlier one can begin therapy, the more progress is possible, and some children will be able to achieve “normal” functioning and participate fully in a regular education class after years of early, intensive (30-40 hours weekly) behavior intervention in pre-school. Additionally, other, less severely affected children who haven’t had intense therapy, may be in a typical classroom with only minimal support. No matter the functioning level, therapy can benefit a child with Autism. No one, however, will ever be “cured” of Autism.

8. People with Autism will never learn to speak.

Current estimates are that about 50% of children with Autism are non-verbal. While part of Autism is a language delay, parents can help. Early intensive behavior intervention can teach language to a child with Autism. Even for older kids, behavior therapy can help them acquire speech. For children who do not acquire language, other forms of communication include sign language, PECS (picture exchange communication system), and augmentative communication devices.

9. People with Autism will never be contributing members in their communities.

This myth is not only false, but hurtful. Don’t limit what a child will do or become, as you’ll see that they will always be rising above your expectations. Some will go on to college and hold professional jobs, just like their peers. Research has shown that individuals with even the most severe disabilities can be meaningfully included in school, church, and community life when tasks are modified to fit their abilities. With the help of job coaches during the end of high school, children with disabilities can maximize their strengths by finding a job that they enjoy.

10. People with Autism are unaware of their environment.

They are more aware than we often realize. Just because a child has few language skills does not mean that they can’t understand adults around them. Many kids with Autism have high receptive language skills, and absorb a lot of what you say about them. Don’t underestimate what they understand by talking about them like they are invisible.

Autism is not the end of life, but the beginning of a new journey. Embrace a child on the spectrum, and whatever you do, don’t underestimate their potential. And if I haven’t said it enough; intervene as early as possible for the best possible outcome.

Autism DVDs

My friend and mentor, Ashley S. Has a new website with wonderful tips. Articles are written byt Ashley, BCBA and her sister Jenna, a BCBA in training.

check it

How Do You Know If Your Child's Autism Therapy Is Working?

There is an old saying, “If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.” While this might work for some things, it isn’t a wise plan when it comes to therapy for a child with Autism.

Unfortunately, for some parents there is no rhyme or reason to the Autism therapy they employ. They might choose from the newest fad they heard about on television or try a therapy that’s worked for their friends’ child. Who can blame them? They are on a quest for anything that might help their precious children. However, it can be hard to tell whether treatment actually helps or not.

Parents can’t solely rely on their memory in determining if their child’s behavior is improving or if they are gaining new skills. Children deserve the most effective and targeted plan possible, and the only way to know if a child’s Autism therapy is actually working is one simple word: data.

Collecting data on behavior is the only way to truly see whether adaptive behavior is increasing and challenging behavior is decreasing. Any other method is too easily skewed by bias, perception or error. It’s important that your service provider graph the data as well, to give a visual regarding progress over time. It’s a necessary piece in helping therapists to create and modify intervention plans, which should be tailored to each child and change with them as they mature. Additionally, it can serve as a valuable record over the years when tracking a child’s progress.

Here’s a red flag. If your therapist or child’s teacher doesn’t collect data on his/her behavior, how will you know if the their procedures are effective? Even if it seems like behavior is improving, you won’t know for sure if you don’t have data. Continuing a treatment or procedure that’s not working could prevent your child from receiving effective treatments and waste your valuable time and money.

Stop therapies that don’t work. Therapy that seems to work but takes no objective measures can only sidetrack your child’s progress. Every moment counts! Please don’t waste time and effort on treatment that simply seems to work or even feels right if it is not backed up data.

If you start your child on a new diet, data should be taken. If you begin a new procedure to handle tantrums, data should be taken. Data doesn’t have to be scary. Ask your service provider for more information to make it work for your lifestyle. If they don’t do it already, it might be a red flag. Take data yourself if you’re not sure about a certain procedure’s efficacy, and if it’s working, then you’ll see the the numbers improve. Data collection should be a regular part of your life and will help your child progress as fast as possible.

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Homework tips from Bonnie Terry

Check out this website. Great tips, be sure to sign up for her newsletter!

Bonnie Terry's One Minute
Homework & Teaching Tips #26
Handwriting Problems? Part One
Sometimes a student has sloppy handwriting. Sometimes a student has sloppy handwriting all of the time, even though he or she spends time trying to be neat. There are several questions to ask when you are concerned that your student has a writing problem.
1. Is the student able to write in an acceptable manner in a structured teaching session but not in unsupervised settings?
2. Have you collected samples of your students writing over time to see the growth and maturity in the formation of letters? Have you compared the handwriting with other student's handwriting [from the same grade level]?
3. Are the letters sized correctly [touching the top, middle, or bottom line of the writing paper]?
4. What is the extent of the student's handwriting instruction?
5. Is the student using good posture, pencil grip, and paper positions?
After answering these questions, take a look at where you would place the student in the hierarchy of developmental steps to good handwriting.
Six Developmental Steps to Good Handwriting

Handwriting is a fine motor skill that one acquires over time. There are six developmental steps to the mastery of good handwriting.
1. Scribbling: Grasping a pencil and moving it to make random pencil movements.
2. Tracing: The ability to control pencil movements by tracing shapes or letters or connecting the dots in a dotted figure.
3. Copying: The ability to copy shapes and letters from a model which leads to being able to reproduce the model [shape or letter] from memory.
4. Completion of tasks: The ability to copy a figure or shape that is partially drawn [parts of it are missing] and put in the missing piece.
5. Writing from dictation: The ability to write letters as they are spoken, write words and sentences, supply missing words, and supply missing sentences.
6. Propositional writing: The ability to use handwriting to record and convey thoughts, ideas, and questions to others.
Breakdowns can occur in any one of those steps.
What's Coming Up?
Handwriting Problems Part 2: Three Types of Handwriting Problems
Be sure and check out more articles related to learning
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

100 Web Tools for Learning with a Disability

100 Web Tools for Learning with a Disability

Check out these web resources that can help increase learning potential!
Do you have a friend whose high school teen has a learning disability? Please tell them about my list at

The Internet and the computers we use to access it are full of educational possibilities that can help to speed up, complement or provide endless opportunities to expand our knowledge. Unfortunately, sometimes those with disabilities may find these resources more difficult or sometimes impossible to access. Whether you need to use the computer for research, to write a paper or just to learn a new skill, those with disabilities of all kinds can check out these resources to help them improve their learning potential while surfing the Web.

Text to Speech Tools

Those who have visual disabilities or who have trouble reading can use these text to speech tools to get information delivered to them in audio format.

  1. Thunder: This free screen reader program makes it easy to browse the Web, get email and more by reading all content aloud to users.
  2. ReadPlease: This text to speech reader can help make web sites and email more accessible to those with vision impairments or dyslexia by reading content aloud.
  3. TextAloud: Here you will find a fully featured text to voice program that allows users to read text from a variety of sources and even to convert it to MP3 format. It has additional features that can let you get weather, stocks and news read aloud as well.
  4. pwWebSpeak: Users who need to access the Web in a non-visual manner or with audio assistance can use this browser and screen reader to get the help they need.
  5. NonVisual Desktop Access:NVDA is an open source screen reader that allows those with visual impairment to enjoy the information and educational possibilities of the Web.
  6. Orca: Using various combinations of speech, braille, and magnification, Orca helps provide access to applications on the computer for those with visual impairment.
  7. JAWS: This popular screen reader allows users to not only browse the Web but to use MSN messenger, WordPerfect, AcrobatReader, and the Microsoft Office suite.
  8. WeMedia: The text reading software with this program is enclosed in a browser, which allows you to surf the net and get information dictated to you as you go along. For those with other disabilities it also comes with large buttons and keystroke commands.
  9. Fire Vox: This Firefox extension adds speech capabilities to the browser as well as providing a number of gadgets that are designed to make the program even more accessible.
  10. Spoken Web: Users of IE can take advantage of this helpful text to speech tool.
  11. Window-Eyes: Billed as one of the most stable screen readers available, Window-Eyes gives users control over when and what they hear and provides additional braille support and access to Windows applications. The program doesn't come without a hefty price tag, however, but it may be worth it to those who require added accessibility.
  12. Tex-Edit Plus: This simple text editing program comes complete with a suite of voices that can read back to you what you've typed in.
  13. HAL: HAL is one of the many products marketed by Dolphin meant to increase accessibility. With it, users can get a variety of computer applications and websites read aloud to them.
  14. Help Read: This program will read not only webpages but also e-books and text that is located in the Windows clipboard. Best of all, it's free for anyone to use.

Alternative Formats

Get textbooks and other educational information delivered in format besides text with these tools and resources.

  1. RFD&B: Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic provides a large number of resources and alternative format materials to those with learning disabilities or visual impairments.
  2. Bookshare: This organization provides free access to students with disabilities. They have a large collection of books that can be downloaded and read with voice software or printed in braille and mailed to your home.
  3. Audible: Audible is one of the largest Web retailers of audio books, with thousands of titles to choose from, including best sellers and classics alike.
  4. Billed as the largest collection of audio books online, this site provides you with access to just about every audio book you could want.
  5. Audio Books Online: Shop for audio books for fun reading or for class reading on this site.
  6. CAST: CAST is a great source for texts that are presented in a flexible online format designed to support those who struggle with reading.
  7. LibriVox: Get free audio books from the public domain in this great online collection.
  8. Free Classic AudioBooks: Here you can find numerous classics that have been recorded and are offered free of charge to you online.
  9. Audio Editions: Find the audio book editions of your favorite stories on this site.
  10. BooksOnMP3: Get recordings of thousands of books on MP3 by taking a look at the offerings provided here.

Math Help

Math can be confusing even to those without learning disabilities, but these tools can help make it a little easier.

  1. DO-IT Internet Lessons in Math: Washington University provides these online lessons that are designed to help those who have a disability that impairs their ability to do math or who are simply struggling with the material.
  2. Math Made Easy: This site provides online lessons, for a charge, that are designed to help just about anyone better understand math concepts.
  3. MathTrax: MathTrax is a graphing utility for students to create graphs of equations or physics data that has been developed by NASA. It has special features that enable it to be accessible to those with visual impairments as well.
  4. WebMath: Anyone having trouble with math can check out this site which provides help with math on all levels.
  5. TouchMath: The touch math system offers a range of free worksheets on their site that can help make math a more multi-sensory experience.

Physical Disabilities

Those with physical disabilities that make it difficult to use a traditional computer can try out these helpful programs.

  1. No-Keys Virtual Keyboard: Those who have difficulty using a traditional keyboard should check out this great virtual keyboard as an alternative.
  2. Joystick Control Centre: This program will allow users to control a variety of functions on their computer using only a joystick.
  3. ShortKeys 99: Make doing complicated functions on your computer easy by assigning them a shortcut key with this program.
  4. Ultra Hal Assistant: Give your computer its own personality with this tool. It can remind you of appointments, help you browse the internet, and open and use most programs on your computer. Best of all, it's all voice controlled so you don't have to use the keyboard.
  5. Unlimited Menus: This tool makes it easy to access a variety of functions on your computer using only one mouse click.
  6. Click 'n Type: Here you'll find a virtual keyboard that allows you to control many aspects of your computer, comes with word prediction, and comes with spoken key capabilities.
  7. Reloader: Use this program to automatically open up the applications you use most on your computer.
  8. No Keys: This on-screen keyboard allows those who cannot for whatever reason use a regular keyboard to get words typed in a browser, word processor and more.
  9. Shorthand 7: This commercial program makes it easier to type, with words only needing to be in shorthand, so just half the typing is required.
  10. Form Pilot: Never fill out a form again. This program allows you to simply auto-fill commonly used categories, making ordering materials and signing up for things on the web a breeze.
  11. Camera Mouse: This program allows users to control the mouse cursor on their computers using head movements. Users of the program will need a high-end webcam and Windows XP or Vista to run the program.
  12. CobShell Plus: Create an alternative interface for your computer using CobShell Plus. It creates 6 large buttons that cover the whole screen which are fully customizable and can be linked to commonly used programs.
  13. e-Speaking: Try out this great program to control your computer, dictate emails and letters, and get information on the computer read back to you.
  14. Click-N-Type: Here you'll find an on-screen virtual keyboard that makes working on a computer easier for those who cannot use a traditional keyboard.
  15. Point and Click Virtual Mouse: Those who can't click a regular mouse can try out this on screen mouse click program.
  16. AccessDOS: This Microsoft utility makes it easier for those with physical or hearing disabilities to use the keyboard and mouse by providing simple access keys and sound feedback to users.

Language Disabilities

Having a disability like dyslexia can make things like reading a book or even the instructions for an assignment difficult. These tools are designed to help make reading and writing a little easier.

  1. TraySpell: This simple spell check program makes it easy to ensure that you're spelling things right every time.
  2. Literacy Online: This site provides games and fun learning resources to people who have learning disabilities, hearing impairments and other disabilities that require special literacy assistance.
  3. WordQ: WordQ is commercial software that helps make suggestions when you're writing and to point out and help you correct any mistakes. It is designed to help those who have difficulty writing and to help them become more independent and confident in their abilities.
  4. Text Reader Dictionary: Turn IE into a speaking dictionary with this tool. You can highlight words to hear pronunciations and get definitions as well as take advantage of tools to help you learn new words.
  5. WordCue: Those with reading difficulties will appreciate this tool which provides assistance in reading words and phrases on webpages by highlighting them in the browser.
  6. Aurora: Designed for people with learning disabilities and dyslexia, Aurora helps improve writing by giving spoken feedback, tips on sentence construction, and word selection assistance.
  7. Pix Writer: Geared towards younger children, this program can help those with learning disabilities with writing by pairing words with pictures.
  8. Yak-Yak: Yak-Yak is software geared towards those with dyslexia, aphasia and other learning disabilities and can help users find the right words, spell better and much more.
  9. Ghotit: This program offers spelling assistance to those who suffer from dyslexia or dysgraphia.
  10. Breme Write Right: This program is a great tool for helping writers as it provides spelling and word selection help through verbal and picture feedback.
  11. Read-e Plus: Read-e Plus is a dyslexia friendly e-reader and speech web browser. It comes complete with features like a spell checker, pop-up blockers, multi-sensory user interface and a range of customization options.

Visual Disabilities

The blind or those with significant visual impairment can take advantage of these helpful computer tools.

  1. Another Lens: This program allows users to get a magnified view of the content underneath their mouse pointer.
  2. BrailleSurf: BrailleSurf is an Internet browser for those with visual impairment. It allows information on the web to be spoken or transferred to Braille bar.
  3. eMacSpeak: Linux users who are visually impaired can take advantage of this helpful program. It provides both Web browsing and instant messaging in a convenient audio format.
  4. iZoom: Those with visual impairment can get access to this professional grade magnification tool for free through developer Issist.
  5. Super Magnify: This magnification tool allows you to look at something up to 15 times its original size with special interpolation to maintain detail.
  6. Talking Keyboard: If you can't see the keys on the keyboard well, this tool can help you out. It tells you exactly what keys have been pressed and you can set it up to respond to audio commands.
  7. Zoom: This tool provides a floating window which will show the content of what you're looking at in a larger format.
  8. Desktop Icon Reader: For those who have trouble reading the tiny print on desktop icons, this tool can come in handy.
  9. BlindWriter: This word processor is designed just for people who have visual impairments. The program reads commands to users, contains a variety of shortcuts, large text size, as well as a variety of other features.
  10. BIGGY: BIGGY helps computer users by allowing them to create cursors that are extra large in any program they are using.
  11. WebAnywhere: This Web-based program allows the visually impaired to get screen reading capabilities anywhere they go.

Hearing Impairment

These tools can be a great help to those with hearing impairment or teachers and parents working with them.

  1. e-Captioning: Here you can find a wide range of captioning services that you can use to caption your own videos or those you plan to use in class.
  2. Pics4Learning: Use these educational pictures to understand concepts through photos.
  3. BrainPOP: BrainPOP is full of educational tutorials that have pictures and text and are not auditory reliant.
  4. Open Captioned Classics: Those with hearing impairment who must use captions can find loads of movies to watch for free on this site.
  5. MAGpie: The National Center for Accessible Media provides this resource, which is full of captioned materials and tools to caption everything.

General Disability

These tools are designed to help users with a wide range of disabilities.

  1. Linux Accessibility: This site will provide you with all the information you need to create a Linux or Unix client that is very accessible. You'll find applications like cursor enlargements, braille and sign language utilities and on screen keyboards.
  2. Project Possibility: Project Possibility is a non-profit community service project that aims to create open source software that is designed for people who have disabilities including a variety of educational tools, word prediction, music in screen-reader friendly format and an accessible currency converter.
  3. Say IT: SayIT is a suite of software that contains a scanner, orator, mouse and speech synthesizer. The software is designed to assist those who have lost the power of speech or have difficulty with fine motor skills.
  4. EIA System: This specialized Web browser can be used on a wide variety of computers, even those with touch screens. It's designed to meet the special needs of individuals that have a range of disabilities and special needs and can be a great tool for training and educational programs.
  5. LAT Kids: The LAT group develops a range of software for children K-12 who have learning disabilities and makes it free to use for visitors on the Web. It can be a great learning tool for many who suffer from a variety of disabilities.
  6. PEAT: Planning and Execution Assistant and Trainer, or PEAT, is a helpful tool for those with cognitive disabilities. The program helps users to stay organized and on task, monitors progress, and is fully customizable.
  7. Black Window: This program enhances the visibility of certain functions while removing the distraction of all other programs you are not using by creating a black window.

Concept Mapping

Many students with learning disabilities find it helpful to map out and organize their thoughts ahead of time. These tools are designed just for that.

  1. FreeMind: FreeMind is open source mind mapping software that creates a simple interface for users to jot down their ideas, to-dos and whatever else comes into their minds right away.
  2. eGems: This software is designed to collect all your thoughts and ideas and store them in one place. It can also be a great tool for storing research, especially if you lack organizational skills.
  3. MindMeister: Try out the free basic service of this mind mapping software to get your thoughts in order.
  4. OpenMind: OpenMind is designed to help you brainstorm, organize and understand complex ideas, and work more efficiently.
  5. Mindomo: Organize links, pictures and text using this fully featured mind mapping tool.
  6. This Flash-based brainstorming tool provides an easy and accessible way to write down your thoughts as they come and even share them with others.
  7. Mindjet: Mindjet is designed to work in a format different than the traditional linear outlines we use to organize information and can be a great tool for those used to thinking in a different way.
  8. MindMap: This program can help you to visually represent your ideas in a variety of formats so you can choose the one that works best for you.
  9. Comapping: Work with others or by yourself using this online concept mapping tool.
  10. Mapul: Based on Microsoft's Silverlight, this program can help you get your thoughts down with text, links and pictures.

Web Browsing

These helpful browsers are designed to make it easy for people with many different kinds of disabilities to use the Web.

  1. BrookesTalk: This tool from Oxford Brookes University is designed to help those who are blind or visually impaired navigate the Web.
  2. SimplyWeb 2000: This speech enabled Web browser has many features that allow those with vision impairment to easily and readily access information on the Web.
  3. MultiWeb: Users of this browser will find it incorporates technology that can help people with a range of disabilities. It includes built in features like a speech engine, text enlargement and interfaces for switch devices.
  4. WebbIE: WebbIE is a web browser for blind and visually-impaired people that allows users to access news, audio, podcasts, RSS feeds and more.
  5. Genie Web Browser: This Web browser can read aloud all the content found on the sites visited. Users can have it read a whole page or select highlighted parts to read.
  6. Home Page Reader: This commercial browser from IBM allows users to get Web content delivered to them in an audio format as well as providing features like large text and magnification for visually impaired users.
  7. vOICe Sonification Browser: Try this browser out for simple audio outputs of everything on the webpage you're looking at.
  8. Homer: This browser is designed for those with visual impairments or who are blind and need voice capabilities for their browsers.
  9. Communicate: Webwide: This browser is designed to make the Web more accessible. It creates a simple, symbol-based interface that is easy to navigate and use for anyone.
  10. Connect Outloud: Give this commercial software a try if you're looking for a browser than can handle both speech and braille output and caters to the needs of blind and visually impaired users.
  11. SpeakOn: This free program allows users to get audio output of the Web, an Internet radio, a book reader and access to online talking newspapers.

Educational Scaffolding

Educational Scaffolding
By Patrick Martin

Most of us are familiar with scaffolding. It’s that erector set type structure that can be seen at almost any construction site. Scaffolding is often erected to provide structure and a workspace while building a new wall, but then it is removed after the “real” wall is finished. Educational scaffolding is similar. It’s about putting structure in place temporarily to make learning a new concept easier.

When we learn something new, we need to attach it to things we already know. When a student is taught a completely new concept, they need a frame of reference in order to assimilate the new data, or else it will be very difficult to remember. The goal of scaffolding is to either help them identify where they can attach this new data or give them a fun and exciting new place to attach it.

Examples of scaffolding, or lack thereof, are easy to find. For instance, I have a child who can pull up every bit of info about any Pokémon instantly but, this same brilliant child has trouble remembering which property of addition is commutative and which one is associative. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with Pokémon, trust me, it’s complicated.) Why is that? Because when she was taught the properties of addition, there was just no place to store that data. It was free floating around her brain and therefore it evaporated out as quickly as it came in.

So, how can scaffolding help? Well, the first trick in scaffolding is to “activate previous knowledge.” That’s education-speak for, “Relate it to something they already know.” My daughter knows the words “commute” and “associate.” When I pointed out that the properties are named from these base words, it became much easier for her to remember which was which. Take a look at the first paragraph of this article again. I was “activating your previous knowledge.”

A second way to build scaffolding is to create a new place to attach the data. Give the student an engaging experience or a new idea to hang the concept upon. My son drove across the US with his Grandmother this summer. The trip provided a wealth of experiences that can be used for scaffolding. For instance, I think he will be able to easily conceptualize the power of moving water to cause extreme erosion when it is related to the view from the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

So, when shopping for supplemental material to help teach a new concept, it helps to think outside the box. Perhaps you don’t need a book that is about exactly the same topic you are teaching. The publishers of the series I write for (My Favorite Things) have noticed that the books in the series which directly reflect curriculum topics (like My Favorite Ancient Civilization) sell much better than the more recreational topics. I am suggesting that the “fun” topics may contribute just as much to your students’ education through scaffolding. Take, for instance, My Favorite Spacecraft, which outlines the evolution of human spaceflight. The book discusses how advances in space technology were driven by the Space Race, which was one aspect of the Cold War. This book could provide a nice jump-off point to enable students to grasp a rather difficult topic, the Cold War.

The next time you are struggling with how to teach some tough material, consider using scaffolding to help your student reach for that lofty goal. Perhaps well chosen supplementary material can provide the needed frame of reference to store that new data.

Patrick’s My Favorite Things Books can be found herePatrick Martin is a private math tutor (online and face-to-face), a homeschooling Dad, and a writer. He and his wife are homeschooling their 15 year old daughter and 12 year old son. Patrick has a BS in Electrical Engineering and is licensed to teach math. After 5 years as a computer professional and 10 years as a stay-at-home, homeschooling Dad, Patrick is enjoying his re-entry into the paid workforce. To learn more about Patrick’s passion to help and encourage those who struggle with math, check out Catherine’s blog about adjusting to a stay-at-home life after leaving medicine due to chronic pain can be found at

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Sunday, July 18, 2010


taken from

About Behavior Analysis
The field of Behavior Analysis grew out of the scientific study of principles of learning and behavior. It has two main branches: experimental and applied behavior analysis. The experimental analysis of behavior (EAB) is the basic science of this field and has over many decades accumulated a substantial and well-respected body of research literature. This literature provides the scientific foundation for applied behavior analysis (ABA), which is both an applied science that develops methods of changing behavior and a profession that provides services to meet diverse behavioral needs. Briefly, professionals in applied behavior analysis engage in the specific and comprehensive use of principles of learning, including operant and respondent learning, in order to address behavioral needs of widely varying individuals in diverse settings. Examples of these applications include: building the skills and achievements of children in school settings; enhancing the development, abilities, and choices of children and adults with different kinds of disabilities; and augmenting the performance and satisfaction of employees in organizations and businesses.

APPLIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS is a well-developed discipline among the helping professions, with a mature body of scientific knowledge, established standards for evidence-based practice, distinct methods of service, recognized experience and educational requirements for practice, and identified sources of requisite education in universities. Although the above regulatory definitions provide an overview of key elements within the practice of behavior analysis, there are additional features of applied behavior analysis that should be clarified in order to even briefly define the field.

taken from: http://rsaffram.tripod.caom/whatisaba.html

What is ABA?

"Applied" means practice, rather than research or philosophy. "Behavior analysis" may be read as "learning theory," that is, understanding what leads to (or doesn't lead to) new skills. (This is a simplification: ABA is just as much about maintaining and using skills as about learning.) It may seem odd to use the word "behavior" when talking about learning to talk, play, and live as a complex social animal, but to a behaviorist all these can be taught, so long as there are intact brain functions to learn and practice the skills. That is the essence of the recovery hypothesis--for many children, the excesses and deficits of autism result largely from a learning 'blockage,' which can be overcome by intensive teaching.
Typically developing children learn without our intervention--the world around them provides the right conditions to learn language, play, and social skills. Children with autism learn much, much less easily from the environment. They have the potential to learn learn, but it takes a very structured environment, one where conditions are optimized for acquiring the same skills that typical children learn "naturally." ABA is all about how to set up the environment to enable our kids to learn.
Behavior analysis dates back at least to Skinner, who performed animal experiments showing that food rewards lead to behavior changes (learning). This is accepted by everyone who wants to train their dog to 'go' outside, though we are not so inclined to believe the same of ourselves. People, fortunately, respond to a broad range of reinforcements (rewards); an ABA teacher may use "edibles" at first, and then move on to a much wider range of "reinforcers." The skills that we more often think lead to learning--motivation, self-discipline, curiosity--are marvelous and essential to our development--but those are truly sophisticated "behaviors" that bloom only after more basic language and social skills are in place.
Conversely, any new behavior that an animal (or you or I) may try, but is never rewarded, is likely to die out after a while (how often will you dial that busy number?). And, as common sense would have it, a behavior that results in something unpleasant (an aversive) is even less likely to be repeated. These are the basics of behavioral learning theory. ABA uses these principles to set up an environment in which our kids learn as much as they can as quickly as possible, with a constant emphasis on the use of positive rewards. It is a science, not a 'philosophy.' Even the "as quickly as possible" part is based on science, since there is some--not conclusive--evidence that the developmentally disordered brain "learns how to learn" best if the basic skills are taught in early childhood.
Behavioral learning is not the only type of learning. Most learning in schools is from an explanation or from a model, what people call natural learning. Typically developing children learn from their environment (other people) at an astounding rate, usually completely unassisted. The whole point of ABA is to teach the prerequisites to make it possible for a child to learn naturally. If our kids could learn without assistance in the first place they wouldn't have autism!

Discrete trial teaching

The most common and distinguishing type of intervention based on applied behavior analysis is discrete trial teaching. It is what people most often think of when you say "ABA" or "Lovaas method." This is partly because there are so many hundreds of hours of DT teaching, and partly because it looks so odd. But it is what it is because that's what works--every aspect has been refined (and is still being refined) to result in maximum learning efficiency.
Briefly: the student is given a stimulus--a question, a set of blocks and a pattern, a request to go ask Mom for a glass of water--along with the correct response, or a strong 'hint' at what the response should be. He is rewarded (an M&M, a piggy-back ride, a happy "good job!") for repeating the right answer; anything else is ignored or corrected very neutrally. As his response becomes more reliable, the 'clues' are withdrawn until he can respond independently. This is usually done one-on-one at a table (thus the term table-top work), with detailed planning of the requests, timing, wording, and the therapist's reaction to the student's responses.

It is a mistake, however, to think of an ABA program as just DT teaching. Lovaas (among others) notes very clearly that a behavioral program is a comprehensive intervention, carried out, as much as possible, in every setting, every available moment. The skills that are taught so efficiently in discrete trial drills must be practiced and generalized in natural settings. A child who does not know the difference between 'ask' and 'tell' may slowly get a higher and higher percentage of right answers during table-top drills until he is considered to have 'mastered' that skill; but he will not go on to use 'ask' and 'tell' appropriately without additional support in natural situations; it takes time to go from 'mastery' to 'ownership.' It takes trained and supportive people--parents, teachers, relatives, even peers--to help reinforce a wide range of appropriate behaviors in a variety of settings, until the level of reinforcement fades to a typical level, such as the smile you get when you greet someone.

A natural learning example

Here is a child's interaction with a teacher or other adult, one who is being as helpful as possible but lacks the training to facilitate the child's learning:
Teacher: Hi, Alex, are you excited about Christmas?A: [no response]Teacher: What are you going to do on Christmas?A: I don't know.Teacher: Are you going to get presents?A: Yes.Teacher: What else are you going to do?A: [no response]Teacher: Do you have a tree?A: Yes.Teacher: Who's going to bring presents on Christmas?A: I don't know.Teacher: Is it Santa Claus?A: Yes.Teacher: [smile] Thanks, Alex!
This is the child's half of the conversation:
"I don't know, Yes, Yes, I don't know, Yes."
Any learning going on? (By the way, I've watched people have conversations like this and then tell me, "He's talking so much more!")
Here's how a trained person might make this an opportunity for practicing conversation skills:
Teacher: Hi, Alex, are you excited about Christmas?A: [no response]Teacher: Are you excited about Christmas? Say, Yeah, I want to open my...A: Yeah, I want to open my presents!Teacher: [Smile] Me too! What presents did you ask for?A: I asked for presents.Teacher: What presents did you ask for? Say, For Christmas, I asked for...A: I asked for a bike. For Christmas.Teacher: Cool! [Small tickle] Are you excited about Christmas?A: Yeah, I want a bike.Teacher: [Bigger tickle] A bike! That's great! I've got my tree all decorated with ornaments. I put lots of ornaments on MY tree. [Point to A's tree.]A: I put heart ornaments on my tree.Teacher: Alex, that's so great! [Great big tickle]A: Ahhhhh! Cut it out!