Teaching Children with Autism

Teaching Children with Autism: A Review of the Basics
In your teaching, use most-to-least prompting. Most-to-Least Prompting, also known as “Errorless Teaching/Learning” refers to the ready use of prompting to ensure the child’s success. One way to try to ensure that the child gives the correct response is to model the response that you want to get. Another way to prompt is to guide him/her through the behaviour, providing only as much help as he/she needs to be able to respond correctly.
Prompting is not always needed. However, if it is needed (for the child to be successful on a particular teaching/learning trial), then the time between antecedent and prompt should usually be no more than a couple of seconds. And remember that prompts need to be removed from the antecedent-behaviour-consequence sequence (i.e., “faded”) as quickly as possible, so that the child doesn’t become “prompt dependent.”
Think “Transfer Trial” – a transfer trial is an opportunity to respond without being prompted. (It is provided after a prompted response)
One way to keep the value of working with you higher than either escape/avoidance or repetitive behaviour(s) is to have about four already-learned/easy teaching targets for every being-learned/more difficult target – and be sure to reinforce both effort and success. The point is to see that the child is receiving sufficient reinforcement that he enjoys the experience and remains motivated to keep trying to learn.
Mix/vary targets and tasks. Mixing/Varying Targets and Tasks means switching among different kinds of tasks – particularly among the various functions of language – and switching between tasks that require verbal communication and those that require nonverbal communication. Mixing/varying targets and tasks helps to reduce boredom and keep the child attentive.
Having specified in sufficient detail what you are hoping to achieve, and collected the data regarding your success (typically through collecting “probe” data), you now need to plot the child’s achievement – from which you can determine the rate of achievement – that is being obtained. Plotting the data allows you to see at a glance the kind of progress that is occurring as well as telling you whether or not you need to change your teaching procedures. For example, if you see a lack of progress three times in a row, it may be time to ask yourself whether the steps that you are asking the child to take are small enough to be achieved by that child at that time, whether there is sufficient reinforcement – instructors frequently think that tangible reinforcement is no longer needed after social approval has acquired some reinforcement value, and this is seldom the case – and so on.
Teach to fluency. Important as this is, it is something that almost all instructor therapists are ignorant of. It seems that there are always so many more urgent teaching issues that we never have enough time and energy to see that they learn about it. If you do happen to be interested in teaching to fluency, a good source of information about teaching to fluency may be found at http://www.autismteachingtools.com and the linka that are provided there.
Always try to start and end your interaction with your child on a high note. We want the child to at least begin and end the session enjoyably, even if some of the time in between is challenging for him.

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