**Teaching Children with Autism**

I am an information junkie. I have more information about teaching children with autism than I know what to do with. Perhaps I will work my way through some of it, wharing various items with you. For the most part, I have no idea where they came from – apologies to those authors that I can’t thank. In this case, apologies to Rose, a most marvellous lady, for re-posting her thoughts on fluency without first asking her permission.

From: Rose Alford <roseal@TELEPORT.COM>

Subject: Fluency: Re: data collection-generalization

This is a good place to bring up the topic of Precision Teaching/Fluency also derived from ABA and used very successfully in schools for children with learning disabilities, such as Morningside Academy in Seattle. (www.morningsideacademy.org) (I am not associated with this school, just know the kids accelerate their learning there by at least two years for every year.) Fluency has been around since the 1960’s, thought up by a guy named Lindsley at the University of Kansas who was a student of Skinner. See http://www.celeration.org for references to the literature.

The main premise of PT is that accuracy is not enough to ascertain that a person knows the skill well enough to go on to the next level that the skill will be needed. For example, you cannot add two digit numbers together if you are still struggling with one digit numbers. You can’t do calculus if you are still struggling or not fluent in algebra. You can’t brush your teeth if you still can’t put the toothpaste on the toothbrush or move the toothbrush properly. It is just the way it is.

Instead of teaching by “chaining,” it is more efficient to get the person fluent in every step of the “chain”, and the chain then becomes the easiest part of it. If you can do every step fluently, you just need to chain the steps and that is almost a no-brainer once you are fluent in each part.

Example: Kid A got 6 addition problems correct and Kid B got 5 addition problems right. (same problems)

Which kid is better at the addition?

From the above information it is certainly Kid A.

Now add this little tidbit: Kid A took 20 minutes to do the problems and Kid B took 8 minutes to do them. Now what do you think? Who is more skilled?

How do you get a kid to be both accurate and FAST?

Here is how it works. This is a very brief summary.

If a child begins to show accuracy on certain targets, in DTT terms this means he is doing 90% correct, then you can move all those targets into fluency. The data sheets in fluency are special blue logarithmic charts (called Celeration Charts, created by Lindsley) that you have to order special from Lindsley, but they are very efficient for holding data and being able to see immediately the child’s growth in his fluency in the particular skill

For example, if your child is learning to recognize all the digits between 0-10 and is just getting about 90% accuracy on 0-4 and doing about 50% on 5-10. Then the 0-4 targets can be moved into a fluency drill called See-Say Numbers, while the 5-10 is still being worked on in discrete trial or whatever you are using for acquisition. Then you will time his response to reading the numbers 0-4 on a sheet of paper say for about 6 seconds and record the number of correct responses and the number of errors. Say he/she gets 8 correct and 2 errors in six seconds the first time, then you can set the next day’s goal to getting 9 correct in six seconds. It is a good idea to start out with very short timings at first. Then as time goes on you increase the length of the timings and then you will be looking for 60-100 correct/minute. Once the child can get 60-100 correct/minute, you can assume fluency in that skill (you can choose the number between 60 and 100 subjectively or the consultant will, the final aim is somewhat dependent on your child, but can be estimated from statistics taken from other children on when they achieved fluency) You can also start moving the other digits 5-10 into fluency once the child is showing accuracy. So the whole drill becomes See-Say numbers 0-10, where you are looking for at least 60 correct/minute.

Then once the child reaches this ultimate goal, say for example you think he/she should get 70/minute to be fluent, you can then say the kid knows the stuff and can automatically generalize or apply the knowledge to different environments. You put the drill away for a month, and then do it again to see if RESAA has occurred. This is the nature of Precision Teaching. Because of the time element in the data, you can be assured that you are ascertaining that the child truly knows the skill fluently and is not wasting too much energy and time on a skill that you want to become effortless mentally and/or physically.

Research has shown that Precision Teaching and doing fluency drills does increase the probability of RESAA in a skill. RESAA is a acronym for: Retention (has the child maintained the skill over the last month even though the drills on it has stopped). Endurance (double or triple the timing of the last drill to see if the child can keep doing it for that long a period, that is called endurance, the kid does not wear out mentally) Stability (can the child do it in the face of distractions) Application (can the child now read the number 0-10 in other environments) and finally Adduction (can the child apply the skill to other situations, such as read off a phone number for example? (Adduction is difficult to test, but it generally does become apparent if the person is truly fluent in the skill.)

This is just a brief note on PT, but it sure makes much more sense and will get you out of DTT data hell in the long run. Notice that with PT, you can lose the maintenance part of your program What we call generalization, PT calls Application and Stability What we call maintenance, PT call Retention. It is all built into the data in the Celeration charts. Gee, wouldn’t it be great to lose that Maintenance binder and not have to worry about doing drills from that thing everyday? What a concept. PT can keep the child moving along and also ward off the plateau and stagnation effect that many of us see in our kids’ programs.

You could ask your consultants about adding PT to your childrens’ programs and see if they know anything about it. If more parents asked, it would be a part of every child’s educational program and the consultants would get busy themselves becoming fluent in Fluency.

Without the time dimension in the data, do you know if your child is fluent?