Teaching Children with Autism, continued
Having controlled for latency and intratrial intervals, it then becomes possible to carry out fluency-producing drills on the skills that are being learned (and to graph these results in such a way as to indicate whether or not the child has attained fluency in those particular skills – more about that later). Fluency-producing drills are carried out as follows:
- First, choose a specific learned skill which you wish to bring to fluency.
- Run short, sprint-type drills (as a general rule, shorter drills – even as short as 10 seconds in some cases – tend to be more effective than longer drills).
- Graph the results, using a separate graph for each skill that you are attempting to bring to fluency.
- The graphs should show increasing fluency with practice.
In a paper entitled Fluency: Achieving True Mastery in the Learning Process, Binder, Haughton and Bateman note that effective practice is the key to any fluency-based program. Effective practice always has a goal, and that goal should always include ensuring retention, endurance and application of the skills being learned.
- It is easier to attain fluency on small, achievable “chunks” or components of a larger performance than to attain mastery on the whole thing at once.
- For students who have not yet achieved fluency, practice for short intervals is generally more productive than practice for longer continuous time periods.
- Practice every day and keep a graphic record of learning progress on each specific type of skill.
- When performance shows little or no improvement and is below the aim, try working on a simpler task.