Teaching Children with Autism

Teaching Children with Autism

TAGteach, Teaching with Acoustical Guidance, is a further development of clicker training and a superb adjunct to shaping. In “TAGteach and Autism” by Mary Lynch Barbera, co-author of The Verbal Behavior Approach: How to Teach Children with Autism and Related Disorders, writes:

The acronym TAG means Teaching with Acoustical Guidance and was used first with gymnasts, not children with special needs. It all started when Theresa McKeon purchased a horse in 2005 and had difficulty training it. She went on-line and learned about Karen Pryor’s clicker training technology, used clicker training until the horse was calmer, and then sold it. Theresa was a national gymnastics coach and, in the process of using clicker training with her horse, she decided that clickers might be helpful to her young students. When a gymnast had difficulty with a handstand, for instance, the skills of the handstand could be broken down and each skill could be taught separately. When one of the students got her feet to the 12 o’clock position or put her arms over her ears, the coach could click to signal that the position was correct.

Teaching with Acoustical Guidance might never have gone any further if the school teacher of one of Joan Orr’s daughters hadn’t been coaching Special Olympics rhythmic gymnastics.  Joan had been using clicker training with dogs and other small animals, and she asked Karen Pryor if she knew anyone using clicker training with gymnasts, which is how she and Theresa became acquainted.  Beth Wheeler, who had been a roommate of Theresa in college, invited them to her dance camp in the summer of 2003 and gave them free access to all of her students. Joan reports that they had a blast, Beth decided to implement TAGteach fully at her dance school, and together they started a company, which they called TAGteach.  Karen Pryor invited them to present their techniques at Clicker Expo in 2004, and TAGteach International was formed as a joint venture between TAGteach and Karen Pryor’s own company, Karen Pryor Clicker Training (KPCT).

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