Tag Archives: ABA

Beautiful Beginnings

The classroom is still a work in progress and the kids will arrive on the 11th of March. To say I am excited is an understatement. Once again I am fortunate to have state of the art equipment and curriculum to be able to give these kids the best chance at learning all they can.

Yesterday I watched a documentary on Netflix called Loving Lampposts. Although I don’t agree with some of the things presented, there are definitely some things in there worth watching. One quote really struck me. “You haven’t got a big enough imagination of what your child could become.” ~Johnny.  This is what keeps me going. I know I can make a difference. I feel it in my bones. I just want to be able to help these kids unlock their dreams.

To give you a glimpse into the classroom, I took a few pictures.

This is looking toward the front of the classroom. We have a Smart Board and a regular white board.

Also notice the cool rocking chairs! Love those!!

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This is a view of the front from farther back, showing my awesome set of

windows and the student desks as well as the work/lunch table.

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This is a view of the kitchen and storage area.

We have a stove and a refrigerator. This way we can learn to cook and clean.

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The entrance to the room as well as our kitchen sink.

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This is the creation station. Manipulatives, markers, construction paper, etc.

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The Calming Room. A place to take a break.

Not pictured is the wonderful swing that we will have for another calming break option.

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I look forward to the many decorations that my kids will help me put on the walls. The room needs their touch to make it complete.

In just over a week, my classroom will be filled with the sounds of learning, ABA style! I can’t wait!

Thanks for popping in!

~Kari

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Filed under Autism Coolness!

The Power of Choice.

I could have stayed under the warm blankets and thought more about this blog, or I could have turned my thoughts elsewhere, or I could get out of the bed and come and dump my thoughts. You guessed it. I chose to get up. Choices are a part of our every day routine. We may not always feel like we have a choice, but when it comes right down to it we do… in every situation.

People with developmental disabilities … namely autism, should no, they deserve choices. Some would think that these kids don’t know what they want half the time. But who are we not to try and give them a choice? “Would you like water or juice?” “Would you like to swing or ride the bike or just sit out in the fresh air?” Even a simple yes or no to a question gives us insight in to what the child might want or need.

One thing that I have learned is that these kids are far from stupid and have wants and needs just like the rest of us. Oh I know… it isn’t easy to figure out what those wants and needs are, but with some time and effort on the part of the therapist/teacher/parent/caregiver/ and the kid themselves, it can be done.

The puzzle (to me) is the best part. Trying to find what works for these kids and piecing it together is a challenge that I am up for. Giving these kids choices only helps to unlock their world. Letting them in on what is going on with them and having them help guide us will only make it a bit easier on everyone.

Start simple. Find two items that you know are preferred. You know that the child likes them both equally. Put them in front of him/her and ask. Let them choose. Or even show them Yes/No icons and ask if they want this item. Teaching them that they have power in choice also teaches them that they have power in communication. It goes hand in hand.

When working with these kids, I have learned that the choices offered are sometimes not what the child wants. However, they still have a choice. Watch to see what they do. They may surprise you. They may throw a holy terror temper tantrum. But we all know that sometimes the choices we are faced with are not always rainbows and butterflies… and we have to learn from that as well. So do these kids.

Yeah, this is what kept me from falling asleep. I am glad I made the choice to get up and write. I always feel a little bit better and a little more excited about what I am doing when I get to share it with others. If you have any questions, or if some of my sleepy time writing confused you, please feel free to comment below. I am always happy to help.

~Kari

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Operant Conditioning – Reinforcement and Punishment

I have spent the better part of the last two days sick. It is hard enough to study when you are feeling your best!

Anyway, part of my readings for this week included Operant Conditioning and the wonderful world of Positive/Negative Reinforcement and Positive/Negative Punishment. This really should be review for me as I have had all this information before, but for some reason I really never could wrap my brain around this. It confuses me how there could be negative reinforcement and positive punishment!!

Lucky for me, I have to be supervised by a BCBA (what I want to be when I grow up), so for this weeks meeting (done on the phone while she was headed for Chicago), she sorted it out for me in a way that I can understand. AND… because I love dearly how she explains things to me, I thought I would share so that maybe it will help this concept click with someone else!

The best way to figure out what is happening is to use the phrase…

“In the presence of ___Reinforcement (R) or Punishment (P)__, the behavior ___increased (+) or decreased (-).

So, let me give you some examples that make sense in the real world.

Positive Reinforcement

We want “J” to use his voice (speak out loud), so we will reinforce his talking behavior with a skittle.

In the presence of a skittle (R),”J’s” talking behavior increases (+).

Negative Reinforcement

“N” will sometimes avoid a math problem. We want him to pay attention. We will use his favorite chip as a reinforcement to decrease his avoidance behavior.

In the presence of “N’s” favorite chip (R), “N’s” avoidance behavior decreases (-)

Positive Punishment

“D” does not like speech. To him, it is a punishment. He escapes to the Tan Room for a break.

In the presence of speech (P), “D’s” escape behavior increases (+).

Negative Punishment

“E” will sometimes stomp at lunchtime. We want him to stop stomping. We remove his plate of food. He stops stomping.

In the presence of plate removal (P), “E’s” stomping behavior decreases (-)

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I sure hope this helps you as much as it did me!!

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Filed under Autism, Behaviors, Lessons

Back to School and Back to Life

What an amazing summer!!

I know that I said that I would be blogging over the summer, but obviously, that didn’t happen. Because this is my blog for autism, I won’t go in to detail about what my summer entailed, but I will say that I am blessed and so fortunate for great friends that believe and trust in me!

We are now two weeks into the 2012-2013 school year…

…and WOW!! Just WOW!

Two weeks ago, I was all geared up for things to be crazy in the classroom. “These boys take time to adjust”, I said to myself. “Just remember that it will take time for them to get back in the swing of things”, I considered. I walked in to that classroom with my guard up and prepared for battle… both emotionally and physically. And then… they showed up. Smiles, high fives, same routines, EVERYTHING like they never even left for the summer. How cool is that? Super cool… super super cool!

We were all amazed at the way they were able to ease back in to everything we do. I am so excited at the opportunity to see these boys grow more and more in their school work and social skills. We have even gone on two field trips already. I didn’t think we would be able to do that for at least a month, but the very first Thursday, we were off and running.

These kids are so smart. I don’t understand why society thinks otherwise. They just don’t know these kids like we do I guess.

The boys…

“J” – is talking more than ever. He will, when prompted verbally (and it helps if you have a Skittle or M&M in hand), will say just about anything you want him to. And, most of the time, will get a huge grin on his face after he speaks. I mean can you even imagine not being able to talk and then all of a sudden you do and are getting HUGE rewards from it? He is on cloud nine. His aggressive behaviors are still there, but not near as bad as they have been in the past. He seems happy… and that is perfect.

“D” – Still our fun-loving, question-asking, silly man. He had a good summer and, although his personal space is still an issue, it is nothing compared to the beginning of last year. He is comfortable with us and that is awesome!

“E” – He had a good summer vacationing with family. I could tell that he was relaxed from his summer vacation. He and I go to art together every morning with typical kids and he does very well with guided assistance drawing whatever we ask of him. I am lucky to get to spend that one on one time with him.

“N” – This kid is so fun! He seems to be back in the swing of things and his anxiety outside of the classroom (on field trips) has diminished tremendously. He is holding his head up high and having a good time. I can see him making huge progress this year and I am so excited to get to help him!

We even have a new kid on the block!

Although “K” is not in our class, she gets to go on field trips with us! “K” is high-functioning autism and is super talkative. It is good for her to be around the boys and for the boys to be around her. For me, she is another child that I get the pleasure of being around and learning from.

Work school and Masters school!

On the very same day that I started back to work after summer vacation, I started 3 classes for my masters. *insert what the hell was I thinking* here. I took 2 classes over the summer and got A’s in both… so far a 4.0! The classes that I am taking this semester are

  • SPCE 610 870  – Behavioral Consultation – This teacher firmly believes in reading and I mean TONS of reading. Lordamercy, I am going to be blind by the time I finish this class. However, I am enjoying the reading so far and look forward to the knowledge I will gain.
  • SPCE 611 875 –  Advanced Applied Behavior Analysis – This class is THE pinnacle course to becoming what I want to be when I grow up. The text book for this class is the “bible” for ABA. I pretty much have to memorize it. *sigh*  I am super stoked about becoming a BCBA and this is going to get me there!
  • SPCE 683 873 – Practicum in Autism – This is my favorite class of the 3. I get to earn my hours at work and I meet with a BCBA (who happens to be my boss) once a week to discuss this amazing field. It is tons of fun getting my experience working with Mara and the kids! Yesterday, I got to go with Mara to observe a child at his home. This is great experience for me to be able to see therapy (other than school) in action, as well as experience in talking to families about their child.

I look forward to another amazing year of blogging. I sure hope you are enjoying this as much as I am!

~Peace,
Kari

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Filed under Autism, Behaviors, Field Trips, Lessons

Spring Break… well sort of..

Monday was the first official day of Spring Break for our kiddo’s.

Friday at school we had 3 out of four of the boys with fever, so it was an even earlier beginning to our very looked forward to break (they are all fine now, but it was pretty ugly on Friday). Nothing like 3 sick grouchy boys. LOL

Yesterday, I started my first day of my first Masters class! Woot woot *insert happy dance here*!!

Now because I am obsessive compulsive, I have already posted on the forum (3 times), found 3 articles for my first paper (due Monday), have started taking notes for another forum post, and have thought about my final research paper. This blog is a way for me to take a break.  And.. as a special surprise.. as I am typing this, my textbook just arrived! That just means more work, but right now… at the beginning of the first course, I am excited and not burnt out. So, I will give it my all and do the absolute best I can.

Interestingly enough, just from the first bit of studying that I have done, I realize that there are SO many different ideas and effective ABA treatments that are being utilized right now in the classroom I work in. These boys are definitely getting cutting edge, super powerful, and life-changing interventions. With, and without realizing it, I am learning so very much through my on the job training. I may not have had a name for the stuff we are using, but I am soaking it all in like a sponge. I have finally found what I want to be when I grow up. It is such an enormous weight off my shoulders and makes my whole body smile!

A lot of people that work with special needs kids say “If I make a difference in one kids life, then I will have done my job and be happy.” .. I won’t settle for just one kid. I NEED to make a difference in multiple lives. I desire to help every kid that I come in contact with. EVERY ONE.

Now it is time to get back to learning… studying… soaking it up.

Gentle hugs!

~Kari

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SEE it, TOUCH it, SAY it, DO it!

The teacher in my classroom, Mara (a BCBA – Board Certified Behavior Analyst), is an amazing woman who shares her knowledge freely with the aides in the class. It has made our classroom dynamic run like a well oiled machine. We are all well choreographed and dance around each other like we have done it all our lives (when in reality we have all only worked together a few months).

One of the things that she has taught us is the See it, Touch it, Say it, Do it model. – I am going to shorten this to STSD for ease of writing – cuz that is how I roll.

A lot of kids with Autism have a hard time with focusing in on specifics and understanding personalization. Or, even more specific, they lack the ability to communicate things.

Repetition is crucial for these kids. They may understand something right away, or they may need coached on something a few hundred times before they understand.

This is how STSD works….

  • SEE IT – This is a skittle Kari. You eat skittles – See the skittle?
  • TOUCH IT – Touch the skittle Kari. This is a skittle, can you touch it?
  • SAY IT – This is a skittle Kari, Can you say skittle? We eat skittles, can you say we eat skittles?
  • DO IT – Say skittle Kari. We eat skittles! You get to eat the skittle!

This is a video clip of ABA  and STSD in action – This is just a Youtube video that I found. This is not anyone I know!


I used skittles in my example because we love them in our classroom! Rewards are always a good way to teach. It is the principle of ABA. STSD will work with anything. A chair, a pencil, a math problem, a word… etc.

I hope you have enjoyed this… try it… you’ll like it!

~Kari

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