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Best Practices in Autism. Autism Consortium Regional Training Selena M. Joy, Ph.D.; Brooke Bottari, CCC-SLP. Roadmap. Quick Facts 6 Essential Themes Putting it Together. Quick Facts.

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Best Practices in Autism

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Best practices in autism

Best Practices in Autism

Autism Consortium Regional Training

Selena M. Joy, Ph.D.; Brooke Bottari, CCC-SLP



Quick Facts

6 Essential Themes

Putting it Together

Quick facts

Quick Facts

  • According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2007, there are 1 in 150 eight year old children who have ASD

  • The National Autistic Society reported boys are four times more likely to develop ASD than girls

Quick facts1

Quick Facts

  • From the 1992-1993 academic year to the 1999-2000 academic year, there was a 218% increase in the prevalence of autism in Virginia and a 435% increase in the United States according to the U.S. Department of Education

  • ASD is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States according to the New England Center for Children with 10-17% annual growth

Essential themes

Essential Themes

  • Individualized Supports

  • Systematic Instruction based on the principles of ABA

  • Structured Environments

  • Comprehensive Programming

  • Functional Methodology to address challenging behaviors

  • Family Involvement

Individualized supports services

Individualized Supports & Services

“Students with ASD are heterogeneous in their presentation of behaviors and in their unique preferences, interests, and learning styles requiring individualized instructional support needs.” Dunlap & Fox, 2002 & Dunlap & Robbins, 1991

Individualized supports services1

Individualized Supports & Services

  • Activities capitalize on student strengths/interests

  • Materials capitalize on student strengths/interests

  • Reinforcers are individualized

  • Competence and independence is promoted

  • Parent preferences are taken into consideration

Systematic instruction

Systematic Instruction

“Strategies using applied behavior analysis have been documented to be effective in systematically teaching target behaviors. It is important for educators and families to keep in mind that ‘ABA is not a specific program, procedure, or technique; it involves methods and principles’ that are applied in diverse ways.” Dunlap, 1999, p. 224

Systematic instruction1

Systematic Instruction

  • Data collection

  • Prompting hierarchy

  • Discrete trials

  • Planning for generalization

  • Positive reinforcement

Structured environments

Structured Environments

“Creating an environment that supports the identified learning needs of students is basic to instruction” Heflin & Alberto, 2001

Structured environments1

Structured Environments

  • Clear physical boundaries

  • Designations to differentiate areas

  • Visual schedules

  • Visual supports

  • Individualized work stations

Defining structure

Defining “Structure”

  • Organize the instructional setting (Heflin & Alberto, 2001);

  • Provide a schedule of activities (Rogers, 1999; Simpson & Myles, 1998);

  • Carefully plan and provide choice making opportunities (Dalrymple, 1995)

  • Provide behavioral support (Earles et al., 1998);

  • define specific areas of the school setting (Heflin & Alberto, 2001; Volmer 1997);

  • Provide temporal relations (Earles at al., 1998; Heflin & Alberto, 2001); and

  • Facilitate transitions, flexibility, and change (Simpson & Myles, 1998)

Comprehensive programming


“A good test of the functionality of a skill is to ask whether the result of not learning a specific behavior will require another person to perform the task for the student.” Olley & Rosenthal, 1985

Comprehensive programming1

Comprehensive Programming

Focus should be on those skills that

  • are most likely to be useful in the student’s life to control his or her environment

  • will increase the student’s independence and quality of life

  • will increase the student’s competent performance Dunlap & Robbins, 1991

Comprehensive programming2

Comprehensive Programming

  • Communication systems

  • Social skills

  • Thematic units

  • Access to the general curriculum

Functional methodology

Functional Methodology

“Recent research evidence has suggested that in order for educational interventions addressing problem behaviors to be successful, positive and proactive behaviors must be considered and developed.” Iovannone, Dunlap, Huber, & Kinkaid, 2003

Functional methodology1

Functional Methodology

  • FBA

  • BIP

  • Data collection on problem behaviors and interventions

  • Visual analysis of data

Family involvement

Family Involvement

“Family members are the most stable, influential, and valuable people in the child’s environment.”Dunlap, 1999

Family involvement1

Family Involvement

  • Communication with families

  • Communication systems shared with families

  • Behavior plans shared with families

Putting it together data driven instruction

Putting it Together: Data-Driven Instruction

  • Goals & Objectives should be broken down into measurable target behaviors

  • Data needs to be taken on each target behavior

  • Graph data for easy analysis

  • Data must drive instructional decisions

Putting it together structure

Putting it Together: Structure

  • Classroom space should have clear purpose

  • Classrooms should be free of unnecessary distractions

  • Individual work stations may be needed

Putting it together structure cont

Putting it Together: Structure (cont.)

  • EVERY student should have a personal schedule

  • Routines should be readily apparent

Putting it together programming

Putting it Together:Programming

  • Access to general education curriculum!

  • Direct teaching of social and communication skills

  • Use of thematic units

Putting it together programming cont

Putting it Together:Programming (cont.)

  • Plan explicitly for generalization!

    • Take data on generalization of skills

  • Differentiate instruction for all learners

  • Behavior Specific Reinforcement

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