Friday, December 10, 2010

Auditory Prompting Systems to Reduce Problem Behaviour

Results of this study confirm self-operated auditory prompting systems to be a socially valid function-based intervention for use in public community settings with
students with moderate mental retardation who have attention- or escape-maintained behavior when the prompts provide functionally equivalent reinforcement. This study
expands the literature on self-operated auditory prompting systems by matching the prompts to the function of problem behavior and confirming the social validity of the
intervention by including nondisabled coworkers.

Although previous studies (Alberto et al., 1999; Davis et al., 1992) documented that self-operated auditory prompts were an effective intervention for the reduction of
problem behavior in public community settings for students with moderate mental retardation, the function of behavior was not determined prior to intervention. It was unclear if the prompts inadvertently achieved functional equivalence or if stimuli other than the prompts were responsible for the behavioral change. Results of this study suggest that self-operated prompts function as an effective behavior intervention for students with mental retardation and attention- or escape-maintained behavior by systematically introducing prompts that provide functionally
equivalent reinforcement. Attention-maintained behavior reduced to criterion only during conditions with prompts providing attention in the form of verbal praise. Escape maintained behavior reduced to criterion only during conditions with prompts providing reminders of escape in the form of a break from the task. Problem behaviors were reduced for escape-maintained behavior during the attention prompt condition, but behavior only reduced to criterion during escape prompts.

Alberto P, Frederick L, & Hughes M (2006). Self operated auditory prompting systems as a function based intervention in public settings. Journal of Positive Behavioural Interventions. 8(4)230-243.

Auditory Prompting
Taber et al., (1999) provide a notable example of using auditory prompts to decrease off-task behavior for a student with autism and moderate mental retardation. Using a multiple probe across settings design, a 12-year old male student with autism was taught to use a self-operated auditory prompting system. The system contained recorded music interspersed between auditory verbal prompts (e.g., "keep working," "pay attention," etc.). The result was a decrease in inappropriate and off-task behavior at home and school with a concurrent decrease in teacher-delivered prompts.

A more recent study used auditory prompts to cue in-class self-monitoring as an intervention for decreasing off-task behavior in a classroom setting (Coyle & Cole, 2004). For three children with autism (aged between 9 and 11), an auditory timer (available from Jadco[R] was used to prompt self-monitoring of on-task behavior every 30 s of a 5 min work interval, with interval time increasing to 1 min for 1 of the participants. Using reversal designs, researchers were able to show that off-task behavior was significantly decreased during intervention phases.

Auditory prompting devices often require less manpower to result in positive change which is a critical benefit given the increasing number of children with autism served in local school settings where teacher resources may be scarce. Modern auditory prompts such as auditory pagers, portable compact disc players, and MP3 players are relatively small and unobtrusive and are used by enough children to minimize any stigma associated with carrying one for therapeutic purposes. Despite these apparent benefits, the paucity of literature focusing on technology-based auditory prompting for children with autism makes generalization of current findings difficult. Future research, as suggested by Taber et al. (1999), should continue to examine the effectiveness of self-operated auditory prompting systems with this population. Although Taber et al. (1999) & Coyle and Cole (2004) focused on decreasing off-task behavior, future investigations should also evaluate the effectiveness of auditory prompting for skill acquisition.

Goldsmith T, & Leblanc L(2004). Use of technology in intervention with children with autism. Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioural Intervention.

Contingency Mapping

Contingency mapping is a new type of visual support strategy that has not been reported in the research literature to date (Brown, 2004). Contingency maps are graphic (i.e., pictorial) representations of the environment–behavior relationships inherent in PBS plans that involve FET. The aim of a contingency map is to make a behavior support plan more transparent by graphically depicting both the current and the alternative antecedent–behavior–consequence pathways related to the problem behavior. As such, contingency maps must represent all of—and the relationships between—the following components: (a) the common antecedent that precedes both the problem and the replacement behavior, (b) the topography of both the
problem and alternative behavior, (c) the functional reinforcer that will be provided contingent on alternative behavior, and (d) the previously available functional reinforcer that will no longer be provided contingent on problem behavior.

Brown, K. & Mirenda, P (2006). Contingency mapping: Use of a novel visual strategy as an adjunct to functional equivalence training. Journal of Positive Behaviour Interventions,
8 (3).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Classroom Strategies for FASD

Classroom Strategies (this list is a start)

Work with student’s developmental age not his chronological age

• Repeat, repeat, repeat. Repeat, re-teach, repeat, reteach. Adapt the curriculum expectations
• If she repeatedly has outbursts look for the inciting stimuli and steer her away from them
• Alternate times of calm with activity, mini breaks for “brain gym” activities could be helpful
• Reduce stimuli in classroom. Have him looking at a blank wall up near you, not a colourful display
• Use a ruler, paper to cover everything except what is being read at that moment
• Colourful, attractive displays are very, very distracting for children with fasd. Low stimulus works
• Be prepared to handle clothes that itch (distract) — turn t-shirt inside out and tell parent/caregiver
• Figure out what she is good at and build on these functional skills
• Hands-on learning
• Small class size if possible
• Minimize transitions and prepare him for them in advance, “we are going to get out the red book”
• Transitions — forewarn, auditory cue (same song), visual cue (coat), action cue (hold coat open)
• Laminated visual cues — eg. coat, bathroom sink, lunch are helpful — visual learners
• Easy read labels — symbols, be organized, aim for an uncluttered classroom
• Create a personal bubble with tape, carpet square etc. to minimize poking, hitting, touching
• Lots of time, “10-second children in a 1-second world.” (Diane Malbin)
• Use only one book for writing in to minimize trying to find the right book in a disordered desk
• If he can handle it colour code books, get out your yellow book not Language Arts
• Have a quiet, soft place for de-stressing (not punishment) — bean bag chair, pillows, pup tent etc.
• If an assembly will be too stimulating, provide muted ear phones or keep child out of environment
• Do not ask why she did something or moralize. She does not know and morals are meaningless

Minimize homework. If it is causing too much stress it should not be done
• Let him have quiet “fiddle” toys — squishy balls, pocket full of rubber bands
• Sipping water from a sports bottle (straw attached, no spills) may help her attend to lesson
• If he can’t sit still a weighted blanket (large bean bag) may help him anchor his body in space
• Ensure you have eye contact with her when giving instructions, ask her to repeat simple directions
• Simplify complex directions and avoid multiple commands
• Make directions clear and concise and be consistent with daily instructions
• Develop some quiet cues (signs) to help him settle down, go to the quieting place when overstimulated
• Be firm when needed and give only limited choices.
• Make students feel comfortable with seeking assistance (most children will not ask for help)
• These children will need more help for a longer period
of time than the average child
• Remember he is not “misbehaving” on purpose to make you mad, “think brain not blame” (7)
• Analyzing, moralizing and traditional disciplinary methods do not work
• Behaviour modification and /or rewards/punishment will not work!
• Communication, patience, compassion, understanding and creativity do work — think fasd first!
• Provide transition help when switching over to middle, junior or high school
• Focus on life skill training, health and nutrition, job skills not higher academics
• Focus on communication, problem-solving, social and life skills — reality based education
• Try to incorporate math and literacy skills into life skills, eg. cooking, shopping, advertising etc.
• Continue to address high school student’s developmental, not chronological age (35)
• Routines are critical, these students may benefit from an “external brain buddy” to get to next class
• Fewer classrooms, classrooms close to each other works best
• Help her organize her locker and backpack
• Colour code subjects, yellow–math, red–English, blue– Family Studies — coloured stickers on texts

A special classroom for students with FASD features small class size, “personal bubbles” marked off with carpeting or tape, a low stimulus environment, easy read labels and laiminated cues, private spaces for de-stressing, private “time-in” spaces, and large bean bags for use as weighted blankets.

• Same locker and adult “external brain” year after year is helpful
• Use technology wherever practicable with these students — usually technologically savvy
• Provide fasd-aware tutors
• If what you are doing is not working, don’t try harder,
try differently!


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One of the biggest issues that I hear about from teachers and caregivers is the behaviour of the children or youth in their school, program ...