Back to School Again!

Back to School time has arrived! As you soak up the few remaining days of summer break, you're probably starting to prepare for the new school year. Now is a great time to prepare & prime your child so that the transition back into school is successful. Here are behaviors to consider practicing and reinforcing before school:

1.  Start getting your child up at the same time seven days a week and following the same dressing and breakfast routines.

2.  Have your child find and carry their own lunch bag and book bag to therapy and other events.

3.  Buy a small square mat (some Dollar Tree stores sell carpet squares!) and reinforce them for sitting on it during play at home to prepare them for classroom expectations.

4.  Use the command “Line up” at your door before you leave your house or go outside. Post it on your door to remind yourself.

5.  Most importantly, make sure they practice eating meals and snacks at the table.

If you have specific concerns about your child's school transition, please let us know!

Getting A Good Start to Summer...

Here are some reminders and tips from Lori that will help out with your summer schedule:


1. Keep your children on a schedule and use the same type of schedule system that the clinic or

the school has been using (such as a picture schedule). 


2. Use the verbal behavior cards that the Behavior Techs are using in the clinic or at your home

and on your travels. You can ask your BCBA about getting a copy of the cards for your use!


3. Set up or have your Behavior Tech help you set up play and task stations in your house.


4. Travel with several preferred tasks. (There is a reason why restaurants have crayons!!)


5. Share these tips with other caregivers, camps, and grandparents. Consistency is key!

"I don't wanna..."

Why can transitions be so difficult for children with autism? Parents and teachers often have a hard time getting our children with autism to transition from their preferred activity to the activity we want them to do.  For instance, your child might be playing in the sink with bubbles and now you need them to get dressed. Transitions from preferred activities to your agenda can result in problem behaviors. Your child might protest the request by refusing, falling to the floor, or other tantrum-like behavior.  

We know that giving cues that a transition is coming (“We are going to clean up when the timer dings”) and reinforcing the transition (“If you clean your puzzle up, then we will listen to your favorite song while we get dressed”) can help, but sometimes that doesn’t seem to be enough! They might protest even though you gave them cues to predict that the transition is coming up or have reinforced the transition.

Why is that?

It has to do with the density and magnitude of the reinforcement.  In activities that your child prefers, they often are reinforced without outside help. For example, watching their favorite video on the iPad is so rewarding that they independently choose to continue the activity. Other activities may require more outside reinforcement because the activity itself isn’t rewarding enough to engage your child or make him want to choose it over a preferred activity. Washing dishes may not be a reinforcing activity on its own, however with outside help (mom singing a fun song, playing in dish soap bubbles, positive feedback throughout the activity, a reward for completing the chore, etc.) it can become engaging. Increasing how reinforcing an activity is can minimize your child’s resistance to transitioning to it. The best way to keep them engaged in your agenda is to provide direct access to reinforcement which means pairing the child’s preferred activity with the activity you want them to engage in to allow for continuous reinforcement. For example, allowing the child to watch the iPad video while washing the dishes.

If transitions are difficult for you at home, please contact your BCPS staff!

When Stims & Behavior Get In the Way

This post was originally sent out to parents in February in our newsletter. We are shining a light on our awesome parents and the hard work they are doing at home to continue progress that is happening in therapy. Keep up the hard (but important) work you do for your loved ones! 

Dear Mom or Dad or others that love me and take care of me,

Sometimes I want things and sometimes I want to get away from things, just like everyone else!

When you spend time taking care of me you may notice that sometimes I “stim” when I want to entertain myself. When I want something or want to get away from something but I can’t tell you with my words I have to find a way to tell you another way. Sometimes this means I have behaviors that are unexpected.

In ABA therapy, I’m learning new skills and replacement behaviors so I can request and reject things with words and acceptable communication. Being able to use words will make such a big difference at home and at school! I can even learn to wait for short amounts of time! This is great because there two things that sometimes get in the way of learning new things: my “stims” and my different communication behavior. I am excited to share and practice these new skills with you because the more I practice my new skills the better I will get at choosing these instead of my old ways that aren’t the best ways. 

Let's do this together!

Intro to Verbal Operants

This post is an excerpt of an informational session that Jason Cone, MA-LPA provided for some of our awesome ABA parents in May 2017. It's got some great information that breaks down verbal operants and familiarizes you with some of the language you'll see in your child's program. Enjoy!

Last month we talked about the basics of the Verbal Behavior Approach and in particular, mands (requests). As your children have ever expanding verbal behavior, it is vital to know and learn the other components of communication, or what we call Verbal Operants.

There are four basic Verbal Operants and they are listed below:

  1. Mand: Asking for reinforcers or information. Asking for “Mommy” because a child wants his mommy
  2. Tact: Naming or identifying objects, actions, events, etc. Saying “Mommy” because a child sees his Mommy
  3. Echoic: Repeating what is heard. Saying “Mommy” after someone else says “Mommy”
  4. Intraverbal: Answering questions or having conversations where the speaker’s words are controlled by other words. Saying “Mommy” because someone else says “Daddy and...”

Each of these are vital components to language development and it is important for your children to learn how to use the word ‘mommy’ in all of these contexts. If you do not know how this is being done in your child’s program, ask your therapist to tell you!

Sincerely, Jason