A parent writes: “Dear Behavior BFF, I try to stay positive and build my child up. But instead, I find myself yelling and nagging at him constantly! I don’t think he listens to a word I say, positive or not. Help! I feel like a crazy person just talking to a brick wall. How can I be more positive AND get him to listen?!”
I’m going to tell you a little story to illustrate this one.
“Good job” parrots back my sweet daughter. But good job for what? Does she have any idea what I’m talking about?
Here’s the scene: We are at the dinner table. My 20-month-old is in her high chair, wearing a bib, her plate is on the table on her placemat, and she is eating cut up mango with a toddler fork. I tell her “Good job” and she says “Good job” back to me. Good job for what?.........
I am honored to be a Contributing Writer at Behavioral Science in the 21st Century. Check out all my Behavior BFF articles on the site, as well as lots of other great reads!
My daughter loves books. She loves checking out library books. She asks me to read to her about 3 billion times each day. She will sit and flip through book pages while narrating in toddler babble that only she can understand.
I love reading to my daughter. I love making up new voices, sound effects, and hand motions to make each story more interesting and interactive. I love how this incredibly on-the-go toddler will sit still and even cuddle with me as I read to her. I love how reading is a huge part of our lives every single day.
I know exactly when I learned to be a good read-aloud entertainer. It was the spring of 2005- when I was student teaching at the completion of my undergrad degree in Special Ed from Texas A&M- whoop! I had a mentor teacher who was the BEST at reading stories to her students. She taught elementary school resource and she made reading FUN for these kids who had struggled to read in schools for so long.
My mentor teacher did great voices for characters and taught me that it’s about inflection, not actual ability to imitate characters. We are not SNL performers, here. But what she really encouraged me to do was be SILLY with the books. Make the students smile and laugh.
She helped me choose a good book to start on- it was something about a pirate. Then she had me practice at home. She had me practice in front of a mirror to see my facial expressions and learn to be more animated. Then, she gave me the best confidence booster of all- she let me read to the students without any grown ups in the room. She was listening right outside the door, I’m sure, but she let me believe that there was no one to be embarrassed in front of, just kids who were enjoying a good book.
Fast forward about 5 more years to my first summer working at an ABA therapy center. I led a preschool program with an incredible behavior therapist name Luisa. This woman is the bomb.com. We were in over our heads and learned everything the hard way together. But we loved to read to our little guys. (We had 6 little boys in our class that summer).
Luisa and I can still recite “Go Dog Go” with coordinating hand motions and sound effects for every single page. We made every page interactive, requiring motor imitation, verbal imitation, or the like from each student before proceeding. We used hierarchies of prompting to help them be successful at this until some could use intraverbals during read alouds and others could imitate unprompted. We did a lot of things with those kiddos that summer that I know were good ABA techniques. But what sticks in my head is how much they learned through our daily book readings.
Fast forward 5+ more years to today. My daughter is expected to use hand motions, intraverbals, and tacting while reading books with me daily. Poor kid doesn’t just get to sit and listen to a book. But oh, how much progress she’s made!
Making books interactive and fun has taught her several early learning and learning to learn skills. Most importantly to me, her mom, it’s given her a love of reading and books already. She’s not even 2 yet. That’s a proud mom moment.
Fingers crossed it sticks. :)
I'm pleased to welcome Tameika Meadows, BCBA, from www.iloveaba.com to share some insights from BCBAs to parents.
When I am meeting with a parent for the first time, there are a few questions that tend to pop up in the conversation regardless of age of the child, diagnosis of the child, and what specific services the parent is seeking.
When questions pop up over and over again, that tells me there is a lack of information or knowledge out there about what to expect when initiating the ABA therapy process. When working with my own clients, I usually give them a brief FAQ document that we review together, so I can clear up whatever misconceptions the parent has about therapy.…. because there are always at least a few misconceptions/myths that parents have about ABA.
I like to share information (Sharing is Caring), so please allow me to shed some light and remove some of the mystery.
When questions pop up over and over again, that tells me there is a lack of information or knowledge out there...
Common Myths about ABA Therapy
When in doubt, always ask those questions or speak your concerns! Your BCBA should be ready and willing to help clear up misconceptions, and to make sure you are thoroughly understanding the process of initiating ABA therapy.
Until next time,
Tameika Meadows, M.Ed., Board Certified Behavior Analyst, has worked with young children on the Autism spectrum for over 12 years. Ms. Meadows currently serves families, organizations, and schools both locally and internationally as a BCBA Consultant.
Ms. Meadows is the owner of the blog & resource website www.Iloveaba.com, and the author of three introductory level ABA books: “101 Ways to do ABA”, “From A to Z: Teaching Skills to Children with Autism”, & “A Manual: Creating an Autism Intervention Program”.
I realize today is Tuesday as I'm posting about Mom Talk Monday. Oops. So typical for Moms of Littles, am I right?
I was honored to participate in my friend Meghan's Mom Talk Monday over on her blog yesterday. She sent me some pretty deep questions and I did my best to give honest answers. Go check it out over at The McClellan's Take Kwaj!
Thank you for the opportunity, Meghan. It was fun!
Here are a few of my favorite social skills resources that are FREEEEE!
There is a LOT of good stuff out there on the interwebs to help make your life easier- if you are a parent trying to teach your child or if you are a teacher or service provider. But how do you dig through all that stuff to find the GOOD stuff?
I’d like to share with you some teaching resources. These are NOT stand alone interventions. Using these tools alone will not cure autism or any other diagnosis, they will not decrease problem behavior when used alone, and they are not a magic fix. The ARE however tools to use to teach appropriate behaviors. They can help you communicate tricky social skills to your client or child. They can be used in conjunction with scientific, research-based interventions. These tools alone are NOT science.
For more information as to why social skills curriculum does not equal science, read this article: Leaf, J. B., Kassardjian, A., Oppenheim-Leaf, M. L., Cihon, J. H., Taubman, M., Leaf, R., & McEachin, J. (2016). Social Thinking®: Science, Psuedoscience, or Antiscience?. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 1-6.
If you need individualized behavioral interventions- this post is not the place to find them. Instead, you need to seek the assistance of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Use this tool to find one in your area.
My favorite curriculum that I’ve seen to date for teaching social skills comes from Social Thinking. Michelle Garcia Winner breaks things down into concrete chunks that are easier to digest for kids. For example, behavior is either expected or unexpected and other people either have good thoughts or weird thoughts about our behavior.
Here is a video about ‘Thinking with your Eyes’- a more concrete way to teach why eye contact matters.
Here are a bunch of PDF handouts for social perspective taking from a website created by an SLP. She has a ton of other resources and ideas on her site, too.
Size of Problems activity idea
I am a HUGE fan of social behavior mapping (again from Social Thinking). Here are several resources related to mapping:
Another favorite of mine is The Incredible 5 Point Scale. Here are some more things to go along with it:
I promise I don’t work for Social Thinking- I wish I did! Are you reading this, MGW? No. Oh well. The last topic I’m going to gush about is Zones of Regulation.
I used to have so much fun making games using expected/unexpected behaviors and the 5 point scale. We’d find so many ways to classify behaviors as expected and unexpected- if it’s expected, jump inside the hula hoop, if it’s unexpected jump out. Put post-its on the 5 point scale for how your face looks at each number, how your body feels, things that might make you feel at that number. You name it- I did it with some amazing elementary students in one of my former lives. I also have taught one of the first lessons in the Think Social curriculum about a bazillion times where the teacher engages in unexpected behaviors until a student calls them out on it and claims to have weird thoughts about the teacher. It’s so fun and so concrete for them!
I’d love to add more to this list- share what you’d like to see added!
Find behavior analytic science strategies in my book, Parenting with Science: Behavior Analysis Saves Mom’s Sanity!
Leanne Page, MEd, BCBA