Graphing and Applied Behavior Analysis

Graphing in Applied Behavior Analysis is how we determine if the treatment being provided to your child is showing a positive change. Graphs also allow us to adjust our interventions unique to the client to provide the best care applicable. When asked for clarification on reliability and validity we can refer to these graphs and feel confident when explaining the reason for our interventions. In this field we take pride in making sure that everything we do is based on reliable and valid empirical research.

Parents Reading Research

When a parent has come to learn their child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or even find their child engaging in a new problem behavior, it is likely they are filled with an abundance of questions. When questions aren’t answered sufficiently or are not answered in a timely manner it is likely that the parent will rely on books. This can be overwhelming for parents, who are buried in research full of numbers and graphs that are incomprehensible. It is important that these graphs are clear to understand for any reader. It can become frustrating when the parent is attempting to find what will best aid their child, but they are unable to find an answer due to faulty or confusing data. As you keep reading, I will point out some key components of graphs that are essential and explain why.

Graphing in an Applied Setting

When working in an in-home setting, the Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) is consistently taking data on the programs given unique to your child’s based on their goals and behaviors. The RBT is trained prior starting the job on how to correctly input data into their system or independently graph the data by hand. This data is then provided on a graph for the Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) to examine. If paper data is being utilized, the RBT should spend the last minutes of session correctly drawing in data points and figuring percentages.  The BCBA will analyze and adjust interventions when they supervise the RBT or meet with the family.

There are rules for graphing that every person creating and examining graphs must know. There are general rules that everyone learns in school, such as the graph must have an X and Y axis and be labeled. However, there are a few rules that unfortunately are not practiced by many, which are vital details needed for the graph to be displayed correctly. The components I am going to focus on are: making sure the data points are legible for any reader, the use of the proportional construction rule, using an appropriate unit of time, and subjective VS objective language.

The Importance of Data Points

There are many issues with the graph above but here we are going to mainly focus on data points. In this graph we see a positive trend, this is good, that means one of our goals is increasing! Yay! But wait.  How do I know how fast the client reached this success? What did their progress look like? Here is where data points come in handy. Let me show you the difference it makes.

I have personally added my own data points to the graph. With this visual I can recognize my client started increasing at a slower rate and later moved up to a more consistent rate. Data points allow the BCBA to recognize possible errors in intervention and can compare graphs across multiple providers to ensure consistency and that our client is effectively generalizing the material appropriately.

Proportional Construction Rule

Now we have a complete graph! Right?  Not quite.  Now we need to make sure the graph is now proportional. Graphing rules state every graph must 2/3 or 3/ 4 proportional (Cooper, Heron, and Heward 2007) Why is this important? When this rule is not utilized it allows for individuals to either attempt to exaggerate or depress their data. Obviously, that is not ideal if we want to provide the best care for our clients. I have provided visuals below.

The graph above is a correct proportional graph. I have added black lines representing the two-thirds and three-fourths proportion. If you examine the graphs below, I extended the X-axis in one and the Y-axis in the other. As you can see when the x-axis is extended it depresses the data and when the y-axis is extended it exaggerates the data. The creation of these false graphs can allow the researcher to conclude that their study’s treatment data represents a higher significance or mistakenly, examine no significance than the actual results.

Units of Time

In the next graph below, we are going to focus on the term “sessions”. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (2020) explained that units of time are seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, years, centuries, etc. Now, let’s examine this graph. Are you able to tell me how long it took for the researchers to collect this data? The answer is no. When looking at this graph I wonder, was it nine 5-minute sessions in one day? Was it one session a week for nine weeks? Was it one session per day for nine days? We all deserve to know! If we were to use this data to incorporate into our interventions, we want to be able to hypothesize when the change in behavior from our intervention should arise.

To think about it another way, imagine your child is engaging in self-injurious behaviors. How quickly do you want the intervention to decrease the behavior? I think you and I can both agree on, as soon as possible. Based on the labels in the graph above we cannot be certain that using the techniques from this study will minimize the behaviors as quickly as we would like due to no clear unit of time represented.

Subjective VS Objective Language

While you are reading these articles, you may come across some subjective language the researchers use to help explain their graphs and results. An example of this is rapidly VS moderately VS gradually increasing or decreasing trends. There is currently no research out there expressing the criteria for what is considered rapid, moderate, or gradual. Therefore, it is subjective. Trends are only represented objectively in four ways: increasing, decreasing, or maintaining also known as zero.

Final Word

Data points, proportion construction of graphs, unit of time, and objective language are all essential components for a graph to have in order to fully understand the data being provided. Keep these in mind when reading research articles.  Some studies may state that their data represents as significant, but you can always double check by looking at how they administered their graph.

References

Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Graphing and Applied Behavior Analysis . (n.d.). Retrieved fromhttps://institute.centralreach.com/learn/course/graphing-and-applied-behavior-analysis/welcome/welcome-to-graphing-and-applied-behavior-analysis

National Institute of Standards and Technology. (2020, March 31). Unit and Systems of Measurement. Retrieved April 6, 2020, from https://nist.gov/

The Power of Visual Supports

I remember the first time I realized how powerful visual signs were in my environment. I was fifteen and sitting with my driver’s education booklet trying to memorize all the signs that were important to pass the driving test in order to get my learner’s permit. These particular signs were vital tools to help me stay safe while interacting on the road with other vehicles. In the same way, visual tools can be powerful supports for those in the special needs community. 

Visual supports come in many different types such as videos, objects in the environment, pictures, symbols and written words that can be used across many different types of devices such as ipads, phones, or as printed tangible images. 

Visuals can be used in powerful and various ways to help those with special needs, for example:

Visuals are helpful to explain a task or a combination of skills placed together such as hand washing, getting a haircut, or playing a game with others such as go fish. 

Visuals illustrate a story such as a social story that communicates a specific message, such as the book “My Mouth is a Volcano” By Julia Cook which teaches an idea of properly asking for a turn to speak. 

Visuals are capable of forming different types of communication such as providing an image of a toilet to request going to the restroom or providing an image of an angry face to communicate the emotion of anger. 

Visuals combined together can create items such as a token system, reward chart, or a schedule to provide structure in a daily routine, or increase the wait time before receiving an item.  This last example increases the delay between when a task (or tasks) is presented and the reward being given. A real life example is a token chart where a child earns a candy every five times that they successfully use the bathroom, with the goal being to increase the number of times the child can go without receiving the reward. 

 

Visuals provide those in the community a compelling way to provide the learner the ability understand in-depth concepts, build their confidence, provide structure in routine, and allow the opportunity for interaction with others. Visuals are integral to the environment as an engine driving the communication to those in the community. 

Just as I learned in Driver’s Ed, visuals remain necessary for everyone in each community, not just the neurotypical or neurodiverse populations. Learning how to use visuals will continue to help bridge gaps, however small, between the two communities. 

Resources: 

Gerhardt, P, Cohen, M. (2014) Visual supports for people with autism: a guide for parents and professionals. Woodbine House   

Cook, J., & Hartman, C. (2019). My mouth is a volcano! Chattanooga, TN.: National Center for Youth Issues.

Visual supports. (n.d.). Retrieved December 06, 2020, from https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/topics/communication/communication-tools/visual-supports

 

Autism Services of Kansas Recognized as a TOP Behavioral Service Provider in the U.S.

The Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE) has awarded Autism Services of Kansas with a three year accreditation, recognizing the organization as a top behavioral service provider in the country. ASK is currently one of 18 companies to earn this accreditation in the U.S.  The accreditation celebrates exceptional behavioral health providers that excel in the areas of clinical quality, staff satisfaction and qualifications, and consumer satisfaction. These areas are measured via a wide-ranging audit, including interviews with agency clinical leadership, a detailed staff qualification review, anonymous staff satisfaction survey, and anonymous consumer satisfaction survey.

WHAT IS A BHCOE ACCREDITED ORGANIZATION?

A BHCOE Accredited ® Organization is an applied behavior analysis provider that has demonstrated it has met and continues to meet an assortment of clinical and administrative standards as determined by an independent third-party evaluator.

CAN ANYONE BECOME BHCOE ACCREDITED?

No, providers are not given the accreditation, it is earned. Providers are evaluated on a number of measures related to clinical quality.

WHAT DOES ACCREDITATION MEAN FOR THE ORGANIZATION’S CLIENTS?

The BHCOE Accreditation serves as a consumer protection mechanism that indicates the organization to quality improvement, transparency, and accountability. Collectively, BHCOE’s lead a growing movement of behavioral health
providers that aim to increase the collective quality of services across the United States.

The BHCOE Accreditation requires that the company continue to meet the Code of Effective Behavioral Organizations. As an employer, you know that your organization’s success starts and ends with its employees.

The BHCOE distinction demonstrates to employees that their company cares about their feedback, is able to look internally, and can set goals for
continuous improvement.

The BHCOE distinction demonstrates a company’s commitment to complaint resolution. Accredited providers are required to respond to compliance concerns brought forth to BHCOE regarding best practices. Many organizations utilize the compliance process to ensure that consumers and staff have a voice to file compliance concerns and resolve any areas of improvement internally. Think of the compliance review process as a mechanism to create a complaint resolution process that relies on independent third-party evaluation.

Learn More About the BHCOE

Tips for Whole Body Listening

What is whole body listening? It is often described as a set of behaviors that are needed to show others that you are paying attention to the conversation or activity that is taking place. The brain thinks about what the speaker is saying, the eyes are towards the speaker, body facing the speaker, mouth is quiet, and a calm body. However, whole body listening also involves perspective taking, feeling, and thinking. Teaching whole body listening helps children take the perspective of others and to show others like teachers or peers that you are listening and part of the group. While using whole body listening, children can become aware of their brains and bodies and ways to help them attend to others. It’s important as providers, parents, and teachers to understand that whole body listening come with challenges. Listening can be a difficult skill for children and most of the time they must demonstrate that they are listening to the speaker. In our culture, if you do not appear to be listening it can cause offense and lead to others having a negative reaction. But it is important to remember that everyone listens in their own way. How we show we are listening depends on cognitive and sensory regulation. Here are some tips for the eyes, mouth, and body for children to demonstrate whole body listening.

  1. Eyes- Look towards the speaker but remember this does not have to be directly. Have the child look at and observe facial expressions of others. To help children focus with their eyes, limit visual clutter and distractions. Remember that eye contact can be difficult, stressful, and overwhelming for some people.
  2. Mouth- Children can chew on gum, chew jewelry like a necklace, or drink water. This allows the child to receive the sensory input needed and they can also practice impulse control. While they are chewing or drinking, children are practicing thinking before speaking. However, some children need to produce verbal sounds to stay calm and process what is being said.
  3. Body- While listening and processing to speakers, have children squeeze hands or have a fidget available. Explore sensory exercises and strategies like deep breathing or adaptive seating. Some children need movement to feel comfortable and attend to others. This could be flapping or moving hands or moving around the room.

Whole body listening is not an easy skill for children and the process is complex. Children are expected to look towards the speaker with their eyes and body, keep their mouth quiet, their body calm, and process what is being said. Teaching children whole body listening develops into active listening as teens and adults later in life. Paying attention and listening are essential for learning and communication. Using these tips can help children stay alert and attend while others are speaking. Teaching children to use whole body listening can be beneficial for children to learn, grow, and succeed.

Resources: Sautter, E. (2019). Social Thinking Articles. Retrieved July 23, 2020,

https://www.socialthinking.com/Articles?name=whole-body-listening-its-a-tool-not-a-rule

How to Teach Expected and Unexpected Behaviors

An expected behavior is a behavior that keeps others calm in situations. This could be being quiet during circle time, sitting at the table during snack, or standing in line with the class. An unexpected behavior is a behavior that other people might find stressful or could make someone feel uncomfortable in the situation. Unexpected behaviors could be a child talking loudly during circle time, running around during snack, or having a tantrum in line with the class. These unexpected behaviors can affect how others perceive the child and could lead to being in trouble with the teacher or other adults. To increase expected behaviors, reinforce these behaviors when you see children engaging in them. Here are three things to remember when teaching clients or students about expected and unexpected behaviors. 

  1. Do not skip over the thoughts and feelings. Perspective taking and interacting with others starts with children understanding their own thoughts and feelings. They need to recognize that with their thoughts and feelings, that other people have thoughts and feelings as well. If children do not understand this, then “expected” and “unexpected” has no meaning to them. 
  2. Make your expectations clear. Let your children know the plan, so they understand what is expected of them. If you do not give them your expectations, it will set them up for failure and lead to unexpected behaviors. 
  3. Listening to your body is important. The body is the part of communication that is often forgotten about. You use your whole body to move closer to people to indicate you want to communicate or join the group. If a child is not aware of what his or her body, then it makes it difficult to show his or her intentions to the group. This could increase unexpected behaviors, but the child is unaware of this. 

Expected behaviors are the socially aware behaviors that occur in everyday life like walking quietly in line or sitting for circle time. Unexpected behaviors can be considered tantrum behaviors or lead to tantrums for children. Instead of focusing all your attention on a child’s unexpected behaviors, pay attention to the expected behaviors. When teaching your clients or students it is important to include learning about the thoughts and feelings of others, listening to your body, and make your expectations for the child clear. What we do and how we act affects how others think about us, increase your child’s expected behaviors and watch them grow socially. 

 

Resources: 

Reinking, R. (2017, September 27). Social Thinking Articles. Retrieved July 2, 2020, https://www.socialthinking.com/Articles?name=teaching-expected-unexpected-wrong-way

5 Ways to Incorporate Movement with Social Thinking 

Movement and physical activity are a part of everyday life. Children are always on the move while playing, standing in line with the class, or being a part of the group. However, it seems that providers and teachers spend a great deal of time teaching clients and students sitting at tables. Social thinking and social skills involve the whole body to communicate with others. One of the steps to face-to-face communication is to establish a physical presence. You use your whole body to move closer to people to indicate you want to communicate or join the group. Along with using your whole body, thinking with your eyes is also important for face-to-face communication. Thinking with your eyes allows you to observe what is happening around you. Teaching movement with social skills and social thinking helps children understand that these skills are not just used in social conversations. Here are five strategies to combine movement and face-to-face communication for children. 

  1. Follow the Leader. This game includes several social concepts and encourages self-awareness and social attention. During this game, you can teach children to keep his/her body in the group and think with your eyes. However, this game might be challenging for clients and students due to the multiple social skills involved and the child having to imitate peers. 
  2. Four Square. This game helps children work on keeping focus on the game and thinking with your eyes. It might be necessary to slow down the game to simplify the game for your client or student. 
  3. Lining up and walking with the group. This works on the child keeping his/her body in the group and learning behaviors that are expected. It is important to remember that our clients tend to be “me thinkers” rather than “we thinkers.” This means that these social concepts do not come naturally and requires more practice. Have children observe the group they are a part of and stay with the group while walking. This may be challenging for children, so try using a peer to prompt them to stay in the group. 
  4. Red-Light, Green-Light. Thinking with your eyes is the key to this game. Both the leader and the followers need to use your eyes to play the game. 
  5. Playing team sports. While playing sports, like soccer, children include several social skills like thinking with your eyes and using your whole body. Children must look at other players for signals on what to do, as well as keeping the body in the group. 

Teaching children to use movement with communication helps with generalization and understanding social skills. To communicate with others, you must think with your eyes and keep your body in the group. These five activities are exciting and engage the child while learning social skills. The social world is constantly moving, movement and learning go hand and hand. 

Resources:

Winner, M. (2017, August 29). Social Thinking Articles. Retrieved July 3, 2020, https://www.socialthinking.com/Articles?name=teaching-physical-movement-face-to-face-communication

Three Steps to Improving Social Skills 

Behaviors that people engage in and demonstrate in a social context are thought of as social skills. These behaviors can be appropriate or inappropriate, which affects whether others view this person as having “poor” or “good” social skills. If a four-year-old is having a tantrum during school, it is viewed as typical. However, if a ten-year-old is having the same tantrum during class the child has a behavior problem. Children that have social or behavioral problems are repeatedly told that they need to develop better social skills. Treatment plans that target social skills often work on how the child behaves in specific social situations like at home, in the community, or at school. For example, the child could work on sitting still in a chair during class or keeping busy and quiet during an outing with the family. These treatment plans are like blueprints for behavior in specific situations that the child encounters. For children to produce the appropriate behavior it requires them to understand the situation and people involved. 

  1. Take part in social thinking- this means the child must consider their own and others’ thoughts, feelings, intentions, and intentions. Self-awareness and perspective taking allow the child to interpret and understand the behaviors that are expected of them and the social situation they are in. It is important to remember that social thinking directly influences behavioral responses. 
  2. Adapt behaviors effectively- children must adapt their behaviors to communicate their intentions to others and based on the thoughts and feelings of others. This increases the likelihood that others respond and react positively. 
  3. Recognize the reactions of others- social skills influence how we feel about people and how people feel about us. However, people respond to our behaviors quickly. If someone has good social skills others will label them as “kind” or “polite.” While someone with poor or weak social skills might be labeled as “rude” or “impolite.” The way people treat us is often based on how they responded to our behavior. 

Using social skilsl are a part of everyday life and they can even affect a child’s academic success. We use social skills and social thinking when you think about other’s perspectives. This could be watching a movie or sporting event, sending a text, or reading a book. These three steps help children become more aware and adaptable when using social skills. First, take part in social thinking and consider everyone’s thoughts, feelings, and intentions. Adapt your behaviors based on your intentions and others’ thoughts and feelings. Then, recognize the reactions of others to your behaviors. Social skills are not memorized, rehearsed, and based on one singular context or stimulus. It is important to teach children to adapt and adjust to specific people or situations.

 

Resources: Winner, M. (2015, May). Social Thinking Articles. Retrieved July 1, 2020, https://www.socialthinking.com/Articles?name=improving-social-skills-begins-with-social-thinking

5 Tips for Helping Children to Cope with Anxiety

Anxiety and feeling anxious in situations are much more common than we realize. Children that are self-aware could start experiencing instances of social anxiety starting at four years old. If individuals are not aware of how they are perceived by others are more likely to have social-sensory anxiety. This means they might be overwhelmed by the unpredictability of people and could become sensory overwhelmed by the presence of a large group of people. However, social anxiety is not the only type of anxiety that people can be affected by. There is world-based anxiety that deals with change, performance anxiety where there is anxiety about work that needs to be done, and anxiety related to trauma that triggers emotions and physical reactions. According to a 2018 study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, anxiety of all forms is now the primary mental health issue for American children. It can be difficult to manage feelings, thoughts, and behaviors when we feel anxious. Here are 5 tips to help children learn how to manage and cope with anxiety:

  1. Respect the child’s feelings. It is important to remember that anxiety is not a “one-size-fits all” experience. Children need validation for their thoughts and feelings, so never tell children they should not feel sad, mad, or anxious. Let them know that each person may feel differently about a situation, and that is okay. 
  2. Try to learn what makes the child anxious, worried, or even stressed. Identifying these triggering events or phrases can help parents and providers avoid making the child’s anxiety worse. When the source of the child’s anxiety is unknown, comments from providers and parents could increase stress levels for the child because the anxiety is not being acknowledged. If describing these specific phrases, events, or situations are difficult for the child try having the child describe the level of anxiety. It is important to remember that anxiety and stress is not always logical. 
  3. Use more than language to describe what anxiety is. There are several alternatives to have children communicate what the stress levels are, including a visual scale or drawing pictures. Visual scales could include what the child’s stress level is from 1-10 during certain activities such as walking in line, working in a group, playing at recess, or walking into the classroom in the morning. For older children, visual scales could be used for the classes they are in throughout the school day like anxiety levels in math compared to levels in reading. Another way to describe anxiety could be a scale using levels of calm to stressed with people they interact with throughout the day. 
  4. Provide a range of strategies to show that they are not stuck. It’s important for children to understand that their own thoughts and feelings can be noticed, analyzed, and changed. Helping your child become a flexible thinker will help them think differently and reframe the stressors in their life. Current language arts curriculums are starting to incorporate managing stress and understanding the emotions they are feeling. However, with the uncertainty of school and summer, there are resources outside of the school that can help with this. At home, you can find Youtube videos and movies where characters deal with stress and anxiety.  
  5. Teach that the goal is self-management, not comfort. Change and uncertainty have been a major part of our everyday lives, so let them know it’s okay to feel discomfort. Try to be encouraging because stress is stressful. Teaching strategies to cope with the discomfort will improve their anxiety and overall well-being. 

Stress and anxiety are affecting children more than ever. This time of uncertainty and change, especially without the routines of school, could increase anxiety and stress for children. Teaching children to respect their feelings, describe emotions with more than language, and self-management could help them cope with anxiety. As parents or providers it is important to learn what could trigger the anxiety for your child and provide them with a wide range of strategies to understand their emotions. Coping with stress should be taught with compassion and patience. Children should learn that they are not different or bad for having anxiety, the world is filled with difficult and stressful situations. 

Resources: Winner, M. (2019, November 05). Social Thinking Articles. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from https://www.socialthinking.com/Articles?name=14-tips-help-kids-manage-anxiety

How to Overcome Challenges of Cooperative Play

Cooperative play has been found to be the most difficult stage of play for children. In this stage of play, peers work together to achieve a common goal. Children are learning higher level skills like requesting from peers, contribute ideas, take turns, share with others, and problem solve. All these factors can lead to conflict, however, are needed for the success for other group situations in life. There are four main challenges of cooperative play for children with ASD including players in close proximity, variation, trading/sharing with others, and turn taking. Here are some ideas to overcome these challenges for more successful cooperative play for your child.

Tolerating peers in close proximity – Children are less predictable and may be viewed as aversive for several reasons. Other peers could touch, invade personal space, and change the plan of play. For some children, these actions can be upsetting and lead to challenging behaviors. The first step of intervention is having your child accept others in the play space. You can then work to associate others with positive and reinforcing things to that specific child. It is also beneficial in the beginning, to choose play partners that are most likely to be tolerated and accepted by your child.

Accept variation – As other peers join in play, it is likely that variations with be added and change will occur. If a child plays in repetitive or predictable activities, they could find this aversive. Variation could turn into a negative experience and lead to escalation when others join or approach. If a negative learning history is established then the child could become upset when others come near, even if the peers are not touching toys or engaging in play. Intervention should focus on flexibility and activities for tolerating change.

Trading and sharing with others. To engage in trading and sharing children must request and respond to requests from other peers. Before starting to work on sharing, the child needs to accept other peers in close proximity as well as trading with an adult during play. When the child is ready to start working on sharing start with trading. This allows the child to trade items without losing a preferred item and receiving nothing in return. It is also important to become familiar with typical child development to set appropriate expectations for your child. Children should not and will not share every time they are asked, which will lead to conflict. This conflict is expected and natural.

Waiting and turn taking. Waiting can be difficult for young children, both neurotypical and those with ASD. This can occur because the equipment is not available, like no available swings at the park, or not enough space. If a child engages in challenging behaviors while waiting, there are ways to add more structure to show when an activity will begin. You could create routines by using a timer, specific number or turns, or counting. Another approach is teaching the child to participate in other activities while waiting. While waiting children could clap for the others that are playing or singing.

Interactions with peers and play can be difficult and upsetting for children with ASD. This could make play and peers aversive to those with ASD that have had negative experiences. These are just some ways to overcome four common barriers of cooperative play. It is important for children to tolerate those in close proximity, accept variation, trading and sharing, and waiting with sharing. Cooperative play teaches children skills that will be utilized and essential throughout life.

Resources: Mission Cognition, LLC. Family Training Resource

4 Ways to Expand Language

One of the main deficits in people with ASD is delayed speech and language. Communication can be verbal, non-verbal, and through AAC devices. Children with ASD can have difficulty knowing the power of communication. They do not understand how to get basic or social needs met through language and communication. Communication like gaining attention from others, delivering messages, and conversations are needed to be independent. It is important to promote language and help communication growth but remember it can be frustrating not being able to communicate with others, so challenging behaviors may occur.

Non-verbal communication is important to teach and incorporate with daily speech. Children that have ASD have delays in verbal communication, as well as conveying and interpreting non-verbal communication. This means they have difficulty using body language, gestures, and expressions to communicate. By improving this it can help children can become more effective communicators. To support this area, you can add animated facial expressions to help with visual attending to others while playing. Gestures and pointing can help promote eye contact and development of non-verbal communication.
Verbal communication starts with mands, or more commonly known as, requests. This is the first thing that a child is taught so they understand the power of communication. Mands get their needs and wants met, so they are more likely to use it in the future. Once the child’s wants or needs are determined then you can prompt an alternative and safe way to communicate those wants or needs. Based on the abilities of the child, a PECS or communication device might be needed to communicate. The child can point, hand a picture, or click a button on a device to mand. For children that can imitate sounds and speech, they can repeat those wanted words or phrases. To increase the use of these mands, setting up contrived situations would be beneficial for practice. Have desired or reinforcing items out of reach where the children would have to mand for what they want/need. This could be having your child say, “buh” or “bubbles,” in order to gain access to the bubbles.
Tacts, or labeling, focuses more on the social interaction versus gaining access to the item. It is important for a child’s development to spontaneously commenting on the environment and world around them. Tacting works on children answering questions like “what’s that?” Labeling in the natural environment draws attention to the item or to the speaker. To increase tacting, you can place pictures around the house or in the environment. Then have the child label the picture and provide natural comments about the label.
Intraverbal, also referred to as fill-ins, are important to having conversations. When they are first introduced, intraverbals are simple fill is such as “1, 2, ….” or “ready, set, …” As the language expands for a child, the intraverbals can become more advanced. Introducing intraverbals during play routines can be effective for expanding language. As the language expands, the child will learn to answer a wide range of questions. This could include “How old are you?” “What’s your mom’s name?” “What grade are you in?”
By expanding language, it gives children the child their own power and voice their own wants and needs. The child is first taught important non-verbal communication and mands including learning gestures or using requests like, “more,” “stop,” and “eat.” Working on tacting, or labels, promotes spontaneous language growth for children. Intraverbals should be incorporated after building up mands and tacts with your child. Intraverbals focus on communicating with others and starts as the foundation for having conversations in the future. All of these steps can help children with ASD become more independent by using language and communication.

Resources: Mission Cognition, LLC. Family Training Resource