Behavior Intervention for young children with Autism

Behavior Intervention for young children with Autism
Back in the summer of 98 when my oldest son was first diagnosed with Autism I found many catalogs geared towards the special needs community profiling books that would be beneficial. I ordered at that time a PECS manual and this manual. The pre-school teacher recently borrowed the PECS manual and the previous teacher made copies of many of the teaching charts listed in Behavioral Intervention for Young Children with Autism: A Manual for Parents and Professionals.

This consists of four hundred pages listing twenty-one chapters. Since writing another book on her autistic children, the editor Catherine Maurice received so many calls from parents inquiring on behavioral programs and combining them with the countless types of therapies that families are trying to incorporate. She refers to the countless breakthrough treatments that parents flock to in order to cure the autism their child has. She feels that unless you can provide concrete scientific research to support said statements no one is really an authority on autism. There are an alarming number of professionals and parents that have come to rely on educators and therapists and they may not have all the facts, yet we rely on them to have the answers for our children.

When the diagnosis of autism is received most often the first call made is to the Autism Society of America, as the author did and found literature that was outdated as well as nothing on behavior intervention. It is hard to distinguish between the mumbo jumbo being pushed towards parents as the cure-all to end autism.

The chapters consist of the following:

1. Why this manual
2. Choosing an effective treatment
3. What does research tell us
4. Are other treatments effective
5. Selecting teaching programs
6. Teaching new skills to young children with autism
7. Behavioral Analysis and Assessments
8. Identifying Qualified Professionals in Behavior Analysis
9. Recruiting, Selecting and Training Teaching Assistants
10. The UCLA Young Autism Model of Service Delivery
11. Community Based Early Intervention for children
12. Funding the Behavioral program: Legal stages for parents
13. Incorporating Speech-language therapy into ABA
14. Strategies for Promoting language acquisition
15. What Parents can expect from public school programs
16. Supported Inclusion
17. Answers to commonly asked questions

The last chapters are personal stories, about the authors and the index. This was co-edited by Gina Green & Stephen C. Luce. I had the preschool teacher several years ago make copies of Chapter five and incorporate them in her program. The curriculum guide was in a beginner, intermediate and advanced sections broken down into various skills such as:

Receptive Language
Expressive Language
Abstract Language
School Readiness

Depending on the level of the student this could be reading common words, zippers, washes hands, identifies more and less, labels objects, identifies letters, shapes, colors, etc. The programs have columns for the specified instruction, response, date introduced and date mastered. I made copies of these forms for both my children.

There is also a flow-chart that explains the system for behavior modification and the steps to go through depending on yes or no responses. At the end of each chapter lists conclusions, acknowledgements and references accordingly. Throughout the book are examples of steps or exercises to use and tables with the tasks being broken step by step. This is the example of the table for washing hands:

1. Turns on cold water
2. Turns on hot water
3. Places hands under water
4. Gets soap
5. Rubs soap between hands
6. Puts soap down
7. Rubs front of hands together
8. Rubs back of right hand
9. Rubs back of left hand
10. Places hands under water
11. Rubs front of hands together
12. Rubs back of right hand
13. Rubs back of left hand
14. Turns off warm water
15. Turns off cold water

This I would hope gives a glimpse of how an autistic individual learns to do simple tasks that many take for granted. This analogy must be applied in all facets of learning when it comes to teaching children on the Autism Spectrum "Chaining is the linking together of component skills to comprise an entire, more complex skill. A description of the specific steps in the chain is referred to as a task analysis."

I know from reading other books from parents who have children who are now adults and on the Spectrum that they tape these sort of steps on the wall, refrigerator and bathroom sink to instill the sameness into their daily scheduling.

Nicholas is much the same way starting his day at breakfast having the same thing everyday. When he was six he needeed to hear "your welcome" every time he would tell me "thank you". Matthew must have his socks next to him when he sits on the couch, and the video box must be in a certain position on the table when he watches his videos.

In the 1988 movie Mercury Rising with Bruce Willis the story centered on an autistic boy whose parents were murdered. Even though they were no longer alive, the boy upon entering the house went to the kitchen, opened the cabinet for his mug and made his drink announcing he was home and went about his daily routines.

Behavioral Intervention for Young Children With Autism: A Manual for Parents and Professionals should be in the home of every parent who has an autistic child, those that teach children should have a copy in the classroom as well as therapists, doctors, nutritionists and other professionals that come into contact with the special needs community. Several years ago Matthew had a behavior assessment where I did not agree with the written assessment and cited numerous discrepancies. Our speech therapist at the clinic through our insurance moved to Italy to work with the military families who have children with special needs. Matthew went back into the preschool program for his third year and reportedly started biting one of the teaching assistants.

Each of the obstacles we parents and professionals face with teaching and aiding the child on the Autism Spectrum can be helped by reading various chapters in Behavioral Intervention for Young Children With Autism: A Manual for Parents and Professionals. It is not a book to read from cover to cover but rather as the need arises. One of the chapters under the UCLA model discusses mainstreaming, which is what Nicholas started doing at age six for half days in the first grade.

Every parent has to figure out ways to fund therapies from battling the school district, getting assistance from the State Disability office, authorizations from their insurance or private resources such as reaching out to the community for donations through charitable non-profit organizations. There is also a check-list under the speech therapy chapter and suggested readings under language acquisition. Also the chapter on inclusion is beneficial to those families who are contemplating mainstreaming. Learn in the questions chapter how to help your typical children relate to your autistic child. There are examples of what the average therapies cost for families as well as how many hours are suitable for each age group.

Since the professionals that work within the special needs community often change from year to year, this is a must manual for families. You can share and even copy certain chapters to share with the new member of the team to work on behavior intervention in their home, school or out in the community. I feel better knowing that one of the editors, Catherine Maurice, is also a parent to two autistic children and does not feel the need to find a cure, instead accepting the diagnosis and trying to fit her children into society as they are.

Adapted from a review previously published on Epinions.

I sold my copy a few years ago on ebay when funds were low. My copy was filled with highlighted pages also. I now utilize A Treasure Chest of Behavioral Strategies for Individuals with Autism.

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