Hi and welcome to “What Works Wednesdays” where we share a success story from one of our clinical cases. All names have been changed to preserve the privacy of the child and family. Our intent is to show readers how successful ABA can be.
Today’s success story is about Nathan. We have already written about Nathan’s success with feeding intervention. But today, we will focus on Nathan’s success with academic intervention. We cannot take full credit for Nathan’s growth as he attends The Speech Academy during the day. We know he is working on reading and math there.
None the less, we teach specific academic skills in the afternoons and evenings and we use ABA to do it. In the area of math, his parents want him to learn basic addition. An observational assessment revealed that Nathan was not able to count out a specific number of items. Nathan, can however, count items and correctly identify orally how many items exist. So, we set out to teach Nathan to count items. We started with “make 1”. We place a 1 at the top of the instructional area and we give Nathan stimuli with an instruction to “make 1”. When Nathan places one item under the 1, we ask him to count. He counts the 1 item and we reinforce. When Nathan was able to do this 90% of opportunities with no prompts, we moved on to “make 2”. When Nathan was able to do make 2 correctly with no prompts, we began presenting “make 1” and “make 2” in random rotation.
For reading, we started Nathan on Dolce grade 1 sight words. We started with receptive identification. We took the words and placed them in a field of 2. We asked Nathan to point to ____. When he was able to successfully identify words in a field of 2, we moved the word to a field of 3. Nathan has learned to identify almost all the words on the list. Our next step is to have him read the words he knows receptively. We taught this using most to least prompting to ensure success. We systematically faded prompts until he could identify the word independently. We also used reinforcement when he correctly responded. We faded reinforcement so that Nathan received a token for correct responding. When he earned 5 tokens, he could take a brief break.
In addition to sight words, we are teaching Nathan phonics. We have started with the “at” family. We first taught him to read the word “at”. Then we started teaching him how to make different words by adding a letter. We gave Nathan a field of 3 letters (including the letter b) and asked him to make “bat”. Initially, we prompted to ensure 100% correct responding and then we faded prompts until he could do the skill independently. We used reinforcement as we described with sight words.
Nathan has made such great progress since we started ABA with him in July. He is speaking loudly and in longer sentences. He is counting and correctly identifying numbers 1-15. He is learning to read. He is completely toilet trained with almost no accidents. He is learning to dress himself.
We know this is all hard work for Nathan, his parents, and his therapy team. They all deserve a loud cheer for their hard work. Keep up the great work everyone!