Posts Tagged ‘visual schedules’

Logo2012 was a great year for the Applied Behavioral Strategies blog. We had almost 100,000 visitors in total. Here is a list of the most visited blog postings last year. The great news is that I wrote some of the most visited posts in 2011. I am pleased that my posts remain relevant for readers.

#5. Early Morning School Routines. Who doesn’t need help with this? Seriously, it is THE most stressful time of the day for my house.

#4 Just Say No. I can see why this one has staying power. Almost daily, I hear myself saying “Parents need to learn to say no.” You don’t even have to state a reason. Just know that your child needs to learn to accept being told no. (And despite how it may feel or sound, it will NOT be the end of the world.)

#3 Autism Awareness Apps. I really need to update this link. I will be sure to do so in time for April give aways. Keep in mind that I’m also presenting on this topic at SXSW in Austin, TX in March, 2013.

#2. Do You Use Visual Schedules? Wow. I am pleased that this topic is still a hit. If you aren’t using visual schedules, you should! In my home, we use a homework whiteboard every day and it makes our afternoons a BREEZE!

#1. Using ABA to Teach Math. I had no idea when I wrote this post that it would become so popular. The great news is that ABA may be used for a variety of skills!

I cannot thank you enough for your readership! Keep the reading, following, sharing, ideas, feedback, and questions for Ask Missy Monday coming!

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Hi! and welcome to What Works Wednesdays where we share a success story from our clinical files.Today’s success story is a follow up to a previous clinical case. Do you remember Little Cherub? She first came to us over a year ago. Little Cherub’s dad attended a presentation we did in Atlanta. He desperately wanted help because she had very restricted eating. After listening to dad talk about her symptoms, we suggested that Little Cherub be seen by a specialist to determine if she had celiac, an autoimmune condition that leaves the body unable to digest gluten, a type of protein found in bread, pasta, and cakes.

Sure enough, Little Cherub had celiac. After putting her on a gluten-free (GF) diet, she further restricted her eating. After 5 of the toughest days imaginable, we finally helped Little Cherub learn that new foods are not scary and that, in fact, new foods can actually taste good. Little Cherub’s parents were amazed to see her chasing them down to get more cantaloupe!

In addition to her eating behaviors, Little Cherub has a fear of many new things. Take toileting for example. Little Cherub wanted to continue using her pull up for toileting. Urinating on the toilet was not painful for her. But from the look on her face and the behaviors she exhibited, one would think she felt extreme pain on the toilet. In the same week we taught her to eat, we taught her to use the toilet for urinating and defecating. We made a simple visual schedule to show her that “pee” goes in the toilet.

Within 2 days, Little Cherub overcame her fears of using the toilet. We reserved her very favorite jalapeno corn chips as a treat and she learned to associate positive things with the toilet.

Less than 10 months after overcoming her fears of new foods and toilets, Little Cherub began showing fear-like behaviors in public places such as Target and grocery stores. Little Cherub’s dad reached out to us again for assistance.

Public places can be very scary for children on the spectrum. Public places are loud, they have strange lighting, and things are not always predictable. However, once you teach children the routine, and associate the public place with something positive, children learn that public places are not scary after all.

Little Cherub’s parents used the same intensive model we used with feeding. They began taking her to public places two times per day, every day, for a week. Little Cherub’s dad writes,

She went from cowering to smiling when we went twice a day for a week and explained to her what everything was she was seeing and hearing.

Congrats again to Little Cherub and her parents for working so hard on overcoming these fears. The work parents do is never easy but with success stories like this, it makes all the work worthwhile!

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Each week we try to review a research article. Though not intentional, several of our posts this week related to visual supports for students with autism and other disabilities. Thus, we thought it would be helpful to review a research study on the use of visual supports.

Today’s research article was published by researchers at the University of Kansas. However, the article is now over 10 years old and several of the authors have moved to other institutions. You are probably wondering why we would review an article that is over 10 years old. We have 2 reasons for doing so. First, while the article is old, many teachers and parents do not even know about visual supports. Sadly, research does not always result in translation to practice. Second, the authors completed a cool study with results that we found compelling to share with you. Finally, if it worked 10 years ago, it most likely will work today–especially if we augment the practice with a little technology.

The authors of this study included Sarah Dettmer, Richard Simpson, Brenda Smith Myles, and Jennifer Ganz. The study appeared in Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities in 2000 under the title, The Use of Visual Supports to Facilitate Transitions of Students with Autism. You may find a copy of the study (and many others) here.

Participants in the study included 5- and 7-year-old boys with autism. Both boys experienced difficulties transitioning between activities. The researchers used a withdrawal research design. Specifically, researchers observed behaviors and collected data in baseline. This was followed by intervention procedures and additional observations. The researchers then withdrew the treatment and continued observations. Finally, the treatment was reinstated while observations continued. A design such as this demonstrates experimental control and shows the effectiveness of an intervention if observed behaviors change as a result of treatment and treatment withdrawal.

For this study, baseline (or pretreatment) observations demonstrated the difficulty of transitions for each child. One mother physically removed her child from community settings due to challenging behaviors and refusals to leave. Both boys required 2-5 minutes of transition time combined with multiple verbal and physical prompts.

The intervention consisted of the use of visual supports. Researchers taught parents how to use visual schedules to communicate to their children upcoming events. If the intervention sounds simplistic to you, it is. The simplicity of the intervention adds to the quality of the study.

Both boys experienced decreases in total transition time. Specifically, one boy decreased from 5 minute transitions to 1.5 minute transitions. The other boy decreased from 2 and 3 minute transitions to transitions lasting 30 seconds.

The most surprising finding in this study (and the reason we still want to talk about it 10 years later) is the fact that one student verbally requested his picture book when it was removed. The other student went looking for the visual support materials. The students wanted their visual schedules.

So why 10 years later aren’t we all using visual supports for children who need them?

If you have a child or a student with autism who experiences difficulties with transitions. Consider using visual supports as a strategy to reduce transition difficulty. If the student has an iPad consider purchasing iPrompts so a visual schedule may be made in seconds.

Happy transitions everyone!

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Morning Schedule

We are often called out to consult in classrooms to help with “problem children”. Most of those visits confirm that the child, is in fact, having difficulties in the classroom. Sadly, many staff in those settings view the child as the problem rather than recognizing that the child is merely responding to his environment. As teachers, we often forget that children with disabilities, including autism, need ongoing support to be successful. We often try a strategy for a few days and then over time the strategy slowly slips off our instructional radar. This is especially true for a support strategy such as visual schedules.

Similarly, we are frequently called by families who need our help with tantrums and other difficulties in the home. Many times, families do not have any strategies to use in the home. Often, we meet families who have never seen a visual schedule, let alone know what to do with one.

A visual schedule (also known¬† as visual supports and picture schedules) is a task list with pictures. For example, this picture shows the “task list” for a child’s morning. First, he must put away his backpack. Then he participates in circle time. Then he has math followed by snack and toileting. Finally, it is time for reading.

Just as task lists help us remember all that we need to do in a day, visual schedules help children remember what they need to do each day. Visual schedules also help children predict their day. When children anticipate activities, they are less likely to engage in challenging behaviors around those activities.

Visual schedules may be used to show a morning routine such as the one just described. Visual schedules may also be used to show

Hand washing Steps

steps of a routine such as hand washing, toileting, or getting dressed. Visual schedules are a great support for individuals who are learning a new job such as putting together a packing list.

iPrompts Countdown Timer

Many resources exist to help you make visual schedules. One of our favorites is an application for the iPad called iPrompts. The photo library in iPrompts is not nearly as inclusive or as high quality as the one in Proloquo2go. However, you may add as many pictures from your personal library in to the iPrompts library.

Another excellent resource is Meyer-Johnson. We have used their product, Boardmaker, for many years. While it is somewhat cost prohibitive, you will find the software to be extremely useful. Using Boardmaker, we have made countless picture schedules, communication icons, choice boards. We work with a parent who uses the software to make many instructional materials for her child. You will need some training and practice to become proficient with this software. However, once you learn to use it, your options are unlimited.

Finally, Do2Learn is another excellent source of support for making visual schedules. You will find their website helpful with pictures, schedules and other tools.

Meyer-Johnson Afternoon Schedule

We recommend the use of visual schedules for children with and without disabilities. Children need to understand and predict the activities within their day. Visual supports will help them. Visual supports are another excellent way to support the beginning stages of reading as well.

Do you use visual schedules? Do you find them helpful for your child? What resources have you found helpful?

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