ABA early interventions 26 Mar 2019

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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ABA Early Interventions – What do we focus on?

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is often misunderstood. Parents say to me “well you work on behaviour don’t you, so how will that help my child socialise, or communicate?”  What a good question! Let’s look at the history a little to clarify. Behaviour Analysis goes back a long way, but the most revolutionary (in my opinion) was B.F. (Burrus Frederic) Skinner. Skinner was the first to define the Verbal Behaviour Operants, which we have talked about in previous posts (Mands, Tacts, Intraverbals). He was also the first person to accept thoughts as behaviour.

You can count something as a behaviour as long as it is objective, observable by at least one person (hence observing your own thoughts), and measurable – even heart rate is a behaviour. Now that we’ve broadened definition, I can begin to explain what this means for your child and their development.

There’s more to ABA than behaviour in early intervention

ABA early interventions focus on a whole range of skills.  I’m going to break down how these are behaviours.

Vocal Language
  • Vocal language, or speech, is a behaviour that is measurable, observable and able to be objectively defined. ABA works on increasing children’s communication by increasing their repertoire of sounds or words, and providing meaningful functions for these.
  • There are many types of vocal language, labelling items, requesting items and answering and asking questions. Children with Autism sometimes need specific teaching to be able to use the same word in different contexts.
Play
  • Play can be broken down into many, smaller behaviours, which we can then teach into a one big complex behaviour. An easy example would be doing a puzzle; you can measure how many pieces a child can accurately place and teach matching skills to support children identifying which pieces together.

In summary, ABA is definitely focused on behaviour, but that means something different than just looking at tantrums, or problems. Please come and talk to us about what skills we can teach, not just what problems we can help with! You can call the team on 9274 7062.

Jasmin Fyfe

Program Manager, ABACAS

https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/services/aba-child-and-adolescent-services-abacas/

19 Mar 2019

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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The benefits of intensive early intervention

Intensive Early Intervention is critical for young children on the Autism Spectrum. A 2015 study found that the average age for children to receive an Autism diagnosis was 4 years and 1 month (Bent, Dissanayake, & Barbaro, 2015). In the scheme of a lifetime this seems early, however in the scheme of Early Intervention, it is a great deal of time lost. We know more about development than ever before, the brains plasticity, and crucial developmental windows. Although we can continue learning our whole lives, the early years are most formative for our language development, and many other skills.

How much intervention?

Intensive Early Intervention, starting as soon as possible, will provide your child with the best opportunity to start their life with a solid foundation of skills. The Behaviour Analysis Certification Board (BACB) recommends a minimum of 10 hours per week of ABA, starting as early as 18 month, with new research looking at starting even earlier. Here at ABACAS we can provide you with an Intensive Early Intervention Program, which addresses multiple domains of development, is motivation-based, and works with you and your family to set and meet achievable goals.

So why do an Intensive Early Intervention Program?

It sounds like a great deal of stress, and financially can be difficult. There can be a lot of appointments and you might have other children to consider too. These are all valid concerns, and we will work with you to address them. However when we look at the benefits, there are many. A meta-analysis (which means that someone read all the recent and historical research on one topic) found that “…long-term, comprehensive ABA intervention leads to (positive) medium to large effects in terms of intellectual functioning, language development, acquisition of daily living skills and social functioning” (Vitues-Ortega, 2010). This study also supported that dose and intensity (frequency and length of therapy sessions) are important factors in whether ABA produces clinically significant outcomes.

If you’re interested in knowing more about Intensive Early Intervention please call one of our team to discuss. We will be addressing a few different area’s of early intervention including expressive and receptive language, social skills, verbal behaviours, echoic repertoire’s, play skills and imitation over the next few posts.

You can also read more about how we work by following the link:

https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/services/aba-child-and-adolescent-services-abacas/

Jasmin Fyfe

ABACAS Program Manager

References

Virués-Ortega, J. (2010). Applied behavior analytic intervention for autism in early childhood: Meta-analysis, meta-regression and dose–response meta-analysis of multiple outcomes. Clinical psychology review30(4), 387-399.

Bent, C. A., Dissanayake, C. and Barbaro, J. (2015), Mapping the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders in children aged under 7 years in Australia, 2010–2012. Medical Journal of Australia, 202: 317-320. doi:10.5694/mja14.00328

 

14 Mar 2019

BY: admin

Occupational Therapist Team

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Handwriting-When are children ready?

Many skills have to be developed before children are ready to learn to write.

Learning to write is not just about fine motor manipulation. A child is absorbing language from everyone around them at a very young age.  Much later they reach the stage of babbling and  imitating those around them. This is the beginning of expressing themselves through language.  Children have to practice expressing themselves through speech for many years before they are ready to translate those sounds and abstract symbols of speech into letters. During those early years, through crawling, climbing and progression through physical milestones, they are learning with their whole body.

How whole body development helps handwriting

Once children become confident with their body and their language understanding, they can learn 3 dimensional concepts such as ‘up’ and ‘down’, ‘top and bottom’ ‘over’ and ‘under’, ‘left’ and ‘right’. It is only when a child has become fully aware of their body and how it moves through space, can they begin to grasp drawing symbols that represent these directional concepts.

Children need to be drawing for several years before they are ready to learn to write, drawing at a vertical surface is particularly helpful to develop sufficient shoulder stability to help control the pencil. Working at a vertical surface is also much better for visual attention and eye tracking skill development. To be able to learn to write, a child has to have matured in their eye movements. Along with this, they need to build a ‘stable base’ or strong core, which develops through plenty of physical play every day.

Preparing for writing

With sufficient drawing practice behind them, a child is far more confident attempting to learn to write letters. There are 9 developmental forms that a child needs to be able to draw independently and spontaneously by the time they are around 5 and a half years old.  By the time a child is 4, they need to be able to cross their midline. They will then be able to draw a cross and then they can draw a square. By the time they are 5 they are attempting the more complex triangular shape.

The best preparation for handwriting in young children is many hours of physical play, balancing, climbing, spinning, swinging and ‘heavy work’ every day. Drawing skills are best learnt using whole arm movements at a vertical surface. Blackboard, whiteboard, paper attached to an easel or wall is the way to go. Shaving cream on a glass sliding door is really fun and provides a lot of tactile feedback. Activities such as sandpit play, making roads and tracks, drawing on a concrete path with stubby chalk is excellent practice for developing shoulder strength. These activities, along with plenty of one on one time being read to,  are the best basis for learning handwriting.

Needing help with handwriting?

Occupational Therapists can help assess a child’s handwriting skills and provide therapy to correct any difficulties. For more information about our services at the Centre, please call Reception on 9274 7062.

 

Madeline Minehan

Occupational Therapist

Social Skills Program 13 Mar 2019

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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Fantastic Friends – Social Skills Programs for 8-11 year olds

In Term Two, our group social skills programs start up again. Social skills are what we need to be able to make and keep friends. For children the emphasis is developing play and conversational skills with peers.

Fantastic Friends sessions will be run by two facilitators  (Simone and Toni). The program aims to build and develop more complex social skills. For this age group, we will focus on a range of skills including starting and maintaining a conversation, introducing self and other people, asking questions, and apologizing. At the beginning of each term, the specific skills being taught will be customised to the group needs.

Who is suited: Children aged 8-11 years of age who need help with making or keeping friends.

Where: Child Wellbeing Centre at our Tuohy Lane offices, Midland.

When: Friday afternoons during school Term Two, 4-5.30 pm

How much: $87.80 per session

How to get involved: Contact our Reception on 9274 7062 to book an initial appointment with Simone or Toni.

At the initial appointment we will talk to you about your child’s needs so we can work out whether the group program is what they need.

For more information about our other social skills programs, please follow the link:

https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/services/social-skills-programs/

Social Skills Programs 13 Mar 2019

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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Best Buddies – Social Skills Programs for 6-8 year olds

In Term Two, our group social skills programs start up again. Social skills are what we need to be able to make and keep friends. For children the emphasis is developing play and conversational skills with peers.

Our “Best Buddies” program will help to build your child’s confidence. We will be using modelling, and role playing to practice new skills and refine existing skills.

Who is suited: Children aged 6 to 8 years of age who need help with making or keeping friends.

Where: Child Wellbeing Centre at our Tuohy Lane offices, Midland.

When: Thursday afternoons during school Term Two, 4.00-5.30 pm

How much: $87.80 per session

How to get involved: Contact our Reception on 9274 7062 to book an initial appointment with Simone or Toni.

Best Buddies sessions will be run by two facilitators  (Simone and Toni). The skills being taught in each term will be determined by the needs of the children in the group. However, we will be looking at a range of skills including introducing yourself, conversation skills, play skills, helping a friend, sharing, and turn-taking.

At the initial appointment we will talking to you about your child’s needs so we can work out whether the group program is what they need.

For more information about our other social skills programs, please follow the link:

https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/services/social-skills-programs/

12 Mar 2019

BY: admin

Uncategorized

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Making school fun again with ABA

In today’s blog we will talk about how to make school fun again. Many children enjoy school but some will struggle at school. This can be very stressful for children, as well as parents and teachers. Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) can help to make school fun again, addressing both engagement in school activities and enjoyment.

Where to start with school difficulties?

The first thing to address is why your child isn’t enjoying school. Maybe they are bored, over taxed or having difficulties with friendships?

Our ABACAS team consultants will want to develop an individualised, function-based plan to reduce any barrier behaviours to learning and friendships. This might involve breaking down new skills into easier to learn chunks in consultation with teachers and parents. It might also include looking closely at reinforcers.

Depending on the target behaviours, reinforcers can include social activities with peers (something the child may not be able to access at home!). We might also look at special items or activities at school as reinforcers.   As you know from our other posts, the aim with reinforcers is to make them special for the child. Typically when we are working with schools, we look at reinforcers that aren’t available at home. That way we start to build up reasons for the child to look forward to  going to school.

Where to get help for school issues?

School needs to be associated with positive experiences, people your child likes to be around and fun. An ABA Consultant can work with the school and their teacher to adjust your child’s environment to suit their needs, and increase their skills. They will also work to fade out extrinsic motivators, and find a balance between inclusion and environmental modifications that suit your family and its values.

If this sounds like something we could help you with, please contact Jasmin Fyfe or Rachel Puan (9274 7062) for further information and support. We can help you understanding the reason why your child doesn’t like going to school, finding the right reinforcers for your child and coordinating with school.

Jasmin Fyfe

ABACAS Program Manager

(with help from Verena Hoffman, our psychology intern)

11 Mar 2019

BY: admin

ABACAS Team / Psychology Team

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Amazing Amigos – Social Skills Program for 4 to 6 year olds

In Term Two, our group social skills programs start up again. Social skills are what we need to be able to make and keep friends. For young children the emphasis is on learning how to play co-cooperatively with other children.

Our “Amazing Amigos” groups is a social skills group targeted at Kindergarten & Pre-Primary students. Children in these groups don’t need to have a diagnosis to benefit. We will teach social skills using modelling, role playing and hands on skills practice. Children will be able to try new skills and polish existing social skills amongst peers and supportive adults. The program is 10 weeks and fits in with school the school term. Sessions are run after school on a Wednesday afternoon from 4.00pm.

The specific skills taught each term will be determined by group needs. In general, we will be looking to teach or refine skills such as: asking for help; sharing; greeting others; turn taking and protective behaviours.

Where: Child Wellbeing Centre at our Tuohy Lane offices, Midland.

When: Wednesday afternoons 4.00pm – 5.00pm during the school term

Who is suited: Children aged between 4 and 6 years old who need help with their social skills. Diagnoses are not essential.

How much: $58.53 per session, to be paid each week of attendance.

How to get involved: Contact our Reception on 9274 7062 to book an initial appointment with Simone or Toni.

At the initial appointment we will talking to you about your child’s needs so we can work out whether the group program is what they need.

For more information about our other social skills programs, please follow the link:

https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/services/social-skills-programs/

06 Mar 2019

BY: admin

Occupational Therapist Team

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Hand dominance & crossing the midline

As a baby develops they reach a stage where they realise their hands belong to them and they can use them to reach, grasp, manipulate and investigate. Efficient vision provides the basis of motivation to reach out, touch and explore a familiar face and new things. During the first 6 months, hand movements progress, consisting of voluntary grasp and release, objects are exchanged between both hands. Typically babies will explore objects with their mouths as well as their eyes.

Coordinating two hands

To use both hands together is particularly complex. Both hands need to carry out a different movement task at the same time. One hand develops as the dominant hand, superior at manipulation skills, while the other becomes the helper, or supporting hand. This occurs between the age of 4 and 6 years. How does this work?

The ability to use both sides of the body together is part of general coordination development, it is known as bilateral coordination. Both sides of the brain work together, the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, while the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. As babies develop, they move through predictable movement patterns that integrate as they refine a skill. This includes 3 stages of bilateral coordination development.

1) Symmetrical bilateral coordination, or moving one side of the body in ‘mirror image’ to the other. By 3 months old, babies have more symmetry in their posture and movements, for example when babies first discover their hands, they bring them both to their midline and kick their legs together in a similar way.

2) Reciprocal bilateral coordination is when the right and left side move in opposite rhythmic motion, such as crawling, then later to walk.  As a child refines this skill they can learn to climb steps, to run then to pedal a trike.  A leading hand or foot may become apparent at this stage.

3) Asymmetrical bilateral coordination, this is when both sides of the body are doing something different but working together to achieve a complex task. For example, pouring water into a cup, or holding a jar and unscrewing the lid. Between age 4 and 6 children can manage these tasks efficiently and continue to improve once they have established a dominant hand and helper hand.

What’s crossing the midline about?

You may have heard about ‘crossing the midline’. What is this? There is an imaginary line dividing the left and right sides of the body. An exaggerated example of crossing midline is drawing a very large rainbow on a blackboard with one hand, in one movement.  If efficient bilateral integration has not fully developed, a child may start to draw the rainbow with their left hand, then stop at midline and swap to draw the other side with their right hand.

To be able to carry out self-care, get dressed, and learn to read and write without difficulty, a child needs to have an established dominant hand and be able to cross their midline. For a child to spontaneously and comfortably cross their midline, they require sufficient core stability and balance. Having a consistent dominant hand and a helping, or supportive hand is very important, that way each hand becomes specialised in the skill required. From this basis more complex fine motor skills can develop.

Help with hand dominance is a common referral reason for Occupational Therapists. For more information about our services, please contact reception on 9274 7062.

Madeline Minehan

Occupational Therapist

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