Occupational Therapist Team
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Everyone has daily ‘occupation’, eg, work, play, eat, sleep, dress. Occupational therapy promotes normal development and stimulates learning in children with specific learning difficulties, physical disabilities, delayed development or those recovering from illness or injury.
Working with children, their families and teachers, occupational therapists aim to improve the child’s quality of life by helping them to participate in play, preschool, school and home activities.
An occupational therapist may work with children in any of the following areas:
Prerequisite activities – the child’s physical abilities, such as motor control, hand-to-eye coordination, body awareness and sensation.
Functional skills – the child’s day-to-day living skills, such as eating, writing, going to the toilet, interacting with other children and playground skills.
The environment – such as classroom furniture, classroom and schoolyard access, and equipment for woodwork, art and physical education.
Information sourced from OT Australia:
Please call Reception to find out more about our OT services on 9274 7062
Happy OT week!
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In the next of our five part series, we look at verbal behaviour in children. Some children come into our ABA program with little or no expressive language. Some of our young clients expect their parents to “read their mind” and just “know” what they want. In other cases, parents have developed really good skills of predicting or anticipating the child’s needs. For example, parents learn very quickly that when their child starts climbing up the bookshelf – it usually means that they want something.
For many of our young clients, the first step is to teach them the value of language. From a behavioural perspective, this may mean teaching the child the function behind a word. A child may be able to say the word “help”. However being able to say the word, is not the same as knowing that “help” is the word to use whenever the child requires assistance. For example, being able to use the word “help” becomes very handy when trying to reach that thing that’s out of reach.
Types of Verbal Behaviour
In order to understand this better, let’s have a look at the types of verbal behaviour. According to Skinner, verbal behaviour can be categorized into these parts: echoics, mands, tacts and intraverbals:
|Echoics||Repeating what is heard vocally or with the use of manual sign imitation – for example, saying “water” after another person says “water”.|
|Mands||Requesting for something – for example, asking for “water” because you are thirsty.|
|Tacts||Identifying objects, verbs, situations by labelling them – for example, saying “water” when you see water.
|Intraverbals||Answering questions – for example, saying “water” when another person asks: “What would you like to drink?”|
An Example of Teaching Verbal Behaviour
Programs focusing on verbal behaviour often start by working out what a child is able to do. There is no point trying to teach a child to use the word “water” if they are not yet able to produce the correct sounds. A child may first need to be taught how to say “water” and to learn how to pronounce it correctly so that others can understand (using echoic strategies).
From there, the next stage it to teach the child that saying the word “water” will lead to good things happening (in this case being given something to drink or to play with). This is the process of teaching mands. Positive reinforcement is important as it will lead to the child being more likely to say the word “water” whenever he/she wants a cup of water. A flow on effect from this is that in increasing the child’s vocabulary, we might be able to reduce problematic behaviour (e.g. sinks being flooded and fridge doors left open).
Of course, we also want the child to be able to use this new word in other contexts. For example, being able to apply it to new situations (e.g. looking at the ocean and commenting on the “water”) through to being able to answer other people’s questions (e.g. “what would you like to drink?”).
Where to from here?
All of our clients enter into our programs with different levels of language. The job of your ABACAS Program Manager is to understand their current level of skills and work out next steps.
Please feel free to talk to either of the Program Managers about any questions you may have about verbal behaviour and your child.
To find out more about our services in general please call the Child Wellbeing Centre on (08) 9274 7062.
Assistant Program Manager, ABACAS
ABACAS Team / Uncategorized
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In an earlier post this year we touched on the four functions of behaviour being:
- Tangible (things)
(This is the link to the post in case you want to re-read it – https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/abacas-team/functions-of-childrens-behaviour/
To expand on last week’s blog about the three term contingency, we’re going to talk about how we can reduce motivation for children to engage in problematic behaviours, specific to their function.
Functions of Behaviour
First things first. When starting a new intervention it always help when your child is eating well, sleeping and in good health. Sometimes this is where we need to start before we can change behaviours. However for this example, let’s assume everything is fine. Let’s look in the example below:
|Child is playing alone for 10 minutes with parent in room||Child throws object at parent.||Parent scolds child about importance of not throwing items.
|A child has been playing on an iPad for an hour, parent removes and gives demand “clean up your room”||Child throws tantrum||Parent withholds iPad, but does not follow through
How does knowing the function help us?
In each of these scenarios a child has engaged in problematic behaviour.
Let’s tackle problem one. In this instance a child was engaging in appropriate play behaviour for 10 minutes before they engaged in the problem behaviour. The problem behaviour resulted in parent delivering attention, where as the play behaviour did not. The prolonged period without attention creates a state of deprivation which increases the value of a reinforcer (in this case attention). This means a child is more likely to give responses that have previously resulted in attention being delivered.
To improve the behaviour in this example, we can look at catching the child being good. Delivering attention often enough (for the behaviours you want to see more of) will make it less likely that the problem behaviour occurs.
Problem two lets us see an example of satiation which reduces the value of a reinforcer. These parents may successfully be able to get their child to clean their room on a regular basis using a “first, then” instruction with the iPad. However in this instance the child had prolonged free access to the reinforcer, and so it has temporarily lost its value. When you are offering reinforcement you should check for value, not just assume it is what the child wants.
A large part of the what the team does is to identify the purpose of behaviour. One we understand that we can make effective changes.
Please feel free to contact me on 9274 7062 if you would like to know more about functions of behaviour and motivations or talk about our services.
Program Manager, ABACAS
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Nothing is more heart breaking as a parent to hear that your child isn’t making friends. We all want the best for our children. The reality is that for some children (particularly the more shy and reserved variety) making new friends can be hard. Not only do children need some confidence to walk up to others but they also need an array of social skills to draw on.
5 Tips for Making Friends
Making friends (and keeping them) involve using a range of skills. These include being able to recognise when others are open to friendship and knowing how to approach and engage others. Then of course are the skills needed to keep friendships – which can also be tricky. But let’s start at the beginning with how children can make their first approach more successful…
The following are some tips for primary school aged children who have language skills but they can be modified for those a little less verbal:
Look for interest from other children
Imagine being in a park with lots of children running around. Running up to a random child who looks like they are doing something interesting might get a response but it might also lead to rejection.
Instead, encourage your child to look for other children that appear interested in playing with them. Who are these children? The ones that may already be looking at your child (watching what your child is doing) and the ones with a smile on their face. These are the children that are more likely to be positive about an approach from your child.
Children who are heavily involved in a game (particularly in groups) or playing with other children are less likely to give a positive response. They already have someone to play with. Sometimes groups of children want others to join them…especially if it’s a game that involves lots of running around. However if children have already worked out who they are playing with, they may not welcome approaches from others.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? However many children forget to say hello or introduce themselves. And of course, when your child does say “hi” to another child they need to look at them (eye contact) and smile too! This signals to the other child that they are being friendly.
Most of us enjoy it when others show interest in us. Your child asking “What are doing?”, “Can I play too?”, or “What’s that?” are good ways of starting up a conversation. They are also a way of testing the waters to see if the other child is interested in getting to know them too.
When the other child starts talking to your child, this is where conversational skills become important. Your child needs to show interest in what the other child says. They can also share something about themselves too. All of which helps to build a connection.
It’s great for your child to suggest activities that they and the other child can do. However if the other child wants to play another way or differently your child may need to go with the flow initially. Turn-taking with ideas and games can develop once your child works out that this is someone they want to spend more time with.
It’s OK if your child discovers that the other child isn’t that interested or isn’t the friend for them. Children can agree to disagree and part ways too. As a parent we can acknowledge our child’s disappointment but we need to refocus them on all the other children out there that may be the right sort of friend for them.
What to do if things just aren’t working?
The good news is that friendships skills can be taught. Many schools now provide programs targeting social skills and confidence so start by asking what your school may have available.
The internet also has bundles of resources and ideas for parents to access to help their children in this area.
In our Centre we teach social skills one on one in therapy and in various group programs (so children can practice their skills with other children).
Please call the Centre if you would like more information about our services on 9274 7062.
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Three term contingency?? For parents who are new to ABA, you’ll be discovering that we use a lot of jargon. It is our job to make sure that we not only translate this into layman’s terms for you, but also educate you about ABA terminology throughout your therapy journey. This is going to be one of a 5 part series focused on educating parents about terminology, what they mean, and how you can start applying them yourself. Parents continuing the work we do into the home, especially during Early Intervention (EI) is essential to see optimum success.
5 Part Series
In our five part series we will be covering the following terms:
- The three term contingency
- Functions of behaviour
- Verbal Behaviour
- Reinforcement and Punishment
The Three Term Contingency
The three-term contingency is a critical part of ABA, and all behaviour can, one way or another, fit into this breakdown. ABC, or Antecedent – Behaviour – Consequence, is how we frame behaviours. Behaviour and learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum – there is never a behaviour with no explanation. An antecedent is what happens before, and a consequence is what happens after. An antecedent can signal that reinforcement or punishment is, or is not, available for certain behaviours.
Here are some examples:
|The teacher says “who knows what letter this is?”||Child responds by putting his hand up and saying “a”||Praise from the teacher (attention)|
|A child has a difficult homework task in front of him.||Child says “Can I help you with the dishes mum?”||Mum says “yes of course” and they do dishes together (escape and attention)|
|Therapist says “What goes woof”||Child responds “Car”||Praise and an edible are given (tangible and attention).|
|A parent asks a child to turn off the TV||The child has a tantrum||The child is allowed 5 more minutes (tangible, escape).|
The consequence that is provided determines whether or not learning will occur. In three of these examples some “unhelpful” learning is occurring!
Sometimes your therapy team might ask you to keep ABC data on a behaviour of interests so that we can help design an intervention based on function (more on that next week).
If you are interested in this topic, or have any questions further questions about how this might be applicable to your child please feel free to call me on 9274 7062.
ABACAS Program Manager
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International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day is on Sunday 9th September every year. Yet many people have little idea of what FASD is and how it is caused.
What is FASD?
We’re very used to hearing in the media that alcohol consumption can cause a higher risk of many health conditions (e.g. cancer & heart disease). Alcohol use is also related to a higher rate of injury such as falls and vehicle accidents. And for some, alcohol is their addiction. It’s also associated with higher rates of depression, self-harm and suicide.
Alcohol use in pregnancy is the primary risk factor for babies being born with something called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or FASD. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are neuro-cognitive disorders that may present with a range of markers, including: unusual facial features; developmental delays; learning disabilities; behavioural difficulties; and health complications. As there is a spectrum of symptoms, FASD is often undetected until the child is older. However we now understand that it is a lifelong condition and children (adolescents and adults) often need ongoing support.
What’s the best thing to do in pregnancy?
FASD is an outcome of parents being unaware of the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Messages surrounding alcohol use during pregnancy in the past have been confusing. Do you remember back when the occasional glass of red wine was recommended for pregnant mothers? What we now know is that any level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy can present a risk to the baby in utero.
The tragedy of FASD is that it is avoidable. No one intentionally sets out to harm their baby. Views about alcohol use during pregnancy can vary from family to family, and culture to culture. However the reality is that exposure to alcohol during pregnancy can cause harm and no one knows how much or how frequently alcohol needs to be consumed to cause harm.
The safest thing to do during pregnancy is to cease drinking all alcohol. Just as with smoking (and our knowledge now of the health risks involved with smoking during pregnancy), stopping alcohol consumption is the safest thing to do for the developing baby.
Children with FASD have their own challenges which can vary from child to child. Families with children with FASD need support and often this starts with diagnosis and recognising the problem.
A great resource to find out more about FASD is the NoFASD website at:
And as always you are welcome to come and talk to any of the psychologists in the Centre about any aspect of your child’s development.
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Many parents who are first starting ABA as part of their child’s early intervention (or may have had some experience with ABA therapy) often ask the question, “will my child be sitting at the table the whole time?”. For Early Intervention (EI) clients, the answer should be no. Early Intervention ABA Therapy focuses on a combination of teaching developmentally appropriate skills and reducing challenging behaviours. How many small children do you know who spend 2+ hours a day seated at a small table with an adult? I imagine the answer is none.
ABA Therapy might teach children some skills at the table because this is a good way to ensure focus, reduce distractions and deliver the maximum number of learning opportunities. However, once these skills are mastered at the table then Natural Environment Training and generalisation should be used so these skills can consolidate. There is no point in children having ‘therapy skills’ and no practical skills.
What skills can be taught?
ABA can focus on improving play, social skills, daily living skills and toilet training. If these are socially significant goals for your family and your child, then ABA can teach these using the same principles of learning applied when teaching a child to discriminate between two flash cards. Social relationships, which is often one of the most difficult skills for children with an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis, should be taught in a way that will open up opportunities with peers, not just therapists and adults, and sets children up for success in real life situations.
Daily living skills (such as brushing teeth, washing, dressing etc) can all be taught using ABA in the natural environment. Your Program Manager should be able to develop a behaviour chain for any skill, and teach it to your child until they are able to function independently. The goal for any skill is that is provides benefit to the child, whether that be increased independence, increased access to learning, or increased access to relationships.
Early intervention ABA should use a range of strategies
It is important to have realistic expectations of children in a therapy context, including how much time is age appropriate to spend at a table. ABA programs should be comprehensive and focus on more than table top skills. They should be individualised and consider self care, social relationships and play as well as language development and verbal behaviour milestones. They should use a range of strategies to ensure that all that valuable learning can be used in different contexts.
If you have any questions about your child’s program please contact your Program Manager on 9274 7062.
ABACAS Program Manager
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Through this post we talk a lot about our evidence-based practice, what ABA is and how this therapy can help you. You might not realise this but parents have a huge role in therapy and are often pivotal in the progress that children make. Therapy requires commitment from all parties but the results are worth it. The evidence shows that parental involvement in early interventions can predict academic outcomes later down the track, and the amount of school support required.
Therapy is not something therapists ‘do’ to your child. Therapy is not a quick fix for problem behaviours. Neither is it a cure for anything (and we don’t want it to be). Therapy is a long term investment in skill development that sets your child and family up for the best quality of life possible. An important message to take away from this is that the skills that are being learnt are not just skills for your child. Therapy provides an opportunity for you as the parent to learn new skills. It’s about showing you different ways to respond to behaviour and also how you can foster your child’s development and honour behaviour support plans.
How Can I Engage with Behaviour Therapy?
Parents often start off feeling a bit lost when they start therapy. Should you ask lots of questions? Yes! Should you know your child’s goals? Yes! Should you feel comfortable with the techniques being used and do you have a right to say no? Absolutely. All therapy should be negotiated with you and you should be regularly updated by the therapist about the progress your child makes in therapy and any problems along the way. Your understanding of therapy will help to foster continued use of strategies in the home…and hence allow your child to make positive steps.
Therapists love parents asking lots of questions so if you’re feeling unsure about how to do something please ask us. Therapy skills need generalising with new people, in new environments all the time and parents are some of the best people to do this.
Work with your Behaviour Therapy Team
An ABA Team can consist of many people. In our program your main contacts are your 1:1 Behavioural Therapist and your Program Manager. Program Managers aren’t out as often as your regular therapist. It’s important that you can be open with your Program Manager and communicate frequently. Make sure you email or call if you have concerns and ask your regular therapist to CC you in on any updates. You can also take up parent training and consultation services. Aside from a nice way to meet other parents (training) it’s also a way we can empower parents and help to work through issues that are occurring outside of therapy.
As always please feel free to contact your program manager on 9274 7062 to discuss any concerns or to fin out more about programs.
Program Manager, ABACAS
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The Child Wellbeing Centre is seeking expression of interests from parents of children with developmental disabilities and/or delay to help us form a Reference Group. This is a voluntary position for parents and carers and would involve coming to a meeting with other parents, 3-4 times a year (during school hours).
The role of the group is to:
- Provide advice on a range of operational issues through-out the Centre.
- Assist in the promotion of a culture of inclusion and rights of people with disability.
- Help us identify gaps in services and provide feedback on changes to services
- Give us feedback on how well we are communicating our services within the community.
Individual member’s role includes:
- Attending meetings and joining in the discussion
- Sharing your knowledge and experience with others
- Focusing on services that may support positive outcomes for all CWBC clients.
Please contact Naomi Ward, Clinical Director for more information or ask for an Expression of Interest form from reception.
Expressions of Interest need to returned to the Centre by 29 September 2018.
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Speech Pathologists specialise in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of a range of language and communication disorders. Specifically speech pathologists are able to help with:
- Assessment and intervention for articulation delays/disorders
- Assessment and intervention for language delays/disorders
- Support for Verbal Dyspraxia
- School readiness
- Treatment of stuttering
- Support for communication difficulties associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disabilities.
There are some great resources online to help parents work out whether their child needs to see a speech pathologist. Speech Pathology Australia is a great place to start:
Another useful (and more general site) is the Raising Children website which has some great information on language delay:
And of course you are very welcome to see our speech pathologists in the Centre – Georgina, Vanessa and Virginia.
For more information please call the Centre on 9274 7062.