ABA early interventions 26 Mar 2019

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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

 

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/

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/

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/

19 Feb 2019

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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Escape is not an option!

For some children performing a particular skill may be challenging for them, which often leads to problem behaviours. Therefore, it is important to determine the functions of the behaviour. Behaviours may include: attention, tangible, sensory, and escape.

What does escape look like?

Today, we are going to focus on escape. Typically, a child will try to “escape” whenever the demand that is placed upon them is too much or when the task is too difficult for them. This behaviour may look like: running away, crying, shouting, placing their heads onto the table, “shutting down” (or refusing to respond), throwing things off the table, and hitting.

For a child who has difficulty expressing himself/herself, these behaviours are just a means for them to communicate to us that they are not able to perform the task.

What can we do when a child’s behaviour is about escape?

With children who are non-verbal or partially verbal, the first step might be to look at teaching them functional communication.  For example: handing over the ‘help’ compic whenever they require assistance with something. Obviously we need to also teach to the skill deficit. In other words, teach them the skill they cannot do.

For younger children, we would usually prioritise learning to learn skills. Instead of telling them to “sit down” and “behave”, we will focus on skills such as eye contact, sitting still on the mat/chair, manding (requesting), joint attention, matching, etc. Without these skills, a child will not be able to attend to new information as they are being presented to them. Nor are they ready to learn new skills.

For higher functioning children, we still need to identify the skills that needs teaching. However it may look very different to a younger child’s needs. The skills needed may be more of a social skills. Some children find social interaction really challenging. Therefore we might look at skills like maintaining eye contact, respecting other people’s personal space, knowing when it is appropriate to interrupt a conversation, how to interrupt a conversation appropriately, reading another person’s body language, understanding other people’s emotions, recalling past events, staying on topic, etc.

By stepping back and looking at the function of the behaviour, we can gain insight into what supports the child needs. From there its about breaking down a difficult task into small achievable steps via task analysis.  At the end of the day we want our children to develop competency across the range of skills needed in daily life.

Please feel free to contact myself or Jasmine Fyfe on 9274 7062 for further information on how we can help your child.

Rachel Puan

Assistant Program Manager, ABACAS

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

Toilet Training 12 Feb 2019

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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Toilet training children and ABA

Some children ‘just get it’ when it comes to toilet training. Others, not so much. Toilet training is a huge developmental milestone. It increases independence, helps social relationships and it can be a really important skill when thinking about school readiness. For those young ones who aren’t having success with conventional methods of toilet training ABA can help.

Let’s look at the example of “Johnny” (not his real name!). He’s been engaged in therapy for about a year, responds well to reinforcement, is making lots of gains in his program.  However he’s about to go into Kindy and has been unsuccessful in his toilet training attempts with his parents so far. Johnny’s mum approaches her ABA Program Manager about this skill and they develop a program to toilet train him. Within three weeks he goes from zero toilet use to independent requests for the toilet for both wee’s and poo’s!

How did we toilet train?

There are a few key area’s that need to be addressed in toilet training. First, you need to be able to “catch a wee”. This then gives you the opportunity to reinforce weeing in the toilet. Second, you need to teach the sensation of a full bladder and teach this as a natural antecedent to Mand (request) the toilet. Third, fine motor skills for pulling up and down pants are important if the child’s toilet use is going to be independent.

In a typical toilet training intervention, we will work on all of these skills through a very intensive program. This will include taking the child to the toilet regularly and providing reinforcement, then thinning out the schedule and increasing teaching opportunities to request independently.

In summary, ABA can help toilet train almost anyone! This case reflects the success of a young child, but these methods can be implemented with a child of any age, both younger and older.

When thinking about toileting interventions, your practitioner will need to get medical clearance from your GP first. They will need to rule out any underlying medical problems that may be causing toileting problems.  The next step is to meet the parents/carers and talk through strategies and to explain any risks and the realistic time commitments before you begin. An intensive intervention around toileting can be hard work…but very rewarding too!

Please feel free to contact Rachel Puan or myself should you want to know more about our toileting interventions on 9274 7062.

Jasmin Fyfe

Program Manager ABACAS

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

06 Feb 2019

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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Understanding why children avoid homework

Many parents find getting their children to do homework challenging.  For some children school = work and  home = fun. Some children will question the fairness: “But mum, I’ve spent 6 and a half hours at school doing work. Why do I have to do school work at home too?” Others may feel that they simply have better things to do and resist your efforts. In these instances you may need to simply stand your ground, set good routines in place and practice patience!

For some children though other factors  may be at play that impact on them being willing or able to do their homework. Just three to start with:

  • The level of homework that is given to your child may be too difficult.
  • Your child is physically and mentally tired after a long day at school.
  • Your child is feeling stressed by homework and their own internal need for it to be “perfect”.

How then do we tackle such behaviours?

First and foremost, we have to determine the function of behaviour. In other words, why does the child not want to do their homework. Was the task too difficult? Does it have something to do with a skill deficit (e.g. the child simply can’t do it)?

Some of the things that we can look into include:

  • Breaking down the work into small achievable steps (learning to deal with money require other skills such as coin recognition, addition and subtraction, coin value – more and less, etc.).
  • Place small demands (10 minutes of homework before play time and increase expectation slowly).
  • Have strong reinforcers in place (if the child sits down and does 10 minutes of homework for a week, he gets to pick a fun activity to do over the weekend).
  • Communicate with the child’s teacher to see they are able to provide homework that is catered to their current level.
  • Sit down and spend time with your child. Your attention may be more valuable than anything else.

For our some children the underlying issue may be straightforward. For others, it may be more complex hence the need to work through barriers.

For children in our ABACAS program, your program manager is there to help work through these issues with you. They can sit with you an objectively have a look at what is happening and work with you to put some steps in place to ease the transition back into a positive homework routine.

Rachel Puan

Assistant Program Manager

 

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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The Power of Praise

When working with children, therapists often have to prepare for the unexpected! The following is a story about an experience with a client and shows just how important praise can be to children.

With ABA with children, we sometimes need kids to practice their skills in the real world or the “natural environment”. With the particular child in this story, the aim was to go to the shops to get some fruits and veggies with the child’s parent (without walking down the lollies aisle and purchasing a bag of lollies!).  Normally a trip like this would  result in lots of nagging behaviour (e.g. I want lollies!) and often with tears streaking down the child’s face.  Shopping was a stressful experience for the parent too!

Little did I know that in this shop, the fruits and veggies section was situated right next to a stand filled with all sorts of lollies! As we moved towards the veggies section (realising that there were lollies in sight), the first line the child uttered was “Can we please get a bag of chocolate? I really want to have it.” Fortunately, the parent and I had talked  before hand and decided to ignore such requests should they come up.  The plan instead was to redirect the child’s attention to the task at hand by asking which fruit the parent should buy. And in this instance, the child in our story was successfully redirected to the task at hand.

In total, we managed to spend a good 5 minutes within the fruit and veggie section without walking out with a bag of lollies. While this may not sound like a big deal…for this child (and their parent) it was huge!

While we were walking away from the shop, I couldn’t stop singing the praises of the child to the parent as the child’s performance exceeded our expectations. It didn’t take long before I started hearing loud giggles behind us.

As we turned around, we were greeted with the widest grin ever. Turns out that the child overheard our conversation and couldn’t stop giggling with happiness.

Moral of the story?  Do not forget to praise your child for good behaviour. Provide them with lots of attention whenever they’re not engaging in challenging behaviour (in this case nagging for lollies). Praise is very important to some children and it also feels nice as a therapist or parent when you have a good reason to do so!

Rachel Puan

Assistant Program Manager, ABACAS

16 Jan 2019

BY: admin

ABACAS Team / Psychology Team

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Our new team members for 2019

January is often thought of as a quiet month but not at the Child Wellbeing Centre! It’s our second week back in January and it feels like we have hit the ground running!

We have two new and one returning team member to tell you about.

Toni Schmitz (Behaviour Therapist and Provisional Psychologist)

Toni came to us last year as a Curtin University student on placement. She did such a great job with the children that she worked with that she got a job offer! In her paid role with us this year, Toni will be working as a Behaviour Therapist and Provisional Psychologist on different days of the week.  Toni will starting off first learning the ropes as a Junior Behaviour Therapist and picking up a psychology case load towards the end of February. She will be available to work with the families she saw as a student last year.

Penny Ya Fen Wong (Senior Behaviour Therapist)

Penny joins the ABACAS team as a Senior Behaviour Therapist. She will be working with individual families providing therapy and be available for parent and school behavioural consultancy. Penny has over 15 years experience  in working with ABA programs and a broad range of experience with children with disabilities, developmental delay and learning difficulties. We’re also hoping that Penny will also have her application for provisional registration as a psychologist approved so she is able to provide psychological consultancy services.

Simone Lombardo (Psychologist)

After having some parental leave last year, Simone returns to the Centre in early February on Saturdays. As a psychologist, Simone has a broad range of experience in working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. She also has a an interest in working with children presenting with social and emotional difficulties. Simone will be be available to see old and new clients. We’re really looking forward to Simone join the Saturday team of psychologists again.

We still have a few more staffing changes to tell you about. The Centre is currently recruiting another psychologist and we are also in the process of appointing a casual receptionist. I hope to have some news about both of those changes in the near future.

Naomi Ward

Clinical Director

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