12 Jun 2018

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Helping Your Child Learn New Skills (Part 4 – Final)

We’ve been covering a lot of techniques to help children learn new skills or sequences of skills in the last few ABACAS Tuesday blogs.

In addition to finding about task analysis, we’ve also learned that there are various starting places to teach skills from. Steps don’t always need to be taught from the first step to last. There are different starting places. However the goal is always to use prompting and reinforcement (praise) along the way to teach new steps.

To finish off the series we’re going to cover off two last techniques – Forward Chaining and Total Task Chaining.

Forward Chaining

For many parents, this is often the technique of choice – in other words starting at the beginning – and in many cases it makes sense.

In forward chaining, steps are taught in ‘forward order’. The learner starts with the first step of the routine, with the second step in the routine prompted. Forward Chaining is often used when the student already does the first step but cannot sustain whole task with multiple steps.

An example of a Forward Chaining could be a child helping with the laundry. The first step is taking the full basket of clothes to the laundry room. The child is already doing so, then you can prompt the child to put clothes in the machine. You might do this by showing the child or using verbal instructions.

Total Task Chaining

The fourth and the last method of Chaining is the Total Task Chaining (Total/Whole Task Presentation). This method teaches all steps in one learning trial.

The steps that need support are prompted or modelled. You would use Total Task Chaining when when the child obtains multiple steps in the sequence and can independently perform some steps but might still need support with some other steps.

Pulling it all together

Unsure of what method are to use to teach your child a new skill? Start a Task Analysis and do a quick assessment on what skills can the child perform, what skills need support, and what level of support does each skill requires. This will show you where to start.

Once you have an idea of steps and what skills the child can currently do by themselves, then it will become clearer which of the chaining techniques you can use.

Needing help?

You are always very welcome to contact Jenny Lin, Program Manager for help and advice. The best way to reach Jenny is through reception on 9274 7062.

09 Jun 2018

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ABACAS School Holiday Social Skills Programs – Enrolments Now Open

During the school holidays the ABACAS team runs small social skills group programs for children with disabilities. Enrolments are now open for the following groups:

Young Entrepreneurs’ Club

Jenny Lin (Program Manager) and one of the Behaviour Therapists from the ABACAS Team will be running a school holiday program for children aged 10-14 years who are interested in developing their business prowess. Focusing on teamwork, social skills and community skills, the group will work with their team leader  to design, price, advertise and sell their product. The money they make will be used for a pizza party at the end of the holidays (date to be announced).

Who should attend:

This program is best suited to children who have medium to low needs on the autism spectrum.


Mondays, Wednesdays & Thursdays, 9.30am to 11.00am

Music and Movement Club

Rachel Puan (Assistant Program Manager) will be running the Music and Movement Group these holidays. This group will focus on gross motor, social skills and musical activities to keep kids active during school holidays. While it is will include lots of fun and games, children will also practice listening, teamwork, problem solving and hand, eye/foot coordination and balance. And importantly, they will also have a chance to have fun and make new friends.

Who should attend:

Children will be matched according to age and needs. If we have enough children we will run two groups – a high needs and low needs group.


Mondays and Wednesdays,  9.30am to 11.00am

Drama Club

Jasmin Fyfe (Assistant Program Manager) with another of our Behaviour Therapists will be running a Drama club for children.  Children will develop a play/performance piece together, designing and creating costumes and stage. The program will include lots of opportunities to practice social skills. Commitment is important because the group will be performing at the end of the school holidays for their families.

Who should attend:

These will be small groups of 3-4 children who will be matched on ability levels.


To be determined based on expressions of interest from families.

How much will sessions cost?

For groups of 3 or more children, individual fees will be $58.53 per hour.

How do I register?

Please contact reception on 9274 7062 to a express you interest.

07 Jun 2018

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Helping your child learn new skills (Part 3)

In last week’s post, we talked about a method of teaching behaviours known as chaining. Chaining is where we work out the sequence of actions that need to be taught to perform a behaviour (e.g. brushing teeth, making cookies & tying shoelaces).

In our last post we focused on Backward Chaining. In this post we’re going to focus on Backward Chaining with Leaps Ahead (BCLA) technique.

How does Backward Chaining with Leaps help children learn?

While it may conjure up images of frogs leaping, it’s actually an extension of the technique we looked at last week.

Like the name indicates, BCLA starts teaching the last step, but with the steps the child already knows or has mastered in previous learning. Given that the child already knows what to do for some of the behaviour, there is no need to reteach. Rather what we want to do is connect the dots for them in the context of the new behaviour.

An example

Let’s look at the making cookies example. We’ve already worked out the steps needed to make cookies and broken them down into a teachable order:

  1. Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients
  2. Stir to mix
  3. Shape into small balls
  4. Push down on the dough
  5. Bake

Children with exposure to play-doh may already know how to shape dough into small balls.  If they do then we may not  need to do any direct teaching of this step as it’s the same behaviour (just with cookie dough).

In this example using BCLA, we would just prompt (e.g. physically show the child) this step as the child is able to do it independently. As soon as we can we will want to stop the prompting too as we focus on the step in the sequence where the child needs teaching.

Needing help?

Working out the best technique to teach and where to start can be tricky. The ABACAS team is able to help with advice about behaviour – both how to teach behaviours and how to manage the tricky ones. Please call 9274 7062 for further information.

29 May 2018

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Helping Your Child Learn New Skills (Part 2)

So you know what behaviour you need to teach…but where do you start?

Following on from our task analysis post last week, you may now be at the point where you have worked out the steps of the routine behaviour that you need to teach your child. The question now is to work out which skill to teach first. The answer isn’t as obvious as you may think!

What is Chaining?

Chaining is the technique used in Applied Behaviour Analysis interventions to systematically teach a sequence of skills. Behaviour chains are a series of related behaviours, each of which leads to the next step. For example in brushing teeth, the first step may be to take the lid off the toothpaste, then squeeze a little of it onto the brush, replacing the lid, then bringing the brush to the mouth and so on. Each step along the way cues the next step in the sequence.  We are working towards being able to reinforce the last step (e.g. teeth brushed).

There are actually four types of chaining procedures to choose from:

(a)Backward Chaining;

(b) Backward Chaining with Leaps Ahead;

(c) Forward Chaining; and

(d) Total Task Chaining.

Confused? Don’t worry – we are going to break each of these down so you can work out which will be the best procedure to use for the behaviour you are trying to teach your child.

Backward Chaining

You don’t always have to start at the beginning. Sometimes we can teach a routine by starting with the last step. In backward chaining:

  • The steps are taught in reverse order. In another word, first skill to be taught is the last skill on the chain.
  • The facilitator supports (prompts) the learner through the first several steps and the learner independently finishes the last step to finish the task.
  • Once the last step is mastered, the step before the last step is then being taught.
  • This technique is often used for tasks with a motivating end (e.g. baking cookies) or to allow escape (e.g. finish brushing teeth, putting the tooth brush away)

Let’s swap from brushing teeth to cooking a batch of cookies. Most children like cookies so this task may be more motivating. There is also an obvious reinforcer – getting to eat cookies once they are cooked!

The sequence for eating cookies may look like this for a child:

(1) Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients

(2) Stir to mix

(3) Shape into small balls

(4) Place on tray

(5) Push down on the dough on the tray

(6) Bake (note – the parent might choose to do this step for a young child)

Using a backward chaining procedure you would prompt them through steps 1-5. This might look like verbal instruction or physically showing a child how to mix ingredients. When it came to step 6 (and if this was appropriate for their age) the child would be expected to do this step by themselves, with praise at the end from their parent. Once this step is mastered, then the next step is the pushing down on the dough and so on.Reinforcement (praise) is linked to either the end of the sequence once it’s mastered or to the individual step being taught.

The key to using a chaining technique is to be very clear about the behaviour you are trying to teach.

In next week’s post, we are going to look at Backward Chaining with Leaps Ahead.

Needing help?

As always you are very welcome to contact Jenny Lin, Program Manager for assistance on any aspect of your child’s behaviour. Jenny can be contacted through the office on 9274 7062.

22 May 2018

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Helping Your Child Learn New Skills

For some children on the autism spectrum (and other children with developmental needs), learning daily behaviours and routines can be challenging. Brushing teeth, getting dressed, putting shoes on or preparing snacks are all examples of daily independent living skills where children may need extra help.

Some children need help breaking down the parts of the task into smaller chunks and learning step by step. Knowing the steps involved in the task are important. You need to be able to identify the skills your child needs to be able to teach them.

What is Task Analysis?

Task analysis is breaking down a complex task into a sequence of smaller steps with specific instructions and the expected responses.

Let’s take the example of brushing teeth. For many of us this behaviour is so automatic now that we don’t even think about what we’re doing. Imagine though trying to teach this behaviour to someone who has never done this or done this by themselves before. To help you work out how to explain brushing your teeth, you might break it down into the following steps:

Go to the bathroom, then find the sink

Find toothbrush and tooth paste

Squeeze tooth paste onto tooth brush


Rinse mouth

Put toothbrush away

Dry hand

*Note teaching children the actual art of brushing teeth, might be a whole separate lesson, with its own sequence of steps to follow.

Performing an action yourself (e.g. brushing your own teeth) or watching someone else do it will help you identify the steps in the behaviour. Try and note as much detail as you can as this can help you later to work out where to start.

So I have my steps identified, what next?

Now to the fun part. After a task analysis is developed the next step is to teach the steps or skills that make up the sequence. In ABA speak we talk about “chaining procedures”. This is the process where the sequence of skills/steps are taught one after the other…building up until the whole behaviour can be performed independently by the child.

Don’t worry! In the next ABACAS Tuesday the team will be talking about how to use chaining techniques at home.  However you don’t have to wait. If you have a particular behaviour that you’d like to teach your child,  why not grab a pen and pencil and see if you can’t start breaking the behaviour down into steps.

Want more help?

Jenny Lin, Program Manager and the team are available for consultation. All you need to do is to call reception on 9274 7062 for further information.

01 May 2018

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How to tell when your ABA program is effective.

It’s not enough to like your therapy team, parents should also have the means to evaluate their effectiveness. In other words, know whether therapy is being effective.  There are 7 dimensions of an Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) program that any good intervention should include, these are that they are: Applied, Behavioural, Analytic, Technological, Conceptually Systematic, Effective, and Generality.

Some of the key points from these dimensions are that ABA should always focus on skills that are socially significant for that child. And the best way that we can work out what skills are significant is by working with both the child and the family to set meaningful goals. Programs should teach skills that will help improve day to day life for the child (and family). For some children this might mean focusing on communication, learning to learn skills (e.g. listening and attending), social skills and independence.

ABA is behavioural, and always looks at measurable behaviours. If we can see and describe a behaviour, then we are in a position to be able to teach it. By being able to measure behaviour, we are also in a position to check progress and to identify what is working and what isn’t.

Generality is a key idea in ABA too. This is the concept that skills must be able to continue, with new people and new environments, after formal intervention has ended. There is no point teaching the skill if the child is only able to show it in therapy!

As you can see ABA is focused on working with people, to create practical, independent skills for their futures. Whether this is academics, learning to talk, daily living skills, or social skills it is about what is important for that individual, their family and their local community.

If you’d like to learn more about what principles guide ABA interventions and how they can help you please contact Jenny Lin, Program Manager on 9274 7062.

24 Apr 2018

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ABACAS Tuesdays – Learning to Learn Skills

Ever wonder why your child, who you know is so clever, might be struggling in school or to pay attention to others? They might need to work on a set of skills called “Learning to Learn”! Learning to Learn skills are the foundation skills a child needs before they can learn effectively in places like a classroom or in therapy sessions.

ABA can help children to achieve these skills by breaking them down into small, achievable parts, and scaffolding them into a whole skill set for your child. Skills like sitting on your bottom with still feet, making eye contact with a teacher, and waiting for a peer to finish speaking before asking a question are all a part of this group. Without some of these skills, children are not able to experience the full benefits from their daily experiences.

Because ABA is always focused on being applied, generalised and effective, we can work with your child 1:1 or provide training and interventions to teachers or carers who can support learning these skills in the context they need to be used.

If you have a child who might benefit from these skills, or are a professional who would like to learn how to foster them please contact Jenny Lin, Program Manager on 9274 7062.

23 Apr 2018

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Friendship Club Enrolments- Now Open for Term Two

Making friends are important skills for children to learn. Social skills are the things we develop that allow us to confidently make and keep friends with our peers. For some children a little extra social skills training is all that’s needed to get kids back on track with their friendships.

In Term Two, the Child Wellbeing Centre will be running a social skills program for children between 6-9 years of age. These sessions are run once a week after school.

Registration are now open for the Term Two program.

Please contact reception on 9274 7062 (or use the GET IN TOUCH link on the website) to express your interest in this program and to receive more information.

10 Apr 2018

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Autism Awareness Month – let’s talk about ABA and Autism!

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a set of principles that explains how behaviour works and how learning takes place. Over the past 70 years, the field of applied behaviour analysis has been testing out many techniques and methods to make sure interventions are effective and to eliminate treatments that are harmful to the children and may interfere with learning.

As a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA), the principles of ABA I find myself using everyday are (1) finding out the functions of behaviour (the “ABC”), and (2) task analysis.

Finding out the function of a behaviour is the first step to create an intervention. And by knowing the function, it makes it so much easier to understand the causes of the behaviour.

Task analysis, also known as chaining, is a process of breaking a skill down into smaller and more manageable components. We teach the skills from the smaller components, such as putting on a shirt, slowly build up to a bigger picture, like completing a morning routine. And even within the smallest component, like putting on a shirt, we can deconstruct the skills into even smaller and more precise steps to teach and to master.

Do you know what’s behind your child’s intervention? Ask your therapist this week! If you have questions about ABA, please email Jenny Lin, Program Manager at cwbc@westnet.com.au

Autism Awareness Month is a month to ask questions and to understand what autism is. And I’m here to answer your questions!

Read more on ABA for Autism at:


Jenny Lin, Program Manager, ABACAS

03 Apr 2018

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ABACAS Tuesdays – Young Entrepreneur’s Club (School Holiday Program)
Enrolments are now open for the Young Entrepreneur’s Club (School Holiday Program).
Young Entrepreneur’s Club is for children with ASD from ages 9-14. The program is set up for our young entrepreneurs to design and carry out a project. Children will practice social interaction, build the interpersonal relationship, negotiation and communication, and participate in teamwork.
We have a few options for the projects and will pick one that matches the interests of the children:
(1) Art or Science Exhibition
(2) (Autism) Awareness Exhibition
(2) Sport/Activity Carnival (for our younger clients)
(3) Fundraiser for a charity
Starting the first week of the school holildays, the Club will run Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 9:30-11:00. And a Presentation/Exhibit day on the last day (Thursday midday; TBA).
For more information, please contact Jenny Lin at 9274 0330 or leave a message at reception with your email address and Jenny will give you a call back.
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