One in 68 Children has Autism

QSAC's blog – Preferences » Preferences

Some considerations when working on improving communication deficit

November 18, 2013 2:21 pm Published by

Children and adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder have persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts as one of the symptoms. This impairment is usually manifested in lack of social-emotional reciprocity, poor integration of verbal and nonverbal communication and difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts. Delays in communication usually vary in severity ranging from monotone speech about preferred topic to a total absence of verbal communication. Often individuals with ASD do not effectively perform the single most important task of communication and language, and that is expressing their wants and needs (i.e. making requests, exhibiting mands) and, as a result, they have very little control over what happens to them in their daily lives.

Further, multiple researches has shown that communication impairment is correlated with an increased risk of challenging behavior and reduced opportunities for community involvement and therefore it is understandable why a huge amount of intervention research has focused on developing successful procedures for improving communication skills of individuals with ASD.

 In most cases, the traditional developmental model of language represents the basis for teaching communication and language skills, however in this model, the primary unit of communication and language is the word and words, signs, pictures, or symbols are taught without much regard to the circumstances present during instruction. For example, some expressive language is taught as “labels” (“car”, “table”, “spoon”), some as “answers to questions or responses to statements” (“more”, “fine”, “please”, “hello, my name is___ “) and some as “generalized requests” (“eat”, “drink”, and “break”). For children and adults with ASD, the words, signs, or pictures they learn in one circumstance, don’t tend to occur in other circumstances without additional instruction. In many cases, this result in little to no expressive language or communication responses that are useful or important to the person, in other words, the person does not learn how to make specific requests (i.e. “no mands”).

Very often, this also results in problem behaviors. Individuals begin to communicate by screaming, dropping to the floor, hitting, spitting, kicking, biting, etc. and, if these behaviors result in what the individual wants, even intermittently, these same behaviors function as either specific or generalized requests (“problem mands”) and tend to occur again and again…Then, usually a clinician is asked to conduct a functional assessment in order to develop a plan to reduce the frequency of the problem behaviors and replace these behaviors with more appropriate alternatives. Often, these “replacement” behaviors are either a limited array of receptive skills (following directions or completing assigned tasks) or “generalized requests” for attention, escape, or access to categories of preferred items and activities (i.e. eat, drink, play, more, please, etc.)

When the only “replacement” behaviors are receptive skills, we are teaching poor speakers to be better listeners and when the “replacement” behaviors are generalized requests, we are teaching poor speakers to be non-specific speakers.

Neither is adequate…

Ideal practice should include teaching individuals to make specific requests (SPECIFIC MANDS) and expanded array of receptive skills (following directions, completing assigned tasks, waiting, sharing, and accepting no) (GENERALIZED COMPLIANCE).

In other words we should be teaching poor speakers to be effective, specific speakers who have more control over what happens in their daily lives while also teaching them to be good listeners in a wide variety of commonly occurring situations. Under these circumstances we could expect to see that when individuals have more control and power over what happens in their daily lives they tend to exhibit far lower rate of problem behavior.

Nevena Savic, MA

 

“Pick One!” A Brief Probe of iPad App Preferences

July 16, 2012 6:00 pm Published by

It was time for us to assess some of the many questions being asked about the implementation of iPads in the classroom starting with a basic question. Out of all the Apps that we have, which ones are selected most frequently by students and staff during classroom use? I generally write about technology, not just to be trendy, but because it becomes a great part of some of the clinical conversations. Some relevant questions raised are, What is the functionality of these devices? Which apps are worthwhile, or do iPads in general cause more problem behavior for our children. All of these questions loom. But the basic outcome which is agreed upon is that we are glad we have them, and we need to work hard towards finding their use for our kids. Perhaps just like the intoduction of any other past electronics. They never replace the core of our instruction mearly, they help to provide motivation and increase student attending in some way.

But to start it all off, which applications, regardless of the platform, do children prefer over others? We hand our iPads in the mornings, and again in the afternoon, so students have the opportunity to use them at different times during the day. The school is starting to work towards how to address specific questions regarding academic implemenation, generalization and it’s use as a communication device. Current research in this area is still brand new too, we we’d like to answer the questions, “Which Apps could my child be using ?”

“Use” is quite a subjective term, as we can observe some students who “use” the iPads for fun and games, and “use” for functional academics, or recieve it as a reinforcer during Discrete Trial Teaching (like in our group lessons or activities). We have also observed the “use” of the iPad for stereotypic behavior (Re-arranging Apps, scrolling thru photos, opening and closing Apps repetitively, not “using” it appropriately)

So I guess all we can do right now is look at what the children are gravitating towards to assess preferences.

A list was created of the applications used on the Day School’s iPads. A probe was conducted on each individual App synced on the iPads to determine which were being opened most often in the classrooms. By double tapping the home button, you can see a list of Apps which were open during a specific time period. Prior to giving out the iPads to classrooms, this section was cleared, and upon returned checked to see which apps were used during that time. This was tirelessly repeated for 3 days. Data was collected on the number of times each App was opened across all 15 first generation iPads. During the probe we had to discounted some selections because it was observed that some children may erroneously tap on certain Apps, although these were included in the probe, any App opened less-than 3 times was considered insignificant, thus non-preferred. This is considered a type of free operant preference assessment which showed us some useful information. Use, right now leans towards strong motivation for academic programming and leisure skills (watching videos, or playing games), and an indication of preference level for certain application outside the realm of instruction. Later questions may lead us to assess implementing Low-preferred Apps with Hi-preferred Apps and games.

Although the list below indicates the most popular in the school right now, it’s a glimpse into what they are being used for and next steps for assessment. It’s also one of many probes we will be conducting to assess the level of preference for the Apps which we are using!

Many of the apps listed below can be found using “Autism Apps.” This can be downloaded using ITUNES: Specifically stated this app was created as a resource for families and anyone who is looking for hard to find apps for children with special needs. It’s an extensive list of which applications are being used for iPadand Apple products. This application will direct families/clinicians towards appropriate apps for their children with special needs separated across 30 categories.

Highest Preferred Selections of the Brief Probe and Brief Descriptions:

Mobicip Internet Browsing App-This app allows safe secure internet browsing and will block out any inappropriate videos or content on YouTube or web pages automatically. Many of our students use this to access YouTube or their favorite websites. Setting preferences is easy on Mobicip.com. Mobicip replaces Safari and YouTube apps, and they must be turned off to use Mobicip. YouTube and internet browsing is highly motivating, but also many videos and pages display inappropriate content even if a child is not trying to look for it. This is the only easy-to-use filter tool out there right now. The cost of this app is worth the benefit.

http://www.mobicip.com/

I Heart Radio– Basic radio stations we’ve all heard of this, great for motivation for children who enjoy current and popular music.

Photos– Students enjoy scrolling thru photos which are pre-installed on the iPad. This can easily be done using ITUNES. Students can identify people places and things which you choose to pre-load.

MAPS– This was a more surprising selection, but further questioning of the teachers told us that students enjoy moving around the maps, looking at different areas and words, and it’s zoom and pan features.

Touch and Say (emotions): Even though right now it’s a simple app for teaching emotions I predict it will be more popular than Elmo. This series of applications from Interbot.com is the next generation of children’s toys which will eventually be everyone’s favorite holiday gift. Based on research from Center for Autism in Pittsburg, This series of applications will have an interactive interface that all children can use. It will come with a “stuff animal” animatronics dolls. http://www.interbots.com/blog/autism-Therapy/

Stack the States, Stack the Countries- Great Geography app. Fun, Interactive, a great hit.

ABC Tracer: Excellent for children who are starting out with basic handwriting. Allows the child to trace letters and associate them with words.

Angry Birds: Enough said, kids love this game.

ABA Flashcards Series/ABA Receptive ID: These flashcards are useful across many age ranges. Fun photos, audio feedback addresses multiple domain areas such as Actions, Foods, Shapes, Numbers, and many other areas.

Feel Electric- Helps Identify emotions, with an interactive interface!

Here is the list based in order of selection during the 3 day probe. I encourage you to research each application; many of them are free or inexpensive to purchase. We encourage you to explore, and investigate them and share them with your friends. If you find new ones, please share them with us too!!! Enjoy.

IPAD App
# of times selectioned
Mobicip-Internet Software/Youtube /Browsing
46
I Heart Radio
26
Stack the Countries
23
Photos-Looking at Installed Pictures
18
Maps
17
Touch and Say
14
Stack the States
13
ABC Tracer
11
Angry Birds HD FREE
11
Angry Birds RIO HD FREE
11
ABA Flashcards
9
Feel Electric
9
Angry Birds Lite
8
Mega Run
8
My Food-Nutrition Facts
8
Coloring
7
Garage Band
7
Proloquo2GO
7
Starfall ABC’s
7
Hand Drum
6
Sight Words Free
6
ASL Dictionary
5
BobbleWrite HD
5
DTT Colors
5
Yes/NO
5
ABA Receptive ID Fruits and Nuts
4
ABA Receptive ID- Science
4
Cat Game
4
Google Earth
4
Green Eggs and Ham
4
Numbers Free
4
Stories
4
VP Light
4
Xylophone
4
3 Pigs Light
3
ABA Flashcards-Actions
3
ABA Flashcards-Emotions
3
ABA Flashcards-Fruits
3
ABA Receptive ID Eat
3
ABC VILLE
3
ASL- American Sign Language
3
Colors Tool
3
DT Numbers Light
3
Farm Touch
3
Going Places
3
I WriteWords Lite  (IWW)
3
Jumbo Calculator
3
Moozart
3
My Sunny Day
3
Sounds
3
Spelling Bee-Free
3
STL Pro 2012
3
Tap To Talk
3
Whiteboard Lite
3

ABOUT US

QSAC is a New York City and Long Island based nonprofit that supports children and adults with autism, together with their families, in achieving greater independence, realizing their future potential, and contributing to their communities in a meaningful way by offering person-centered services.

QSAC pursues this mission through direct services that provide a supportive and individualized setting for children and adults with autism to improve their communication, socialization, academic, and functional skills.