The path to success for kids with autism spectrum disorder may seem narrow, especially when challenging behaviors make public school education more difficult.
But in this webinar, Dr. Andrew Bulla shows how changing instruction can also change behavior and accelerate academic success. He describes a collaboration between a mid-western university and a local intermediate school district for students with ASD — plus the results of implementing Precision Teaching in public school.
At the school’s request, the program focused on tier 3 students with ASD and disruptive or escape maintained behavior. After completing Functional Assessments and looking at IEPs, Andrew’s team realized that many problem behaviors could be addressed with universal supports — and that the best behavior management is effective instruction.
Prior to the program, the students were doing untimed folder activities. Stimulus control was questionable — were students matching colors, or numbers? A “Can’t Do / Won’t Do” assessment revealed that the tasks were either too easy or too difficult for the children.
Teachers and administrators chose to focus on math, so the program introduced the Morningside Model of Generative Instruction: Math Curriculum. This is a basic number skills and computation curriculum. Further, they implemented elements of Precision Teaching like frequency building (daily, timed practice) and Standard Celeration Charting.
The Morningside Model of Generative Instruction involves several components. In the webinar,
Component/composite analysis of curriculum. Students were assessed to see what their entering behavior repertoire was, and what they needed to work on. The “component/composite analysis” undercovered what “tool” (underlying) skills were missing. For instance, tool skills were writing numbers 0-9 and saying numbers 0-100. Higher-order component skills were +/- math facts and +/- computation.
Homogenous small grouping. The students were divided not by age, but skill, using macrolevel (Woodcock-Johnson) and metalevel (Aimsweb) assessments.
Teach component behavior with mathetics. The mathetics method involves a fade, where the bulk of learning responsibility slowly shifts from the teacher to the student in the 3 steps:
- Demonstrate the skill (teacher)
- Guide and prompt students to respond (teacher and student — e.g., choral response)
- Release students to work independently (student)
Each staff member received about 30 minutes of training twice per week, over a period of several months.
Scheduled practice – build fluent repertoires. Frequency building (daily, timed, recorded practice) was set at each student’s level. Students worked toward Fabrizo & Moors (2003) frequency aims for students with ASD. The instruction first focused on tool skills, like see-say numbers, and paired math skills with reinforcement. Then, when students were excited, instruction moved to component skills, like see-write math facts.
In the first year of implementation, the final instruction was hear-write; how to listen to something and then write it down, so they could be comfortable working (not in folders but) in a general education environment.
Recording behavior. Teachers were also taught to use the Standard Celeration Chart for timings and daily progress. Each chart showed the student’s goal, and whether or not the student was on-track to meet their aim. If not, the teachers could make a change to “force” growth at x1.4 celeration. The chart showed whether the change was successful.
Data from two sample students (below) represents the effect of 4 months of intervention on their Woodcock-Johnson scores. Scores show minor increases (.4 and .3 grade levels) in calculation, even though the computation part of the curriculum was not yet implemented. Scores show greater gains (.7 and 1.0 grade levels) in math facts fluency.
In addition to academic gains, decreases in stereotypic behaviors were observed. During timings, students exhibited very little stereotypy because students were actively engaging with the instructional material. Further, student perceptions of math work seemed to be more positive.
Andrew’s advice? When training teachers, sell them first on the curriculum. Afterward teach them the value of frequency building (using frequency or rate as a recorded measure of progress), and the value of the Standard Celeration Chart.
Then, see how good instruction accelerates academics and reduces challenging behavior.
Want to learn more about frequency building? Curious about how behavior fluency works in your field or on your projects? Let us know in the comments!
Already watched the webinar video? Take BACB Type 2 CEU quiz here. Worth 1 credit.
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