Autism teaching styles based in Applied Behavior Analysis.
Autism Teaching Techniques
After taking a class in Special Education, I became interested in this as a profession. Following further research I became interested in autism. As part of this class, I was concerned with finding out if this was something I was interested in studying further. For the observation criteria, I came across FACE, or the Florida Autism School or Excellence. This is a new program that is a part of the public school system. They are determined to begin treatment at age 3. The belief is that if treatment is started this early, the student can remain on regular diploma until graduation. As it is a part of the public school system, they can only retain students until the age of 22. After this point, they must be transitioned into another treatment program. Many of the students at FACE are on regular diploma while others have IEPs that allow for other kinds of testing.
What is Autism?
Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder marked by profound deficits in social, language, and cognitive abilities (Herbert 2002),. Although not always the case, most children with this diagnosis show notable abnormalities as early as infancy. Parents, however often attribute these abnormalities to other causes. The occurrence of this disorder is between 2 and 20 out of 10,000 (Halgin, 2008).
There are five varying degrees of Autism Spectrum: autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Retts Syndrome, Childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder. Each level in this syndrome demonstrate a varying level of social impairment (Herbert, 2002).
Applied Behavior Analysis is a technique that uses behavior modification and operant conditioning as a means of changing problematic behavior. Applied Behavior Analysis, when applied at a young age can have a significant effect on a child’s functioning. In a study done at the Young Autism Program (YAP), this therapy is started as toddlers and are usually integrated into regular kindergarten classes. The therapy applied in this program are used in every area of the child’s life, therefore resulting in 24 hour therapeutic training (Herbert, 2002J).
Polyxo.com, a website designed as a teaching resource for the parents of autistic children, describes an effective Applied Behavior Analysis program. Jason Wallin, the site’s creator, lists seven traits an effective program must have. First, the behaviors chosen as the focus should have a social significance. The events that occur and learning stages should be adequately recorded. There should be proof that the intervention chosen is the best way to change the behavior. The procedures themselves should be completely described, for further reference. Accredited and established principles should be used. The targeted behavior must be changed to an appropriate degree. The changes that take place should be visible in a variety of environments, such as home, school, and in public (Wallin,, 2004).