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|Written by Administrator|
|Monday, 26 April 2010 18:51|
By Stephen R. Anderson, Amy L. Jablonski, Marcus L. Thomeer and Vicki Madaus Knapp
Publisher: Woodbine House
Pages: 160, plus references, resources, appendices
Reviewed by Chigusa Haldeman, M.S., BCBA
This book addresses the importance of teaching practical living skills. Self-help skills are not always fully addressed in educating learners with autism spectrum disorders (ASD's). The authors' intention is to guide parents with children with ASD's as well as teachers and paraprofessionals in schools in teaching critical life skills. This book is organized into 11 chapters. Throughout the chapters, the authors present many case examples, sample training programs, inventories and practical advice with the intention of making the content concrete and easy to understand for readers. In addition, the authors provide resource information and helpful forms which have immediate application to the readers.
In Chapter 1, the authors emphasize why self-help skills need to be the priority. They convincingly argue that the lack of self-help skills lead to long-term dependence regardless of whether the learners have adequate language, social, or academic skills. Further, the authors state that deficiencies in self-help skills preclude learners with ASD's from participating in school functions, recreational activities, community inclusion and ultimately housing and job opportunities. In Chapter 2 and 3, the authors review typical development and contrast this with how the learners with ASD acquire skills. They present developmental milestones and questionnaires to determine which self-help skills to teach and when. Their goal determination process appears logical. It is designed to bring successful results and minimize frustration that can be experienced by both caretakers and learners with ASD's.
The authors guide the readers through the teaching contexts, motivational issues, teaching methods and progress evaluation from Chapter 4 though 7. They stress that careful planning, the creation of a relevant physical context and the use of naturalistic stimuli maximize skill acquisition as well as skill generalization. Next, the authors briefly describe motivational issues associated with ASD's. They explain how to select and use positive reinforcement as well as how to fade the positive reinforcement once the learners make progress. Chapter 6 outlines specific goal selection and how to write a task analysis for the goals selected. They explain various types of prompts, shaping, forward and backward chaining methods. They provide concrete examples and walk the readers through the step by step process of how to conduct a task analysis.
Chapter 7 emphasizes the importance of data collection to evaluate progress. The authors recommend collecting baseline data prior to teaching self-help skills. They stress that collecting baseline data provides information to guide planning and instruction. They discuss how to evaluate the progress with sample task analysis data sheets. The authors also offer troubleshooting ideas in this chapter.
Chapters 8 through 10 address specific skills, such as, dressing, personal hygiene, eating and toileting. The authors again present typical developmental milestones and readiness skills to facilitate teaching these specific skills. They also briefly discuss sensory and medical challenges of learners with ASD's which may hinder their progress. All three chapters include several examples, practical suggestions, sample task analyses and sample data sheets. In the toileting skills section, the authors note toilet training is labor intensive and time consuming. They recommend that parents ensure that adequate supports are in place before attempting toilet training.
In the final chapter, the authors discuss skill generalization. They provide several strategies to enhance skill generalizations. Some of their suggestions include teaching skills in a natural environment using common materials, using multiple exemplars, fading rewards and ensuring consistency across people and environments.
The content is presented in simple terms. The book is designed to be user friendly. The self-help inventory, sample task analyses and sample data sheets are all useful and have immediate application to many professionals. Since this book primarily targets parents of children with ASD's, the authors write in an empathetic and encouraging manner. It is also noteworthy that the authors consistently explain rationales when presenting recommendations or helpful tips. This promotes the reader's understanding. I highly recommend this book for parents and professionals who have some exposure to and training in applied behavior analysis (ABA). As the authors suggest, doing effective intervention well requires help from qualified professionals. Because a systematic teaching approach requires a high level of specificity, the information presented in this book may be overwhelming to more naive parents, teachers and/or paraprofessionals. Even though the procedures of positive reinforcement, data collection, shaping, chaining and prompting procedures are explained in simple terms, achieving proficiency in them may take time for those newer to the field Practitioners who recommend this book to more novice clinicians and newer parents may want to support their efforts to master the techniques with hands-on modeling and feedback.
Overall, this is a very useful book that addresses an under-emphasized curricular area. It will do much to close the gap in this area in the literature, and will help parents and educators alike to program more effectively in this area.
by Beth Sulzer-Azaroff and Associates
Reviewed by Robert H. LaRue, Ph.D., BCBA
Applying Behavior Analysis Across the Autism Spectrum: A Field Guide for Practitioners was written by Beth Sulzer-Azaroff and Associates and was published in 2008. The book is a carefully programmed sequence to train parents and educators to employ Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) with learners on the autism spectrum. The book extends beyond simple lecturing and rote memorization to outline lesson plans and allows supervisees to gain applied experience with autistic learners. Presented as an alternative to loosely run training experiences, the authors structure an intensive training protocol that provides the trainee with an active role throughout the intervention process. The practicum outlined in the book is geared for supervisees who understand the basic concepts of ABA and need to refine their knowledge and learn to use the concepts of ABA in clinical practice. The book covers a wide range of important skills including the assessment of adaptive/maladaptive behavior, conducting behavioral observations, instructing learners with autism, recording, measuring, graphing, and analyzing data, and communicating results of instructional efforts.
The authors begin by clearly defining the roles of both the supervisee and the supervisor. The book outlines the skills that should be possessed by the student taking the practicum (e.g., familiarity with the concepts of ABA with a need for clinical experience) and the skills and resources possessed by the supervisor (e.g., proficiency in ABA, time to allocate to appropriate supervision). The book also guides both the student and the supervisor through the process of establishing a meeting schedule, scheduling activities to be completed (e.g., assignments), gathering the materials required and providing discussion topics (e.g., critical features of autism, generalization). The authors outline a number of preliminary steps, such as, choosing an appropriate practicum setting, identifying a student, identifying learning objectives, measuring the behavior of interest, and developing effective teaching procedures. In addition, the book provides the readers with a wide variety of data sheets and forms to make the intervention process as simple as possible (e.g., examples of consent forms, reports).
What follows the initial chapters that involve role definition, is a structure designed to train the supervisee to effectively intervene with a learner on the autism spectrum. The structure allows both the supervisor and supervisee to avoid problems that may be encountered during the training process regarding expectations of all parties involved. Subsequent chapters address the process of conducting behavioral observations, critical issues in data collection, and using ABC analyses to identify target skills. The book also instructs the supervisee in what to look for during observations (contextual arrangement, materials, strategies used, consequences delivered). The supervisee is guided through the process of developing an objective, measuring the effects of the instructional procedure and monitoring progress, calculating inter-observer reliability (IOA), generating progress reports, programming for generalization and reporting their findings.
In addition to the clinical experience outlined in the book, the authors also incorporate reading of the research literature into the training process. While often neglected in the training process, the authors emphasize the importance of staying current with the empirical literature and highlight the need for reading. The authors provide a list of appropriate journals to draw information from and build in journal reading into the weekly objectives.
The book provides both supervisor and supervisee with a structured sequence to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the training process. It possesses a variety of forms to allow the supervisor to supervise, rather than prepare materials. The authors provide a useful tool to meet the increasing need for qualified personnel to work with learners on the autism spectrum. The structure of the book also provides an alternative to the traditional approach of teaching that involves watching someone teach, rather than allowing the trainee to get hands-on experience. Applying Behavior Analysis Across the Autism Spectrum: A Field Guide for Practitioners represents a useful tool for practitioners to train individuals to become effective practitioners in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis.
By M. J. Cohen & D. L. Sloan
Reviewed by Jenna Glennon, M.A.T., BCBA
How many people rely on a map to help plan a trip to a new destination, a recipe to cook a favorite dish, or a calendar to schedule upcoming important events? These universal supports allow us to travel, cook and plan beyond what is restricted to memory. Using visual supports helps to broaden our horizons and experience new and different things. It is this same concept that applies to the use of visual supports for individuals with autism. Visual strategies can be used to improve language, memory, attention, motivation and behavior for individuals with autism. In their book Visual Supports for People with Autism, Marlene Cohen, Ed.D., BCBA, and Donna Sloan, M.A., BCBA, provide parents and educators with detailed guidelines on how to incorporate visual supports to improve a variety of skills and behaviors which can add greater meaning to daily activities. The book is divided into 10 chapters in which the authors provide a well illustrated guide on how to identify an individual who needs visual supports, provide instructions about a variety of tools to teach various skills and improve behavior, and determine the effectiveness of these interventions.
Chapter 1: The features of a Good Visual Support. The opening section of the book discusses general guidelines to keep in mind when creating visual supports. The authors discuss considerations when creating materials such us preferences, durability, portability, age appropriateness and measuring effectiveness. They emphasize that each individuals needs are unique and the supports used should be based on their abilities. The authors also include a materials list for creating the many visual supports discussed in their book. Finally they provide a simple way to measure progress and determine the effectiveness of visual supports.
Chapter 2: Some Commonly Used Visual Supports. This chapter provides a list of commonly used visual supports including activity schedules, calendars, checklists, color coding, comic strip conversations, graphic organizers, manipulatives, mnemonics, pictures and photos, Picture Exchange Communication SystemTM, Power CardsTM, sign language, social skills picture books, social storiesTM, and video modeling. In this chapter the authors briefly describe each of these supports. This prepares the reader for a more detailed discussion that comes in later chapters about how to use these materials to improve a variety of behaviors and skills.
Chapter 3: How Visual Supports Can Help with the Development of Language.
The complexity of language acquisition which includes the component skills of comprehension, expression, and pragmatics is explained in this chapter. The authors explain and illustrate how methods such as graphic organizers and thinking stories can provide concrete information to help learners better understand these concepts.
Chapter 4 Using Visual Supports to Increase Memory. This chapter provides information on the detailed process of how relevant information is stored in long-term memory. The author's reference David Sousa's How the Special Needs Brain Learns (2001) to describe the complex process of memory (sensory register, working memory, short term memory and how information is organized in the brain). The chapter is dedicated to helping individuals understand abstract concepts such t Who, What, Where When, Why, and How as it pertains to their daily experiences. The authors provide a variety of strategies that can be used to teach these skills.
Chapter 5: Temporal Sequential Skills. Understanding sequence and order is critical in helping an individual predict what may happen on a given day. This is extremely important for individuals with autism who experience difficulties in this area. Without predictability there is confusion which at times can lead to challenging behavior. The authors describe a variety of supports to help teach the passage if time, multi-step tasks, understanding historical perspective, math skills, reading, and writing. They highlight the importance of considering individual capabilities such as cognitive skills and motor skills when creating materials to meet an individuals needs.
Chapter 6: Using Visual Supports to Increase Attending. In this chapter the authors provide an explanation for difficulties with attending related to processing (intake of information while filtering out irrelevant information) and production (distracted by environment and cannot stay on task). The reader is asked to consider what challenges the learner may have when determining which visual supports to use.
Chapter 7: Using Visual Supports to Increase Motivation. The authors emphasize the significance of motivation in teaching new skills. They outline key considerations when providing reinforcement such as frequency of delivery, amount, quality and intensity. This chapter presents a clear explanation on using motivation systems to teach a learner what is being earned, how much will be earned, who they will be working with, when reinforcement will be delivered, where it will be delivered and why they learner is engaging in the skill or behavior that is being rewarded. The authors discuss the importance of individual preference and abilities when creating visual supports to increase motivation.
Chapter 8: Using Visual Supports to Increase Social Skills Social skills is a critical area of functioning for individuals with autism. The authors provide a flow chart of major areas of social skills in order of complexity to help the reader understand the myriad of skills in this domain. They provide examples of how to use visual supports to teach non-interactive social skills, social impression, interactive social skills, social initiation and reciprocation, play, friendship management, emotional regulation, empathy and conflict management.
Chapter 9: Strategies for Fading Supports. While visual supports can enhance learning, it is important to have a plan to fade them out to avoid dependence. This chapter describes different methods for fading supports and increasing independence. Tips for generalizing and self monitoring are provided. In addition they offer suggestions for troubleshooting if you have difficulty fading the supports.
Chapter 10: An Example of the Use of Visual Supports to Increase Opportunities. In the final chapter, the authors share a vignette about the successful use of many of the strategies described in their book. This personal story highlights the profound differences visual supports can make in an individual's life. Additionally, they provide abundant reproducible diagrams and a thorough resource Guide.
Visual Supports for People with Autism is a well illustrated guide for parents and professionals. It is a user friendly book written in a conversational style which leaves the reader feeling empowered and equipped to use the strategies provided. The authors have successfully illustrated how visual supports can be used to address deficits in communication, socialization and behavior typical of autism.
By Mary Lynch Barbera with Tracy Rasmussen
ISBN# 978 1 84310 852 8
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley
Pages: 176, plus references, appendix, glossary
Reviewed by Mary Jane Weiss, Ph.D., BCBA
This book is an important addition to the books that exist for parents and professionals working with children with autism spectrum disorders. Interest in the Verbal Behavior classification system has increased in recent years, but there are few resources that describe how this classification system can be used to build language skills in learners with autism. It is therefore difficult for professionals and parents to obtain specific information about how to implement an approach incorporating this system. The book is also written in a very easy-to-read manner. Families and professionals will find the "how-to" approach to be extremely specific and useful.
Ms. Barbera clarifies for readers that VB is part of Applied Behavior Analysis. There is widespread consumer and professional confusion on this relationship, and this clarification is a service to the parent and professional communities.
Understanding ABA and a VB approach
This book serves to educate family members and professionals on several of the most important concepts of ABA. Ms. Barbera explains why the ABC's (Antecedents-Behaviors-Consequences) of behavior are important to understand. She also explains the importance of determining the function of challenging behaviors. This will help parents and professionals as they try to unravel the seeming mysteries of their children's/student's behaviors. She also clearly outlines how treatments must match the functions of behaviors, and how appropriate replacement skills must be taught to address the same function.
Reinforcement is also well explained. Parents will appreciate the author's concrete suggestions, which are thorough. For example, she suggests increasing the ratio of reinforcing to corrective statements made to a child with autism. Specifically, she encourages families to aim for a ratio of 8:1 (reinforcing to corrective statements); this is exactly the kind of concrete and specific recommendation that families can use. She also gives excellent suggestions about identifying potential reinforcers, which is a constant struggle for many families, as well as for many teachers.
Verbal Behavior is described very clearly, and the author does an excellent job of explaining its utility for teaching language. The explanation of verbal and non-verbal operants is very clear and easy-to-follow. She also does an excellent job of orienting the reader to speaker behavior, listener behavior, and other important core skills. These concepts are sometimes elusive in definition and in application, but the author does an outstanding job of specifying the concepts.
The chapter on manding is full of excellent "how-to" suggestions for families or teachers seeking to increase requesting behaviors. In particular, the clear emphasis on pairing is superbly outlined and explained. Step by step suggestions for mand training via sign are offered. There are excellent suggestions on integrating manding into the curriculum, both in the form of integration into work sessions and as separate manding sessions. In the context of integrating manding into work sessions, she highlights the importance of the gradual increase in demands. Other major contributions in this section include suggestions on how to take data on prompted and independent mands, recommendations for data collection within sessions and throughout the day, and thoughts on how manding skills can be continually deepened, expanded, and improved.
Other areas that are very useful include her discussions of errorless teaching and her recommendations for building independence in self-care skills. In errorless teaching, she clearly helps readers to understand the importance of teaching effectively and of preventing errors. In the self-help area, she highlights the importance of developmental readiness and of attempting to effect change first through positive reinforcement based procedures alone.
In general, the book is an excellent source of information on Applied Behavior Analysis and on Verbal Behavior. It serves to clear up some major sources of confusion, most notably about VB's embeddedness within ABA. There are countless helpful and well-grounded suggestions for parents and teachers who are interested in using this approach with their children.
Areas of Caution
While the author does an excellent job of describing and attempting to prevent the escalation of divisiveness in the field, it is still possible that consumers could be confused about a few issues. While it is the case that VB programming is an excellent means of building skills and that a VB approach (or other naturalistic ABA methods of teaching) is superior to DTI (Discrete Trial Instruction) for increasing spontaneity and initiation, it is important (for us as clinicians) to also underscore the role and utility of DTI.
Discrete trial instruction (DTI) uses repetition and sequenced instruction to build a variety of skills in students with autism (Lovaas, 1981; Lovaas, Koegel, Simmons, & Long, 1973; Smith, 1993). It has been effective in teaching a wide variety of core skills in structured, formalized contexts. Elements of effective use include errorless learning procedures (e.g., Etzel & LeBlanc, 1979; Lancioni & Smeets, 1986; Terrace, 1963; Touchette & Howard, 1984) and task variation and interspersal (e.g., Dunlap, 1984; Mace, Hock, Lalli, West, Belfiore, Pinter, & Brown, 1988; Winterling, Dunlap, & O'Neill, 1987; Zarcone, Iwata, Hughes, & Vollmer, 1993).
It is certainly true that naturalistic ABA instructional methods, such as Incidental teaching, will lead to more generalization than DTI. Skills taught more naturalistically clearly generalize much more readily and with far less effort than those taught through discrete trials (e.g., Hart & Risley, 1982; Fenske, Krantz, & McClannahan, 2001; McGee, Krantz, & McClannahan, 1985). It is also true that naturalistic approaches (Such as Incidental Teaching or mand training) are generally better suited to increasing initiation and spontaneity (e.g., Fenske, Krantz & McClannahan, 2001; Sundberg & Partington, 1998.) DTI and naturalistic ABA instruction target different deficits, and may be best suited to teaching different skills. At times, consumers and clinicians may fail to appreciate the need for the integration of the approaches of DTI and naturalistic methods, and may fail to understand how a comprehensive ABA program may best meet the diverse needs of learners.
It is important for clinicians to emphasize the potential relevance and utility of PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). While Ms. Barbera clearly has a preference for sign (as do many of the best known VB clinicians), data on the comparative efficacy of sign and PECS approaches is limited. A rejection of PECS is not warranted. PECS is based on Skinner's VB classification system, and relies heavily on it in teaching the functions of language (Frost & Bondy, 2002; Bondy, Tincani, & Frost, 2005). Furthermore, many children are currently communicating efficiently and independently with PECS, and should continue to build communicative ability within that system. As clinicians, it is imperative that we be as individualized and data-based as possible in decisions about issues such as communication modality.
Furthermore, within ABA as a field, we need to be careful about creating and adopting new terminology which is not conceptually systematic. While it is clear what the author means when she discussed doing "cold probes" or when she describes "ITT (intensive therapy teaching)", it is important to distinguish those terms from ABA core definitions and concepts, to help students of the discipline and consumers to think and communicate more clearly about the field of study. There are several examples of terms (such as those given above) that are not part of the basic science, are not used in descriptions of VB research, and are not utilized in common clinical applications/uses of VB in programming for students with autism.
Finally, Ms. Barbera's enthusiasm for the field and personal experience as a consumer of services are two of the variables that make this book so compelling and so on-target. Nevertheless, there are times when it makes for potential misunderstanding. For example, when she talks about seeing vocal progress in videos she has seen presented in lectures (which are compelling, impressive, and moving), her enthusiasm could lead some parents to misunderstand the likely outcomes. While previously non-vocal 14-year-olds do occasionally become vocal communicators, more often they do not. We have to be responsible in presenting the range of outcomes to consumers. Also, while the stories of what worked for her son are interesting and excellently placed throughout the book, we should also remember that those remain strategies that worked for one individual child, and which can not be broadly applied to the population at large.
Messages for parents
The messages for parents in the final chapter are especially compelling. It is here that one can really see the benefit of her experience on both sides of the parent-professional partnership. Her advice to focus not on recovery, but on maximizing a child's potential is wise indeed. The ambiguity of the early years of autism is perhaps the greatest stressor for families, and the narrow focus on recovery may obscure the importance of celebrating all of the successes a child achieves. There are not enough discussions in the professional realm about the negative effects of the focus on recovery, and her articulation of these points is very much needed. Her message to avoid the high vs. low functioning trap is also on-target. Each child's skills and deficits need to be evaluated in detail, and a comprehensive assessment will inevitably identify both areas of great strength and areas in need of attention. Identifying children in global evaluative terms such as high or low functioning does not focus the treatment team on what needs to be done, and may prevent the team from identifying the most salient needs and successes.
Ms. Barbera advises parents to be ready to advocate and to learn all they can. These are good pieces of advice, as they will lead to parents being fully participating members of their child's educational team. She also advises parents to take care of themselves. For many families, this particular piece of advice will not be heeded, at least for the first year or two of intervention, but the message is highly relevant. As she says, for most families this is a marathon, not a sprint. These words are so much more powerful for having been spoken by someone who has been there.
One of her pearls of wisdom to parents in this section is to make just one change at a time in a child's treatment program. This is very practical and intelligent advice. It is true that many families will stumble across and try a number of different strategies to help alleviate their child's symptoms. While we can debate the scientific merit of any or all of these approaches, the fact is that the majority of families will pursue one or more of them. This is the reality, and her advice will help ensure that data can be evaluated to assess the impact of such approaches in an objective manner. In this way, families can make sound decisions about the merits of a given approach, based on objective data about how it helped (or failed to help) their child.
Finally, she talks of making lemonade out of the lemons life has offered. This seems to represent the ultimate coping model for parents. Individuals who not only meet their challenges, but who also find meaning and joy in them, are those who cope more effectively in the long run. They do acknowledge their lives as changed, but recognize that some of those changes are positive.
This book is an important one. Parents and professionals will be pleased with its easy and practical approach. It fills a void that currently exists for families and professionals trying to understand how to do a VB approach. Furthermore, it explains how ABA approaches behavior and teaching. The sections on rapport building, the importance of motivation, errorless teaching, and reinforcement are well-written, accurate, and well suited to the needs of parents and professionals new to this approach. Her words of advice to families will resonate with them, as they are born of experience and spoken from the heart. It is a much needed resource in an area in which few resources exist.
Author's note: Some sections of this review appeared in a review of this book in the Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioral Intervention earlier this year.
Focus on Behavior Analysis in Education: Achievements, Challenges, and Opportunities
Edited by William L. Heward and Colleagues
Reviewed by Sharon A. Reeve, Ph.D., BCBA, & Kenneth F. Reeve, Ph.D.
In 1968, Fred Keller, one of the early pioneers in the field of behavior analysis, published an article entitled "Goodbye Teacher." In it, he described how applying the (then) relatively new science of behavior analysis to education would make traditional, yet inefficient, modes of teaching obsolete. Despite a great deal of initial excitement, however, very few of the methods gained widespread acceptance by educators. With all apologies to Keller, some argue that the state of affairs in education today may be better characterized by "Goodbye behavior analyst" rather than by the title of Keller's article. After reading the new book Focus on Behavior Analysis in Education: Achievements, Challenges, and Opportunities (2005, Pearson Education, ISBN 0131113399), however, educators and behavior analysts alike may agree that the time is right for behavior analysts to reintroduce themselves to the field of education and to apply what they have to offer.
Edited by William L. Heward and colleagues, Focus on Behavior Analysis in Education consists of a collection of articles based on presentations made at Ohio State University's recent Focus on Behavior Analysis in Education conference. The book covers such topics as early intervention in autism, curriculum design, teacher training, model schools, inclusion, the supposed detrimental effects of rewards on learning, and the rationale behind the resistance to behavior analysis's broader acceptance in the schools. Although it is beyond the scope of this review to cover all 19 chapters (and each is worthwhile), we will briefly describe some of them, along with their implications for current and future teachers and students.
Given the recent visibility of the use of applied behavior analysis (ABA) in the successful education and treatment of individuals with autism spectrum disorders, it seems fitting that the book begins with two articles concerning this topic. The lead article is by the late Donald Baer, who is well known for his instrumental role (along with Wolf and Risley, 1968) in outlining the groundwork for the field of ABA. Based to a large extent on Baer's testimony as an expert witness in cases involving the use of ABA for individuals with autism, "Letters to a Lawyer" is a synopsis of Baer's responses to criticisms and misconceptions about ABA. This concise and well written article practically serves as a "how-to guide" for making the most persuasive arguments for the use of ABA. The second article has two parts: one by Catherine Maurice, and the second by Bridget Taylor. As she has done in other related articles, Maurice writes eloquently about the shameful state of affairs in autism treatment, a field that is pervaded by educational policies based on pseudoscientific or anti-scientific beliefs rather than by empirically validated treatments. The article ends on a hopeful note, however, as Maurice points out that the use of science-based treatments for autism (such as ABA) is seeing a wider dissemination through the efforts of organizations such as the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT) and professional best-practices recommendations such as the Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities (MADSEC) report. In the second part of the article, Taylor describes the characteristics of effective early intervention for autism. In short, this summary of what we need to do (and why we need to do it) makes a clear argument for ABA as the intervention of choice for people with autism. The article ends with a helpful appendix outlining how to discriminate pseudoscience from actual science in assessing treatment.
Although many professionals and laypersons are aware of the benefits of behavior analysis for children with pervasive developmental disorders such as autism, less well known are the successes and struggles of behavior analysis within other areas in the field of education. These are brought to light in the articles comprising the remainder of the book. Two of these address the recent trend towards positive behavioral interventions in schools. In their article, Sugai and Homer discuss guidelines for developing positive behaviors in both students and school staff. In a similar vein, Peterson and Lacy-Rismiller assert that all the members of a school's community must concern themselves to a greater degree with developing positive behaviors in students rather than focusing more on decreasing inappropriate behaviors. Both articles are very germane given that behavior analysts frequently have to contend with the myth that their focus is exclusively on ridding children of problem behaviors.
A series of articles in the book address issues related to developing effective teachers. Regardless of educational philosophy, it goes without saying that teachers need to develop a comprehensive set of skills to be effective educators. To achieve this, training programs must be developed and refined to support the development of these skills. Maheady, Harper, and Mallette, for example, describe the implementation of a preparation program that instructs preservice teachers on how the principles of behavior analysis will allow them to be more effective in meeting the educational needs of students. In another article by Alber and Nelson, they describe how student teachers and their mentors can become contributors to the already existing body of research on best teacher practices by collaborating in the classroom. In this way, teachers can move beyond the idea that they only need to be effective consumers of research and not active contributors to our body of knowledge.
In another article, McDonough and colleagues note that the use of behavior analysis in a school should not be limited to students. A "behavioral" school must use an integrated system in which these principles are also applied across teachers, supervisors, and parents. This basic idea is further supported by Dick Malott, but at the level of the college community. In his article, he asserts that when college professors teach behavior analysis in the classroom, these principles should be applied not only by the future teachers for their students. Rather, Malott describes a behavioral-systems approach for teaching behavior analysis in which both future teachers and professors "practice what they preach." Humorously written, the article outlines how to develop goals, manage performance, and design behavioral systems for oneself as well as for one's students.
Many individuals in the field of behavior analysis have lamented its lack of wider acceptance. A number of possible reasons for this have been proposed. One concerns the idea that the technical jargon used in behavior analysis may be to blame. This assertion finds support in an original research article by Rolider and Axelrod. They demonstrate that laypersons view behavioral interventions in a much more favorable manner when the interventions are described in conversational language. In contrast, when technical jargon is used to describe behavioral interventions, the interventions are rated as being less understandable and less compassionate.
Another reason behind the lack of acceptance of behavior analysis may have to do with the currently popular belief in education that rewards and reinforcement undermine an individual's intrinsic motivation to learn (Kohn, 1999). In her article, Judy Cameron argues that the belief of negative effects of rewards is a broad overgeneralization that is based on a very narrow set of circumstances. She convincingly argues that a vast body of research, in fact, supports the opposite view: that reinforcement, when implemented properly, is an effective process for behavior change that typically has no negative effects for learning.
In the book's closing article, Bill Heward argues that all the reasons for the more widespread adoption of behavior analytic practices in education are there, but that these reasons have been insufficient up to this point in time. It may be that the reasons supporting the use of behavior analysis have been outweighed by the perceived reasons against its use. Heward points out that many of the philosophical views about what educators should provide for their students contradict behavior analytic views (and empirical research!). For example, educators often oppose the practice of defining precise learning objectives for students or using science-based approaches to teaching. In addition, Heward describes how educators often see behavior analytic methods as too simplistic, too confining, and as an impediment to their creativity. Perhaps most damaging is the view of accountability adopted by behavior analysts: namely, that the student is always right! This view puts the burden of learning on the teacher and not the student. Despite these obstacles, Heward thankfully offers some suggestions for increasing the likelihood that behavior analysis will find a broader acceptance in education. Clearly, proponents of behavior analysis cannot rely solely on letting the data do the talking for them because, up to this point, this kind of wait and see approach has not worked. Heward points out that if we see behavior analysis being used effectively, regardless of who is doing it, we should reinforce it so that the practice continues to occur! Rather than taking an "us-versus-them" approach, we all need to remember that improved learning is our goal, and not which educational philosophy can claim ultimate victory.
One of the editors' purposes for the book is for it to be used as an instructional tool in college and graduate courses. To that end, the publisher has developed a useful companion website for the text. In addition, the end of each article contains a number of study and discussion questions as well as activities for future teachers. Perhaps most exciting is that many of the actual presentations on which the articles are based can be accessed through the internet. Links to the presentations are listed in the book.
Focus on Behavior Analysis in Education is a must read for any individual who wishes to employ the most effective educational methods for their students, regardless of their students' developmental preparedness. It should also be on the bookshelves of administrators and staff trainers who wish to see improvements in the effectiveness of their teachers. In this time of No Child Left Behind and the need for evidenced-based practice, perhaps the field of education will once again open its eyes to what a science of behavior has to offer. Focus on Behavior Analysis in Education should keep those eyes open for a very long time, if not permanently.
This review reprinted with permission of the Association for Science and Autism Treatment.
by Beth Glasberg
Reviewed by Chigusa Weekley, M.S., BCBA, The New Jersey Center for Outreach Services for the Autism Community (COSAC)
This short book introduces a functional behavior assessment to educators and parents in a clear, step-by-step format. The author provides an overview of learning theory and directs the audience to observe and understand behavior from a viewpoint of functions, as opposed to what the behavior looks like. She explains behavior analytic terms and concepts in a user-friendly manner with many examples.
The author lists eight steps of functional behavior assessment. In Step 1, she suggests creating an assessment by defining who should be involved and why. She briefly touches on the responsibilities and skill requirements of the team leader. In Step 2, "Select a Target Behavior," the author lists six essential guiding principles when choosing the behavior. Two practice examples are included to help the audience to determine the priority. Step 3 explains the importance of defining behavior and how to write a clear definition. The author covers recording and measurement of behavior in Step 4. She lists seven measurement procedures and describes which measurement systems work best for different types of behavior. In Step 5, "Establish a Baseline," she describes how to evaluate the level, trend and variability of the behavior. The author also suggests when not to intervene in behavior, based on the baseline results.
Step 6 examines methods to "Interview Team Members." The author provides several tips on how to conduct effective interviews. She emphasizes focusing on the facts, rather than the opinions of interviewees. The sample interview form and interpretation guide provided in this chapter are helpful when conducting interviews. The author offers practical advice in Step 7 when observing the target behavior. She clearly defines structured and unstructured observations. The sample data sheets for structured observation (i.e., ABC, descriptive analysis, etc.) have immediate applications to any classroom or home setting. Finally, Step 8 covers hypothesis testing. The author lists two types of procedures: antecedent manipulation and functional analysis. She provides guidelines, considerations and samples to simplify this complex procedure. Although the author advises that only experienced professionals conduct functional analyses for severe and dangerous behaviors, the advice would best be accompanied by either guidelines or a list of qualifications that such professionals should have.
The author dedicates the last two chapters to behavior interventions. She explains how to choose strategies that address the function of behavior and how to alter four critical variables to learning. The author briefly reviews special circumstances and tips for troubleshooting when intervening in behaviors. While the author offers general advice for when an intervention does not work, consultation by qualified behavior analysts should also have been suggested, because educators and parents may not be experienced enough in behavior assessment processes and behavior intervention to come up with alternative solutions. The involvement of a qualified behavior analyst may also prevent individuals with autism from being exposed to an ineffective intervention for a prolonged period.
I recommend this book as a useful guide for educators and parents who want to understand puzzling behavior and develop an effective intervention plan to help individuals with autism. While a functional behavior assessment can be a cumbersome process, various sample forms and data sheets included in this book make the process more accessible and less overwhelming.
|Last Updated on Monday, 06 December 2010 01:08|