Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Smooth and Easy Transitions" - January 2014 Positively Autism Newsletter

Tips and Articles:

January Newsletter Topic: Smooth and Easy Transitions - http://positively-autism.blogspot.com/2014/01/january-newsletter-topic-smooth-and.html

Why Are Transitions Difficult for Children with Autism? - http://positively-autism.blogspot.com/2014/01/why-are-transitions-difficult-for.html

Enhancing Social and Transition Behaviors of Persons with Autism through Activity Schedules - http://positively-autism.blogspot.com/2014/01/enhancing-social-and-transition.html

Tantrum-Free Transitions: Tips for Parents with Kids on the Autism Spectrum - http://positively-autism.blogspot.com/2014/01/tantrum-free-transitions-tips-for.html

Tips to Help Autistic Students Transition - http://positively-autism.blogspot.com/2014/01/tips-to-help-autistic-students.html

Visual Timers as a Transition Tool - http://positively-autism.blogspot.com/2014/01/visual-timers-as-transition-tool.html

Transition Countdowns - http://positively-autism.blogspot.com/2014/01/transition-countdowns.html

First-Then Charts - http://positively-autism.blogspot.com/2014/01/first-then-charts.html

Video Priming for Successful Transitions - http://positively-autism.blogspot.com/2014/01/video-priming-for-successful-transitions.html


Helping Children with Autism Spectrum Conditions Through Everyday Transitions: Small Changes - Big Challenges - http://positively-autism.blogspot.com/2014/01/helping-children-with-autism-spectrum.html

Activity Schedules for Children With Autism: Teaching Independent Behavior - http://positively-autism.blogspot.com/2014/01/activity-schedules-for-children-with.html

Visual Supports for People with Autism: A Guide for Parents and Professionals - http://positively-autism.blogspot.com/2014/01/visual-supports-for-people-with-autism.html

Seeing Is Believing: Video Self-Modeling for People with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities - http://positively-autism.blogspot.com/2014/01/seeing-is-believing-video-self-modeling.html

Video Modeling for Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Practical Guide for Parents and Professionals - http://positively-autism.blogspot.com/2014/01/video-modeling-for-young-children-with.html

Free Downloads:

Positively Autism's collection of Valentine's Day resources includes:
  • Valentine's Day Vocabuary Flash Cards
  • Valentine Train Story
  • Valentine Train Sorting Activity
  • "What to Expect on Valentine's Day" Social Story
  • "V is For Valentine" Worksheet
  • Hearts Addition Folder Game
  • And more!

Other News

January Positive Autism News Stories - http://positively-autism.blogspot.com/2014/01/january-positive-autism-news.html

January Positive Autism News

Ordinary Jobs Are "Extraordinary" For Young Adults With Autism
January 27, 2014

First Issue of Autism comic Book Released in York Stores
January 23, 2014

Students With Autism to Take Stage at National Theater Festival
January 14, 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

Video Priming for Successful Transitions

Did you know that a process called video priming may help reduce problem behavior during transitions? But what is video priming? How does it help? These are the questions we will focus on today.

What is video priming? Let's start by defining "priming." In everyday-speak, priming means to prepare an object so that we can do something specific with it. In education, it means preparing a person for an event that will happen in the future. This is done by making the upcoming event or activity more familiar and predictable, hopefully reducing stress and anxiety about the upcoming event. (Recall our discussion about how unfamiliarity can lead to problem behavior in people with autism) Essentially, we use priming as a tool to ease the stress of transitions and unfamiliar activities.

When using priming, you'll try to familiarize the person with the upcoming event in a relaxed way. For example, you could look at a book ahead of time that will be read in class, show a visual schedule, practice with new art supplies, and so on. Video priming, as you may have guessed, is using a video recording as a priming tool; you'll show a video of the upcoming activity. Understand that priming is not considered teaching, so a child does not need to master the activity. You just want the child to become familiar with some aspects of the activity in a relaxed, no-pressure situation.

In a research study from the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, Researchers Laura Schreibman, Christina Whalen, and Aubyn Stahmer described how video priming could be used to reduce problem behavior during transitions for three young children with autism.

The participants in this study were three children with autism: Andrew (3 years), Lee (6 years), and Nathan (3 years). These children frequently had problem behavior during transitions situations, such as hitting, screaming, kicking, and dropping to the floor and refusing to get up.

Videos were made for each child. These videos showed the point-of-view of a person going through the transition situation. In other words, the camera filmed the transition situation at the child's eye level (no people were shown in the videos). For Andrew, the video showed the camera going through the rooms of his house to show the routine of getting ready to leave his home. The video showed the toilet (to represent going potty), the sink (to represent washing hands), his shoes (to put on), and the car in the garage (to represent leaving). Videos for Lee and Nathan showed transitioning through either stores in a mall or departments within a large store. The children were shown their videos right before they were supposed to transition. They watched the videos either in their home before leaving to go shopping (Lee and Nathan) or right before it was time to get ready to go (Andrew). The videos of the mall or stores ended with the child's favorite store or department (such as the toy section, followed by the check-out line).

Results indicated a dramatic reduction in problem behavior. Before using the videos, the children had problem behavior about 60% to 70% of the time intervals measured during the transition situations. When using video priming, the problem behavior was gradually reduced to near-zero levels for all of the children.

So, how can you use this strategy with your child or students? You can make a short video showing almost any transition situation, such as an eye level view of walking from the classroom to the cafeteria. An easy way to do this is to record it using a smartphone (just make sure that students are not shown in the video if this against your school's policies). Right before lining up each day at lunch time, you could show the video to the child to prepare him or her for what is coming up. You can also provide a reward or recognition for good behavior during the transition once you arrive. You may want to show the reward in the final location of the video.

An example of a similar video strategy can be found here: http://www.positivelyautism.com/downloads/behaviorplanhallwaytransitions.pdf

Read more about the study:
Schreibman, L., Whalen, C., & Stahmer, A. C. (2000). The use of video priming to reduce disruptive transition behavior in children with autism. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 2(3), 3-11. Link to more information on this article: http://pbi.sagepub.com/content/2/1/3

Other reference: Texas Statewide Leadership for Autism, "Texas Guide for Effective Teaching: Priming" - http://www.txautism.net/uploads/target/Priming.pdf


Friday, January 24, 2014

Seeing Is Believing: Video Self-Modeling for People with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities

Video modeling is a great tool for helping students transition from one activity to another. See an example of this for hallway transitions between classrooms here:

Title: Seeing Is Believing: Video Self-Modeling for People with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities

Book Description (from Amazon.com): Video self-modelling (VSM) is a proven and effective method for teaching new or more advanced skills and behaviours to people with autism. The technique uses home-made videos (created by parents, teachers, or therapists) to demonstrate a desired behaviour. The key feature of any self-modelling video is that the person modelling the behaviour in the video is the same person watching the video. VSM allows a person with autism to see himself performing the very skill he is trying to learn. This is accomplished through careful editing and manipulation of video footage, transforming it into a cohesive teaching tool. And the process is a lot easier than you may think! This book begins with an overview of the research and science behind VSM and insights into why it is a particularly good teaching method for people with autism and other developmental disabilities. It then explains the process of making self-modelling videos from start to finish, including how to: choose the behaviour/skill to teach; conduct a task analysis; select and use camcorders and video software; storyboard video scenes; plan and shoot footage; transfer the video to a VCR, DVD, or computer; edit and manipulate the footage; and, keep track of and interpret data. These videos can teach or modify a wide variety of behaviours and skills, such as controlling tantrums, increasing the frequency and length of verbal responses, making requests, interacting with peers, and solving math problems.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Video Modeling for Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Practical Guide for Parents and Professionals

Title: Video Modeling for Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Practical Guide for Parents and Professionals

Book Description (from Amazon.com): Video modeling takes visual learning to the next level by using new technologies to create an effective teaching tool. This book explains how professionals and parents can use innovative video modeling techniques to support the development of young children with autism spectrum disorders in school, home or community settings. Offering practical step-by-step guidance, the book shows how to film and edit personalized videos that highlight the exact skill that is being taught. Whether the focus is increasing attention, peer interaction, getting dressed or creative play, these videos are easy to incorporate into daily routines. They allow the child to learn new skills quickly and with less hands-on adult support leading to greater independence. Three video modeling strategies are presented Basic Video Modeling, Video Self-Modeling and Point-of-view Video Modeling along with all the information needed for readers to start using the techniques for themselves. The research behind the approach is also discussed and each chapter includes detailed case studies that demonstrate the techniques in action.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Visual Supports for People with Autism: A Guide for Parents and Professionals

Title: Visual Supports for People with Autism: A Guide for Parents and Professionals

Book Description (from Amazon.com): Most of us use visual supports in our daily lives--for example, a shopping list, calendar, or a roadmap. Visual supports are particularly beneficial to people with autism because they help make abstract concepts concrete and capitalize on the user's inherent visual learning strengths.

VISUAL SUPPORTS FOR PEOPLE WITH AUTISM shows parents and educators how incorporating these aids while teaching can improve academic performance, behavior, interaction with others, and self-help skills. In a friendly, conversational-style, the authors, both certified behavior analysts, describe the deficits typical of autism--language, memory, temporal sequential skills, attention, motivation, and social skills--and present strategies to use visual supports to address those issues at school and home.  This guide presents an abundance of examples, illustrated by dozens of black & white and color photos, including: activity schedules; calendars; charts; checklists; color coding; flip books; graphic organizers; mnemonics; nametags; photo boards; Power Cards; scripts; Social Stories; to-do lists; and video modeling.  VISUAL SUPPORTS also explains considerations such as portability, durability, preferences, age appropriateness, and effectiveness. While visual supports can enhance learning, they should, however, eventually be eliminated to avoid over-dependence on them. An entire chapter describes different ways to fade visual supports.  With this book, there's no limit to what can be taught, from fostering social interaction by using a graphic organizer of conversational talking points to learning to put away toys from video modeling. Most of the visual supports presented in this book are low-tech and easy-to-use, making it simple for parents and professionals to create their own, suited to the needs of their students. Inspiring success stories will further motivate parents and professionals to get started.


Friday, January 17, 2014

First-Then Charts

First-Then Charts are a great way to introduce visual schedules for improving transitions. You'll start with a chart with two boxes. In each box, you'll place a picture of an activity. The child completes the first activity, then the next. It helps the child to understand what is going to happen now, and what is going to happen next.

When first teaching a child to use a first then chart, it may help to make the second activity an activity that the child would enjoy. The first activity should be something easy for the child. Once the child gets used to the first-then chart, you can make the first activity more challenging, and add additional tasks before the fun activity.

Here is a set of First-Then Charts from Positively Autism: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/First-Then-Charts-261384

Transition Countdowns

A Transition Countdown is a chart for visual learners that shows the passage of time until a transition takes place. Many times, it makes the transition between activities easier for students with autism if they know what activity will come next and when it is time to change activities.

Transition Countdowns from Positively Autism:

Transition Countdown Sample Pack: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Transition-Countdown-Multi-Pack-Sample-432837

"Dots" Theme Transition Countdown:

Transition Countdown 5-Pack: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Transition-Countdowns-Multi-Pack-432872

Airplane Themed Transition Countdown: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Airplane-Themed-Transition-Countdown-432875

Train Themed Transition Countdown: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Train-Themed-Transition-Countdown-432886

Train Themed Transition Movers Countdown: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Train-Themed-Transition-Movers-Countdown-434697

Car Themed Transition Countdown: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Car-Themed-Transition-Countdown-432880

Police Car Themed Transition Countdown: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Police-Car-Themed-Transition-Countdown-432882

Police Car Themed Transition Movers Countdown: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Police-Car-Themed-Transition-Movers-Countdown-434678

Transition Movers Countdown Multi-Pack: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Transition-Movers-Countdown-Multi-Pack-434705

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Activity Schedules for Children With Autism: Teaching Independent Behavior

Title: Activity Schedules for Children With Autism: Teaching Independent Behavior

Book Description (from Amazon.com): Like the bestselling first edition, this new edition of Activity Schedules will show thousands of parents and service providers how to use this teaching tool to help children and adults successfully engage in self-directed and purposeful activities.

Activity schedules are a set of pictures or words that cue a child to follow a sequence of steps. Based on ABA methods, learners are taught using a system of graduated guidance--physical prompts systematically faded as performance increases. Once the individual has mastered their use, he or she can independently follow a schedule to engage in activities at home, at school, and during leisure time. For example, activity schedules can cue an individual to prepare food with minimal assistance, interact with classmates, and complete a puzzle.   Based on over 20 years of research the authors have conducted at the Princeton Child Development Institute, the second edition discusses the latest research that points to positive outcomes from using activity schedules, including better self-management, decreased problem behaviors, and skill generalization, among other findings. The new edition includes:  -How to use activity schedules to organize all aspects of a person's daily activities, and increase engagement, task completion, making appropriate choices, and sequencing activities;  -An expanded section on the use of activity schedules by adults, describing how they are used at home and in the workplace and via iPods and Blackberries;  -How to use activity schedules to promote social interaction and to teach children to point to and show objects to others in order to share a social experience.  Detailed instructions and examples help parents prepare their child's first schedule, then progress to more varied and sophisticated schedules, leading to greater independence.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Visual Timers as a Transition Tool

A visual timer is a tool for transition that can show how much time is left until the transition is a visual timer. This allows a person with autism to better understand how much time is left until the transition to a new activity. You may need to model, show, and/or explain how they work, but they can be a powerful tool in helping create a more predictable environment for someone with autism. Here are a few examples:

Friday, January 10, 2014

Helping Children with Autism Spectrum Conditions Through Everyday Transitions: Small Changes - Big Challenges

Title: Helping Children with Autism Spectrum Conditions Through Everyday Transitions: Small Changes - Big Challenges

Book Description (from Amazon.com): Facing any type of change can cause confusion and anxiety for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. This book looks at the small transitions in everyday life that can be a big deal for a child with autism and offers simple and effective strategies to make change less of a daily challenge. Explaining why seemingly minor changes to routine can be emotionally distressing for children with autism, this book teaches parents practical solutions for coping with common transitions including switching from a weekday to weekend schedule, the changing of the seasons, and sleeping in a different bed when on holiday. With insights from the authors' personal experiences and helpful scripts, signs and sketches to use along the way, this book shows that with a bit of thought and preparation parents can reduce the stress surrounding change for their child and the whole family. This book is the perfect tool to help children with autism deal with change in a calmer and more confident manner and will be essential reading for parents and any professionals working alongside them.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tips to Help Autistic Students Transition

It's no secret that people on the autism spectrum don't like change. So how can we help students with autism manage changes in their schedules and transitions? There are a few techniques that when used consistently can help reduce anxiety and give a sense of predictability to transitions.

Here are five transition tips to help your student with autism.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014

Why Are Transitions Difficult for Children with Autism?

Many teachers say that the ability to successfully transition is an important skill for their students. Children in preschool and elementary schools may spend as much as 25% of their school time transitioning between activities. Similarly, older students spend time transitioning between classes (Reference: 1). Children with autism may have difficulty with these transitions, with various possible explanations found in research literature.

The "predictability hypothesis" (frequently attributed to researchers Flannery and Horner, 1994) suggests that an unpredictable environment may lead to more problem behavior. Think about how unsettled you might feel if you walked into your home and all the furniture was rearranged. Who did it? Why isn't my favorite chair facing the front door anymore? Where is my ______? This happens because humans crave predictability, and people with autism crave it even more so. Thus, when they are thrust into an unusual or unexpected situation, they protest, often in the form of problem behavior.

Additionally, some children with developmental disabilities may not naturally pick up on cues in the environment that may signal an upcoming change in activity. Thus, a transition may be more of an unexpected event for these children. This may be a reason why the environment seems more unpredictable to people with autism; they may not pick up on these subtle social or environmental cues.

Although these are likely explanations for problem behavior among individuals with autism during transitions, each person is different. When looking at the problem transition behavior of a student with autism, it is recommended that a functional analysis of behavior be conducted for the individual student (References 1 and 2).

So those are the possible reasons children with autism may have difficulty with transitions, and the functional analysis is great for determining your child's specific reasons, but what can we as parents and teachers do to help reduce the problem behavior? That's what we'll discuss in our next posts as we continue this series from Positively Autism.


1. Schreibman, L., Whalen, C., & Stahmer, A. C. (2000). The use of video priming to reduce disruptive transition behavior in children with autism. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 2(1), 3 - 11.

2. Sterling-Turner, H. E., & Jordan, S. S. (2007). Interventions addressing transition difficulties for individuals with autism. Psychology in the Schools, 44(7), 681-690.

Flannery, K.B., & Horner, R.H. (1994). The relationship between predictability and problem behavior for students with severe disabilities. Journal of Behavioral Education, 4, 157–176.

"Why Can Transitions Be So Hard?" From the Snagglebox Autism blog: http://www.snagglebox.com/2012/07/why-are-transitions-so-hard.html

Friday, January 3, 2014

Enhancing Social and Transition Behaviors of Persons with Autism through Activity Schedules

Here's a free download of a research article on using activity schedules (visual schedules) to improve behaviors during transition of students with autism. Here's a summary of the article followed by a link to read the entire research review.

Summary: "Thirteen studies were reviewed that were conducted using activity schedules with persons with autism to improve social interaction skills and decrease problem behaviors. Results across studies indicate that activity schedules enhanced social interactions and on-task and transition behaviors. Also, investigators in some studies used activity schedules to decrease students’ tantrums and other problem behaviors during transitions. Furthermore, researchers in several studies that reported generalization indicated that behaviors learned through activity schedules generalized across settings and persons. Implications for practitioners and for future researchers are discussed."

Click here to read the article.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

January Newsletter Topic: Smooth and Easy Transitions

Children with autism frequently thrive on routine and predictability. They also often take a keen interest in a particular activity (such as lining up toys, spinning, trains, and so on). It can be very difficult for a child when it is time to transition away from one of these favorite activities to a different activity, such as when it is time to turn off a child's favorite iPad game to come to the dinner table. The child may become upset or engage in problem behavior. This is particularly true when the transition is abrupt or unexpected.

Changing activities is a part of life for children, their families, and their teachers at school (changing centers, going to lunch, changing classes, etc.) and home (bedtime, leaving home to run an errand, having dinner, etc.). Since this common activity may be difficult for children with autism, this month Positively Autism will be sharing tips and resources for making transitions between activities easer and smoother for your children and your students.

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