Learn Your Special Education Laws, Special Education Rights, and Share IEP Goal Ideas

Mar 15
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by Jess

As you may have already figured out by the title of my book and my previous blog posts, one of my missions is to help educators and caregivers learn how to design meaningful ABA interventions that can be implemented within everyday home, school, and community routines. More and more special schools (segregated settings) for children with ASD are opening up across the country to provide 1:1 ABA instruction. The problem I have with this is that these children are missing out on thousands of learning opportunities that occur in inclusive classrooms and inclusive schools. The reason why these schools keep popping up is that there is strong research support for ABA interventions for kids with ASD, and the truth of the matter is public schools typically do not provide intensive ABA interventions for kids with ASD within the context of general education classrooms (or even special education classrooms). So, private or publicly funded schools are setting up camp to deliver 1:1 ABA interventions. Here's one very important word of caution, though: While there is research support for the use of ABA interventions with kids with ASD, there is also research that documents that many kids do not maintain and generalize skills being learned when they are taught outside of the environments in which they will use them. Children may not maintain or generalize skills taught in isolation because the contexts in the natural environment are so significantly different from the therapeutic setting. They also may not maintain or generalize skills taught in isolation if the skills being learned are not meaningful and useful across contexts. All ABA intervention program goals should be able to answer the "So what?" question: If the child masters the goal, so what? How will it positively impact the child's life and/or the life of those the child interacts with? If this question cannot be answered, the goal should not be included in the child's program.

Now that I shared my thoughts on segregated schools and 1:1 ABA therapy in isolation, I would like to share an alternative approach to providing ABA interventions for children with ASD. Early intervention professionals are familiar with Activity Based Interventions or Activity Based Instruction (ABI) and Routines-Based Intervention (RBI) (see the work of Diane Bricker and Robin McWilliam for more info). These approaches provide a framework for embedding individualized interventions for young children with disabilities within the context of everyday routines and activities in the home, school, and community. It is my very strong opinion that we should use frameworks such as these to embed ABA interventions within natural contexts for young children with ASD and school-age children as well. We know that children learn best when they are actively engaged in everyday routines and activities. However, it may be difficult to engage children with ASD in everyday routines across home, school, and community contexts without the use of ABA interventions and other active engagement strategies. Merging ABA interventions with ABI and RBI is a wonderful way to provide intensive ABA interventions within the natural environment. This allows children to learn within everyday contexts without having to be segregated from their typically developing peers and removed from classrooms that provide rich learning opportunities. Below, I summarized the steps discussed in detail in my book (Bringing ABA into Your Inclusive Classroom: http://www.brookespublishing.com/store/books/leach-70779/index.htm) that a BCBA or other professional with expertise in ABA and special education can follow for designing ABA interventions for implementation in the natural environment:

1: Conduct assessments (strengths/interests; present levels of performance for all domains that will be addressed in the ABA intervention program; parent and teacher priorities; list of everyday classroom, home, and/or community routines).

2: Set ABA intervention goals that are meaningful, observable, measurable, positively stated, developmentally appropriate, and have a criteria for mastery

3: Design ABA interventions that can be implemented across a variety of home, school, and/or community contexts and align data collection procedures. Consider the strengths and interests of the student when designing interventions.

4: Create a matrix that lists the ABA goals horizontally and the everyday routines vertically and put x's in the boxes to indicate which goals will be implemented during which routines. For example, during small group reading the teacher may be able to address communication goals, social goals, behavioral goals, and/or academic goals.

5: Provide training, modeling, and coaching to the primary interventionist (teacher or caregiver) to assist with implementing the ABA interventions within the context of everyday routines and provide support with data collection procedures.

6: Monitor the student's progress at least bi-weekly to make instructional decisions.

About the Author:

Deb Leach is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. Her passion is working with families, educators, and community groups to help support the successful inclusion of individuals with ASD using principles of ABA and other evidence-based practices. Her focus is on finding ways to bring ABA interventions into the everyday lives of individuals with ASD to increase family, community, and school inclusion and reduce the need for segregated services. She provides training and consultation for educators, schools, school districts, caregivers, and community groups related to supporting individuals with ASD. She can be contacted at leachd33@gmail.com for more information.

originially posted on: http://bringingaba.blogspot.com/2012/02/bring-aba-into-inclusive-classrooms.html

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7 Responses to “Bring ABA into Inclusive Classrooms Instead of Sending Students with ASD to ABA Schools and Programs”

  1. Hi Deb,

    I went to rate your article as 5 stars, and it was submitted as 1 star! Please disregard and know that your article is very informative and useful in helping educators understand the process of inclusion and the importance of helping children remain in the classroom! Well done!


    Nicole Eredics

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    • Hey Nicole, I deleted the 1. Feel free to vote again

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    • Ha! Thanks Nicole. I was sad about the 1 star rating :) Glad to hear it was a mistake. Your support means a lot.

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  2. Our school would never do this because it would draw too much attention to the student in the general ed classroom, it would put too many people in the general ed classroom, they will not prompt my daughter for speech because it would single her out even though she can not be understood, she can not be given a visual schedule because it would single her out. Lazy.

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  3. Michelle,
    That’s really unfortunate that your daughter’s educators are worried about her “standing out.”. It’s simply not about that. It’s about providing students the supports necessary to be succesful in an inclusive classroom. Of course, when universal design for learning principles are used, students with special needs “stand out” less because there are supports in place for all students. However, there will always be unique, individualized supports students with disabilities need. Withholding those supports to prevent the child from “standing out” means they do not understand what special education is. It’s like saying to someone who is choking at a restaurant, “Sorry, we cannot administer the heimlich maneuver because it would make you stand out.”

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  4. Thanks Deb. I love the concept of UDL and have asked for a AT eval but I was told it would make my daughter go backwards in learning to read and write… I asked if at the end of the day would they insist that a blind person learn to see?

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Bring ABA into Inclusive Classrooms Instead of Sending Students with ASD to ABA Schools and Programs

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