It is well documented that students with ASD benefit from ABA interventions. It is also well documented that children with disabilities (including students with ASD) benefit from inclusive classroom experiences with the necessary services and supports integrated into the classroom to improve learning outcomes. When students with ASD are included in general education classrooms, ABA interventions can and should be embedded into as many different instructional and non-instructional activities as possible to provide the intensity of intervention they often need to meet their social communication, behavioral, and academic needs. Many teachers consider ABA as a 1:1 intervention that can only be implemented in therapeutic settings. However, as I discuss in my books Bringing ABA into Your Inclusive Classroom and Bringing ABA into Home, School, and Play for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, ABA interventions can be implemented within everyday routines and activities across home, school, and community settings.
I will give you an example for how an ABA lesson plan for teaching a child how to respond to comments during ongoing activities can be embedded during a read aloud activity. Here is the ABA lesson plan:
1. When the child is engaged in an activity, make a comment about what the child is doing. If the child responds, provide positive reinforcement by smiling and making another related comment with positive affect.
2. If the child does not respond to the comment, use time delay to encourage a response.
3. If the child does not respond given the time delay, try either restating or rephrasing the comment. If still no response, use the following least-to-most prompts hierarchy:
a. Point to something the child can comment about
b. Use a fill-in (give a sentence starter and have the child finish the sentence)
c. Use modeling/request imitation (model the comment and have the child imitate the response)
4. Use peer-mediated interventions when possible to encourage the child to respond to comments from peers.
5. Provide multiple opportunities throughout the day, across a variety of settings and activities to promote generalization of the skill.
Here is how the above ABA lesson plan can be embedded during a read aloud activity:
The teacher is reading a book to her kindergarten class. In the book, there is a picture of a girl eating breakfast. The teacher says, “Her breakfast looks delicious!” The children immediately start responding to that comment saying things such as, “She’s eating pancakes!” “I had cheerios for breakfast!” “My mom makes me pancakes too!” The student with autism, Jack, does not respond to the comment. The teacher calls on Jack specifically and restates the comment while showing Jack the picture (“Jack, her breakfast looks delicious!”). The teacher uses time delay, but Jack still doesn’t respond. The teacher rephrases the comment to encourage Jack to respond (“She is eating.”) Jack says, “Eating.” Since Jack did not respond to the comment other than imitating the word “eating,” the teacher restating the comment, “She is eating,” and pointed to the pancakes. Jack said, “Eating pancakes.” The teacher said, “Yes, Jack, she IS eating pancakes. They look soooo good!”
Some may say, “I can’t interrupt my instruction and do all of that while the other students are ready to move on.” The fact is, it takes way less than a minute to embed that intervention, and the impact the intervention will have on Jack is well worth taking those few moments to teach him how to respond to comments just like his peers do.
For more information about bringing ABA into inclusive classrooms and to access a database of over 100 ABA lesson plans please visit www.bringingaba.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.