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3 Easy Steps to Teach a New Skill to Your Child Diagnosed with ASD

9 blog avatar 1 3 Easy Steps to Teach a New Skill to Your Child Diagnosed with ASD
Expert Name:  Monisha Acharya-Lammert
Expert Title: Monisha Acharya-Lammert
Company Name:  Step By Step Academy
Company URL: www.stepbystepacademy.org
Short Bio: Monisha Acharya-Lammert is the Outreach Director at Step By Step Academy (SBSA) and has been serving children diagnosed with autism since 2001. In her role as Director,

she delivers parent and staff trainings on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis(ABA), provides strategies on behavior management, as well as oversees and develops comprehensive behavior plans with the guidance of the Human Rights Committee. With guidance from the Executive Director at SBSA, she has established and supervised an Intensive Behavioral Intervention (IBI) classroom in the Morrow County area since August 2010.
Monisha was a home-based private consultant for five years before joining the Step by step team. She is continuing her education by preparing for the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst certification under the direct supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

3 Easy Steps to Teach a New Skill to Your Child Diagnosed with ASD

Are you thinking about teaching your child diagnosed with autism a new skill? Maybe how to brush her teeth, comb her hair, or to tie her shoes? If so, here is a simple way of breaking down the skill to ensure that she learns what is expected of her and to make sure that she is successful.

Some examples of common skills you may want to teach include:
• brushing teeth
• washing /drying hands
• brushing hair
• tying shoes
• washing face

Step #1: Determine what skill(s) you want to teach your child
The first question you should ask yourself is “What skills will be functionally necessary and age appropriate for my child?” Is it important to you that your 3-year old knows how to tie her shoes? Is that an age appropriate skill? To determine and to sequence the skills properly, you should start with making sure that your child has mastered all the basic functional skills first – for example, it is probably more important that she knows how to wash her hands before learning how to tie her shoes.

Step #2: Determine what skills your child currently has in her behavioral repertoire
Once you have determined what skill(s) you want to teach her, then you need to ask yourself, “What is in her behavioral repertoire (what can she do already)? What does she need help with?” This step is important because you don’t want to waste her time teaching her something she already knows how to do. Instead, you should focus your time working on the skills that she is having difficulty with or teaching her new skills.

Step #3: Develop a Task Analysis and break down the skill
After you have identified the skill(s) you want to teach, you will need to develop a task analysis. A task analysis is a comprehensive way of breaking down a skill into smaller components or steps. It is how we teach skills to children on the spectrum when they need help completing a task. The target skills can range from learning how to play with a specific toy (manipulating the item), using a utensil at meal time, to even riding a bike.

How to develop a task analysis:

The first step in the process is for you to actually go through the skill that you want to teach yourself, observe someone else performing the task, and finally, writing up the task analysis, breaking down the task into individual, necessary components.

Example of a Task Analysis: Wash/Dry Hands
1. Turn on water
2. Wet hands
3. Get soap
4. Lather
5. Scrub hands
6. Rinse hands
7. Turn off water
8. Get towel/paper napkin
9. Dry hands
10. Hang up towel/throw paper napkin away

When teaching a new skill, don’t forget to provide constant reinforcement or use a token economy chart and the appropriate level of prompting necessary to ensure that your child never experiences failure.


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Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

Mother Child
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