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Creating Communication Opportunities

23 blog avatar 1 Creating Communication Opportunities
Expert Name: Amanda Fishley, MA, BCBA, COBA
Expert Title: MA, BCBA, COBA
Company Name:  Special Learning, Inc.
Company URL: www.special-learning.com
Short Bio: Amanda Fishley, MA, BCBA, COBA is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Certified Ohio Behavior Analyst. She has experience working with children,

adolescents and adults in variety of settings including school, home and mental health facilities. In each of these environments, she worked closely with parents, teachers, and paraprofessionals to develop and oversee implementation of behavior intervention plans. She has extensive experience mentoring and providing supervision to RBTs, BCBA candidates and behavior analysts. As an Associate Director of Clinical Solutions for Special Learning, she is responsible for creating and presenting educational materials and promoting Special Learning’s mission to positively impact the special needs community. She received her Master’s degree in Special Education/ABA from The Ohio State University. She has been working with in the field of ABA for over ten years.

Creating Communication Opportunities

Communication opportunities abound in natural situations and through the course of any given day. There may be times, though, where you will need to create additional opportunities for your student to practice his or her communication skills. Here are a few strategies to contrive communication opportunities:

Refrain from giving the student the necessary materials needed to complete a task/activity

·         For example, give the student a bowl of ice cream and withhold the spoon.

·         Ask the student to write her or her name and withhold a pencil.

Give too little of something

·         Give a very tiny portion of pretzels for snack so the student requests for more.

Give incorrect item

·         Pour water into a glass if the student requests for juice, creating a need to tell his or her teacher.

Provide choice opportunities

·         Rather than deciding activities for the student, allow the student to choose which task they would like to complete. Other choice opportunities include: choosing snacks, choosing a classmate to push wheelchair, order of tasks needing completed, and where to sit in class.

Important tip when creating communication opportunities: parents, teachers, and all communicative partners should avoid making communication feel like work. If communication feels like work, the student will be much less motivated to engage in the communicative response. It’s important to remember to have fun and promote playful communication!


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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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