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How to Maintain a Skill with your Child diagnosed with ASD and Promote Generalization

30 blog avatar How to Maintain a Skill with your Child diagnosed with ASD and Promote Generalization
Expert Name: Monisha Acharya-Lammert
Expert Title: Monisha Acharya-Lammert
Company Name:  Step By Step Academy, Inc.
Company URL: www.stepbystepacademy.org
Short Bio: Monisha Acharya-Lammert has been serving children with autism spectrum disorders for eleven years

now and has been employed with Step By Step Academy, Inc. since 2002. She received her Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology from The Ohio State University. She has served as an in-home behavioral consultant for consumers privately for five years and is continuing her education by preparing for the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst certification under the direct supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Monisha has supervised and overseen intensive behavioral intervention in classrooms as part of a partnership and collaboration with several school districts in the state. Currently, Monisha is the Clinical Project Manager at Step By Step Academy.

How to Maintain a Skill with your Child diagnosed with ASD and Promote Generalization

Has your child just learned a new skill, and are you wondering, “How do I know he will maintain it?”   If so, here is what you need to know in order to ensure that he maintains what he just learned as well as be able to generalize it.  

Some examples of skills you may want to maintain/generalize can include:
•    spell name
•    wash/dry hands
•    identify objects within environment
•    wave
•    zip coat

How do I help my child maintain his skills?

First, you need to determine is what skill/s has been mastered?  You might need to ask his teachers, other staff, and/or therapists for a list of mastered programs.  Then, you will want to start a Maintenance binder with all of the programs/skills that your child has mastered.  That way you have a quick and easy way to reference what needs to be maintained and generalized.  Once you have created a binder of programs that need to be maintained, begin by reviewing the skill/s daily and do your best to record a “+” or “-“ for the skills he responded correctly versus incorrectly.  This will help you know exactly what programs he is maintaining and which ones he is having difficulty with.

Now, how do I know that he will generalize the skill?

Generalization is the process by which a behavior/skill is learned in one environment tends to be produced in another environment.  A common characteristic of children with autism is the inability to generalize newly learned skills to circumstances different than those that were present during the original training time.  For example, a child may learn how to respond to the greeting “Hi!” (because that was the skill being taught during training) but, not to “Hello!”

Areas for Generalization (Steps):

SD:  Vary the presentation of the skill, change up the way you ask/present the instruction.
Time:  Over time, try to teach the skill in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Be mindful of the fact that you are not teaching it at the same time everyday.
Environment:  Teach the new skill at home, school, the park, etc.
Person:  Teach across a variety of people.
Stimuli:  Use a variety of materials. Make sure you are not using the same materials every time. For example, if teaching the object, ball, try using different pictures of a ball, different sizes of a ball, etc.

Ways to Generalize (different formats to try):
•    books
•    games-board games and computer games
•    file folders
•    outings
•    websites
•    art projects
•    creative activities


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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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