Option #1: Discuss the history of evidence-based practices. Suggest a set of criteria for a school district to use for deciding which interventions are evidence-based. Explain why you would use this set of criteria.
There are a number of factors that contribute to the rise of evidence-based practices applicable to students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is becoming the fastest growing category of special education in all U.S public schools (Buron & Wolfberg, 2014). As a result, schools are facing shortages of professionals who accommodate the needs of students in this field. Under the no Child Left Behind Act, educators are being held accountable in providing scientifically based instruction (Kirk, Gallagher, & Coleman, 2015). As a result of the skills that teacher lack regarding autism, schools hire outside contractors to provide behavior service to meet students’ needs. These professionals are trained to provide the best evidence-based interventions to students with ASD.
Evidence- based Interventions (EBI) are treatments implemented through scientific research following an explicit set of criteria. They are proven effective through outcome evaluations (Buron ; Wolfberg, 2014). If they are implemented with integrity, they can change the targeted behavior. Promising or emerging scientific evidence means that an intervention has the potential to be evidence-based. It may contain some scientific support but the effectiveness of the treatment is not supported for implementation among children with ASD. Promising practice has an evaluation plan to measure program outcomes, but it does not yet have evaluation data available to reveal the effectiveness of positive outcomes.
Best practices in autism produces a variety of successful results in a variety of settings. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) and structured TEACCHing are two EBI intervention practices that have shown to be effective strategies for students with autism and would be beneficial to any school or school district. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the use of specific techniques and principles to provide positive change in behaviors that are among children with ASD. In ABA, the behavioral interventionist implements what is written in the behavior intervention plan (BIP). They intervene as needed when the child displays behavior problems. They provide support and modeling techniques to parent/ guardians. They also provide positive reinforcements to the child and implement consequences (Goldstein, Naglieri, ; Ozonoff, 2009). ABA therapy is used among children from preschool into adulthood. It is used to help increase the desired behavior, teach new skills such as self-control and self-monitoring, and to reduce inappropriate behaviors.
TEACCH is an autism service program in the state of NC that is used in all settings among individuals with ASD of all ages and developmental levels (Buron ; Wolfberg, 2014). The program’s approaches are to teach skills to children and provide a structured, organized, and comprehensible environment where students can grasp the environment around them. It is beneficial in helping children with ASD understand the opportunities and expectations around them. It is considered both an educational technique as well as an approach to providing an organized and supportive environment.
Option #4: Why is it important for infants to engage in interactive games to assist them in developing social communication? Discuss the importance of why joint attention is so important to developing social communication.
Experience plays an important role in brain development. It is assumed to influence connectivity, which promotes learning (Buron & Wolfberg, 2014). Researchers have held that babies are born with excessive neurons that directly affect brain connectivity. The more a child is engaged in activities, the more connections are formed, which fuels their social life.
Social communication is essential for children as it allows them to interact with others and affects their thoughts and behavior (Buron & Wolfberg, 2014). The use of interavtive games play and important role for infants as it helps them develop social communication as they provide chances for attention and sharing. It also provided opportunities for reciprocal sharing, which allows them to relate to others, which is necessary in later social communication. These behaviors contribute to the infant’s emerging capacity for joint attention. It allows them to relate to others and engage in the subjective states of other individuals. Researchers have found an increase in “metabolic activities in the areas of the brain involved with emotional regulation, interaction, and sequencing when infants are involved choice-making, search behavior, and reciprocal interactions” (Buron ; Wolfberg, 2012, p.110).
Children with autism have delays in social interaction and communication because they have difficulties sharing their feelings, beliefs, and knowledge. Studnts with autism often have the right vocabulary but aren’t sure how to use them in order to allow others to understand their perspective on things. Children with autism miss so many interactions because they do not engage well in the games of infancy. All of these behaviors are crucial as they lead to the development of joint attention and are start points for symbolic communication.
Research ties between joint attention and theory of mind, stating that they are both located in the same area of the brain. Therefore, when children lack skills in joint attention, they cannot try to comprehend what others may be thinking. Joint attention plays an important role in establishing intended communication because it relies on shared awareness and engagement. It is also important for “reading others’ intentions”. Additionally, joint attention is essential for language development. It is important for infants to share emotions, understand things, and help them relate to one another, all of which are related to symbolic communication.
Option #6: List and discuss all of the steps recommended when conducting a functional behavioral assessment and implementing a positive behavior support plan. Further, discuss why it is crucial to collect information on an ongoing basis when implementing a positive behavioral support plan.
According to O’Neill, Albin, Storey, Homer, & Sprague (2015), “FBA is the general label used to describe a set of processes for collecting information about problem behaviors and for defining the events in an environment that reliably predict and maintain those problem behaviors” (p.2). A proper behavior support plan can be put together once information on a student’s behavior is collected. The FBA’s primary goal is to ensure the behavior support plan is effective and efficient. Another primary goal in conducting an FBA is to clarify rather unclear circumstances in which certain behaviors occur and the function that the behavior serves (O’Neill, Albin, Storey, Homer, & Sprague (2015). An FBA should lead to interventions that positively affect behavior (Jones & Jones, 2013).
In order to complete the process of the FBA, six main outcomes should be achieved. First, the problem behaviors should be clearly described in the order in which the behaviors occur, and the durations; defining the behavior. Effects of what certain events have on a behavior should also be described in detail. This section should include any activities and the student’s behavior to those activities. It can include anything such as medical complication, sleep cycles, eating routines, schedules, and choices of activities like watching television or playing a game. Events and situations that predict the occurrence of the behavior are also described in this section. Secondly, the behavioral information should be gathered, describing the antecedents and predicting when the behaviors will and will not take place (Buron & Wolfberg, 2014). The third outcome is developing a hypothesis statement. This is when the place, time, and conditions predict when the behaviors will and will not take place are identified based on a daily schedule. The fourth outcome is creating a behavior support plan, and this is when the consequences that follow a specific behavior are described. The fifth outcome is where the summary statements are developed and interventions are implemented. Summary statements must describe exact behaviors, an exact condition or circumstance in which the behavior occurs, and the results or reinforcers given. The final outcome is completed through the collection of direct observation information, which must be collected to support all summary statements. This step is where implementations and outcomes are monitored. A main reason why a behavior support plan may not be successful is that it is not implemented (Buron & Wolfberg, 2014). It is very important to follow up with students to see if there is a reduction in behavior and the focus should always be on enhancing positive behavior. Making changed and monitoring plans are an important part of its effectiveness.
A FBA, which focuses on the identification of variables that influence the occurrence of problem behaviors, is needed to guide parents and practitioners in determining what strategies might be most effective and efficient in addressing children’s challenging behaviors. “When the intervention is based on the function of the undesirable behavior, consequence interventions may be used both to weaken the maintaining consequences for problem behaviors and strengthen the consequences for desired alternative and replacement behaviors” (O’Neill, Albin, Storey, Homer, & Sprague (2015). For instance, a student can develop defiant behaviors when he is unable to cope with not finishing a math problem on time. The topography of his behavior can be throwing things off his desk. Selecting an intervention such as kicking him out of the room can make the situation worse. A positive intervention based on the function of his behavior can be to teach him a self-calming technique. Matching teaching interventions with replacement behaviors that can serve the same function is an excellent method.
Option # 10: Discuss why intention reading is central to social?pragmatic theory.
According to social pragmatic theory, a student’s ability to read an adult’s intention is essential to language development (Buron & Wolfberg, 2014). It is considered as the gateway to symbolic communication and the development of social cognition. Understanding people as intentional agents is necessary for language acquisition to take place. In order to learn new words, young children must understand adult intentions through a wide range of social pragmatic cues. According to research, the time in which children speak their first word is significant because symbol use depends on gaze following, social referencing, and imitative learning, all of which are necessary skills for intention reading. When a person uses language as a way to express his intentions, that specific language is mean to serve a specific function.
Students with autism have difficulties comprehending intentional reading, relating to communication and language impairments. They may tend to take things literally. Many aspects of language such as semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic, can be impaired in students with autism. However, impairments in pragmatics is what damages language in students with autism.
Having a thorough knowledge of social pragmatic theory can help us grasp what went wrong in the language acquisition process n autism. Children with autism likely have impairments in social cognition, joint attention, affect sharing, and intention reading (Buron & Wolfberg, 2014). Social pragmatic theory is defined as the rule in typical language development because it is the best explanation for why children speak words as a specific age and time, and the way in which they learn language. In Conclusion, there is a relation between communicative intentions and pragmatic functions. For instance, when a child calls out his “mommy” after seeing her for the first time in a while, the word mommy is a way for him to express that his is asking for his mother’s attention and that he misses her. However, if he is saying the word in a setting where someone asks him who brought him to school, then he is implying that his mother is the person who took him to school. The word “mommy” can serve different functions depending on the intent of the child.
Option #11: Discuss the 4 conversational maxims and provide an example of each.
The third aspect of social pragmatics that is intimately linked with the theory of mind is conversational maxims (Buron & Wolfberg, 2014). They are the “rules of discourse by which the speakers co-operate in the conversations with one another” (Buron & Wolfberg, 2014). The four conversational maxims applicable to verbal individuals include quantity, quality, relevance of utterance, and clarity. Quantity refers to using only what is needed to delivering information. At this rule, not saying enough to express what you are trying to say, or saying too much can be violating the rule. An example can be a student with autism Level 2 who continues to discuss a topic of interest for a longer time than expected, without any consideration to social cues such as someone looking at his watch many times as he listens.
Quality refers to differentiating what is true and what is not true. A person who lies would be considered to be violating this rule. As example might be a child with ASD Level 1 who takes the role of a cartoon character from a movie he likes. At this point, id someone calls him by his name, he will not answer. He will only answer if he is called by the character’s name. Relevance simply refers to staying on a specific topic. An example could be someone jumping from one story to another when speaking.
Clarity brings forth information that is identifiable and clear to the listener. Students with autism sometimes violate this rule by using metaphoric language. One example would be a child who speaks of being rich by buying all schools and closing them down so no one has to ever learn, or to say that he will buy the world with a million dollars. It is understandable to talk about being rich and how to strive to achieve this goal. However, saying unrealistic things that are not necessarily relevant to the idea of being rich will not keep the listener interested. These are social norms that are essential to keep a conversation going.