The UC Davis MIND Institute is an amazing resource for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders and other neurodevelopmental disorders. They’re the organization behind the free autism course I took through Coursera, which I wrote about last week. They also offer two free online training modules through their Autism Distance Education Parent Training (ADEPT) program. This weekend I finished Module 1: Strategies for Teaching Functional Skills.
The module consists of 10 lessons, each of which can be completed in 15-30 minutes, depending on whether you watch all of the embedded videos and complete the quizzes.
- Lesson 1: The ABCs of Skills Teaching
- Lesson 2: Understanding Reinforcement
- Lesson 3: Using Reinforcement Effectively
- Lesson 4: Planning and Preparation
- Lesson 5: Creating a Task Analysis
- Lesson 6: Prerequisite Skills
- Lesson 7: Prompting and Chaining (Part 1)
- Lesson 8: Prompting and Chaining (Part 2)
- Lesson 9: Setting the Stage for Learning
- Lesson 10: Dealing with Errors
The lessons I found most useful were the ones on reinforcement, prompting, and chaining. After completing the lessons on reinforcement, Hubby and I implemented a token-based reinforcement system for Kiddo. (I’ll write a separate post about that soon.) The system has helped make transitions smoother and has helped motivate Kiddo to work on some of his social goals, such as staying out of other kids’ personal space and handling toys with care. I think the token reinforcement system has some side benefits of teaching delayed gratification and saving versus spending.
I also found the lessons on prompting and chaining informative. We use various methods of prompting quite a bit with Kiddo, and the lessons gave me a good reminder about the various nonverbal prompting options that are available, other than visual prompts, which we use extensively. It also gave me a good reminder that we have to avoid prompt-dependency and work on gradually fading prompts. I also learned about the concepts of forward and backward chaining, which were new to me. I now understand why backward chaining is more effective, and I plan to use it when teaching Kiddo new skills.
Hubby hasn’t gone through any of the lessons yet, and I doubt he will ever go through all of them so I just suggested a couple that were most useful for me. As a parent team, it’s important that we’re both using the same teaching methods with Kiddo so we’re not undermining each others’ efforts.
I’m so thankful for the UC Davis MIND Institute for developing such useful, free resources for parents of children with autism. I plan to work through Module 2: Positive Behavior Strategies for Your Child with Autism next. I’ll post about that one after I’m finished.