Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #267
CE Offered: BACB
Reading Across the Spectrum: Behavior Analytic Considerations for Reading Instruction for Students With Autism
Sunday, May 24, 2020
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Marriott Marquis, Level M4, Independence F-H
Area: EDC/AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Morten Haugland (Haugland Learning Center)
Discussant: Kathy Fox (Haugland Learning Center)
CE Instructor: Morten Haugland, Ph.D.

Reading instruction in schools in the United States varies widely in theory, implementation and evidence of effectiveness. Students with special needs are more likely to struggle to read than their typical peers. Despite this, they often receive less instruction than their peers in reading and have less access to effective reading programming. Teachers of all types report a lack of understanding about effective reading instruction and little support to improve their understanding. Recent media attention to reading via multiple reports from American Public Media has inspired Haugland Learning Center(HLC) in Columbus, Ohio and Bright Futures Learning Services (BFLS) in Winfield, West Virgina to focus on applying knowledge about reading instruction to educational programming for students with all types of autism. in an attempt to ensure the best possible reading outcomes for all students. This symposium aims to discuss how building evidence- based critical components of reading including decoding, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and comprehension and avoiding reading pseudo- science in favor of proven curricula and methods rooted in behavior analysis can ensure success with reading. Data from service delivery at both HLC and BFLS will be shared, analyzed and discussed with the intention of sparking conversation, sharing knowledge and driving future programming.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

BCBAs, Teachers, BCABAs, RBTs

Teaching Students Who Use Speech-Generating Devices to Read
SARAH DOOLEY (Bright Futures Learning Services), Jill McLaury (Bright Futures Learning Services)
Abstract: The many benefits of using scripted curricula in the group reading instruction of students with autism are frequently inaccessible to programs serving students who engage with instruction using speech-generating devices (SGDs). The use of scripted reading curricula streamlines the staff-training process, promotes uniformity across instructors, and saves countless staff hours that would otherwise be spent creating materials from scratch. However, few pre-packaged curricula exist that are tailored to the unique needs of learners who rely on SGDs, particularly those who exhibit the core language deficits common to students with autism spectrum disorders. Bright Futures Learning Services (BFLS) in Winfield, West Virginia, adapts existing curricula and teaches missing or alternative prerequisite skills to allow students who use SGDs to access a broader body of educational materials. At BFLS, adaptations are made to the required input and output channels, pinpoints, fluency aims, and other methods and measures employed by traditional scripted direct instruction programs. By comparing the data across learners, BFLS has begun to compile a list of recommended fluency aims specific to the reading instruction of students who use SGDs to communicate.
Building and Applying Important Reading Component Skills with Students with Autism: Finding What Works to Maximize Success
MORTEN HAUGLAND (Haugland Learning Center), Kathy Fox (Haugland Learning Center), Jason Guild (Haugland Learning Center), Patrick Billman (Haugland Learning Center)
Abstract: Haugland Learning Center(HLC) in Columbus, Ohio serves students with autism and strives to build reading skills with students who are often enter the program with significant skill deficits. During reading instruction blocks of 90-100 minutes every school day, HLC uses Direct Instruction and Precision Teaching with frequent feedback for teachers and students to teach and build important component skills for reading including decoding, phonemic awareness, and comprehension. For the last five years, students have made an average of two years growth in decoding skills and over one year of growth in oral reading skills per one year of participation in the program. Inspired by recent attention to reading instruction in the media and the extraordinary needs of its students, HLC aspires to make similar gains in the areas of phonemic awareness and comprehension by adding programmed instruction and practice opportunities that focus on these crucial skills and evaluating data regularly to ensure progress. This presentation highlights student and classroom data, program decisions made based on these data and student outcomes.
Evaluating Priorities and Maximizing Success in Reading Skills For Performers With Low Acquisition Rates
DAVID WEGNER (Haugland Learning Center)
Abstract: Reading skills are a valuable component of pivotal behaviors which may allow for individuals with special needs to have increased independence while navigating their environment. For individuals with intellectual disabilities and slower acquisition rates, it is necessary to prioritize functional words that will be frequently encountered. This often takes the form of common words found in the community or the individual’s immediate environment and excludes skills taught in traditional reading programs. Haugland Learning Center (HLC), based in Columbus, Ohio, serves students with autism and other disabilities with various levels of abilities and asserts a transition to prioritizing functional words for students who are significantly impacted by their disabilities and have fallen significantly behind their peers. Rather than abandoning reading instruction completely for students who are not on track to become traditional readers, HLC provides students with programmed instruction to maximize and apply skills they are able to acquire and maintain. This presentation will discuss how HLC assists student stakeholders in determining when acquisition focus shifts from conventional academic reading skills to functional skills, how new acquisition targets are determined, and how targets are generalized to natural environments. Specific examples of student data will be presented, analyzed and discussed.

From AAC to R-E-A-D: A Potential Roadmap to Reading for Augmentative and Alternative Communication Users

TERI LEFFLER (Bright Futures Learning Services), Jill McLaury (Bright Futures Learning Services)

Reading is a critical skill, and while several curricula exist for verbal learners, the path to reading for users of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices is far less clear.Bright Futures Learning Services in Winfield, West Virginia serves students on the autism spectrum who use ACC devices in their center- based program.This presentation will outline the successful approach utilized to bring one exceptional learner from a baseline Verbal Behavior Milestones and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) score of 3.5 to not only the successful reading of sight words and accurate spelling, but comprehension as well. Discussion will include the specific scope and sequence of highly individualized programs utilized to achieve such an outcome in less than one year through intensive one on one services employing discrete trial training as part of a comprehensive program in a clinical setting. Although the methods and techniques utilized in this case should not be considered a “one size fits all” solution, it can be adapted to each individual learner, potentially creating a roadmap for AAC users to become readers.




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