Missouri State University
Project ACCESS
Your Statewide Resource for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Computer Aided Instruction

Computer Aided Instruction (CAI) is an evidence-based practice used widely in schools and homes today. Computer programming has been studied to include the teaching of both academic and communication skills. While computer usage is highly motivating to learners, including those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), usage is only one component within an individualized program.

Studies specific to academics have focused on developing vocabulary and grammar usage. Communication studies have focused primarily on communicative functions and initiations. Evidence is available for learners from 3 to 18 years.

Why is CAI appropriate for many students with ASD?

  • Results are predictable and feedback is immediate.
  • There is a lack of the social and verbal ambiguity often associated with face-to-face instruction
  • Avoids sensory overload
  • Learners may work at their own pace
  • Programming may be individualized and customized
  • Learner attention may be increased

What are the education benefits of CAI?

  • Learners may display increased motivation and attention
  • There may be a decrease in challenging behaviors
  • Time on task may increase
  • Increased learning may occur

Adapted from: http://etec.ctlt.ubc.ca/510wiki/Using_Computer-Aided_Instruction_in_Teaching_Students_with_Autism_Spectrum_Disorder

Project ACCESS offers the following suggestions when providing CAI:

  • Be sure there is a well-thought-out plan in place. Left to chance, technology in classrooms or at home can interfere with the social opportunities crucial to learners with ASD.
  • Use the technology, but be careful that it is scheduled and purposeful—not something to just play with or fill time. Students should know the plan. Technology, and specifically CAI, is an important component in programming for students with ASD, but it is most useful when planned and used accordingly.  

Ø Software choices for computer usage changes rapidly, so it is difficult to recommend something specifically. Make sure the software chosen matches the individual student’s goals. Additionally, staff members need to familiarize themselves with the software, so they can troubleshoot and be available to assist. Some software allows for data management, while teachers will have to collect and monitor data for others.

©Project ACCESS – 2017 – Terri Carrington, M.A., CCC-SLP
New #ProjectACCESSfactsheet    #Evidence-based Intervention  #MAGI
This fact sheet and other #AutismResources, #AutismTraining and #AutismSupportServices information may be found on our website:  http://projectaccess.missouristate.edu

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#PAFollowTheReader ~ our weekly book recommendation: The Integrated Self-Advocacy ISA® Curriculum

The Integrated Self-Advocacy ISA® Curriculum by Valarie Paradiz, Ph.D.

From the description: Self-advocacy plays a vital role in nearly every aspect of life for individuals on the spectrum, in school, at home, in the community and at work. The more self-awareness they possess, the more they can be players in advocating for their own comfort, happiness and well-being. Yet, children and adults with autism spectrum and related conditions often receive limited support in these vital life skills. This is because people have little time to develop thoughtful, person-centered materials and tools, or simply have no clue how to begin to provide this kind of support. This cutting-edge curriculum helps professionals and family members provide safe forums for self-discovery, structured learning activities and a cumulative understanding of the many facets of self-advocacy. The ISA® Curriculum presents 11 units with detailed lesson plans, worksheets and activities, including scanning sensory and social environments, identifying how and when to self-disclose, exploring the history of autism, studying role models with ASD, developing media literacy on topics involving autism and cultivating deep and focused interests for vocation and leisure time. Students’ work throughout the lessons culminates in the creation of a personal self-advocacy portfolio, a living document that can be adjusted over the life span.

Visit the following link for more information about this book:  : Integrated Self-Advocacy
Other #AutismResources, #AutismTraining and #AutismSupportServices information may be found on our website:  http://education.missouristate.edu/access/

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Functional Communication Training

Jason has been pinching his classmates during free time and recess. His teacher is at her wit’s end and parents are complaining. A consultant at the school has assisted the teacher in completion of a Functional Behavior Assessment or FBA, and together they have determined the reason Jason is pinching is to gain the attention of his classmates. (An FBA is a multi-step assessment to get to the reason or function of a problem behavior, and this process is reviewed in Fact Sheet 26: Functional Behavioral Assessment.) The consultant and teacher now have a good idea why Jason is pinching. They know the function of the pinching. That is going to make a difference in how they will address the problem.

Jason wants the attention of his friends. That’s a good thing, and his teacher wants to help him. She and the consultant are going to use Functional Communication Training (FCT) to help. Jason has speech and language deficits and is not well understood by others. FCT is aimed at giving an individual a more appropriate and socially acceptable communication alternative to challenging behavior. Jason has an iPad with an app downloaded that can be programmed to speak for him. Maybe Jason can be taught to use the app to “ask” others to play with him. Definitely worth a try…

Jason is now using the iPad app to get his friends’ attention. The other students think it is cool that his iPad can speak, and Jason has almost eliminated pinching. It took significant training, but the attention of his friends is reinforcing, and he has maintained his use of the iPad.

It wasn’t what Jason wanted that was a problem. It was the way he was expressing his desire.

This scenario illustrates the premise of Functional Communication Training. It is the replacement of inappropriate behavior with a more appropriate behavior. That statement doesn’t go far enough, though. The appropriate behavior has to meet the same function or get the child the same thing as the inappropriate behavior. That’s the tricky part. Jason pinched to engage his peers. He is now using the iPad to engage his peers. Both behaviors get the same result.

Let’s look at another scenario:

Julie hates math, and when the teacher gives her a math worksheet to complete, she swipes it off the table and puts her head down on the desk. A Functional Behavioral Assessment has been completed, and the conclusion is Julie is avoiding math worksheets. The teacher would like Julie to complete the worksheets, but it is more important to Julie’s future success that she behave in a more appropriate way. Remember, Functional Communication Training is an intervention focused on replacing a problem behavior with a more appropriate behavior that gets the child the same thing. Even though it seems counterintuitive, the teacher and consultant are going to teach Julie an appropriate way to avoid completion of the math worksheet. Later, procedures can be put in place to help Julie complete math worksheets. For right now, the staff and Julie’s family are happy she is learning better ways to communicate!

Functional Communication Training can involve multiple modes of communication. Some students may need voice generating communication devices. Others may use sign language or exchange pictures. Still others may be able to use their own voices. Whatever the mode, FCT is an important strategy when faced with challenging behavior. Remember though: it is not the message that is a problem; it is the way the message is conveyed! Another way of expressing this is with the term functional equivalence. Both the challenging behavior and the alternative, more appropriate behavior, meet the same function. They are functionally equivalent!

©Project ACCESS – 2017 – Terri Carrington, M.A., CCC-SLP
#ProjectACCESSfactsheet   #Behavior
This fact sheet and other #AutismResources, #AutismTraining and #AutismSupportServices information may be found on our website:  http://education.missouristate.edu/access/


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Time Delay

Consider this scenario: Sandy is provided discrete trial sessions in her preschool setting. The teacher is noticing she is having to provide quite a bit of prompting to encourage Sandy to respond. As the teacher reviewed video of the sessions, she realized she was not giving Sandy much time to respond at all and wondered whether, given more time, Sandy might respond on her own. The teacher is concerned Sandy is becoming dependent on the prompts and will struggle to reach independence with the skill. The teacher decided to implement time delay.

There are two types of Time Delay, and information from the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder describes both as follows: With progressive time delay, teachers and other practitioners gradually increase the waiting time between an instruction and any prompts that might be used to elicit a response from a learner. With constant time delay, there is no delay between the instruction and prompt when a learner is first learning a skill. However, with constant time delay, a fixed amount of time is always used between the instruction and the prompt as the learner becomes more proficient at using the new skill.  

Debra Leach, in her book, Bringing ABA into Your Inclusive Classroom: A Guide to Improving Outcomes for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders says, “The time delay strategy is often not used enough when working with students with ASD.” We are quick to prompt, which can lead to prompt dependency. Leach cautions to implement the time delay in a supportive manner. Look at the child expectantly, but if there is no response after the time you have determined, go ahead and prompt.

One of the specialists at Project ACCESS recalls recording a language sample for a little girl. On review of the sample, it became clear the student was taking fully 6 seconds to respond. Staff members working with this student would be wise to implement time delay to avoid her becoming dependent on prompts presented too quickly.

Use of prompting may be an effective strategy, but adding time delay before prompting may prevent prompt dependence in some students.

Information for this fact sheet from:

Time Delay: Steps for Implementation published by the National Professional Development Center on ASD 10/2010.

Bringing ABA Into Your Inclusive Classroom: A Guide to Improving Outcomes for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders by Debra Leach, Ed.D., BCBA; published by Paul H. Brookes Publishing, 2010.

©Project ACCESS – 2017 – Terri Carrington, MA, CCC-SLP

#EvidenceBasedIntervention #MAGI
This fact sheetand other #AutismResources, #AutismTraining and #AutismSupportServices information may be found on our website:  http://education.missouristate.edu/access/


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#PAFollowTheReader: our weekly book recommendation ~ Essential For Living

Essential For Living by Patrick McGreevy, Troy Fry and Colleen Cornwall

From the description: Essential for Living is the most innovative and comprehensive functional skills curriculum, assessment, and teaching manual on the market today. The Essential for Living Professional Practitioner’s Handbook is designed for verbal and non-verbal children and adults of all ages with moderate-to-severe intellectual or developmental disabilities, including, but not limited to, autism. It is also designed for children and adults with multiple handicaps, including those who are deaf and blind or medically fragile. It is currently used by teachers, transition coordinators, case managers, speech-language pathologists, and behavior analysts in public school classrooms, school-to-adult transition programs, private schools, and ABA centers, along with vocational and residential programs.

Visit the following link for more information about this book: Essential Living

#curriculumOther #AutismResources, #AutismTraining and #AutismSupportServices information may be found on our website:  http://education.missouristate.edu/access/

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#LightItUpBlue for #WorldAutismAwarenessDay on April 2nd!

This Sunday, April 2nd, is the ninth annual World Autism Awareness Day.  The day was established by the United Nations General Assembly to increase the focus on autism internationally with the goal of empowering individuals who experience autism, including recognizing assets,  raising awareness of the developmental challenges faced, and emphasizing early diagnosis and intervention.

Light It Up Blue, a campaign designed  to “shine a bright light on autism”, is a great way to participate in World Autism Awareness Day during National Autism Awareness Month.  This includes:

  • Lighting up buildings (homes as well as businesses) in blue and posting blue signs. This can be a simple as changing porch lights to blue bulbs. In 2016, Autism Speaks noted that “more than 11,000 landmarks, buildings and homes” were participating (Light It Up Blue 2016)
  • Wearing blue ~ clothing (with a Light It Up Blue logo, a puzzle piece or simply blue!); scarves; stickers; lapel pins, bracelets and other jewelry
  • Posting pictures and facts on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter (#LIUB, #AutismAwareness), Instagram and other platforms.
  • Share the knowledge: If you know about autism, personally and/or professionally, talk about it. Invite a speaker to events at which they can increase awareness among your colleagues.

Take the time to raise awareness and acceptance and support all individuals who experience autism, as well as their loved ones, friends and caregivers!



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Scholarship opportunity for Project ACCESS hosted workshop by Institute for Applied Behavior Analysis

Project ACCESS is proud to host the Institute for Applied Behavior Analysis (IABA) in the presentation “Positive Behavior Practices: From Core Values To Core Practice ~ A guide to the application of positive interventions for challenging behavior” 

The workshop will be held in the Crystal Room of Kentwood Hall, 700 East St Louis Street, in Springfield, MO, on May 31, June 1 and June 2, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.

Project ACCESS has a limited number of scholarships available to cover the cost of registration only; we will not be able to cover travel or other expenses. The normal individual tuition for this training is $550. The deadline to submit a scholarship application is May 10, 2017, with recipient notification by May 12, 2017. Any Missouri public school educator may apply. You can apply for the scholarship online at the following link:

IABA Training Scholarship Application 2017

This 18-hour Positive Behavior Support workshop is hands-on and covers the basic concepts of behaviorism and Positive Behavior Support practices, along with implementation of strategies based on IABA’s Multi-Element Model, including skills teaching and behavior reduction strategies. The workshop will also provide orientation to generic Positive Behavior Supports applicable to a variety of situations. In addition, data collection strategies and behavior incident reports will be discussed and practiced and role-plays of various situations will provide hands-on experience.

Included in the scholarship are the registration fee, handouts, and light morning and afternoon refreshments; lunch will be “on your own”.  Participants will receive a Certificate certifying they have completed an 18-hour workshop in “Positive Behavior Support: From Core Values to Core Practice” and passed the associated knowledge tests.

The presenter for this workshop is Elizabeth C. Hughes, Ph.D., a licensed Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Director of the IABA in Los Angeles, CA. 

More information is provided on the brochure at the following link:  IABA Positive Behavior Practices

Please direct any questions about the workshop and scholarship opportunity to projectaccess@missouristate.edu or 866-481-3841.


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#PAFollowTheReader ~ our weekly book recommendation: Do-Watch-Listen-Say: Social Communication Intervention for Children with Autism

Do-Watch-Listen-Say: Social Communication Intervention for Children with Autism by Kathleen Ann Quill, Ed.D., BCBA-D

From the description: This comprehensive intervention guide and accompanying activities are easily adapted to develop a curriculum for both children who are verbal and those who use augmentative and alternative communication, and it can be implemented at home or in the classroom. Excellent for educators and speech language pathologists, this practical, user-friendly resource gives you the methods you need to build social and communication skills in children with autism.

Visit the following link for more information about this book:  Do-Watch-Listen-Say

Other #AutismResources, #AutismTraining and #AutismSupportServices information may be found on our website:  http://education.missouristate.edu/access/


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Project ACCESS provides #AutismResources, #AutismSupportServices, and #AutismTraining

Project ACCESS has been serving Missouri schools since 1985 as the state’s education and resource agency for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and/or other developmental disabilities. The agency was established by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to enhance the development of professional skills in Missouri’s educators serving students with disabilities. Our mission is to increase local capacity to serve students in Missouri’s public schools who experience ASD and related disabilities.

Project ACCESS provides support on a statewide basis via professional development trainings (in face-to-face and online formats), provision of resources, child-specific consultations with a Missouri Autism Consultant (MAC), onsite Autism Team Coaches via the Building Effective Autism Teams (BEAT) initiative and, when available, scholarships for workshops provided by third-party professionals to increase available tools for educators to utilize with their students.

Project ACCESS’ online resources also include our Community of Practice, Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Visit our website to learn more about any or all of the ways that Project ACCESS may assist you with providing effective support for our Missouri students!  http://education.missouristate.edu/access/

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Updated free online Introduction to the Education of Students with Autism training module

Project ACCESS is pleased to announce our revised and improved free online offering of the Introduction to the Education of Students with Autism training module. The module has been updated to reflect the most recent data regarding students who experience Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This module is designed to give educators an extensive overview of autism as an educational disorder. Essential methods for assessing behaviors are taught and basic programming strategies are introduced. We have expanded the content so that it is equivalent to that contained in the face-to-face version of the training. This includes adding web-based augmentative resources and study materials. Topics include: definition of autism and Missouri’s required eligibility criteria for special education and related services; descriptions of sensorimotor integration issues, communication issues, social and relatedness issues; assessing behaviors for their messages; evidence-based interventions; behavior support; structuring and scheduling in the classroom; and essential features of effective programming for students with autism.

Coursework for this module consists of downloading supplemental writings, watching videos and submitting assignments related to the covered concepts. The assignments are graded and commented upon by an instructor, so the time to complete the course varies per individual. While the timeline is aligned with the two-day face-to-face offering of this training, the online module allows participants the flexibility to complete coursework at their own pace. It should be noted that participants must allow a reasonable amount of time for the instructors to assign grades.

The course does not have to be completed all in one sitting. Participants may complete a section and wait to proceed to others as time permits.

A pre-test and post-test are included in the course and participants must score 80% or above on the post-test. Participants will receive a certificate once they have successfully completed all course requirements.

While this course is open to anyone interested in supporting students who experience ASD, paraprofessionals will be able to access a version of this training module in late Spring 2017 that is adapted specifically to the perspective of paraprofessionals.

Interested in this training module? Please visit the Project ACCESS website at the following link: bit.ly/PAonlineIntro or email us at projectaccess@missouristate.edu

#autismtraining  #autismresources

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