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

New #ProjectACCESSfactsheet: “Please Don’t Take Away My Visual Schedule!”

13 Reasons to Use (and keep using) Visual Schedules and 4 Reasons Why They Work

We all like to have an idea of what is going to happen in our day. Children with autism miss many of the language and social/behavioral cues that help the rest of us understand what is happening. Children can become anxious, resistant and may misbehave simply because they have no way to anticipate the events that come upon them each day. Here are some ideas that may help with that.

Visual Schedules Help the Staff:

  1. In the long run, providing a child with autism a visual schedule and helping him/her learn to use it almost always makes the teacher’s job easier, not harder. Once the child has a visual schedule, his or her behavior will very often settle. Thus, a schedule does not make the child appear to be different; it helps him appear to be more the same as other children. Visual schedules increase on-task behavior and therefore increase academic learning time.
  2. Visual schedules quickly inform the child about the day’s and/or activity’s expectations. Visual schedules can help provide independence by removing the need for the student to ask others (particularly adults) about what schoolwork has to be done. The fact that the student functions more independently (“normally”) can increase his or her acceptance by peers.
  3. Because they provide a means for the child to anticipate upcoming events, visual schedules help to ease the student through transitions. Visual schedules provide a means by which adults can systematically introduce the element of change into a student’s day. Thus, a schedule is a means of reducing rigid behavior. In fact, used properly, they promote flexible behavior. Once the student knows how the visual schedule works, he or she will be less dependent upon consistency of staffing in order to function. Teachers or support people can be absent and the day won’t “fall apart” for the student.
  4. Visual schedules (written or pictured) work so effectively that you may be tempted to offer their advantages to other students in the class who don’t have an autism spectrum disorder, but who also could use help in learning to plan and organize themselves and their day.
  5. Many academically capable children, helped in their young years by the use of visual schedules, will later be able to transfer their understanding of agendas to computerized day planner systems.

Visual Schedules Help the Kid:

  1. The use of visual schedules capitalizes on the visual learning/memory strength that most children with autism have. The child will often remember what s/he has seen on the schedule, although what they have been told may be forgotten.
  2. The use of visual schedules is one support strategy that can provide the organization, structure, and predictability that are so essential to autistic individuals. When they lack such supports, autistic individuals find the world to be highly unpredictable and confusing.
  3. Visual schedules teach the importance of organization in a day. The child who learns to help prepare a visual schedule is developing a habit that will promote good organizational methods throughout life. Often helping to prepare the schedule daily gives the child a sense of some autonomy and control of the daily events in a world of confusing demands.
  4. Visual schedules may minimize the need to write as the daily agenda is being established; handwriting is often difficult for children who experience autism.
  5. Many academically capable children, helped in their young years by the use of visual schedules, will later be able to transfer their understanding of agendas to computerized day planner systems.
  6. The use of the visual schedule can be extended to teach the child long-range planning formats for multi-stage or multi-task assignments such as term papers or other semester length projects.
  7. The schedule can help the child learn patience and persistence. The alternating pattern of choice and work items within the visual schedule teaches the child that there are some required tasks within the day that are followed by more preferred activities. This “delayed gratification” is widely expected in our society, especially in work settings. The visual display may also serve as a reminder to a child that a preferred activity is only a few steps away after the completion of a non-preferred task.
  8. When the student learns to remove icons or check off completed tasks he is able to see his progress. This representation of accomplishment helps to build a sense of success and, thus, to improve self-esteem.

And Here are a Few Reasons Why Visual Schedules Work:

  1. Children with autism spectrum disorders often have difficulty sequencing ideas and procedures. The visual schedule demonstrates sequencing and promotes an understanding of it on a daily basis.
  2. The use of visual schedules capitalizes on the visual learning/memory strength that most autistic children have. Visual schedules are tangible and non-transitory; auditory language is fleeting. A child may not have heard/processed what the teacher said, but still has the schedule for reference.
  3. Some children with autism have obvious difficulties with language. Others may appear to have good or even excellent language skills. However, even the capable child with autism can have difficulties understanding spoken language for the following reasons:
    1. Slow processing time may interfere with the child’s ability to really “take in” verbal instructions and much of what is said may be missed.
    2. Children on the often spectrum are often dealing with sensory malfunction which may make it almost impossible for the child to attend to what is being said.
    3. Children with autism are almost always highly stressed by their lack of understanding of the social milieu in which they must function. The child may be so overwhelmed with attempting to deal with social events and expectations, that he or she may entirely miss language-based input. Stress can even be brought on by the experience of being physically close to other children. The child is least likely to process auditory verbal information when he or she is upset, worried or angry. There is a greater likelihood that s/he will be able to process visual information.
    4. Children with autism often have poor sleep patterns. Their sleep maybe brief or interrupted and they will, therefore, often be too tired to be attentive.
    5. Children on the autism spectrum may have great challenges in understand the pragmatics of communication. Gestures, vocal intonation, facial expressions, conversations pauses and emphases may be lost on these children.
    6. There is a tendency among children on the spectrum to take words literally. What they hear may not be mediated by an intrinsic understanding of the social situation, nor by an understanding of the personality and intent of the speaker. In attempting to understand something that has just been said, even the bright child may miss other parts of the communication.
  4. Many children with autism have a poor sense of time and have difficulty understanding the vocabulary of time and order (e.g. before, after, then, yesterday, first, second). These words are used daily however as the schedule is set up. Thus, use of schedules teaches time and time concepts and vocabulary directly, routinely and systematically.

This material is adapted from Brown, Margaret 30 Reasons to Use and to Keep Using a Visual Schedule or “Please Don’t Take Away My Visual Schedule.” (2002) Provincial Outreach Program for Autism and Related Disorders in British Columbia.
©Project ACCESS – 2017 – Edna Smith, Ph.D.
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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#PAFollowTheReader ~ our weekly book recommendation: Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman

From the description: This book upends conventional thinking about autism and suggests a broader model for acceptance, understanding, and full participation in society for people who think differently.  Going back to the earliest days of autism research and chronicling the brave and lonely journey of autistic people and their families through the decades, Silberman provides long-sought solutions to the autism puzzle, while mapping out a path for a society toward a more humane world in which people with learning differences and those who love them have access to the resources they need to live happier, healthier, more secure, and more meaningful lives.

Visit the following link for more information about this book:  Neurotribes

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

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Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT)

Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT)
An ABA approach?
Lynn & Bob Koegel, 1987

What is PRT?     
Pivotal Response Treatment®, http://www.autismprthelp.com/, is a research-based intervention for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). PRT® is a naturalistic intervention model derived from Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). This is a Discrete Trial Training (DTT) method focusing on teaching easily generalizable and impactful, “pivotal” skills that are known to affect broad aspects of general functioning. Rather than target individual behaviors one at a time, PRT® targets four main pivotal areas of a child’s development resulting in widespread, collateral improvements in other social, communicative, and behavioral areas that are not specifically targeted. Lynn and Bob Koegel’s PRT is one of several Lovaas “classic DDT” adaptations generated after they worked with Dr. O. Ivar Lovaas at UCLA, home of the Lovaas Institute www.lovaas.com, in the 1970’s. Drs. Robert and Lynn Koegel departed from Lovaas and developed PRT® at the Koegel Autism Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, http://education.ucsb.edu/autism. Their website reports, PRT® is one of the few intervention methods for autism that is both comprehensive (as listed by the National Research Council; of the National Academy of Sciences) and empirically supported. It is recognized by the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders and the National Standards Project. Watch the Project ACCESS informational video on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MejrblUOiro

What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?
Applied = Principles applied to socially significant behaviors

Behavior = Based on scientific principles of behavior

Analysis = Progress is continually measured and intervention adapted

In 1960 Dr. Lovaas was one of the first researchers to use applied behavior analysis as a treatment for autism developing his DTT technique including a specific skills curriculum. This is the basis for the ABA programming that is commonly referred to today, but is NOT the only way to incorporate Applied Behavior Analysis to student learning experiences. Many, actually most, specific treatment interventions follow the general theory of applied behavior analysis: Apply or try a strategy to target a specified developmentally appropriate Behavior and Analyze results (collect data) to determine its effectiveness. Other specific models of ABA intervention derived from the Lovaas “classic DDT” method include Drs. Ronald Leaf and John McEachin’s Approach available through the Autism Partnership established in 1994 near Long Beach, CA as well as M. L. Sundberg and J.W. Partington’s Applied Verbal Behavior Approach and subsequent Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills (ABLLS) published in 1998.

PRT developers, Lynn and Bob Koegel worked with Lovaas at UCLA. They eventually decided that it is “an insurmountable task to teach children every skill” (a prominent aspect of the Lovaas DTT method), so they choose to work the pivotal skills that are likely to affect a wide area of functioning.

PRT® targets four main pivotal areas of a child’s development

  1. Motivation
  2. Responsivity to multiple cues
  3. Self-initiations
  4. Self-management

PRT guiding principles:

  1. Family involvement is essential in the treatment process
  2. Treatment should be provided in natural environments
  3. Treatment must target key behaviors, i.e. pivotal behaviors
  4. Treatment must be implemented in the home AND school environment.

* Underlying feature = training should involve intensive engagement in natural settings throughout the day.

How it Works!
The first of the skills that the Koegels thought was pivotal is motivation; to increase motivation they reinforced attempts and used child choice of materials, again keeping data on outcomes for completion of the ABA format. The Koegels also did research on what made some of their children more successful than others, finding that the ability to initiate is another pivotal skill that makes a difference. One activity they used to increase initiation was to put a desirable item in a bag. The adult would ask, “What is this?” and then pull the item out of the bag and say, “This is a ….” After doing this a number of times. Bring out the bag, and pause (time delay). If the child does not say anything, start the prompt, “What….?” “What is….?” “What is this?” Keep repeating until the student is able to initiate “What is this?” When this initiation is solid. Use this game without the bag? Teacher touch something and say, “What is this?” Then teacher touches an object and wait (time delay) for the student to say, “What is this?” Keep this going until the student can independently say, “What is this?” in multiple situations and environments. The acquisition of the ability to ask what things are is huge!

  • In the example of teaching motivation, the guiding principles of PRT are realized by using intrinsic reinforcers rather than unrelated rewards, during activities that are meaningful and relevant to their natural environment. This example of reinforced choice-making could be easily transferred to home activities as well.  
  • In the example of teaching initiation (bag activity to ask what things are), the clearly outlined scaffold of steps is a structured way to reinforce attempts and gradually broaden the task to be more generalizable. Again, procedures like this could be implemented across a range of activities throughout the student’s day.
  • See more detail from Dr. Lynn Koegel on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5n9vlBtbji8

Who can use it?
Everyone! No special training required to implement the theoretical premise of PRT, just an understanding of the guiding principles and ABA intervention to facilitate learning of pivotal skills. A five level certification training program is available through the Koegel Autism Consultants at the website listed below.

Find more information @ http://www.autismprthelp.com/

  • For a comprehensive and free training module on using PRT visit autisminternetmodules.org , for a list of free trainings developed by (OCALI). You will be required to register, but the online training modules are free. Find the PRT module under the “Autism at Home” tab including instruction on using PRT in the classroom.

Contact Project ACCESS (866-481-3841; projectaccess@missouristate.edu) for additional research articles and references.

©Project ACCESS – 2017 – Shannon Locke, M.S., CCC-SLP
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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Section 504 Compliance Update 2017 per OCR

What is Section 504? Section 504 is from the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by, receiving funds from, or employed/contracted by Federal agencies. For U.S. Dept. of Education (ED) funded agencies, public schools, 504 is enforced by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), a component of ED. Each Federal agency, the ED for public schools, has its own set of section 504 Regulations.

Section 504 specifically, created and extended civil rights to people with disabilities providing opportunities for reasonable accommodations in education, employment and various other settings. The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 broadened the interpretation of disability, hence a conforming amendment to the Rehabilitation Act followed that affects the meaning of disability in 504 eligibility. Section 504 and the ADA are antidiscrimination laws that do not provide any type of funding. Separate from IDEA, the statute that funds special education programs.

Section 504 states that no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination and the OCR enforced Section 504 Regulations that apply to public education programs require a school district to provide a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability. These Regulations include requirements for reasonable accommodation, program accessibility, and effective communication with provision of regular or special education and related aids and services as needed designed to meet the student’s individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met. 

Who IS part of a Section 504 Team?

“Group of people knowledgeable about the student, the evaluation data, and the placement options.”

Who is eligible for Section 504? 504 Plan eligibility is essentially a Two-step process:

  1. Determine existence of an eligible disability under Section 504.
  2. Determine what accommodations, if any, a student might need as a result of the disability.

Step 1 existence of disability considerations: (calls for evidence the disability “substantially limits one or more major life activities” and a record of impairment)

  1. Certain conditions are presumed impairments that define a disability under Section 504, without requiring ‘extensive analysis’ or need for further evidence of limiting major life activities.
    – Newly added – dyslexia, other specific learning disabilities, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) all 3 types: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, combination.
                  NOTE: OCR’s ADHD guidance confirms automatic disability, “unless there is evidence to the contrary,” a student with an ADHD diagnosis is assumed  impaired under 504.
    – Other Physical or Mental Impairments include but are not limited to: contagious and noncontagious diseases and conditions: orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments, and cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, intellectual disability, emotional illness, HIV infection (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic), tuberculosis, drug addiction, and alcoholism. 
    When no one is challenging “a public entity’s” (the school’s) failure to provide reasonable modification under § 35.130(b)(7), the evaluation of coverage can be made solely under the “regarded as” prong of the definition of disability, which does not require a showing of an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity or a record of such an impairment.
    . Major life activities include, but are not limited to: (i) Caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, sitting, reaching, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, writing, communicating, interacting with others, and working; and (ii) The operation of a major bodily function.
    Schools can’t require parents to provide a medical diagnosis for 504 planning consideration/eligibility. If the school feels the diagnosis is absolutely needed, then the district is responsible for the cost of obtaining it.

*While certain conditions are presumed impairments, a diagnosis alone does not automatically mean a student has a disability needing a 504 Plan. An individualized evaluation is still a MUST to determine HOW the Disability impacts the particular student in order to determine Step 2.

Step 2 determination of necessary accommodations considerations:

  1. An individualized evaluation for 504 planning does not always need formal assessments, just information specific to the individual student in regard to HOW the Disability affects his/her participation in “major life” or school activities compared to their non-disables peers.
  2. An individualized evaluation for 504 planning shouldn’t require scientific, statistical, or medical evidence (NOT the same as IDEA eligibility determination procedures).
  3. Interpreting evaluation data for placement and accommodation decisions shall:
    1) draw upon information from a variety of sources, including aptitude and achievement tests, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social or cultural background, and adaptive behavior,
    2) establish procedures to ensure that information obtained from all such sources is documented and carefully considered,
    3) ensure that the placement decision is made by a group of persons, including persons knowledgeable about the child, the meaning of the evaluation data, and the placement options, and
    4) ensure that the placement decisions shall provide education “with persons who are not handicapped to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of the handicapped person” for both academic and nonacademic and extracurricular school activities or make available comparable facilities as needed.
  4. Reevaluation of students’ 504 Plans are required periodically and before a significant change in placement. Here are 6 situations that call for Reevaluation by the 504 Team:
    1) periodically, at least once every 3 years but OCR indicates once a year is reasonable in order to review that accommodations are still working and discuss changes or clarify ambiguity,
    2) when a student transfers or changes schools,
    3) when changes occur that could impact FAPE, essentially if there are new needs that develop
    4) before disciplinary action results in significant change in placement, as with an IDEA MDR
    5) before nondisciplinary changes in placement such as hospitalization (before 10th missed day)
    6) prior to exiting student from 504, except for graduation. There are no “self-terminating” 504 plans.

Bottom line take-aways:

1 – It is now easier for individuals to obtain protections under 504 Plan/the ADA.

2 – Certain conditions are presumed impairments. Parents may be asking schools to do more relating to added conditions presumed impairments; Dyslexia, ADHD, and other Specific Learning Disabilities.

3 – Determining disability requires an individualized evaluation. Schools can’t require parents to provide a medical diagnosis and OCR has stated a medical diagnosis is Not required, “regarded as” is sufficient with documentation of the impact on the students’ access to FAPE.

4 – Schools have an affirmative child find duty. OCR’s guidance identifies “referral red flags” regarding possible ADHD to add to staff trainings:

  • “considerable restlessness or inattention inappropriate for the student’s age and grade level;
  • trouble organizing tasks and activities;
  • communication or social skill deficits.”

5 – All disability services must be individualized including Section 504 plans, the diagnosis does not guide the modifications/accommodations.

The regulations implementing Section 504 in the context of educational institutions appear at U.S. Department of Education Title 34 Education Subtitle B Regulations of the offices of ED Chapter 1 OCR, ED Part 104 – nondiscrimination on the basis of handicap in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance (34 C.F.R. Part 104) https://www2.ed.gov/policy/rights/reg/ocr/edlite-34cfr104.html

Updates considering Title II of the ADA is it relates to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Section 504

Title II can intertwine with Section 504 and IDEA issues in these 3 new key issues affecting schools now:

  1. Service Animals

          -entities may not require a student to provide documentation that an animal has been trained as a service animal.

          -service animals must be under control of the handler (either tethered or under voice or signal control at all times)

          -districts may ask “Is the animal required because of the disability?” AND “What work or task is the animal trained to perform?”

  1. Effective Communication

          –district must take steps to ensure that communication with students with disabilities is as effective as communication with students without disabilities.

          –therefore, may have to provide auxiliary aids or services for communication not otherwise necessary for FAPE

          –AND primary consideration must be given to individual’s preferred auxiliary aids or services.

  1. Accessible Technology

          -Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division is currently considering a rule change that would create web accessibility standards for federally funded agencies.

          -Although proposed standards are still under consideration, OCR is currently investigating complaints stating the remedy to fix the issue is the WCAG 2.0 AA standard. https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag.php

©Project ACCESS – 2017 – Shannon Locke, M.A., CCC-SLP

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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#PAFollowTheReader ~ our weekly book recommendation: Young Children with Special Needs

Young Children with Special Needs by Stephen R. Hooper and Warren Umansky

From the description:  Young Children with Special Needs is the field’s classic book on early childhood special education. Taking a unique perspective, it offers readers a solid foundation in child development and addresses how children with special needs develop differently. Rich with expertise, this edited work features contributions from leading educators within each developmental domain. Chapters explore assessment and early intervention, and the role diversity and technology play in both. New to this edition includes an increased emphasis on family partnerships and a separate chapter dedicated to fine-motor and oral-motor development.


Visit the following web page for more information: Young Children with Special Needs

#Curriculum #EvidenceBasedIntervention

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

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The SCERTS® Model

The SCERTS® Model ~ Prizant, Wetherby, Rubin & Laurent, 2007

What is SCERTS?       

This is an educational model or framework, having a specific set of core values and guiding principles, which prioritize and systematically address three domains relevant to Autism intervention through three clearly defined levels of communicative development, embracing other focused, evidence-based approaches. The SCERTS model is NOT exclusive of other educational approaches or strategies. The SCERTS model is NOT an assessment to determine presence of Autism. The SCERTS model IS relationship-based, person centered, and culturally sensitive. The SCERTS model IS a developmentally-based curriculum providing a “menu” of goals and objectives to help children with Autism become confident social communicators and prevent behaviors that interfere with learning and building relationships. The SCERTS model IS also the only EBP specifically endorsed by individuals with ASD through the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN).

SCERTS core values and guiding principles:

  1. Highest priority – Development of spontaneous, functional communication abilities and emotional regulatory capacities.
  2. Principles and research on child development frame assessment and educational efforts. Goals and activities are developmentally appropriate and functional.
  3. All domains of a child’s development (e.g., communicative, socioemotional, cognitive, and motor) are viewed as interrelated and interdependent. Assessment and educational efforts must address these relationships.
  4. All behavior is viewed as purposeful serving a variety of functions (e.g., communication, emotional regulation). For children who display unconventional or problem behaviors, there is an emphasis on developing a range of supports for emotional regulation.
  5. A child’s unique learning profile of strengths and weaknesses determines appropriate accommodations for facilitating competence in the domains of social-communication and emotional regulation.
  6. Natural routines across home, school, and community environments provide the contexts for learning and for developing positive relationships. Progress is measured in daily experiences and routines.
  7. It is the primary responsibility of professionals to establish positive relationships with children and with family members. All children and family members are treated with dignity and respect.
  8. Family members are considered experts about their child. Assessment and educational efforts are viewed as collaborative processes with family members.

SCERTS is an acronym that stands for the three competency domains addressed in the SCERTS curriculum for students with Autism:

SC – Social Communication ER – Emotional Regulation TS – Transactional Support

SC = “how people engage people” ~ B. Prizant (spontaneous, functional communication, emotional expression, and development of secure and trusting relationships)

ER = “most available for learning and engagement” ~ B. Prizant (ability to maintain a well-regulated emotional state to cope with everyday stress)

TS = systematic ways to support children with ASD and their families and each other as service providers

SCERTS identifies three levels of communicative development “partner stages” corresponding to three curricular levels of goals and objectives, and the model itself emphasizes multi-modal communication:

  1. Social Partner –defined as individuals who use “pre-symbolic means to communicate”. Performance expected from 0-18 months of typical development or generally considered nonverbal.
  2. Language Partner –defined as individuals using “symbolic means to communicate”. Specifically, students have at least 3 to 100 differing and accurate intentional forms of functional communication.
  3. Conversational Partner –defined as individuals who use “sentence and conversational level discourse to communicate”. This group also includes those students who would perform within normal limits on language assessments.

Through these fundamental aspects the SCERTS model is a Comprehensive Educational Approach that prioritizes students’ present level of abilities as a building block to address the most significant challenges individuals with Autism face, social communicative skills, rigidity, & repetitive behaviors, through the lens of emotional regulation in a coordinated multidisciplinary team addressing student and family and educator needs to facilitate the most positive long-term learner outcomes as indicated by the US National Research Council (2001).

How it Works!

  1. The child’s “partner stage” of development is determined then,
  2. observations are conducted using the SCERTS Assessment Process (SAP) in each of the three competency domains addressed in the SCERTS curriculum (SC, ER, TS) and scored 0-not met, 1-inconsistent or with help, 2-met consistently.
  3. Four to Eight items scored as ‘0’ or ‘1’ from SC and ER categories are selected as the goals for intervention, and the coordinating TS partner goals for interpersonal and learning support by educators are selected. (SAP Activity Planning Form also avail to assist with assigning TS responsibilities to educators/partners)

!The SAP observation assessment is also the “menu” of curricular goals!

  1. Intervention begins for goals selected using any other EBP strategies appropriate for the child, adhering to SCERTS core values and data is collected on student progress and educator/personnel accountability providing the selected Transactional S The SCERTS Assessment, SAP form can also be used at quarterly intervals to monitor progress.

Who can use it?

Everyone! No special training required, just a belief in the core values to guide your collaborative intervention using other focused EBP and use of the SCERTS manuals. Introductory and advanced trainings available at www.barryprizant.com. Other comprehensive programs can also be incorporated such as the Division TEACCH – Structured Teaching method and the Ziggurat Model. See additional FACT sheets in these and the overlap.

Find more information @

www.SCERTS.com also has a hyperlink to A Slideshow Introduction to the SCERTS® Model (PPT) (http://www.scerts.com/docs/scerts_introduction_june_2010.ppt )

http://www.autismpodcast.org/episode-60-the-scerts-model-with-dr-barry-prizant/ Audio Podcast

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKVttP3Rfag YouTube video of an early intervention group using SCERTS

More research: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-8578.12030/epdf in the British Journal of Special Education, 2013 “Autism and multidisciplinary teamwork through the SCERTS Model” and http://www.scerts.com/docs/scerts_good_autism_practice_may_2010.pdf in Good Autism Practice, May 2010

©Project ACCESS – 2017 – Shannon Locke, M.S., CCC-SLP
#ProjectACCESSfactsheet     #EvidenceBasedIntervention 

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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#PAFollowTheReader ~ our weekly book recommendation: Outsmarting Explosive Behavior

Outsmarting Explosive Behavior by Judy Endow, MSW

From the description: This revolutionary program is designed to help decrease – and in some cases eliminate – explosive behavior in children with autism spectrum disorders. Tantrums and meltdowns are among the greatest challenges presented by ASD, often leaving parents and educators searching for answers. Outsmarting Explosive Behavior is a visual program, laid out as a fold-out poster, that can be individualized for each user. Four train cars represent the four stages of explosive behavior: Starting Out, Picking up Steam, Point of No Return, and Explosion. By using visuals to appeal to children with ASD, this program makes it easy to help them identify their current state and take steps to decrease the chances of a meltdown.

Visit the following link for more information about this book: Outsmarting Explosive Behavior


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


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Thirteen Tips for Making and Using Visual Schedules

  1. Color-code the backing or border for your schedule symbols; have one color for “work” tasks, another color for “choice” tasks. Choose yet another color for symbols for communication boards.
  2. The “choice” option card is placed in the daily schedule, but it refers to a display of preferred activities that is represented in some other place: a spot on the wall, a book, etc. where all the “choice” activities can be viewed.
  1. It often helps to begin and end each day with a “choice” symbol, and also to have “choice” available right after recess. Placed in the schedule at these times, “choice” provides a motivation for the child to come into the school building, and also helps to end the day on a high note.
  1. Display only as many “choice” items as you know the student can understand; you may begin with no more than two choices displayed at a time, and gradually add additional items as the student demonstrates the ability to select appropriately from three or more options.
  1. It’s just fine to vary the choices available at any one point in the day. For example, you will add “choice” items that pertain to outside activities when that is appropriate, but not have those items displayed when the weather is against you.
  1. A preferred fine-motor activity and/or a preferred gross-motor activity should always be made available in the “choice” menu, and a “rest”  or “break” should also always be available. “Rest/break” provides the student with an opportunity to rest or relax, even momentarily, from sensory and language stimulation and/or when demands are dramatically reduced. Having a “rest” usually calms the student sufficiently to increase the likelihood of improved concentration and appropriate behavior after the rest.           BTW: Always use your judgement about how long to stick with a “work” task. Abbreviate it when you can tell that the student is giving you  his or  her unique signals that s/he has had enough (even when “breaks” have been made available).
  1. Consider using some sort of audible signal to indicate transitions between one activity and another. A bell, or repeated words such as, “3, 2, 1, All done”, used consistently by the adult as each task changes, becomes an automatic signal to the student that it is time to transition to the next event. Automaticity reduces the stress often associated with transitions, and increases the likelihood of rapid compliance.
  1. The addition of a visual stimulus can also be helpful in the transition process. Timers, or 3, 2, 1 countdown strips can be used in conjunction with the audible signal to increase the saliency of the transition cues.
  1. It does not matter if visual schedules are displayed horizontally or vertically, or in a daytimer-type book format. Use the method that works in your classroom and that is appropriate to the student’s age. However, always use top to bottom or left to right.
  1. You will want to consider the mobility of your schedule for children who routinely receive instruction in more than one location. The student should always have the schedule available and visible. 
  2. Do involve the student in setting the activity symbols into place each day. Start by teaching the child to add the occasional item, and work toward achieving as much independence as the child can attain in setting his or her schedule.
  1. Some children are not able to make an association between an activity and a pictorial representation of that activity. For these children, we use a miniature or actual size representation of the activity. For example, a miniature toilet, or a toilet paper roll may be used to represent toileting time; a plastic tumbler or spoon can be used to represent eating time. The student may carry the item on the way to the next scheduled activity.
  1. Some children will have great difficulty moving beyond these object representations to a more abstract representation such as a line-drawing or Boardmaker™ symbols. However, that link may be taught by consistently pairing a photograph and/or line-drawing with the object that you are using to represent the activity. In time, and over many exposures to this pairing, the student will come to understand the picsym as a reference to the activity.

Adapted from Margaret Brown, Provincial Outreach Program of Autism and Related Disorders, British Columbia.

©Project ACCESS – 2017- Edna Smith, Ph.D.
#ProjectACCESSfactsheet #VisualSupports
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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Skill Acquisition and Performance: Programming and Assessment Implications

In Scott Bellini’s book, Building Social Relationships, he looks at skills as being an acquisition issue or a performance issue. This is an important distinction and has implications for both assessment and programming planning. In fact, he states, “The success of your social skills program hinges on your ability to distinguish between skill acquisition deficits and performance deficits.” We would take that a step further and indicate this distinction needs to be made for most skills.

Bellini defines a skill acquisition deficit as the absence of a particular skill or behavior. The individual does not know how to perform a particular skill. On the other hand, he describes a performance deficit as a skill or behavior that is present but not demonstrated or performed.


Let’s look at this in terms of assessment. Many standardized assessment instruments test whether or not a skill is present. Basing an eligibility or programming decision on standardized instruments alone does not reflect the entire picture. How many times have we heard educators say, “I know he knows how to do the skill, but he doesn’t perform it in class”? This is because there may be a performance deficit. In fact, a deficit in the ability to perform a skill in real time under multiple contexts is a hallmark of autism. We know an individual who was described by a provider like this, “He has many skills; too bad they aren’t connected to anything.” This rather rude remark actually pointed to the fact this student had acquired skills, but did not perform them in context.

When assessing an individual for eligibility in a school setting, it is important to look at not only the acquired skills, but also at skills that are not reliably performed in context. We know of students who were not found eligible for services because the evaluation team only looked at skill acquisition. However, they were not applying these skills in context.

What can we do? At Project ACCESS we have long encouraged school teams to observe, observe, observe. Don’t just observe during an academic lesson in a classroom. Watch the student in the halls, at lunch, and at recess. Watch the student when he or she is involved in a collaborative learning activity with other students. Is she applying the skills she has? Document these skills. This discrepancy is support for an eligibility decision.

When speaking specifically about social interaction, Michelle Garcia Winner states, “The dynamic nature of social interaction is not easily captured in a linear standardized test battery.” Scott Bellini offers these checkpoints when determining the distinction between acquisition of skills and performance of those skills:

  • Does the child perform skills across settings and people?
  • Does the child perform the skill without support or assistance?
  • Does the child perform the skill fluently and effortlessly?
  • Does the child perform the skill when reinforcement is provided?
  • Does the child perform the skill when environmental modifications are made?


Of course, there is no single, specific strategy that can be applied to helping the student acquire and effortlessly perform skills. That is an individual decision. But, there is much we can do in terms of teaching skills that will promote performance. We can think about generalization. In the field of Applied Behavior Analysis, it is often a recommendation to think about how a specific skill will be generalized even while in the planning stage of skill acquisition. We have multiple people teach the skill in multiple settings. The performance of the skill cannot be confined to just one contrived setting. We can use a variety of materials to teach the same skill. We can take the skill into the community and perform it in real-life contexts. Many early childhood teachers and therapists who teach in the home setting, use the child’s own playthings and items to develop a skill. This too, promotes generalization.


Bellini, S. (2006), Autism Social Skills Profile within Building Social Relationships; A Systematic Approach to Teaching Social          Interaction Skills to Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Social Difficulties; p. 73. Autism           Asperger Publishing Co.; Shawnee Mission, KS.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU395HgXl2s (This video is on Generalization.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzgC9ZPzot8 (This video is on Incidental Teaching.)

©Project ACCESS – Terri Carrington, M.A., CCC-SLP
#ProjectACCESSfactsheet #ProgramIssues

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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Spring (March 27, 28 and 29) and Summer (June 27, 28 and 29) In-District Autism Consultant (IDAC) Training

Many Missouri School Districts benefit from having one or more In-District Autism Consultants trained through Project ACCESS. These individuals are chosen by district administration among those teachers and therapists who meet the requirements enumerated below. The IDAC training typically involves two and one half days of training and, unlike the first two trainings which focus on the nature of autism and implementation of strategies, the IDAC training involves learning to collaborate with a team and to lead others within the district who are supporting students with autism. This two and a half day training is intensive, includes written homework and individualized exit interviews.

IDACs serve in a consulting capacity at the discretion of their district within the context of district needs, and do not provide consultation services to the public at large. School districts may send more than one individual as long as each individual named meets the requirements below. Project ACCESS has prepared an IDAC considerations fact sheet that details questions that an administrator should consider when designating a teacher/therapist to become trained as an IDAC. We hope those in administrative positions will consider providing an IDAC to support staff who are working with students with autism. A well-trained, collaborative IDAC can be key to successfully providing services for students with autism.


  1. Earned certification in special education or an earned degree in a closely related service. If you do not have an earned degree but have obtained certification via Praxis, please contact us. 
  2. At least two year’s experience in public schools as a special education teacher, SLP, or other related service provider. Experience as a paraeducator or speech implementer does not count even if the person has a special education degree.
  3. Completion of a minimum of six days of Project ACCESS trainings, including minimally Introduction to the Education of Students with Autism (face-to-face or online) and either Working with Students with Autism in the Schools (WASS) or Early Intervention for Young Students with Autism (EIYCA).
  4. A school administrator must send a brief letter to Project ACCESS stating that the certified teacher being sent to the IDAC training is being selected to serve as the school district’s autism consultant.
  5. IDAC candidates should have significant experience working with students with autism. Prior to attending, candidates will need to prepare a redacted case study of a student with whom the candidate has worked (details regarding this requirement will be communicated to candidates upon registration).

Spring 2017 IDAC Training Cohort:  March 27, 28, and 29, 2017 – Southeast Regional Professional Development Center, Cape Girardeau
Candidates for the Spring 2017 training will need to complete the IDAC registration at the following link on MyLearningPlan.com

Summer 2017 IDAC Training Cohort:  June 27, 28, and 29, 2017 – Project ACCESS, Springfield
Candidates for the Summer 2017 training will need to complete the IDAC registration at the following link on MyLearningPlan.com

For those who are seeking attendance at the prerequisite courses, all of our trainings are listed on our website’s training calendar at the following link:  PA Training Calendar

Currently scheduled sessions of the prerequisites are as follows:

Introduction to the Education of Students with Autism:  

Springfield, 2/7 and 2/8/17 ~ registration at the following link:  Springfield Introduction
Warrensburg, 3/1 and 3/2/17 ~ registration at the following link: Warrensburg Introduction

              The online version of the Introduction course if available at the following link:  ONLINE Introduction to the Education of Students with Autism

Working with Students with Autism in the Schools (WASS)

Cape Girardeau, 2/16, 2/17, 3/13, and 3/14/17 ~ registration at the following link:  Cape WASS    
Springfield, 3/30, 3/31, 4/24 and 4/25/17 ~ registration at the following link:  Springfield WASS

We are in process of scheduling Early Intervention for Young Children with Autism (EIYCA) in Rolla for this spring, also.


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