Resources For Educators

Welcome teachers! This resource page is specifically intended to provide you with beneficial information to help you help your students reach their fullest potential. At Partington Behavior Analysts, our mission is to promote effective and high-quality interventions for individuals with autism or other developmental disabilities. We do this by providing information to questions that educators frequently ask. Below you will find links to resources to address a variety of topics.

Workload

  1. How do I develop an effective, assessment-based IEP while also saving time writing IEPs and progress reports?

Assessment and Tracking of Skills

  1. How can I determine what skills to teach? What skills should I include in the IEP? Which skills are the most important to include?
  2. What about teaching functional skills?

Developing an Effective Program- Elements of an Effective Program

  1. What are the elements of an effective program?
  2. What is Verbal Behavior? Why is VB so important?
  3. Should my student be in an inclusive program?
  4. How do I ensure students have adequate imitation skills?

Developing Language Skills

  1. My student is nonverbal, how can I teach him to talk?
  2. My student has some words, how can I get him to use them?
  3. My student is older and has minimal language skills, what should I do?

Working/Collaborating with Parents

  1. What resources are available to help parents become good teachers?
  2. How to help parents determine the best placement option for their child?

Motivating the Student

  1. How can I get my student to go along with my attempts to teach him skills?

Dealing with Behavior Problems

  1. How should I deal with my student’s disruptive behavior?
  2. How can I get my student to listen to me and follow instructions?

 

ANSWER KEY

Workload

  1. How do I develop an effective, assessment-based IEP while also saving time writing IEPs and progress reports?

Want to reduce your paperwork? Need help writing IEPs? Need assistance with curriculum for students with disabilities? Need help in collaborating with other professionals? We’ve got good news — The WebABLLS is the electronic version of the ABLLS-R, complete with unique features and functions only available in the web-based platform. You or your staff can enter student assessment and then quickly develop an IEP on your computer, tablet, or smartphone! When you need to create a progress report you will be able to do it in a snap because it will have all the information from the objectives already filled in for you. Need to teach your parents or staff what the student is supposed to be able do? There are many videos they can watch to see an example of the target skill. There are many features to the ABLLS-R/WebABLLS, and we won’t be able to highlight them all, but we would like to key in on four primary elements of the WebABLLS. Each is discussed below.

  • Client Assessment - Students develop the capacity to learn from their everyday experiences while educators are able to share data and strategies that promote collaboration across a range of learning environments. Parents, educators, clinicians, and other professionals can share progress and the wisdom found therein. With three assessment edit modes (Text, Grid, and Category), educators can modify the assessment to their preferences.
  • Progress Tracking - We mentioned sharing progress above, but another feature many educators consider indispensable is the ability to track progress over time. The WebABLLS allows teachers to follow the progress of each assessment. With a color-coded grid and an intuitive interface, this is a helpful feature that doesn’t add to the daily stress of a teacher’s life.
  • Reports - Report functionality is built into the WebABLLS to provide the user a range of options regarding the type of reporting they want to highlight. Reports can be shared via WebABLLS or converted to PDF to share electronically or physically. Reports that are available in WebABLLS include Program Worksheet, Progress Report, Status Report, Baseline Report, Completed Items Report, Incomplete Items Report, and Assessment Notes. If you need help writing IEPs, here’s your ticket.
  • We firmly believe that successful teaching involves knowing both what to teach as well as how to teach. The tools found within WebABLLS gives educators supplemental assistance to guide their curriculum decisions. Once the Skills Tracking Grid is complete, the analysis points to determining the appropriate future steps. This generates a report related to the assessment. Used in tandem, the educator can begin to see the “what” skills are revealed. Once that has been successfully illuminated, the educator will have access to over 200 video demonstrations regarding specific tasks within WebABLLS. A Tool Kit includes resources to download which cover language lists, normative data related to research of typically-developing children, a reinforcer survey, and beyond. Educators should be pleased to learn that there are additional tools found in the WebABLLS, but in the interest of time, we must move on!

Assessment and Tracking of Skills

  1. How can I determine what skills to teach? What skills should I include in the IEP? Which skills are the most important to include?

The answer to that question depends upon the age and the skills of the learner. For younger children, it is important to teach them basic language and learner skills (such as imitation, paying attention to visual aspects of items, etc.), and self-help and motor skills. For older individuals, there is often a need to shift the focus to functional living skills. There are two assessments that can be used to identify skills to be taught to the learner: The Assessment of Basic Language and Learner Skills (ABLLS-R) and The Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS). By using either or both of these assessments, it is possible to select skills to be included in a comprehensive intervention program.

You can find out the individual skills that your young child needs to learn by using the ABLLS-R or WebABLLS, which is the online version of the assessment. Both versions are available in Spanish! This criterion-referenced assessment offers a review of 544 skills from 25 skill categories, among which are social interaction, self-help, academic, motor skills, and language. It measures skills that a typically developing 5 year old child has developed before he enters kindergarten. These skills prepare the child to be able to learn from his teachers and his everyday interactions with others. Task items progress from simpler to more complex tasks in order to ascertain an accurate understanding of where the individual lands in a given skill area. This allows parents to find specific goals and objectives that are individualized for their child, based on their skills.

The Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS) is another criterion-referenced skills assessment tool, tracking system, and curriculum guide. The AFLS is identical in format to the ABLLS-R and is used for teaching children, adolescents, and adults with developmental disabilities the essential skills they need to achieve the most independent outcomes. The AFLS is the most versatile assessment system available and offers learners a pathway to independence. It is comprised of a Guide and 6 individual scoring protocols to cover Basic Skills, Home Skills, Community Participation Skills, School Skills, Vocational Skills and Independent Living Skills.

  1. What about teaching functional skills?

The Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS) is a criterion-referenced skills assessment tool, tracking system, and curriculum guide. The AFLS is used for teaching children, adolescents, and adults with developmental disabilities the essential skills they need in order to achieve the most independent outcomes. The AFLS is the most versatile assessment system available and offers learners a pathway to independence. It is comprised of a Guide and 6 individual scoring protocols to cover Basic Skills, Home Skills, Community Participation Skills, School Skills, Vocational Skills and Independent Living Skills.

While the Protocols are available for isolated purchase, we strongly recommend getting the AFLS Guide to use as a teaching companion that includes suggestions for teachers, task analyses, along with additional features of the AFLS system. For teachers seeking a better way to identify goals and objectives while keying in on the learner’s individual needs, the AFLS Guide is a valuable resource.

Developing an Effective Program- Elements of an Effective Program

  1. What are the elements of an effective program?
  • Identification & tracking of skills & skill deficits
  • Prioritized Objectives
  • Active engagement by a motivated learner
  • Many teaching trials each day
  • Varied learning environments
  • Parent participation

Additional details about each of these elements can be obtained from the book, Success on the Spectrum. This information will help you, your staff, and parents learn about the big picture of what is involved in an effective intervention, as well as many effective teaching strategies.

  1. What is Verbal Behavior? Why is VB so important?

Individuals with an ASD diagnosis typically have language delays, so it is critical to help each child develop a wide range of language skills. In order to effectively communicate and socially interact with others, it is necessary for an individual to understand and use language skills. Specifically, an individual must be able to understand what others are saying and be able to express their desires and observations, as well as be able to talk about their experiences. Speech and language pathologists refer to these skills as receptive and expressive language skills.

Some clinicians and educators who are trained in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) teaching methods incorporate a behavioral analysis of expressive language skills in their intervention strategy. This analysis was first introduced to the field of Behavior Analysis in 1957 by Dr. B.F. Skinner in his book “Verbal Behavior.” He indicated that there are several types of expressive language skills that one uses when communicating with others. He provided a functional analysis of these expressive language skills to demonstrate that when someone says a word that it can occur for several different reasons.

For example, a person can simply imitate saying a word or words that someone else just said. This skill of vocally imitating (technical term is echoic) is clearly necessary for an individual to communicate by speaking. They may also say the word(s) to ask for or request something they want (mand), or to label things that they see or hear (tact). They may also say the word(s) in response to something that was said by another person (intraverbal). For instance, they may be asked “What is something you can read?,” or “Who sat next to you at lunch today?,” or requested to “Tell me what you did at the park.” It is important to note that just because a child can vocally imitate a word, it doesn’t mean that he can use that word to ask for things, name things or to respond to comments or questions.

The Verbal Behavior analysis serves as the foundation for teaching Verbal Behavior as part of an ABA program. Thus, when working with individuals who have deficits in their language to skills, it is necessary to determine which of these verbal skills the child has and to teach him the ones he doesn’t have. It is important to ensure that the child can use these types of expressive language skills in various situations. More detailed information can be found in the book Teaching Language to Children with Autism or Other Developmental Disabilities or you can watch a DVD of Dr. Partington presenting about this topic.

  1. Should my student be in an inclusive program?

The answer to this question depends upon many factors. The most important issue is to determine what the student will learn when in a classroom with typically-developing peers. There are certain benefits of being around other children who exhibit good language and social interactions. When the child is required to go along with the group, he will soon learn that the world doesn’t revolve around him. The student can see appropriate models of behavior in typical classrooms. Depending on the student, it might be necessary to put the student in an inclusive classroom for short periods of time.

There may be a few problems with an inclusive program. The activities in the typical classroom are designed to teach skills to the average student. The problem is that the student with delays needs to work on learning skills that the other children have already mastered. The child with a disability may have a difficult time learning the skills that are taught in a regular education classroom. Children need to be taught the skills! They don’t acquire skills just by being with others who already have mastered the skills.

  1. How do I ensure students have adequate imitation skills?

Good imitation skills are necessary for a student to learn a wide variety of other new skills. When attempting to teach many skills, parents and teachers regularly demonstrate how to do a particular task. If the child isn’t able to attend to a sequence of actions and replicate those actions, it will take a great deal of prompting to help them learn the new skill. However, if the student has developed extremely good imitation skills, the new skills will often be learned in a much shorter period of time. Additionally, the student with good imitation skills will often start to learn many skills merely by watching others perform the tasks. Both the Getting Started: Developing Critical Learning Skills for Children on the Autism Spectrum and Success on the Spectrum books have the Partington Imitation Skills Assessment (PISA) that measures over one hundred unique imitation skills. It is a great way to both assess and arrange teaching to establish a well-generalized set of imitation skills.

Developing Language Skills

  1. My student is nonverbal, how can I teach him to talk?

If you are seeking resources related to teaching a nonverbal child speech, Dr. James Partington’s book, Getting Started: Developing Critical Learning Skills for Children on the Autism Spectrum is a step-by-step guide to further the development of children with minimal language skills. This book is written in non-technical language so that it is easy to quickly teach nonverbal children (or children with minimal speech capabilities) skills that include imitating actions and vocalizations, learning to ask for desired items, initiating social interactions, and attending to his/her actions with objects.

Based on evidence-supported ABA/VB methodology, this book offers key information for anyone looking to understand where to start and how to teach initial skills to children with limited language abilities. Not only does this resource inform the reader as to what to do, but it also offers the rationale for teaching six critical learning skills which have been deemed by professionals as an important foundation for a child’s general development.

The six critical skills are as follows:

  • Initiate social interactions
  • Request items and activities (Mand)
  • Respond to spoken words
  • Imitate motor actions
  • Imitate sounds and words (Echoic)
  • Complete visual tasks

Kelly Anne, a School Psychologist from Nebraska, had this to say in her glowing review of the book: “Dr. Partington’s book, Getting Started, is hands down my “go to-must buy” recommendation for parents and teachers who are working with children on the autism spectrum with language delays. As an autism coordinator for a very large, and mostly rural region, I work in a variety of school and home settings to provide support for those taking on the often daunting task of helping their child on the spectrum learn to verbally communicate. I adore this book for several reasons. It is very easy to understand and doesn’t bog you down with complicated terminology common to many specialized training resources. The sections are broken down in to short, easy to follow guidelines for how to work with children using researched based techniques to teach language...Simply put, it empowers any person to not just be a better “teacher of skills” but for children with Autism to learn how to share their lives with others through the gift of language.”

  1. My student has some words, how can I get him to use them?

Updated in 2013, Teaching Language to Children with Autism or Other Developmental Disabilities, is a book written by Dr. James Partington and Dr. Mark Sundberg. As you can surmise from the book’s title, the book is intended to aid parents, educators, and professionals with teaching language to children with autism. What sets this book apart is that it presents an innovative language assessment and intervention program inspired by B.F. Skinner’s behavioral analysis of language, along with the wealth of research that exists to support Skinner’s analysis.

  1. My student is older and has minimal language skills, what should I do?

One of the most effective ways to develop language skills older student with minimal language skills is to focus on teaching him functional skills. While working on the development of skills in the AFLS, the student will often start to learn language skills that are associated with those skills. The skills that the student needs to perform on a regular basis often results in daily repetition of both receptive and expressive language skills, making those language skills more likely to be acquired.

Working/Collaborating with Parents

  1. What resources are available to help parents become good teachers?

We all know that it is much easier to teach a student when you have the collaboration of the parents. Parents are the child’s first teachers in their life after all! It is important that parents learn some valuable teaching skills to assist in the education process. There are several resources to help parents learn to be effective teachers. The book, Success on the Spectrum will help parents learn about the big picture of what is involved in effective intervention, as well as many effective teaching strategies. Because children on the autism spectrum are often difficult to motivate to participate in learning activities, Learning to Motivate, Motivating to Learn is another important resource for parents. Both of these books are written in language that parents can understand and have examples of dealing with common problems encountered when attempting to teach skills to children.

If the parents would rather learn by watching Dr. Partington lecture on topics such as how to teach language skills and how to assess basic language and learner skills, there are a few DVDs regarding teaching language and assessing skills that they might enjoy watching.

  1. How to help parents determine the best placement option for their child?

There usually is not one best school placement for most children. The main issue for parents is to consider where their child will be able to learn as many critical skills as quickly as possible. Because the child usually has delays in language, social interaction, self-help, and academic skills, one needs to assess the child’s skills in each of those areas and determine what skills he should work on acquiring. Once it is known what he should be learning, it is then necessary to consider if the teacher has the skills to teach him what he needs to learn. It is important to determine if the teacher’s classroom environment will allow the teacher to effectively teach the child those skills. Sometimes there are simply too many children, or children with significant behavioral issues that will prevent the teacher from actually being able to teach the child. Therefore, they will need to consider what he needs to learn, who has the teaching skills to teach new skills to the child, and if the circumstances of the classroom allow the teacher to be effective in teaching those skills to the child. For additional information, please see Chapter 14, Critical Elements of an Effective Educational Program in the book Teaching Language to Children with Autism or Other Developmental Disabilities.

Motivating the Student

  1. How can I get my student to go along with my attempts to teach him skills?

It’s not a revolutionary thing to say that it’s dramatically easier to teach children when they are motivated to learn. Dr. James Partington and Scott Partington’s book, Learning to Motivate, Motivating to Learn, allows parents, educators, and professionals to get access to effective motivation-based strategies used to influence a child to participate in learning activities. This book is written using non-technical language, making it useful for supplemental ideas and strategies for everyday learning. The book presents evidence-based techniques in an easy to follow manner.

Dino, a parent of a child with ASD and the owner of Autism Recovery Network (ARN) in Hong Kong, had this to say in his testimonial of the Partingtons’ book: “...This book serves as an invaluable teaching tool for parents, educators, and instructors alike and emphasizes the relationship between the teacher and the child as a basis for maximizing interactions and learning opportunities. What makes this book stand out is Dr. Partington’s ability to outline powerful, evidence-based techniques in a comprehensive manner that leaves readers with a clear understanding of each concept and many examples to illustrate their practical application. Reading this book will leave you more motivated than ever before to get to work and teach valuable skills to your children!"

Dealing with Behavior Problems

  1. How should I deal with my student’s disruptive behavior?

Behaviors can definitely get in the way of successful learning. With our book, Success on the Spectrum, we have identified many major behavior concerns with detailed examples on how to reinforce the positive behaviors while working on decreasing the negative behaviors. A few examples of the behavior concerns are: getting the child to walk nicely, changes in routine, meal time issues, climbing, etc. It is important to understand the problem behavior and the motivation behind it. Success on the Spectrum gives advice on how to understand and work on behaviors so that your student can have the most success possible.

  1. How can I get my student to listen to me and follow instructions?

Once you have the basic skills for good teaching, such as ensuring the student is attending, presenting clear instructions, reinforcing the correct responses and just making learning fun; your student will listen and follow instructions! We recommend reading ‘The Basics of Good Teaching’ outlined in the Success on the Spectrum book. This book gives detailed instructions on how to make learning fun and productive.

 

Check Out Our Blog For Educators!

Feel free to reach out to us if you would like more information about anything addressed above — we’d be happy to assist you! Otherwise, be sure to check out our Blog for Educators, where we periodically post information specifically intended to help teachers of students with autism.