High Expectations

Happy New Year everyone!

Back to school in January is a busy time for all.  Getting back in to the routine after the holidays is always tough, for adults and kids! 

The new year is often a time to update targets for a learner, new term, new targets and all that. When setting goals, it’s important to to have high expectations. This doesn’t mean setting goals well above the level of the learner, after all, a key principle of ABA is setting small achievable targets. High expectations are individual to each learner, but it can be expecting them to eat with a knife and fork during meal times, or showering independently, pushing the development of vocalisations, and many other worthy goals, and not juts settling for an non-disruptive student (who may not actually be learning much). It’s continuing to persist with a goal, that may be a particularly difficult area for your learner, but striving to individualise the teaching, and finding better ways to teach it. This isn’t always easy!

When I first started as an ABA therapist, I was always encouraged to use every part of the day as a potential teaching opportunity (queuing for lunch, getting cutlery, washing hands after the toilet, social interactions at break and so on). It can be hard work to do this, and days can be full on, but it’s so worth it. 

Here’s a little video of me rambling on about this at a school training day.

 

So there you go, have high expectations, use every moment of the day, and smash it.

3 and a ½ Top Assessments – My Favourite Assessments


Assessment days are manic. You never really know how it’s going to go. I arrive, boxes of resources, ready to work my socks off. It can certainly be a struggle fitting a whole assessment in in one day, but it depends on different factors; how much problem behaviour (if any) the learner engages in, and the skill level of your learner.

 

Your consultant should do some form of baseline when they start the programme. I’ve always been trained to design a learners individualised curriculum based on the assessments, using assessment goals to design the programme. This seems like common sense to me, it’s a great way to track goals/progress. I like to update the assessments around every 6 months. I also update them if there will be a change in provision, or sooner than 6 months if there’s been a big jump/regression in the learners’ skills.

 

VB MAPP

VB MAPPI love the VB MAPP. This is my most commonly used assessment. It’s a great assessment to get a good baseline of the learners’ skills and barriers to learning. VB MAPP stands for ‘Verbal Behaviour Milestones Assessment and Placement Program’ (VB-MAPP, Sundberg, 2008), which was largely influenced by B.F. Skinner’s (1957) ‘Analysis of Verbal Behaviour’ (find out more about verbal behaviour here). The VB-MAPP can make it easier to compare the current abilities of a learner to those of a ‘typically’ developing child as it highlights a students’ strengths and weaknesses of a variety of critical skills. The assessment breaks down skills in to small achievable goals, and is split across 3 levels, covering 16 different skill areas. These skill areas comprise of areas such as;

  • Mand – (request)
  • Tact – (label)
  • Motor Imitation
  • Listener responding (following instructions)
  • Intraverbal (fill in statements, answering questions)
  • Social skills
  • Play skills
  • Visual skills
  • Group responding
  • Classroom skills
  • Echoic (vocal imitation)
  • Spontaneous vocal output
  • Listener responding by feature, function, and class
  • Reading 
  • Writing
  • Math

The VB MAPP is awesome

 

ABLLS-R

The ABLLS-R (Assessment of basic language and learning skills- Revised) is another excellent assessment. It is used to assess current levels that the learners are working at, and helps structure the programmes we run with the learners.ABLLS-R

It provides a comprehensive review of skills from 25 skill areas that most typically developing children acquire up to the age of 4 years of age. The goals in the ABLLS-R are usually ‘chunkier’ (larger criteria for mastery), and aren’t as developmentally sequenced as the VB MAPP goals. The ABLLS-R covers some skill areas that the VB MAPP doesn’t, such as self care skills.  When designing individualized curriculum, I like to use goals from the ABLLS-R and VB MAPP together.

 

AFLS

AFLSThe AFLS (Assessment of Functional Living Skills) comes in 6 different books;

  • Basic Living Skills
  • School Skills
  • Home Skills
  • Community Participation
  • Independent Living Skills
  • Vocational Skills

 

The authors define functional skills as ‘commonly age appropriate skills that are used everyday for typical activities and routines and are essential for independence’. Basically, what skills does someone that age need to live as independently as possible.

 

The AFLS was developed over several years analysing which skills are required for daily functioning in various settings and independent life within the community. The assessment was designed to further refine and teach additional skills of independence, social interactions, work participation, and other independent living skills.

 

There is a certain point in a learner’s life when conceptual learning, like sorting shapes and colours, needs to be replaced with specific practical skills required to improve learner’s independence (Partington and Mueller, 2012).

 

This assessment is good to use for learners who are secondary school age, particularly from 16 years old.

 

Essentials for Living

My homework is to look in to this assessment more. A few colleagues talk highly of this, and from what I do know, it’s a good assessment for teenage + learners who have more severe developmental difficulties.efl

 

I’d be interested to hear if anybody recommends any other cool assessments! You can buy these assessments here at Treezy, which is a lovely website for resources!

 

 

References

  • Partington, J and Mueller, M (2012). The Assessment of Functional Living Skills. Pleasant Hill, CA: Behaviour Analysts, Inc; Stimulus Publications
  • Skinner, B. F. (1957). Verbal Behaviour.  New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts
  • Sundberg, M. L. (2008). The Verbal Behaviour Milestones Assessment and Placement Program: The VB-MAPP. Concord, CA: AVB Press.