Keep it Concrete


Individuals with ASD have difficulty thinking abstractly.  This means that their thinking is limited to what is in front of them, and are often unable to generalize concepts. For instance when you say imagine a dog on a rug, abstract thinkers are able to generalize the concept of “on” where concrete thinkers will only be able to picture a specific dog on a rug. This type of thinking can hinder their involvement in classroom activities and their ability to complete tasks.  In the video we share some ways to make adjustments in the way academics and tasks are presented.

Levels of Representation


Sorry for the delay in updating the blog this year.  Its been a crazy start to 2015 but we hope you are all enjoying the new year so far.  Marci and I have been getting great feedback about the videos and have several topics for the upcoming weeks that we are excited to share.  Please remember you can always leave a comment here or email one of us at CRP if you have an idea for a video or a topic you’d like to share.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Symbolic representation of people, places, activities, and concepts are utilized in every aspect of life.  Knowing the difference between men’s and women’s restroom signs, reading postings on the highway, and recognizing those golden arches as a place to get french fries are all examples of symbolic representation in our everyday life.  While we know visuals are important for students with autism, we need to ensure we are using symbols appropriate for their developmental level.  Levels of representation can be used for all visuals in the classroom.  This video gives some examples.

Below is a link to a great resource from the U.S Dept of Ed’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) which provides details of symbolic systems and how they can be utilized for all aspects of communication.

OSEP Tangible Symbol Systems



Behavior Strategies and Functions of Behaviors


Sometimes when working with a child who engages in maladaptive behaviors, we struggle to see what is driving and maintaining that behavior.  Stepping back and looking at all the factors surrounding the behavior is key for behavior change.

The A-B-C model for anecdotal data collection helps give a clear view of what the maladaptive behavior looks like, how long it lasts, or any patterns in time of day it occurs.  It also can help identify those antecedents that are driving a behavior and consequences that are maintaining it.

To really get successful behavior change, we need to focus on the functions of behavior.  Surprisingly, there are only four (4) functions for human behavior; attention, escape, tangible (access to item), and automatic (sensory).  When teaching a replacement behavior, we need to ensure that the replacement is easier to do, already something the kid can do, and serves the same function.

In this video Marci and I discuss how to use A-B-C data collection, some behavior strategies to get the child to engage in the appropriate behavior, and the functions of behavior.  We hope this gives you some ideas of what to look at when working with challenging behaviors.


SB 365 – what it means for families


The state of Oregon has been going through a change in policies and research for autism services in the past decade.  One thing that has come out of increased activism and awareness is the recently passed Senate Bill 365.  Although reading through legislature can be arduous and confusing we anticipate the families we work with will have many questions, and as educators we want to be able to provide clarity and support for them.  Treatment for autism has been much debated, and with the passing of this bill more children with ASD will be able to gain access to Applied Behavior Analysis therapies and other medical treatments for autism.

Below are links to the full text of SB 365, an article that discusses potential insurance claims, and the Health Evidence Review Commission’s (HERC) evaluation of evidence on ABA therapy.

Enrolled Senate Bill 365

Lund Report Article on SB 365 Claims

HERC Evaluation of Evidence: ABA

Happy Holidays


Happy Holidays everyone!

No matter if you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa the holiday season is filled with exciting events that can be overwhelming and unpredictable for our kids with ASD.  This week we are sharing some tips to make these coming months less stressful and provide predictability in our schedules.  We know this is a special time of year, and we hope we give you some ideas to make it easier for you to enjoy time with your family.

Below are some resources that help provide clarity for your child about the unusual schedules and activities that may occur during the holidays.

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

“Nothing is reinforcing!”


Last video, we talked about positive reinforcement and how/when to use it.  When out in the field I often hear people say “he doesn’t like anything” or “nothing is motivating for him”.   Often this is the case when reinforcers have lost their power; the child has become satiated on it or is not hungry for a snack.  This week Marci and I are talking about how to find out what is truly motivating for our kids, and how objects can maintain their reinforcement power by limiting access to them and delivering them immediately.

Preference assessments can be conducted with a wide variety of objects or pictures to determine what a child really wants to work for.  Giving positive reinforcement consistently and thoughtfully can really make an impact on a child’s motivation during learning activities.


Basics of Reinforcement


Wow, our third posting!  Thank you all for visiting our new blog and giving positive feedback.  If you have any suggestions on topics you’d like to see a video about, please leave a comment below.

This week we are starting a new webinar series called “Implementing Evidence Based Practices for Learners with ASD” .  The first day of our series is on reinforcement and prompting.  Since reinforcement is such a vital tool for teaching new skill, Marci and I decided to do a few short video on the basic ideas of reinforcing behaviors.   Enjoy!




Episode 2 – Halloween Tips for Kids with ASD


Halloween is this week, and exciting holidays often come with some unexpected events for our students with ASD. Here’s our top 5 tips to make Halloween a fun and safe experience for everyone!

Here’s a social story that can help prepare your child to cope and understand all the activities involved with dressing up and trick or treating:
What is Halloween

Here’s a list of practical strategies for success: Top Ten Strategies for Halloween

Here are some tips from Autism Speaks: Halloween Tips for Kids

Here’s is a social narrative heavily supported with visual symbols: Social Narrative example

The team at CRP’s Autism Training and Resource Center hopes you enjoy a safe, enjoyable Halloween!

Episode 1 – ASD Services Updated


Entering into the 2014/2015 school year, Columbia Regional Program has reconfigured its autism spectrum disorder services to form an Autism Training and Resource Center.

In this first video blog post, you will learn about the services we provide at CRP and how district and ESDs can access those supports.

Check back for updates, as we will highlight a variety of tools, strategies, and supports to assist you in serving your learners with ASD.