Monday, March 7, 2016

ASbyS Data Sheet (ABA)

I’ve been working as an embedded consultant within a school serving students on the Autism Spectrum. It has been a creative adventure … figuring out how to ‘marry’ Aided Language Stimulation (ALgS) principles with an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) approach.  At first it seemed like an ‘apples’ and ‘oranges’ dilemma, but we have managed to make a rewarding ‘fruit salad’!

Within this setting we are using Animated Step-by-Steps™ to address a literacy, language and AAC agenda. We are sucessfully building a variety of functional extension activities that use ABA principles. Each page/slide of an ASbyS resource has simple text that is ‘sprinkled’ with stars that signal the presence of animations/sound effects that support the text just read. You read a segment … then perform a click to trigger an animation and continue until all the animations on a particular page have been animated. If you are using a Regular ASbyS (non symbol-supported), you will hear a chime when the page is fully completed. With a Symbol-Supported ASbyS, the corresponding picture symbols will appear as a group, AFTER all the page animations have been completed. This strategy is designed to avoid ‘stealing attention’ from the upfront literacy focus. Once the symbols appear, they are available for ALgS, allowing you to discuss the page further, this time using the symbols to support this discussion.

As ASbyS are highly structured and very predictable, they do lend themselves well to monitoring many of the joint attention goals typically addressed by the ABA therapist. The fact that many students on the spectrum are enamored with technology seems to work to our advantage when using an ASbyS.

Here are just a few of the questions to be answered re: attention/ performance when using an ASbyS.

Is the student watching the screen while you are pointing to & reading the text?

If you are using a remote switch to trigger the animations, is the process independent or facilitator-assisted (offered at the appropriate time)?

Does the student interact appropriately with the remote switch? (gently pressing the switch, as opposed to slapping the switch forcefully to activate the animations). A prompt  hierarchy may be necessary to promote correct switch use.

Is the student watching the subsequent triggered animation?

Does the student visually follow the Aided Language Stimulation that is provided to promote further discussion?

I’m sure there is more that can be documented, but this is our initial ‘good start’.

Here is our current data sheet ( a work in progress)

As you can see from the data sheet,  you must document the name/initials of the Primary Facilitator, the Data Collector, and the name of the ASbyS that you are using.  There is also an area to document whether you are using a remote switch and whether it is being used in an independent (constantly available) vs. a facilitator-assisted (offered) format. I do prefer to use a remote switch when using an ASbyS as it ensures consistency of response across the full spectrum of display formats that might be used as part of the student’s individual and group therapeutic plan (iPad Pro, TV monitor, interactive whiteboard).  

Each row on the data sheet represents a page. Within a row there are boxes that represent each sequential animation on that page. Depending upon the page, you may or may not, use all the boxes in the row. In the above illustration there are four animations/sound effects on page 4. On the far right is a box (highlighted in blue) where you can document how well the student visually follows the Aided Language Stimulation that is being provided if you are using a symbol-supported version. When using an ALgS song, this often assumes the form of singing the song while pointing to the symbols (Note there is a song button in the upper left corner of the header). For other ASbyS, this provides a conversational moment to disuss interactively what the page revealed.  Don’t forget … on the iPad you can use the pinch to zoom out feature to enlarge the symbols to promote greater attention.

Each ‘starred box’ reflects performance in three areas: 1. attention to text (documented in the area to the left of the star) … 2. interaction with remote switch (coded on the star) and … 3. attention to animation (documented in the area to the right of the star). We’ve tried to keep the coding very simple:  (attends to the first ___ seconds) vs.   (does not attend to the first ____ seconds). Obviously you can vary the number of upfront seconds required to qualify as a success. 

At the end of the session we are able to document percentages, i.e., the number of successful trials divided by the total number of opportunities that were provided within this resource.  

For example:

Attention to Text:  53/116 (46%)
Interaction with Switch:   100/116 appropriate (86%)
Attention to Animation: 103/116 (89%)
Attention to ALgS:  84/116 (72%)

Stay tuned for a future post commenting on functional extension activities that support both an ABA and AAC agenda.

…’til the next post …  (new posts every Monday)

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©2016 Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.
Augmentative Communication Consultant
Speech-Language Pathologist
Special Educator