|Children and adults suffering from autism
need a lot of help in order to learn. I don't
mean helping them to do things or get around.
I mean they need us to define the behavior
to be learned clearly and analyze the learning
situation carefully for them, and present
it in a systematic fashion to them. Systematic
means consistent, repetitive, and criterion-based.
A discrete-trial training format is an essential ingredient in helping autistic people learn. I came to this realization while developing the first autistic program for the Metro Toronto School Board in 1971, 34 years ago. The basic premises is like this: training is always expressed in terms of numbers of trials. A trial is prefaced by a clear definition of the stimulus condition, which may involve the therapist's instruction, the materials presented and the training setting, and by a clear definition of the mastery skill which may be a verbal answer or a physical behavior to be emitted by the patient. The amount of training is measured by the number of trials over a specific time (the session time), and learning is defined by number of correct (acceptable) trials over total trials.
Without the discrete trials, learning is often hit-and-miss and reduced to a general gussing game or subject to wishful-thinking. And more importantly, treatment effectiveness cannot be ascertained.
I have always maintained that whereas many regular children require only coaching or even merely observation to learn new things, making autistic children learn represents a test of the therapist/trainer's analytical skills and thus true teaching.
Autism Diagnoses Soar
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Dr. Hung's Biography
Articles from It's Academic, published by Academic Guidance Services
Myth and Facts about ADD/ADHD
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