school | autism awareness hawaii

or should i say the lack of wanting to go. he really does not enjoy making the transition to school lately. i am not sure why. he cries and fights me allt he way. when he gets there he is ok until i leave. then again he is upset. more than likely he is not having the type of reinforcement at school that would make him want to be there. not sure why or what is going on with that.

water fun | autism awareness hawaii

Hekili loves playing in the water.
Be it the beach, pool, or tub. He can stay in the water for hours.
I have heard that water is very therapeutic for our asd kids. 
I do know he loves it and swims like a fish.

you have to check out this blog | autism awareness hawaii

TACA | autism awareness hawaii

TACA is a great resource for families living with autism. they have tons of links and support groups in different locations! If you aren't already a member go their site and sign up!!

the looks | autism awareness hawaii

while shopping, walking around public places, out to eat, or even at school it is all around us. the looks. we get "the look" all the time. from people who are quick to judge some one else's parenting skill or even the child who is acting out. my son will talk very loudly, yell out, cry, and script while in public and at home. people look at us, and say things behind their whispers. we never get used to it.

on the bright side of it all ... i have learned to really be more understanding about situations i see while out and about. when i see a child having a meltdown in the middle of the store i don't think badly about them or their caregiver. in fact it is the total opposite. i can totally relate and will offer a warm understanding smile and hello. we never know what is really causing the situation at hand but i know that i am one less person they get "the look" from.

Look at the signs ...

Hekili was doing fine going to school. Never fought me about getting out of the car or asked to go home with me. His first week of Kindergarten was fine. Then Monday his EA that was gone all summer came back. Tuesday he wouldn't get out of the car, I took him home thinking maybe he was getting sick. Wednesday he didn't want to get out of the car again. He dropped to the ground and cried and the EA's tried to grab him but eventually it took me walking with him to class. The next two weeks he was in this routine of crying and not wanting to go to school.

I became concerned and asked what was going on that was aversive to him in school. I kept getting the he did fine all day. We don't know why he doesn't want to get out of the car int eh morning. I know my son, I know that he only acts out like this when he is not liking the setting he is in.

August 25, 2009, Tuesday morning, same thing. He cried and refused but we managed to get him to class. That morning I took his lunch to school a little early so i observed his EA with him. As i spoke to one EA I watched the other who was sitting next to him at his desk. She wanted to get his attention so she took her elbow and bumped him in his arm and tells him to get his pencil out of the pencil box. He was in a verbal stim so she tells him again but in a very frustrated and unhappy tone.

It was heartbreaking to see this right in front of me. I don't believe that using her elbow to get his attention was at all appropriate. I also didn't appreciate that she got frustrated so easily when she only prompted him once to do a task. He is 5 and has Autism. It sometimes take a few prompts to get him to do the task at hand.

I then pulled her aside and told her that it was not appropriate and that I did not appreciate it. She was very defensive and unapologetic. Which of course made me more upset. I reported to the BISS that afternoon and she was taken off the case the next day.

Wednesday morning, august 26, 2009, he didn't want to get out of the car. That day he didn't work with the EA, who was being rude to him.

Thursday, August 27, 2009, no incident getting out of the car. Not one protest or struggle to get him to go to class. He complied totally. He knows that the EA is removed from working with him. He had a good day.

Friday, August 28, 2009, Again no incident getting out of the car. He was actually ok for the past two days. Once the EA was removed from his case.

My concern is if she behaved in such a manner with me, the parent, only 10 feet away, how was see behaving when I was not around? This is a huge concern for me. I am relieved that he is ok with going to school again but I feel like I should have done something sooner.

Often our children on the spectrum don't know how to communicate what is going on in their day. His way of telling me something was wrong was to avoid going to the setting that was causing him stress. Listen to the signs and be sure to talk to your BISS, EA's and whoever else to try to figure out what may be causing the new behaviors. We know our children. Listen to their signs.

While sick ...

I notice that behaviors go up during the days that lead to being sick. More protesting but he still doesn't say that he isn't feeling well. He just doesn't want to do things that are not what he wants to do.

He also has a new thing he does. He makes fists and holds them like that all throughout the day. Not sure why yet. Haven't figured that one out. Maybe sensory related.

People can't always tell ...

that Hekili has autism. We were at the pool yesterday and the lady that we see almost every couple of days there started asking questions. I told her that H does have autism and she wanted to know what it was. I informed her that it was a neurological disorder.

her: so it is in his brain?
me: yes.
her: what does it do?
me: he has a hard time communicating like you and I. He is developmentally delayed in certain areas like socialization and communication. He is advanced in his academics and far exceeds his peers in reading and such. He has a hard time telling me he has a cold or doesn't feel good.
her: how does he let you know?
me: he uses words he knows or he pulls me. we teach him to use appropriate words to let us know what he wants or needs. we have different programs we use to help him in communication and socialization.
her: how old is he?
me: he is 5. he should be inviting play at this age with his peers but really he is busy in his world and doesn't pay much attention to those around him.

this is basically where our conversation ended because my daughter wanted to get out of the pool. she told me that she had no idea. and really would not have known had i not mentioned it.

Some information sent to me ... thought i would pass it along.

I received an email this morning regarding some of the information that was passed on at the ABAI conference. I was unable to attend so any information that I may have missed is great to learn. The following is from the ABAI blog.

This symposium at the ABA International annual conference describes applications of TAGteach to teach children with autism to follow receptive instructions, the social behaviors of eye contact and maintaining proximity to peers, and also describes the use of the TAG as a secondary reinforcer. Limitations in the studies are also described.

As described at the TAGteach International website, "TAG is an acronym for Teaching with Acoustical Guidance". In this case, the acoustical guidance is a clicker or other sound-making item that is used to mark a positively reinforced behavioral pinpoint, aka TAG point. The TAG points may vary from teacher to teacher and from student to student depending on the teaching style and the needs of the student. A TAG (the click sound) means “yes.”, absence of a TAG means “try again, Students receive a TAG at the exact moment when the TAG point is correctly performed. Rather than free-shaping the TAG points, the student is primed by the instructor labelling the TAG point ("The TAG point is,...") and sometimes having the student practice giving a TAG when the correct TAG point is performed by the instructor or a peer. Behavior analysts may recognize the procedure as behavioral shaping using a primed response (Kazdin, 2008).

The reported experience and results of studies by TAGteachers is that through use of shaping, positive reinforcement and addition of the acoustical guidance, rather than corrective feedback and error correction, that students are able to achieve rapid acquisition of skills that have not successfully achieved through other instruction methods, e.g., discrete trial training or more naturalistic interventions using corrective feedback.

The history of TAG teach was a progression from the original use of clicker training to train cetaceans without need for physical guidance (Pryor & Norris, 1998), expanded to other domesticated animals, and then applications to humans--for simple and complex multistep skills. Guides for principles of use of the clicker and clicker training can be found in books authored by Karen Pryor, and training in TAGteach procedures is available through TAGteach International.
#381 Symposium
10:30 a.m. - 11:50 a.m.
North 124 B
AUT/EDC; Applied Behavior Analysis
BACB CE Offered. CE Instructor: Lauren C. Wasano, M.A., BCBA
Recent Findings on the Use of TAGteach in Children with Autism
Chair: Theresa Mckeon (TAGteach International)
Discussant: Julie S. Vargas (B. F. Skinner Foundation)

New addition 5/7/09
Using TAG Teach Methods to Develop Eye Contact Behavior in Children with Autism.
REGINA L. MAENDLER (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), John W Eshleman (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Traci M. Cihon (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)


Many children diagnosed with autism demonstrate limited eye contact behavior with others. Eye contact can be an important prerequisite for the development of other behavioral repertoires including mands, imitation, and social interaction. Because the eye contact movement cycle can be quite brief, it is not always possible to provide immediate reinforcement and often one may inadvertently reinforce another behavior (e.g. looking away). The purpose of this study was to increase eye contact behavior in children diagnosed with autism using two reinforcement methods; contingent positive reinforcement and Teaching by Acoustical Guidance (TAG). During the first treatment condition, descriptive praise statements as well as access to preferred items and activities were made contingent upon occurrences of eye contact behavior. During the second treatment condition, occurrences of eye contact behavior were immediately tagged with an acoustical marker and directly followed by access to a backup reinforcer in the form of descriptive praise statements as well as access to preferred items and activities. Treatment conditions were presented during randomly alternating sessions through a multielement design. Differences in responding between conditions were attributed to the effectiveness of each treatment variable as an intervention for developing eye contact behavior among children with autism.

The use of TAG to Improve the Acquisition of Instruction Following in Young Children with Autism.
MARIDITH R. GUTIERREZ (Applied Behavior Consultants, Inc)


The use of TAG (Teaching with Acoustical Guidance) was examined in the acquisition of Receptive Instructions in children with autism. Receptive skills can be difficult for children with autism to acquire and the discrimination of different instructions is often an observed deficit. Four students at a non-public school for children with autism participated in the study. The students had not acquired the skill of following instructions in a structured teaching environment using standard discrete trial teaching nor through incidental teaching (e.g., within routine contexts). A multiple baseline across subjects design was used to examine whether the insertion of TAG, used to reinforce the target response prior to receipt of the highly preferred item, led to an increase in the acquisition of the skill. Students were exposed to a Receptive Instructions lesson with standard discrete trial teaching (i.e., SD-R-SR) during baseline. The use of TAG was implemented with each student in a staggered fashion and inserted immediately after a correct response.

Evaluating the Maintaining Effects of TAGteach on the Social Skills of an Individual with Autism.


There have been many noted interventions utilized in teaching social skills to children with Autism. TAGteach or Teaching with Acoustical Guidance incorporates the use of a tagger (audible marker) while pairing it with positive reinforcement and shaping in order to quickly teach a vast repertoire of skills to individuals in a variety of populations. The current study focused on analyzing the maintaining effects of TAGteach on the social skills (e.g., eye contact during manding and close proximity to peers) of a 7-year-old male diagnosed with Autism. Previously, eye contact while manding and close proximity to peers had been targeted and increased utilizing TAGteach compared to a more commonly used method. Maintenance data showed that the target behaviors did not maintain; however, required considerably less time to reacquire the skills utilizing TAGteach.

An Auditory Marker as a Secondary Reinforcer in the Shaping of Specific Behaviors in Children with Autism.
JEFF E. OOSTYEN (Focus Psychological Services)


This study examined the training of two behaviors (maintaining proximity and eye contact) in six children with Autism. An auditory marker, or TAG (Teaching with Acoustical Guidance) was employed as a secondary reinforcer for shaping the desired behaviors. The intervention followed the tenet of Applied Behavior Analysis and learning theory. The study was directed by personnel with TAGteach certification A multiple single case design with a multiple baseline across behaviors design was utilized to implement the intervention, as well as increase the ease of collecting data. The interventions took place in a natural environmental setting where each child’s behaviors were ecologically balanced. The data supported the efficacy of the intervention, but only in the context of training a child with Autism. Following full implementation, the rate of reinforcement was methodically reduced. The data indicated that the behaviors could be maintained at a level well above baseline. The implications of these results are discussed.

References and for further reading

* TAGteach International/Autism

* An Evaluation of Treatment Procedures For Increasing Social Skills : A case study
Lauren C. Wasano, M.A., BCBA
Unpublished case study, 2008

* Tagging Imitation Skills of Students Diagnosed with Autism
Presented by: Rick Gutierrez, M.S., B.C.B.A
CalABA 2007

* Pryor, K. (2002). Don't Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training (3rd. Ed.). Lydney, UK: Ringpress Books.

* Kazdin, A.E. (2008). Behavior modification in applied settings (6th Ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

* Pryor, K., & Norris, K.S. (1998). Dolphin societies: Discoveries and puzzles. Berkeley: University of California Press

ABAI ... info for those of you interested.

The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) is hosting its 35th Annual Convention from Friday, May 22 to Tuesday, May 26, in Phoenix. Of the numerous presentations throughout the convention, a large number of them will focus on autism, the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States. Below is a brief overview of the components of the conference.

The convention, which will be held at the Phoenix Convention Center, is expected to attract approximately 4,000 attendees from across the globe. Hundreds of experts will present resources and information that parents, teachers and therapists can use to improve the lives of those living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Presentations will focus on a variety of topics including:

* Evaluating the interventions available for children with autism and the importance of evidenced based treatment.
* Moving beyond imitation to observational learning for children with ASD
* Combating common sources of stress among parents of children with ASD

Beautiful Son Foundation ...

I watched their documentary and it brought tears and laughter. They are sincere and beautiful as a family. Please support their foundation and visit them at



bingo poster copyweb
Originally uploaded by Sara J. Smalley

Autism Fundraiser

Our little buddy Hekili needs our help. He struggles every day with Autism/Hyperlexia,
a neaurological disorder. Medical insurace DOES NOT cover many of his needs.
Please join our family for a FUN DAY of GAMES, PRIZES, GOOD FOOD,
and all for a GREAT CAUSE every child deserves a chance.

12:00 noon.

LUNCH at 12:00
BINGO – 10 GAMES – Great prizes including VEGAS Trips and CASH!

LUNCH - $15.00

our friends are throwing a fundraiser for Hekili. we are so fortunate. people who live in hawaii and are interested let me know. tickets will be for sale in a couple days!


ABAI info for those of you interested.

This year’s conference, “Research to Practice: Making Real Changes in the Lives of People with Autism,” will host 15 distinguished ABA experts presenting resources and information that teachers, therapists and parents can use to improve the lives of those living with an autism diagnosis. Presentations will focus on a variety of topics relating to three common themes important to the future of ASD treatment methods:

· Treatment Developments – A summary of the latest progress in behavioral intervention methods and how applied behavior analysts are helping to integrate people those with ASD into the community.

· Success Stories – Using science to guide autism treatment taking a look at the most recent and reliable case studies to help determine the future of those living with ASD.

· In Their Own Words – Personal observations and recommendations from professionals and parent advocates who are most closely affected by ASD.

If you have any questions regarding ABA International or autism treatments you can visit their website at or contact Lauryn Coit and she will be able to connect you to the best resource.
Ph: 619-291-1234

His first ice skating experience

I took Hekili ice skating for the first time today. I was afraid he woldn't like it and he refused to put on his ice skates at first. I assured him that once they were on he could go on the ice. This got the skates on.

I was so happy. Step one accomplished. We got on the ice with the little hand rail holders and had a blast. He was smiling and laughing. It felt so good that he did something different and enjoyed it.

I think we will be doing this more often. Yay for new accomplishments.

Educate Toward Recovery: Turning the Tables on Autism


A Teaching Manual for the Verbal Behavior Approach to ABA: "Robert Schramm has written a book that is a must read for parents, therapists, and teachers of children with autism. This book is clear, heartfelt, informative, and provides behavioral terminology in a way that is applicable and easy to understand. He has beautifully explained Applied Behavior Analysis as an effective, scientifically validated treatment for autism. Robert’s book offers realistic hope in a world where it is needed most. We personally recommend this book to every parent or educator of a child in need." (Cherish Twigg, MS, BCBA and Holly Kibbe, MS, BCBA) "This is the best book on the Verbal Behavior approach to ABA that I have seen. If I was going to recommend only one book to either the parents of a child with autism or to anyone who is trying to help a child with autism, this is the book that I would recommend... I would give it five stars out of five." (Reg Reynolds, Ph.D., C.Psych)

I am adding this to my list of books to get. I believe in ABA and VB.Thought many of you might be interested in this.

find it here.