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