Laura Peterhoff is a BCBA and LBA in Rockland County, NY. Currently she works “very part-time” with teen and preteen clients, plus she consults at a school (pre-K through 6th grade) specializing in students with an autism spectrum diagnosis.
Like many #BCBAmoms, she uses ABA with her own children (ages 3.5 years and 7 months) as well as her clients. In this blog, check out her insights on five powerful Precision Teaching techniques she applied as a Chartlytics Ambassador.
Use free operant methods that truly free up responses
Use short timed trials (starting at 5-15 seconds) to build fluency
Adjust aims (goals) for age/developmental level
Slice back if progress to the aim is slow
Measure variability and rate on the Standard Celeration Chart (SCC)
Letter Sounds with a Toddler
During and after the 6-8 week Ambassador program, “I did a lot of work with my daughter (3.5 year old) on sound fluency, number identification, etc.,” said Laura. For sound fluency, Laura used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. But the daughter “was having a hard time retaining the sounds with the lessons.”
In the chart below, you can see Arya began with four letter sounds (a, e, s, m), but she had some errors (displayed as x on the chart). Laura applied these techniques:
1. Free operant.Initially, Laura displayed letter sounds on flash cards, which she laid on a table and pointed at in random order. But then she changed to letters on a paper sheet, which freed up the learner to point/respond at her own rate (see red condition line above, “change to paper”).
2. Short timed trials. At first, Arya was asked to perform for 30 seconds at a time… and she got tired. Laura dropped to 15 seconds, which enabled the 3-year-old to better perform for the whole duration. Arya’s errors decreased.
3. Adjust aims. After about 2 weeks, Arya’s was performing near the frequency aim (yellow band). Though Ayra never achieved the full research-based performance standard (see The Precision Teaching Book), the aim was adjusted to 60-100 in consideration of her age and oral motor development.
Number Identification with a Toddler
Laura also worked on number identification. The chart below has some similar red condition lines — change to paper (free operant) and shortened timing. However, you’ll also notice the telltale crossover in the first condition: the incorrect Xs are increasing, and the correct dots are decreasing. This “snowplow” learning picture may indicate problems with discrimination.
4. Slice Back. When Laura saw the “snowplow” on the chart, she knew to slice back — to go from practicing numbers 1-4 down to practicing only numbers 1-2. Afterward, Ayra accelerated toward the yellow aim band, and Laura could re-introduce more numbers.
Using the Standard Celeration Chart with Clients
While Laura has worked with individuals with intellectual disabilities and/or emotional/behavioral disorders for 17 years, she’s now “rethinking how I would traditionally define the goals and record data.” She’s beginning to use it for her clients.
5. Measuring variability and rate. With a client who has autism, Laura is measuring how much the learner walks more than an arm’s length away from the staff, or cleans up his room. While the percentage is fine, “I don’t think the rate is that great…. The walk can be variable, and the program we’re using doesn’t show the trend.”
With Chartlytics’ Standard Celeration Chart, "It’s neat to see how many responses per minute I get with cleaning up the room. And I just started a mand fluency program — for lack of spontaneity with manding.”
Altogether, Laura says,
I like how precise Chartlytics and the SCC is. I love how you can see variability in the data, how quickly or slowly progress is occurring, etc. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of the analysis.”
How to make decisions with "learning pictures" on the Standard Celeration Chart
We believe the "learner knows best," and it is our privileged responsibility to adapt educational materials to our learners' needs. We do so by precisely measuring behavior, judging the outcomes of the performance intervention on a standard chart, and make changes if the data tell us an adaptation is in order.