ABAEF Early Start Intervention: Distance Learning Services for School District Clients
As a Non-Public Agency (NPA) committed to continuing serving our students at this challenging time, ABA Education Foundation (ABAEF) has developed a distance learning protocol to provide services to individuals currently being treated, as a response to the current global health emergency of COVID-19. The overall mission of this distance learning model is to provide guidance and support to families with students with special education and behavior needs and to maintain already acquired skills. Programs will be designed with flexibility and each student’s unique needs will be considered. Both parent coaching and direct services models can be provided depending on the student and family needs.
By utilizing electronic methods, programs can be maintained, developed, modified, and monitored remotely for both skill acquisition as well as behavior reduction goals. ABAEF currently utilizes electronic programming and data collection for ABA intervention that are capable of targeting programming according to Individualized Education Program (IEP), as well as to meet the current needs of each family given the unique circumstances of this global health emergency.
By providing distance learning services, scheduling sessions can be flexible to times and days that are both convenient for families as well as times of days that are most ideal for targeting various skills (e.g., targeting use of utensils at mealtimes, toilet training). These remote sessions can be provided on a routine schedule or last minute when families have an emergency need, such as real time consultation for video recorded behavior challenges.
Distance learning services from ABAEF also include support with creating schedules or structured routines, communication systems, independent work systems, visual supports, and any other necessary materials the family might need. ABAEF has developed systems for delivering these materials to student homes to reduce any burden on families as they navigate these unique circumstances. Whenever possible, recommended materials and activities will be those readily available for families in their own homes.
In order to provide continuity for families and minimize regression in both skill acquisition as well as with challenging behavior, ABAEF proposes the following guidelines for remote sessions.
- Mode of Communication: Distance learning sessions will be conducted via remote electronic communications (Zoom). Capable electronics include a smart phone, tablet, or computer. Each ABAEF team member will continue to utilize their individually assigned tablets. However, ABAEF will be flexible with the family’s use of electronic communication that is most convenient and accessible to them.
- Staff: Distance learning teams may consist of one to two Behavior Instructors as well as a Program Supervisor, depending on the student’s IEP and individual needs.
- Service Description (General): Distance learning sessions will continue to target each student’s instructional program based on the principles and procedures of applied behavior analysis (ABA). Such procedures may continue to include prompting, shaping, chaining, natural environment training (NET), discrete trial teaching (DTT), pivotal response treatment (PRT), reinforcement schedules, as well as positive behavior supports designed to reduce challenging behavior. Emphasis will be on maintenance of skills and the continued development of the following skills: speech and language, general knowledge and comprehension, self-help, gross and fine motor skills, social/emotional development, play and social skills, and maladaptive behavior reduction. These skill areas will be targeted based on each student’s IEP.
- Service Description
- Caregiver Coaching: Some parents may choose a parent coaching model for support during this time to help them navigate various family activities (e.g., meals, specific play activities, independent work systems, behavior management, how to create routines, etc.). The ABAEF team can also provide tutorials for social stories, visual schedules, token economies, etc.). ABAEF team members can also design programs to meet needs of families during this unique period (e.g., gross motor activities specifically for indoors or small outdoor spaces).
- Direct Intervention with Students: ABAEF staff can provide support to students and caregivers remotely as they complete assignments and tasks assigned to them by their classroom teachers.
- Data Collection: ABAEF is committed to helping the school districts collect data and monitor IEP goals.
- Outcomes: Data analysis will be conducted remotely on a daily or weekly basis depending on the unique needs of each client. ABAEF staff will be able to monitor student performance remotely in collaboration with the student’s teacher. Data analysis will include reviewing various skill acquisition programs, such as moving through IEP benchmarks, individualizing teaching strategies, developing new skill areas for focus as clients progress through their overall objectives, and troubleshooting any lack of progress. In addition, data collection of behavior measures will be analyzed for behavior reduction goals, including the analysis of effectiveness of behavior intervention plans. All of this will be done in collaboration with the student’s case manager and/or classroom teacher.
Distance learning Session: ABAEF staff will contact the family and arrange for an agreed upon time for the remote session as well as what electronic form of the remote session is preferred by the family. Classroom teachers would be invited to participate in sessions to increase collaboration.
General Session Set Up (2 Hour Session):
Following is an example of a sample distance learning session. Following is for example purposes only. Sessions will be individualized based on student independence, goals, and abilities.
9-9:05AM: ABAEF staff (instructor or supervisor based on student’s IEP and individual needs) will review the intervention plan for that current session while also providing the caregiver an opportunity to express any concerns or needs. Depending on these discussions, objectives will be established for focus during current distance learning session.
9:05-9:10AM: ABAEF staff will coach caregivers on what teaching strategies will be utilized to target session objectives including a review of instructions, criteria for a correct response, any prompt and prompt fading procedures, as well as consequence procedures. Caregivers will be prompted to gather any required materials already provided for the intervention session, including teaching materials, reinforcers, visual supports, and any recommended changes to the environmental setup for session.
9:10-9:20AM: Instructors will demonstrate implementation of the teaching techniques, provide caregivers a chance to practice, and provide feedback to the caregiver. This includes providing an opportunity for the caregiver to ask any clarifying questions. Repeat as needed until caregiver feels ready for direct implementation with their student.
9:20-10:40AM: Caregiver will provide direct implementation of the specified programming areas with their student. During this time, caregivers will be provided feedback both in-real time during implementation as well as following their direct demonstration of teaching, depending on the specific needs of the caregiver and student.
10:40-10:50AM: Debrief with caregiver about current session and establish skill areas for caregivers to continue to focus on outside of intervention sessions.
10:50-11:00AM: Discuss possible objectives for next intervention session.
Example Session Breakdown:
Again, the follow session detail is for example purposes only. Sessions will be individualized based on student independence, goals, and abilities.
9-9:05AM: Goal objectives detailed above will be discussed in addition to any need’s caregivers express the day of session.
9:05-9:15AM: Instructor will demonstrate teaching techniques and caregiver will be coached on teaching procedure for each objective (Note: this can also be repeated before direct implementation as needed).
9:15-9:25AM: Caregiver will practice giving instructions, what prompts to be used, and consequences depending on student’s response. For example, if the student is working on an assigned worksheet, the caregiver will practice giving the instruction, “Do worksheet,” while presenting the assignment. They will detail what prompt will be used when given different possible responses by their student. The instructor will provide feedback during this exercise before confirming with caregiver they are ready for direct implementation.
9:25-9:45AM: Direct Implementation of Feeding/Eating (Spoon) with yogurt for breakfast (or other foods depending on student ability and needs).
9:45-10:05AM: Direct Implementation of independent activities, alternating between these programs to maintain attention.
10:05-10:20AM: Direct Implementation of Play Skills with thematic play materials (imitation, engagement play related comments, based on student ability and needs).
10:20-10:35AM: Direct Implementation of Gross Motor Imitation and Imitation with objects using direct as well as natural play skills in between trials.
10:35-10:40AM: Debrief with caregiver about what teaching methods they felt were effective and ineffective as well as which areas caregivers feel confident in or need more practice.
10:40-10:50AM: Discuss ways to generalize the six objectives that were targeted today but in more naturally occurring situations outside of intervention sessions (e.g., individual initiates with an activity, target independent task completion).
10:50-11:00AM: Discuss possible objectives for next intervention depending on both the skills of the student as well as the implementation skills of the caregiver.
Session lengths can vary based on the needs of the student and family. Breaks can be incorporated as needed.
In addition to client data taken, the ABAEF team will complete a Distance learning Session Log for each session to document services provided.
The ABAEF team can offer suggestions for family/sibling activities and offer resources, materials, and/or lead such activities remotely.