What Is Progressive Applied Behaviour Analysis and How can it help my child with Autism ?

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a scientifically validated teaching approach that gives us a better understanding of how children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) learn. ABA is an applied science devoted to developing procedures which will produce observable changes in behaviour. The process consists of studying behavior in order to put into place appropriate behavioral interventions. In order to change a behaviour, it is important to understand the purpose and function of the behaviour.

ABA was developed out of the doctoral research of two PHD students and behaviour scientist Ole’ Ivar Lovaas in the 1960’s. It has since gone through changes which improves the outcomes for students, so it is now referred to as Progressive ABA. Progressive ABA empowers teachers by allowing them to make instant changes in areas they feel the may speed up the learning process.

A Registered Behaviour Technician (RBT) is a person who uses ABA as a form of treatment or teaching approach.

Progressive ABA uses a great deal of positive reinforcement in order to increase desirable behaviors and improve the skills of the child, through the use of a Token Economy system. A token economy system is a method used to try and reinforce (increase) the frequency of a target behaviour e.g. eye contact. The tokens or symbols are provided to the student when the target behaviour is performed. The tokens can then be exchanged by the child for other types of reinforcement e.g. bubbles, treats.

ABA utilises Harvard Professor B. .F Skinner’s theory of “Operant Conditioning” which is a method of learning that employs rewards and sanctions for behavior. Through operant conditioning, an association or link is made between a behavior and a consequence (whether negative or positive) for that behaviour. Skinner believed that changes in behaviour are the result of an individual’s response to events (stimuli) that occur in the environment and reinforcement is the key element in change.

Our ABA curriculum focuses on skill development for present and future learning and the socialisation process, which is essential for effective communication in the widest sense. For this reason, it is critically important for parents and caregivers to follow our instructions at home when dealing with children to maximise the effectiveness of the program.

Our ABA Curriculum addresses seven critical domains of focus:

  • Language – Speech production, vocabulary, ideas, comprehension, describing, thinking
    process and communication
  • Behaviour- Self-control, frustration tolerance, patience, increasing participation, following instructions, rule-following,understanding expectations & increasing flexibility
  • Learning How To Learn- Understanding advanced reinforcement, learning from feedback, self-management, attention & concentration, imitation skills, observational learning & short term memory, problem-solving & reasoning
  • Self-Help- Self-care, hygiene and safety, community skills, following daily routines
  • Play- Independent, social & imaginative play
  • Social- Social awareness, relatedness, communication, interactions & learning
  • Group- Basic group readiness, following instructions, facilitating social interactions and routines

Full time students receive the ABA curriculum tailored to their needs and with the following subjects; English, Math, Science, Myanmar, Art, Music, PE & Swimming and Yoga. Places are limited so call today !

What Does Specific Learning Difficulties Mean and What Are its Symptoms ?

A specific learning difficulty (SpLd) is a difference or difficulty with some particular aspects of learning. The most common SpLd’s are Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Attention Deficit Disorder/ Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder, Dyscalculia and Dysgraphia..

Specific Learning Difficulties are not a disease or illness which can be cured, but a genetic condition. It is a life long condition which may impact on the ability of an individual to learn. They affect a learners ability to spell, listen, write, spatial awareness & time, memory and motor control.

The Greek prefix,”Dys” means difficulty and “lexia” is a Latin word meaning reading, so Dyslexia is a difficulty with reading, Dyspraxia is a difficulty with planning and motor tasks, such as handwriting, copying,coordination, language problems, and sometimes a difficulty with thought and perception. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder means a learner may have difficulty with attention, concentration and controlling. Dysgraphia affects the ability of a learner to write coherently, who may also suffer with a painful pencil grip, difficulty with line spacing, margins, letter, word spacing and spelling.

Specific Learning difficulties are different from physical disabilities or disorders because they are hidden from sight and what we see are the outward signs or behaviour which reflects how the individual responds to an inability to learn using traditional or rote learning.

What makes specific learning difficulties so hard  to understand, is the fact that these learners  may be articulate, well spoken, knowledgeable, intelligent and are creative, excellent problem solvers and are capable of seeing the bigger picture.

With the appropriate teaching approaches, these individuals can learn and excel, but it is very important to identify these learners early and intervene with appropriate teaching methods. PECM is strategically positioned to dynamically serve these learners in overcoming specific learning difficulties.

What is Visual Dyslexia ?

The term Visual Dyslexia, has long been the subject of controversy. The American Academy of Pediatrics state that most experts believe that dyslexia is a language based difficulty. The symptoms of visual problems often mimic some of those found within dyslexia, however visual problems are not the cause of dyslexia. This is why we refer to visual dyslexia more accurately as Visual Processing Difficulties.

Visual Processing Difficulties refers to a reduced ability to make sense of information taken in through the eyes. This is very different from problems involving sight or sharpness of vision.

The most common types of Visual Processing Difficulties are Meares- Irlen, Wandering Eye, Lazy Eye and Convergence Insufficiency. Meares-Irlen is a photosensitive condition that affects the visual cortex and hinders reading. It is scientifically known as ‘Visual Stress’ or ‘Pattern Glare’, and Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome. Wandering Eye, also known as Strabimus, is a condition is which the eye does not properly align with each other when looking at an object. Learners may have difficulties with depth perception and or double vision. Lazy eye is a disorder in which an eye fails to achieve normal clarity of vision, even with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. If left untreated, blindness can occur. Convergence Insufficiency is a condition in which your eyes are unable to work together when looking at nearby objects. This condition causes one eye to turn outward instead of inward with the other eye creating double or blurred vision.

At PECM, we are incredibly fortunate to have a Visual Processing Clinic, where we can ascertain the difference between visual processing and perceptual disorders and/or dyslexia. Our clinician is trained in the use of the Lawson Anti Suppression Device, used in the treatment of visual disorders and also bring over forty years of experience as an early years teacher.

What is Dyscalculia? (Difficulties with Maths)

Dyscalculia is a condition that makes it hard to do math and tasks that involve math. It’s not as well known or as understood as dyslexia. But some experts believe it’s just as common. That means an estimated 5 to 10 percent of people might have Dyscalculia.

Symptoms include difficulties with: Grasping the meaning quantities or concepts like biggest versus smallest; Understanding that the numeral 5 is the same as the word five, and that these both mean five items; Remembering math facts in school, like times tables; Counting money or making change; Estimating time,  Judging speed or distance; Understanding the logic behind math and Holding numbers in their head while solving problems.

At PECM, we employ the methods researched by Professor Steven Chinn, an expert on Dyscalculia. Steve has set up two schools for Dyslexic students, has authored several books including “The Test of Cognitive Style in Mathematics, The Trouble with Maths, Routledge International Handbook on Mathematical Learning Difficulties and Dyscalculia and More Trouble with Maths. He has lectured on maths learning difficulties and presented teacher training in over thirty countries.

A History of Learning Difficulties and ADHD

At a Glance

The first reference to ADHD in a medical journal may have been in 1902.

The term “dyslexia” wasn’t commonly used in the U.S. until the 1930s.

Awareness and research of learning disabilities and ADHD took off in the 21st century.

Was ADHD always called “ADHD”? How have special education law and special education research advanced over the years? Explore the history of learning disabilities and ADHD with this time-line. And find out when some famous people went public and started speaking out.

1800s to mid-1900s

Trends: Learning disabilities and ADHD aren’t on the public radar. But they are discussed by scientists and doctors.

1877 German neurologist Adolf Kussmaul coins the term “word blindness.” He defines it as “a complete text blindness … although the power of sight, the intellect, and the powers of speech are intact.”

1887 German physician Rudolf Berlin uses the term “dyslexia” to help define reading challenges.

1902 The British medical journal Lancet publishes the poem “The Story of Fidgety Philip.” It may be the first reference to ADHD in a medical journal. Philip “… won’t sit still, He wriggles, And giggles, And then, I declare, Swings backwards and forwards, And tilts up his chair.”

1905 W.E. Bruner publishes the first report of childhood reading difficulties in the U.S. The term “dyslexia” wasn’t commonly used in the U.S. until the 1930s.

1955 The FDA approves the drug Ritalin for treatment of depression and fatigue, but not for ADHD. (ADHD won’t be recognized by the medical community for another 13 years.)

1960s and 1970s

Trends: Doctors and educators in the U.S. recognize learning disabilities and what will later be called ADHD. Public schools and the federal government start to act. But most kids with these challenges are taught in separate classrooms, away from their peers. Inclusion classrooms are not yet common.

1961 Ritalin is first used to treat “hyperkinetic” symptoms in kids.

1963 In Chicago, psychologist Samuel A. Kirk becomes the first to use the term “learning disability” at an education conference.

1964 Association for Children with Learning Disabilities (ACLD) is created. Now known as the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA), it has chapters in every state.

1968 What is now called ADHD first appears in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the manual used to diagnose conditions. It’s called “hyperkinetic impulse disorder.”

1969 Congress passes the first federal law that requires support services for kids with learning disabilities.

1973 Congress passes Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It bans discrimination against people with disabilities in programs that receive federal funding. This includes public schools.

1975 Congress passes the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA). Public schools are required to provide “free, appropriate public education” for all students.

1977 Pete and Carrie Rozelle found the National Center for Learning Disabilities. (It was known then as the Foundation for Children with Learning Disabilities.) As parents of a child with learning disabilities, the Rozelles strive to help other families.

1980s and 1990s

Trends: The education and medical communities strive to understand learning disabilities and ADHD—and how to help people who have them. ADHD becomes more widely known. There’s controversy over whether kids are being over-diagnosed.

1980 “Hyperkinetic impulse disorder” is renamed attention-deficit disorder (ADD). ADD was defined as a problem of inattention that could also come with hyperactivity.

1985 Singer and actress Cher talks about having dyslexia and what she calls “math dyslexia.” A decade later, she writes in her autobiography about having dyscalculia.

The first state dyslexia law is passed in Texas. Local school districts must screen students for dyslexia and put instructional interventions in place for kids who show signs of dyslexia. Over the next two decades, dozens of other states also pass dyslexia laws.

1987 ADD is renamed attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in a revision to the DSM.

1990 Congress passes the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It bans discrimination against people with disabilities in public spaces and the workplace.

EAHCA is changed and renamed as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In the new version, “disability” replaces “handicap.”

1996 The National Institute of Mental Health team identifies regions of the brain that work differently in people who have dyslexia. LD Online launches as the first internet resource for parents and teachers.

1997 Big changes to IDEA: Some students with ADHD can now qualify for special education under the “Other Health Impairment” category. General education teachers become part of the special education process. Students get more access to regular education and take statewide tests.

2000 to Present Day

Trends: Awareness and research of learning disabilities and ADHD issues take off. Federal law more clearly defines special education services and gives parents more rights. Researchers start using brain imaging to study these challenges.

2001 The Elementary and Secondary Education Act is renamed No Child Left Behind Act. It holds states and schools more accountable for student progress.

2002 Researchers at Yale University use fMRI technology to show that the brains of kids with dyslexia work differently than those of their peers when reading.

2003 Actor Henry (“The Fonz”) Winkler introduces the book character Hank Zipzer, a mischievous hero with dyslexia. Winkler, who has dyslexia, wanted to give kids a hero with whom they could identify.

2004 IDEA is updated. It gives parents more rights and better defines schools’ responsibilities. Response to intervention (RTI) is used to try to help struggling students.

2005 Yale University team identifies a gene associated with dyslexia.

2007 The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education releases a “Dear Colleague” letter. It says that denying kids with disabilities access to accelerated academic programs is a civil rights violation.

Researchers at University College London use brain imaging to identify the area of the brain that works differently in people with dyscalculia.

2010 A GfK Roper survey finds that 80 percent of Americans agree that “children with learning disabilities are just as smart as you and me.”

Researchers at the M.I.N.D. Institute identify differences in electrical patterns in the brains of kids with ADHD. This shows a biological reason for trouble with attention.

2013 DSM-5 broadens its definition of the term “specific learning disorder.”

The U.S. Department of Labor passes federal regulations requiring contractors and subcontractors to set a goal that 7 percent of their workforce be people with disabilities.

2014 Understood.org launches. The initiative provides families of kids who learn and think differently with hands-on, personalized, and actionable information to understand and meet their needs. It later expands to serve educators, employers, and young adults.

2015 No Child Left Behind is repealed. In its place, Congress enacts the Every Student Succeeds Act. The new law gives each state the power to set its own goals for student achievement within a flexible federal framework.

2017 The U.S. Supreme Court decides the landmark case Endrew F. The Court says schools must provide special education services “reasonably calculated” to help kids make progress in school.

Key Takeaways

People have been studying learning disabilities and ADHD for more than 100 years.

Over time, more and more people have become aware of these differences.

Research today may help us learn more in the future about how to help people with learning disabilities and ADHD thrive.

What is Dyslexia & SpLd ?

“Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin, meaning a disorder of the nervous system caused by genetic, metabolic, or other biological factors. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.” International Dyslexia Association, Nov. 12, 2002.