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I have noticed recently that people have been visiting my website, autismgames, from a link on your site.  So, of course I went to check out your site!  I particularly enjoyed going to your library page, because, even though you and I have not read all the same books, I know I would enjoy reading all the books on this page -- and have added some to my immediate reading list.  The autism book on my bedside table right now, in case you are interested, is The Miller Method by Arnold Miller.  I read his previous book but it was a very tough read and this one is a little better presentation of his interesting ideas.

 

You are, I think, a kindred soul.  It would be fun to sit and have lunch and share stories.  I have never worked with the age group that you teach but just visiting your site brought into focus the future of many of the children that I see.  I hope they get a great teacher like you.  Thank-you for linking to my site. Tahirih Bushey (Duluth, MN)

 

I just saw the link to your website sent by Mike Glavic over the ABAplusRDI yahoogroup.  I am blown away by the quality and quantity of valuable information you have available.  Congratulations on putting together such a valuable resource center.  I plan to share it with others in the future if you do not mind.

Being a member of the yahoogroups, I imagine you have heard about the book Educate Toward Recovery: Turning the Tables on Autism.  The book is most similar to Mary's VB Approach introduction but have been told much more in depth (300 pages). I imagine it would be right down your alley.  Anyway, I am wondering if you have heard anything about my book or have had the chance to read it.  Please visit my site when you have time at www.lulu.com/knospe-aba and let me know if you have any thoughts. 

Thanks and keep up the wonderful work you are doing.  Robert Schramm, MA, BCBA (Germany) www.knospe-aba.com 

I was so pleased to receive your email last week.  I make sure to read all your comments on VB Forum and always find them helpful and informative.  I have been part of a group of consultants and educators who are being supervised by Dr. Suzanne Jacobsen of ABA Learning Centre in Vancouver for our BCBA certification.  Your book was one of our recommended readings and others who had already bought it in our group referred to it quite often. (In fact, Dr. Jacobsen recommended it today to another parent looking for a better understanding of verbal behaviour.)

 

Two years ago already I shared your one of your emails from August 2005 "Control" with the Special Education Assistants who work with our students. You briefly outlined your "seven steps" and it helped them to understand what we are working towards.  Today I attended a workshop where Dr. Partington spoke about creating Language-Based ABA classrooms in the public school system.  Our school district has decided that at the elementary level inclusion is the only model to follow.  For some children it has meant access to a reasonable education, for others it has meant much of their time spent out of the classroom alone with a teacher assistant with little or no gain in language or skills.

 

Parents who have had experience with verbal behaviour programs want access to the same education at school with trained assistants who are accountable and supervised.  A group of parents have started an independent school located in Vancouver based on verbal behaviour principles, because they feel their children are entitled to a better education.  They have put in two years of work to get it up and running.  There are 20 students enrolled from Grade 1 to 9.

I have taken a year's leave of absence to teach with them.  I am excited to be able to further my teaching and behaviour analytical skills.  We are continuing to work hard to convince our school district that our students' deserve the same excellent education in their home community.

 

Thank you again for your email and all your great advice and insight on VB forum. - Jan

Thank you so much for allowing us the opportunity to see your program.  It was great!  Your passion for teaching & for your kids is very evident.  They are lucky to have you.   I was so impressed with their skills, their independence & their behaviour!  We also noticed how professional all your staff were.  Have a great summer.  - P.S. (Coquitlam Autism Team)
 

I so appreciated the opportunity to visit your program.  It is truly impressive!  I could not believe how focused & on-task all of the students were and how well-trained of an SEA group you had.  Thank you so much for welcoming us into your classroom. - A.Y. SD43
 

Wow!  I love what you are doing at Carson! I've had friends tell me I should work there and I've heard good things about your program but didn't know you had a VB program. What you have written makes me want to come work with you!

 

I was at [a NV District elementary school] last year and ran a VB program. I have trained in Lovaas ABA but found some of it not to my liking. I prefer VB but chose not to stick with it for various reasons. I have "issues" with students being in their own little rooms for hours a day running programs! I know that VB works, I've seen it work, but I think there needs to be a balance between running programs alone in a room and teaching a child social skills as well as how to "be" in a social/classroom setting.

 

I love how you balance that! I've worked with great teachers but always seem to be doing most of the planning..through no fault of the teachers with all they have to do already! I think its great that you are in charge and lead the SEAs, you are the teacher after all and know more than us about curriculum etc.

 

I have thrown little bits of VB into what I do with kids who aren't on the autism spectrum and it seems to work with everyone. I guess the idea of breaking down a task, starting with teaching manding for reinforcements and pairing/reinforcement shouldn't be rocket science!

 

Keep up the good work! You've inspired me. Maybe one day I'll see if I can work within your program.... I'd love to find a way to visit at some point!   SEA (North Vancouver, BC)

Thank you for your kind words and for understanding what we are trying to do.  I agree with you 100% that making gains in knowledge and language is not worth it if the child doesn't learn how to be around others.  It makes our job doubly hard though.

 

It is really amazing how my students can learn despite the fact they are older.  What I really would like is for the District to start the same kind of program for young kids - especially those who are not in a classroom at all because of behaviour (and all my students came to me in that category - middle years is a killer!).  We do not tie students to SEAs, although some will have a Lead SEA who spends the most time with them.  Thus there could be an opportunity to join us.  I would love to have someone who has taken the training and has experience.  Right now Richard Stock is working with us on Fridays and it is really useful for everyone.

 

Feel free to arrange to come be, even on short notice if [your student] is sick.  The best block is Block 3 - that is when we do most of our IT, although it does happen at other times as well.  Again, I really appreciate getting some feedback.  We work too much in isolation and don't always know what the rest of our colleagues are doing! - Jan

  • We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the great opportunity to observe your classrooms and the classes. All I can say is that, you and your team have put in a lot of effort and dedication to have the program this organized in terms of material preparation and presentation, teaching, programs, schedules, the integration and the data collection. And most of all, you have the passion and vision to know how to run it and is always willing to try things that work. - E.G. (Richmond, BC) 

Thanks for your kind words.  Most important is that I see the progress that our kids make.  That is worth any cost in materials, preparation and time.


Make sure you let me know if I can help in any way to encourage your School District to begin this kind of program at the elementary or secondary level for parents who think it would be beneficial for their children. - Jan

  • I think that you must be doing a fantastic job! You have so many children to service and it sounds like they are all getting what they need.  I have a similar situation in my classroom but mine is self-contained within a public school setting.  I have students who arrive as old as age 18 with little or no skills.  I would like to individualize their academics more using the ABA model but I am discouraged because my school district struggles with trying to keep them on "grade Level" and having them meet state and national requirements for academic standardized testing.  I only have 7 students with myself and 2 paraprofessionals.  I struggle to make sure that they are all meeting their IEP goals.  I would love to know how you are doing it.  - S.W.

Thanks so much for writing.  One of the areas that I am glad that Canada is behind in, is the idea that our students must be doing grade level work.  I have seen some of the assessments that are done and it is obvious that the students are not!

 

At the last school I was at we had 10 students with hugely varying abilities and only myself and one teaching assistant.  I had students doing independent work following the TEACCH method (using baskets and tokens) so that we could spend one on one time with another student.  I still use the same approach now to foster independence skills in all the students.

 

I also try to choose an area of study - I'm working on money right now, and write it at 3 levels - emerging, developing and mastery.  It is easy to have each student be working on individualized goals but all following the same theme.  it means you can take one student and use discrete trial to teach the names of the coins while another student is working independently on adding money.  I got the idea from a great site http://www.integratingstandards.org.   I think that the most exciting part of my day is when a student does something they just couldn't do before!

 

I certainly don't mind sharing whatever resources might help. - Jan

  • I work in Ottawa and am very interested in the concept of using ABA in the classrooms. It is a very new concept to our school boards and could potentially make a huge difference if teachers could hear your approach.  Perhaps you and I could plan a workshop here in Ottawa? We currently have funding for these type of workshop and would love to have you think about that idea. Families and teachers prefer weekends. - N.H. (ON)

Thanks so much for your support and vote of confidence.  I have just finished reading the Ontario Autism Report released last month and I think that it provides a good direction for students with autism in public education.

 

Although I have been educating myself through university and community courses, I think that there are certainly more qualified people to teach ABA principles. I have taken three of the Verbal Behaviour workshops presented by Dr. Vince Carbone and associates and found them to be very useful.  I have also taken workshops presented by Dr. Suzanne Jacobsen, a local Behaviour Consultant who runs ABA Learning Centre in Richmond, BC.

 

I do agree that there is a big difference between learning about ABA and being able to set up and run a classroom based on those principles.  My classroom would probably fit the description of a "Transition Classroom" in Ontario.  The aim is to provide an intensive program along with group instruction in order to have students learn the behaviours and skills necessary to be successful in an integrated setting.  There are many tools and strategies available to make this possible. If that is what you think that parents and teachers are interested in learning about perhaps we could put something together.  I would love to see more kids have access to these programs in our schools. Let me know what you are thinking.

 

As well, I'd like to hear more about your experiences and programs in Ontario.  We really keep reinventing everything in each part of the country rather than sharing our resources and knowledge! - Jan

  • Could I post your information and email on autism support Ottawa? I see some Ontario support already! - R.&D. (ON)  Mar 13, 2007

That would be fine.  I think that often, the people in charge do not have a picture of what a successful model looks like.  At the elementary level it would be one teacher - 8 to 10 students - 4 to 5 SEAs and behaviour consultant support within an elementary school.  - Jan

  • Can you provide me with some additional information on the high school ABA program? I'm interested in knowing whether there is a waitlist and also what are the qualifications of the staff involved (eg: is there a BCBA Board Certified Behaviour Analyst and/or BCABA Board Certified Associate Behaviour Analyst as a trainer and superviser, etc?).   Keep up the good work.  I'm a mother of a 10 year old boy with autism and we live in Ontario.  Over here, we just keeping going backwards in time... - T.S. (ON)  Mar 12, 2007

Our program serves students living in the catchment area for our high school as well as a number who live in North Vancouver but have transferred high schools to attend.

 

We have two teachers this year - both of us have special ed experience.  I have a diploma in Special Ed from UBC and I am currently completing my Masters with a concentration in autism and developmental disabilities.  At the same time I am completing the coursework and supervision required before writing the BCBA exam. 

 

I have one student who has a behaviour consultant as part of his team.  We meet monthly.  I also have twice monthly supervision meetings with a qualified BCBA.  What is exciting is that for the rest of the school year we will have the services of a BCBA once a week to train staff, look at programs etc.  We are paying for this with a donation from a thankful parent.  - Jan

  • I read that you track the kids goals based on the ABLLS. I am trying to improve how we track data in the program I work with. It is a preschool program, ages 2-6, primary diagnosis of autism. There are 6 children in the classroom with 3 adults (1 teacher and 2 assistants). I am a BCABA and I go between the 2 classrooms we have helping train and assist with particular behaviors, assessment, and implementation. My question is, how do you track the ABLLS and other data without driving staff crazy? Thank you for your feedback, your website is great and it sounds like you are doing a great job! Thanks again! -- S.B. Carriage House Preschool, Endeavor Program (KY)

Data collection is an ongoing question.  We collect probe data in IT sessions.  The cold probes are to be built into the first presentation of the day.  Can they complete the task without prompting? YES or NO. If the answer is no you turn the probe into a teaching session and carry on.  If yes - you put a check on the data sheet and still carry on.  That way the momentum of the session is not slowed down.

 

I also have the SEAs mark down the least level of prompt needed to complete the task at the end of the session.  That is where they start the next day. They are not to cold probe until the student is answering independently in the teaching session.  I have not yet met a student who learned overnight!

 

SEAs let me know when they have a problem, or they have mastered a section of the ABLLS.  Once a target is mastered they move to the next one without consulting me.  I come in at least once a day and we try to have a conference once a week.  It is the most difficult part of this process but without data collection kids would stagnate.  Even now we do not make changes to our presentation quickly enough.  SEAs have clipboards with Mand sheets to carry with them when needed but most of our data in the classroom is anecdotal.  -- Jan

  • Jan, How do you feel about cloning? Cause we need you here in Ontario! Your website is so inspirational it brought tears to my eyes. How very lucky those kids are to have you! Here in Ontario we are fighting to get ABA into our school system and you make it seen so natural. Currently we are forced to keep our kids home to get ABA - even though in some cases the government pays for it. It is the most backward system you could ever imagine. Many families have filed human rights complaints and lawsuits against the ministries and school boards to try and get exactly what your providing.  Keep up the great work. You are amazing!!  D.S. (ON)