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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Behavior Change, The "Jacob" Way

Once in a while we come across a story that shows us how important visuals are to a child who is autistic and non-verbal. The story is about a boy named "Jacob" who is non-verbal and had just joined an elementary school classroom that focused on helping autistic children communicate. The challenge was that he could not stay in the classroom until his negative behavior was controlled. He had behavior issues at home and at school. The parents asked the teacher to help him. Pamela G. Downing, the author of the Communication for autism spectrum disorders story goes on to write:
While at home, "Janie" and the teacher sat with "Jacob" on the floor. The teacher showed "Jacob" three pictures: a happy face, a sad face and a face that was uncertain with the mouth forming an "O." Each of the pictures was used for behavior modification in the classroom: The happy face was to reinforce good behavior, which brought immediate rewards specific to "Jacob’s" own wants.
The story goes on to talk about how Jacob one day surprised everyone:
His mother, "Janie" was watching "Jacob" pick up each of the icons slowly. Then, he surprised his mother. The boy mimicked exactly what he saw in front of him. He copied the smile and the sad look and then made a big oval "O" with his mouth every time he looked at the yellow warning icon. The teacher explained to the mother that the children with autism are very visual. They do not understand what all our facial expressions mean and must be taught what they signify. Used correctly, they (images) can help a child be able to function in his daily life."
We thought that this story really provided a good example of how images can help children with special needs.

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The TapToTalk Team
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