Today, we made slight changes to our cooperative group schedule, and instead of having two cooperative groups, we split the groups into three, two for parents, children with autism, and teachers together, and one for teachers only. In the group for teachers, we utilized role playing to help them to better understand what it is like for a child with autism to learn a new skill.
At 11:00 am, we had one of the most enthusiastic groups in our program, which included Reema, Ali, their families, and three teachers. This group has perfect attendance so far! The main objective of this session was helping parents and teachers understand how to use reinforcement when teaching children with autism new skills. While observing, parents and teachers continued using ABC data sheets to practice taking data to help identify functions of behaviors. Today they focused on looking at instances where reinforcement was the consequence. At first, Ali resisted the teachers when they approached him by whining and avoiding the tasks the encouraged him to do. Then, one of the teachers discovered that Ali’s greatest reinforcer is blowing bubbles and Ali began listening to the teacher and completing the tasks she requested. Following this discovery, Ali learned how to build block towers and how to do a new puzzle in no time. As for Reema, she was excited to play with every single toy in the room and her mom did a super job reinforcing her using verbal praise every time she accomplished her task well.
In the second time block, we had two cooperative sessions happening simultaneously. Melissa and Amal conducted the first session with Samer and his mother. We made the decision to run this session without the teachers to give Samer’s mother the chance to gain better understanding of her child’s behavior.. It was awesome to see Samer playing with the bubbles independently without being prompted by anyone in the room. Also, the mother’s improved understanding of her child’s behavior manifested when she started ignoring Samer’s challenging behaviors and reinforcing his good ones. Of course, like other children in the cooperative sessions and our entire team, Samer really loved our unicorn! Next time, we will use it as a huge reinforcer.
During the session with the teachers, we had a blast putting ourselves in the shoes of children with autism. Our cast of teachers performed their roles perfectly and, not surprisingly, enjoyed playing like kids (Who doesn’t?). This method stimulated teachers to be even be more curious and to ask more questions about different kinds of reinforcement and situations they might encounter in the future.
Voila! The second week of cooperative sessions was a great success! Now, we are all ready to run make-up sessions tomorrow morning, welcome board member Kitti to Mersin tomorrow night, and prepare for next week.