Sunday, 22 December 2013

Practical Holiday Tips...

Now that the Christmas holidays are here, one great way that parents can encourage speech and language development during this period is to keep daily, meaningful, understandable language flowing. For example, your child's conversation topics should be filled with the Christmas and holiday vocabulary. You can work this plan together with your child's speech language pathologist. Also, ensure that you answer your child every time he/she speaks to you, and let him/her know that you value everything he/she has to say. Look at your child when you speak to him/her, even if the child is non-verbal.

If your child asks a continuous stream of questions, saying it back the to him/her may break the cycle, especially if the child already knows the answer. For example, Child: "Are we going to the mall from here?" Adult: "Yinka, are we going to the mall from here?" Child: "Yes!"

Please note that singing is also speech. Therefore, if your child learns songs easily, use that strength to enhance his/her language skills. Talk about new words in the song he/she may not understand; and make sure you distinguish nonsense words from real words.

Finally, take time to enjoy your times together and have lots of fun this holiday. Merry Christmas! 

Monday, 9 December 2013

C.A.D.E.T. Academy® 5-Hour Training Workshop/Seminar in Abuja - 7 Dec 13 (Topic: How to Teach Students with Autism Effectively - First Edition)

The Comprehensive Autism and related Disabilities Education and Training (C.A.D.E.T.) Academy organized a training workshop/seminar in Abuja, Nigeria, on 7th December 2013. The title of the workshop was: HOW TO TEACH STUDENTS WITH AUTISM EFFECTIVELY. The aim of the workshop was to educate and train the participants on research-based special education strategies for teaching students with autism and related disabilities in inclusive settings. A game and six case studies were used to clearly illustrate certain points to the participants thus keeping the 5-hour duration of the workshop interactive and lively until the end. There was also a lunch break during which the participants were served with sumptuous meals to keep them refreshed.

The workshop had a successful outcome. Here are the feed backs from some of the participants:

"The training met my expectation. This is the first time I am sitting for a training on Autism. You spoke with great expertise and passion. I think this training should be on going in all schools. Educators need to be constantly reminded to be creative with learning while not short changing any child for effective implementation of inclusion. Also, I have changed my perspective about autistic children. Thank you and keep it up!!!!" ~ Amara

"The C.A.D.E.T. Academy® workshop on how to teach kids with autism exceeded my expectations. It was so enlightening, so practical. The most exciting and interesting part for me are the case studies. Educators should invest in this." ~Blessing

"Wow! It was an impact full workshop/seminar. The lectures was delivered with passion, I enjoyed all the case studies, it gave me an opportunity to tap from people's wealth of experiences relating with Autistic child. The game time was amazing it shed more light to what goes on in the mind of an Autistic child. Wow! I will not forget to thank C.A.D.E.T Academy® for the super lunch and total package. Looking forward to your next training". ~Ibilola

"The training/seminar today was very educating as well as interesting. The "Mr and Mrs Right game was challenging, further making me feel what kids with Autism feel and appreciate them. It was very much interactive with regards to the case studies after each presentation. Mrs Lola Aneke was very practical with her explanations which made them clearer, for me it wasn't boring at all...I think this is one training that teachers should not shy away from...The seminar is one I look forward to again and again. I wonder why teachers and parents won't rush to attend this, because we deal with Autistic Children almost every day of our lives interacting with children, and we need to be aware of ways how we can teach and train this kids effectively and get POSITIVE results. I am most grateful to C.A.D.E.T. Academy® for the wonderful experience." ~Pamela

If you missed this workshop/seminar, don't worry, more of our seminars and workshops are scheduled for the months ahead - some will be free and some will be at a fee. You may visit the C.A.D.E.T. Academy website ( to get more details of our scheduled workshops and seminars. Photo highlights are below, after the cut.

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Saturday, 7 December 2013

My interview on NTA AM Express...

My interview session on Nigeria's national television, NTA AM EXPRESS on Saturday, 7 December 2013. Discussion topic was Lessons from Late Nelson Mandela's Views on Education for all, and Autism Awareness in Nigeria.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

International Day of Persons with Disabilities...

Facts about disability:

• At least 10% of the world's population, or 650 million people, live with a disability.

• 20% of the world's poor are disabled.

• The percentage of children with disabilities NOT ATTENDING SCHOOL is extremely variable and is between 65 - 85% in some AFRICAN countries.

• Mortality for children with disabilities may be as high as 80% in countries where under-five mortality as a whole has decreased to below 20%.

• In many low-income and middle -income countries, only 5-15% of disabled people who require assistive devices and technology have access to them. (Source:

....Today is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This includes persons with AUTISM and related disabilities. The observance of the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities ( This includes their education through the provision of SPECIAL EDUCATION. YOU and I can provide INCLUSIVE support for persons with disabilities in our communities by first UNDERSTANDING their challenges. EMPOWER yourself with the KNOWLEDGE you NEED to be a part of this move today.

Visit: to see the schedule of our training workshops/seminars.

How to Teach Students with Autism Effectively: A 4-Hour Hands-on Training Workshop/Seminar

Its a 4-Hour training workshop/seminar that will involve case-studies, hands-on sessions, etc., on the most up-to-date research-based strategies from the United States you don't want to miss if you are a parent of a child with autism, a teacher/school administrator or a therapist. 

Venue: SRC Meeting Room, 10b Owena Close, off Yedseram Street, Maitama, Abuja 

Registration required! Visit: for details

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Facts are Easier to Handle with Proper Understanding...

This is a story I received on one of the newsletters I subscribed to on It was written by Karen Simmons, Founder & CEO of I found it interesting that a lot parents I interact with in Nigeria face a similar situation, so I decided to share it here with the kind permission of

"It's funny how people in the midst of denial behave.

When faced with a fact we just don't want to see, or bluntly refuse to admit, many of us immediately try to dismiss that fact point blank.

You know what they say, "Pride comes before the fall..."

You should have seen me, a loving Mother stubbornly refusing to budge from my obviously errant opinion about my child. Excuses flowed like a river and I was not a happy camper.

My sister in-law was clearly correct, yet I couldn't see the forest for the trees.

After all, it seemed as if she was verbally "attacking" my son by suggesting he be checked for autism.

Of all the nerve!

What right does she have to spout such a thing?!? She wasn't a doctor!

I didn't know about Jonathan's autism until my sister in law, Anna, told me she'd heard a radio talk show discussing autism. In the same breath, she also said, ""based on some of the warning signs, I think Jonathan might be autistic. You should have him checked out, Karen.""

My immediate response was ""no way"", there is nothing wrong with my son.

I then sarcastically said, ""why don't you have Julia checked out, she acts different too"". Julia is her daughter who happens to be the same age as Jonny, which made it easy for us to compare.

Of course no one wants to hear anything negative about their child but I will swallow my pride and say out loud to the world...I'm certainly glad that I listened.

That entire embarrassing episode really threw me for a loop. I got schooled in the five steps of grief:

- Denial
- Anger
- Bargaining
- Sadness
- Acceptance.

Although these steps are an entire conversation in themselves, I must say that my denial was very tough to get through. It took my husband another ten years or so to finally come around.

Difficult as the pain was to navigate through, it had to get done. Jonathan needed all the love and attention we could muster...especially in the early days of the diagnosis.

Looking back, the initial problem was not with Jonathan, it was with me. I took a long hard look in the mirror and made changes.

Autism is so easy to see past, especially when a child is young.

At 15 or 16, it's too old to be exhibiting behaviors like flapping their hands in the air or rocking back and forth. By letting go of my pride early on, we provided for and received much assistance for Jonathan.

I'm thankful for my Sister's sharp attention and love. I've accepted Jonathan for who he is and what must be.

Have you caught yourself denying facts?

What was the turning point of truth for you?

In what way did those around you help or hinder the situation?"

Monday, 28 October 2013

C.A.D.E.T. Academy Dyslexia Awareness Seminar in Abuja

The Comprehensive Autism and related Disabilities Education and Training (C.A.D.E.T.) Academy organized a dyslexia awareness seminar in Abuja, Nigeria, on 26th October 2013. The title of the seminar was: Understanding Dyslexia. The seminar was one of the activities which the organization conducted to mark the month of October as the International Month of Dyslexia Awareness. The aim of this particular seminar was to educate, inspire and encourage families, teachers and caregivers who are dealing with young students living with dyslexia, towards embracing a proper understanding of the condition, and defeating stigma.

The seminar gave me the opportunity, as the special education Program Director of the C.A.D.E.T. Academy, to educate and enlighten the audience on some facts and misconceptions about dyslexia. We further discussed some of the signs and how to conduct comprehensive tests on individuals who are suspected to be dyslexic. I also gave some tips and strategies to the audience on how to accommodate dyslexic students in an inclusive classroom.

The seminar which was offered free of charge to the public was well attended by people from within and outside Abuja. The audience were full of appreciation and some even used the opportunity to share inspirational stories about their personal experiences with persons living with special needs.

If you missed this seminar, don't worry, more of our seminars and workshops are scheduled for the months ahead - some will be free and some will be at a fee. You may visit the C.A.D.E.T. Academy YouTube channel via the website ( to watch. Photo highlights are below, after the cut.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Lola Aneke is Presenting a Free Seminar in Abuja!

On October 26, 2013 Lola Aneke, MAT, SpEd, owner of Comprehensive Autism and related Disabilities Education and Training (C.A.D.E.T.) Academy, Abuja, will present a FREE, 2 hour seminar titled "Understanding Dyslexia."

The seminar is open to families and professionals (including school administrators, teachers, therapists and caregivers) in Abuja. The seminar will begin at 11:00 am at the Meeting Hall, 10b Owena Close, Off Yedseram Street, Maitama, Abuja.

Seminar Description:

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability, and contrary to some beliefs, it is not due to either lack of intelligence or a desire to learn. In  fact, with appropriate teaching methods, dyslexics can, and do learn successfully. Seminar attendees will learn about the signs of dyslexia and what they can do to help dyslexics.

FREE brunch will be served, but there are limited seats available. Therefore, please register for the seminar by sending the code: DYSLEXIA SEMINAR to: or text DYSLEXIA SEMINAR to 07057630825

About the Presenter:

Lola Aneke, MAT, SpEd started working with students with various special needs while studying in the United States in 2010. She has a K-12 practicing license from North Carolina in the United States. She also has a Master of Art in Teaching (MAT) General Education with a specialization in Special Education (SpEd) from Meredith College, North Carolina, and a Bachelor Degree in Sociology from University of Lagos.

Lola is versed in the Common Core and Essential United States Standards, and well experienced in hands-on, engaging, and creative learning activities that take into consideration the diverse needs and experiences of mainstream students as well as students with special needs. She has taught children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Cerebral Palsy, emotional disturbances, intellectual disabilities, and other disabilities, in the United States and in Nigeria. She is a member of North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), the United States Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), CEC Division of International Special Education and Services (DISES), and CEC Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities (DADD).

For sponsorship, please send email to: or call: +2347057630825.

The event is powered by:

Dyslexia Awareness Seminar

Did you know that October is observed as World Dyslexia Awareness Month? Did you also know that 1 in 10 people have symptoms of dyslexia, including slow or inaccurate reading, poor spelling, poor writing or mixing up similar words? Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability, and contrary to some beliefs, it is not due to either lack of intelligence or a desire to learn. In fact, with appropriate teaching methods, dyslexics can and do learn successfully....get informed by attending a FREE seminar on: 

"Understanding Dyslexia." 

Date: 26 October 2013; 

Time: 11am to 1pm; 

Venue: 10b Owena Close, Off Yedseram Str, Maitama, Abuja. 

To register, send code: "DYSLEXIA SEMINAR" to:‬

or text to: 07057630825

Visit for more details

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

8 things a Teacher Should Know about your Child with Special Needs

Written by Jennifer Hill, MA, CCC-SLP

For many of us the summer brings the opportunity to sleep in late, go to bed later, and generally have less structure around the home in regards to routines and meal times. With the start of school, there is an abrupt shift to following more rigid routines. It is often a difficult transition for parents, as well as children.

Teachers are going through these same transitions: getting to know the personalities and learning styles of sometimes more than 20 children can be quite a challenge.

If your child has special needs, it is especially important to share information with each member of the “team” – classroom teacher, school administration, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, etc.

Here are eight suggestions to help your child transition more easily into a successful and rewarding school year.

1. Consistent Schedule:
Try to be consistent with your bedtime and waking times, even on the weekends, until your child adjusts to their fall schedule.

2. Ask the teacher about classroom routines and expectations:
Practice these routines at home, such as going to the door and waiting, pushing in chairs, hanging up backpacks, sitting at the table for progressively longer periods of time, and so forth.  These routines can be rehearsed throughout the year until no longer necessary.

3. Share school routines with your child’s therapists:
Share classroom routines and academic expectations with your speech-language pathologist and/or occupational therapist. Perhaps these goals can be implemented into treatment sessions.

4. Give the teacher some tips on your child’s speech and language capabilities:
In the event that your teacher may have difficulty understanding your child’s speech and language, ask your speech-language pathologist to provide a list of frequently-used gestures, signs, word approximations and consonant replacements.

5. Let the teacher know what your child’s strengths and weaknesses are:
Sometimes, a lesson can be designed incorporating your child’s interests or strengths in order to help them to be successful.

6. Provide tips on improving your child’s attention and cooperation:
Ask your speech-language pathologist and/or occupational therapist for suggestions they have found useful to improve attention and cooperation. Some kids benefit from frequent verbal reinforcement, others may need tangible reinforcers, such as stickers and stamps to remain on-task. Many children with special needs do well with visual reinforcements, such as token systems or visual times in order to sustain attention and cooperation for tasks.

7. Provide information about negative behavior:
Make a list of things that may trigger negative behaviors from your child and share them with his or her classroom teacher and school administration. Likewise, share any calming strategies that work with your child. Perhaps, you can work with your occupational therapist to make a “tool chest” of calming or arousing toys that can be used in the classroom, as needed.

8. Be clear and honest about your child’s behavior:
Preparing your child’s teacher for potential challenges is very important for a positive child-teacher relationship. Allow your teacher some time to implement any strategies and allow your child the time to adjust to new expectations.

About the author:
Jennifer Hill, MA, CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist at the Kaufman Children’s Center for Speech, Language, Sensory-Motor & Social Connections, Inc.. She is trained in Links to Language, PECS, and The Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol

Monday, 16 September 2013

How to Serve Families with Disability - by John Knight

I was enjoying some friendly conversation with old friends after church when my teenaged daughter whispered in my ear, “Dad, he’s losing it.”
A quick glance at my son confirmed her assessment of her older brother with disabilities. Experience had taught us that his vocalizations would only get more intense and much louder. We needed to go.
I felt a heavy sigh welling up as yet another pleasant moment was cut short by my son’s behavior caused by his disabilities. It was another small disappointment added to the 10,000 others before it.
This is an important part of the story about disability in the lives of families. It frequently isn’t the “big things” that are sapping our strength and hope, but the constant little things that wear away at the foundations of our lives.

You Can Help

Here is where the church can have a profound impact on a family! Paying attention to small things that are wearing away at a family experiencing disability can help maintain their foundation and reduce the need for a bigger intervention down the road.
But how? I’ve been to many conferences, read dozens of books, reviewed hundreds of blog posts and nearly a thousand articles. As simplistic as it sounds, the best advice boils down to three things: trust God, get to know the family, then act.
1. Trust God
Trusting God is, by far, the single most important of the three. If we are
  1. truly uncondemned and set free (Romans 8:1–2),
  2. with the full knowledge that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28),
  3. in a relationship with someone God has intimately created (Psalm 139:13),
  4. even with disabilities (Exodus 4:11),
  5. which is for his glory (John 9:3),
  6. and he has chosen that person for the good of his church (1 Corinthians 1:27),
  7. even calling them central to his purposes (1 Corinthians 12:22),
then you can trust God to equip you to serve families that experience disability.
Based on that sure knowledge, getting to know a family that is different because of disability isn’t so scary. Their God is your God and he is good and entirely trustworthy.
2. Get to Know the Family
Getting to know somebody also provides insight into what might be useful in that family’s life. The books and blog posts with lists of ideas about serving families then begin to take more specific form. Plus, the person with the disability becomes a real person who is interesting and gifted and maybe even fun to be around.
This is the first big step in communicating to this family what you really believe about God’s sovereignty in disability. This is where your theology — your trust in God — is expressed. If you know a family experiencing disability, reach out, introduce yourself, get to know them.
3. Take Action
Action then becomes an expression of trust in God informed by knowledge about the family. Action will always entail some risk — maybe the family doesn’t want what you are offering. But action done in a spirit of affection and respect is generally well received even when imperfectly executed. When your help is harshly rejected, and it could be, then trusting God is even more important. Being faithful to God’s call to act is more important than the result you achieve.
Be proactive. Many families, by necessity, must focus their attention on the big issues and won’t be responsive to the question of “what can I do for you?” If you add to their list of things to do, like texting or emailing when something is needed, they won’t do it.
Which means you should take the initiative, after prayerful consideration. The impulse to help is probably a good one, but praying for wisdom is still necessary. Then acting in faith, trusting that God is in it, rendering it to him, demonstrates that God is really big to you. This approach will confound even the hardest person (like I was) at your dogged desire to love them.

What Is More Sure

In this broken world the disappointments add up quickly. Disability feels relentless. But it will end someday, swallowed up in the ultimate promises of God to make all things new for his glory and for our eternal joy.
Until that day, the grace and strength he promised are more sure than the sun rising tomorrow. And maybe you’re the very person, acting in faith, who will remind a family like mine about the supremacy of God over all things (including disability) for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.
The author, John Knight is Director of Donor Partnerships at Desiring God. He is married to Dianne and together they parent their four children: Paul, Hannah, Daniel, and Johnny. Paul lives with multiple disabilities including blindness, autism, cognitive impairments and a seizure disorder. John blogs on issues of disability, the Bible, and the church at The Works of God.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Dear friends and readers, today is United Nations International Literacy Day. Its a day for us to reflect on the fact that many children in my country Nigeria, and in Africa are left behind in terms of education simply because they require Special Education. Please take a few minutes to participate in our online survey by clicking the link or the picture below. Thank you for your time.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Still on Reinforcement...

The past few weeks have been quite busy for me as I've been involved in planning for the launch of a new blended (i.e. online and physical) special education program. I'll give you more information on this project in the coming weeks, but just so you know, the name of the project is: Comprehensive Autism and related Disabilities Education and Training (C.A.D.E.T.) Academy.

In the meantime, back to the topic of 'Reinforcement.' I have embedded a YouTube video which demonstrates examples of different types of reinforcers. The video also describes the proper way to deliver reinforcers and provides suggestions to ensure that reinforcers maintain their interest to the child.  

As always, your comments are appreciated. Thanks.

Sunday, 4 August 2013


Reinforcement is the process of increasing desired behavior in children with autism and other related disabilities. There are basically two types of reinforcers- extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic rewards or reinforcers are those that are unnaturally added to the situation. For example, if a child is given a piece of cake for touching his nose when asked to do so. The child is said to be extrinsically motivated because of the piece of cake. Extrinsic rewards are usually efficient at the initial stage especially when the age and cognitive level of the child are put into consideration. However, it is helpful to understand when and how to quickly transition to more intrinsic or natural reinforcers. Extrinsic rewards may hinder generalization because the child expects to be rewarded whenever he/she exhibit desired behavior while rewards (especially primary reinforcers such as food) may not readily be available in some environments.

Intrinsic or natural rewards are the natural outcomes of the child's behavior. For example, a child walks towards a table with bottles of water and juice, and when asked if he/she wants water or juice, he/she responds by saying juice and gets what he/she wants – juice. The child is said to be intrinsically motivated because he says what he wants and gets it. Intrinsic rewards usually occur naturally, usually more motivating and easily generalized.

Some of the common challenges people face when using reinforcers (intrinsic or extrinsic) are as follows:

  1. Rewards are always expected when desired behaviors are exhibited.
  2. Difficulty finding the appropriate activities or items that can be used as reinforcers.
  3. The child may get tired of items or activities used as reinforcers and one has to come up with new ideas to replace the old one.
  4. How to achieve generalization when reinforce is taken away or stopped.

(Look out for how to decide on what makes a good reinforcer and how to determine activities that motivate children living with autism in my next post). Thanks for reading, your comments are always appreciated.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Still on Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) for Children with Autism...

When working with children with special needs, it is always important to note that progress could be gradual or immediate, but consistency with adopted practice is key. Parents become worried when they realize that their kids have been going through sessions of intervention and they can see little or no progress. However, when the change is obvious, they complain that it is inconsistent.

I get lots of phone calls from parents and caregivers with such concerns and I try to provide professional recommendations to the best of my ability particularly when I'm given adequate information, observations works better for me though.
The other day, I got these three different phone calls from the same parent in less than 15 hours.

4:00pm on Thursday...

Mum: Hey Lola, Uche (pseudonym) was with me in my bathroom early this morning  while I was trying to clean up. He noticed the toothbrushes on the rack and said “brush teeth” (ordinarily, he throws lots of tantrum when it’s time to brush his teeth) so I hurried to get his tooth brush and we had fun brushing his teeth together. See?  I didn’t have to reinforce him! Yay!!! We are making progress. I just wanted to say "thank you," I’ll talk to you later…bye.

(As I listened patiently, I was super-excited for Uche’s mum)
Lola: Happy for you! Bye.

7:00pm same Thursday...

Mum: Hello Lola, We’ve been trying to get Uche to brush his teeth for the past hour and it’s been tough!

Lola: You should try using the reward system.

Mum: We did! I told him he will get to watch Barney after brushing but he refused, I even showed him his favourite chocolate and was willing to let him eat it after brushing but it didn’t work! I think he is regressing. I have tried everything I know to do, I think I’ll just let him  be…I am tired, I pray he’ll agree to brush tomorrow. Goodnight.

Lola: Okay. Have a good one!

8:30am on Friday...

Mum: Lola, we had a good time brushing his teeth this morning and all Uche wanted was to hold on to his toy phone while brushing...this boy is so unpredictable, I pray that everything goes well in the evening.

There are several reasons why most people working with children with disabilities may not see desired changes in these children. The above conversation and other experiences  leads me to some very important topics that I will be sharing on my blog for the next couple of weeks. First of these topics is 'Motivation.'


Everyone loves to be motivated. The reason most people go to work every day is because they expect to get paid. I wouldn’t embark on a 20 minutes drive to the cinema or pay money for a movie that does not feature at least one of my favorite actors. This is the same for little children too (with or without disabilities). When a little child says “dada” for the first time, everyone around that child cheers him up and get all excited, this kind of attention serves as a form of motivation for the child to say more words.

Motivation is a major factor for all children when learning. Motivating a child with autism can be rather challenging for a number of reasons. For instance, I have found that children with autism are often not motivated by social reinforcement such as attention, praise, affection or other activities that interest other typical kids. However, this is not enough reason for parents, therapists, teachers and other caregivers to conclude that nothing motivates these children. Every child has unique interests and preferences but it requires creativity, time and dedication to determine such interests especially when the reinforcers may appear inefficient or limited. (Read more on the types of reinforcement and the common challenges of reinforcement in my next post).

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) for Children with Autism

As a special education professional, my job description entails observing, supervising, training, providing recommendations, counseling parents and so on. I have realized while doing all or some of these that DTT is a common topic of discussion. Many of my clients (teachers, therapists and parents) confirm that they use this method and still do not see the desired result in their children and I usually have to go through the process of explaining what DTT is all about. 


This morning while driving down from church, three words kept resounding, in my head "comprehension", "application" and "manifestation." And then it all started coming together, "Comprehension" - understanding; "do these people really understand what DTT is? "Can I possibly give what I do not have? Application- how is this applicable, and what is their level of fidelity to the practice? Response to these questions will bring about the desired result in the children, that is: ''manifestation."

What is Discrete Trial Teaching?

The DTT is a method that is generally used to provide intervention for  young children (ages two through six) with autism in order to maximize learning. It is also used with older children, especially those with significant developmental delay. This method is based on the principle of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). DTT is simply good teaching for developing communication skills, cognitive skills, play skills, social and self help skills. It involves teaching in simplified and structured steps rather than teaching a whole skill all at once.

The Format

The format for DTT involves the following steps:

a.  Breaking a skill into smaller parts.

b.  Teaching one small part of the skill at a time until it is mastered.

c.  Allowing repeated practice in a concentrated period of time.

d.  Providing a prompt for the correct response and fading the prompt as necessary.

e.  Using positive reinforcement procedures.
In DTT a small amount of information is given to the student, and the response is immediately reinforced or not reinforced as the response would determine. DTT involves numerous trials in order to strengthen learning. Each small bit of information given must be mastered before moving to the next.

Here is an example of what a session may look like:

The special education teacher/therapist gives the child an instruction (antecedent) e.g "touch your nose." The child responds (behavior) by touching his/her nose, since the response was correct, the child receives a positive reinforcement as the consequence of his/her behavior. If the response (behavior) is incorrect, a prompt replaces the reinforcement, once the prompt leads to a correct response a reinforcement is then administered. If the child still does not give a correct response after prompting, the teacher would have to withdraw the instruction ("touch your nose") and replace it with an easier skill that has already been mastered by the child such as "hands up." It is important to watch against frustrating the child and to ensure that each session ends with success (Read more on types of reinforcement and prompts in my subsequent posts).

Other important factors in using DTT are setting up the session environment, regular data collection in order to monitor progress, fading of prompts and reward, and generalization of learning or skills taught to other materials, environments and people.

Monday, 1 July 2013

The Family's Role in Special Education Intervention

In the course of my interactions with parents having children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), I often encounter those who want to "dump" the child on a therapist and expect "miraculous" changes in the child. I must emphasize that active involvement of parents and siblings is very important in special education intervention for a child with autism or any related special needs. No one knows a child better than the parents. Remember that you as the parent will in the end be the one who cares the most for, and is affected the most by your child's condition. Besides, you spend more time with your child than anyone else. You can use that precious time to generalize the teaching goals into everyday living situations and activities.

Parents are positioned to provide direct therapy to their child. However, as parents better understand, having a child with autism takes a huge emotional toll and coordinating the treatment team can be a daunting task. Therefore, whenever possible, it is recommended to use hired therapists to do most of the intensive work. This allows parents to have some respite and the remaining time spent with their child can be more enjoyable and productive.

Parents can use the child's time that is not spent in intensive programming to develop play, social and self-help skills. Spending time outdoors by visiting the park, shopping mall, close friends and relatives' homes are opportunities to generalize skills and work on improving  behavior. Similarly, brushing their teeth, having a bath, getting dressed, and having a meal are just a few examples of everyday routines that serve as opportunities for teaching.

As a result of these, the child's day if filled with activities that become part of the therapy process. More importantly, the parents become an integral part of the special education intervention team. Therefore, it is important to involve the child in the family daily routine of living, this will reduce any form of isolation for the child. 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Hours of Intervention for Children with Special Needs

Today, while browsing my personal notes, I remembered some questions that  parents of children living with ASD had asked me when I first began my awareness program in Nigeria. I have decided to share the answers to these questions here on my blog. The question I'll be dealing with today is, "how many hours of intervention should my child receive?"

A good way to plan for a child's therapy would be to start with a weekly schedule. In this, you'll have to consider how your child's day is spent. Try to provide a reasonable balance between intensive therapy, periods of less intensive activities that are still structured, and make allowance for your child's need to have periods of free time and family time.

Research shows that many children would do well with direct instruction of thirty or more hours per week. This could be in form of one-on-one teaching. Parents should also consider the quality of teaching and the degree of structure provided outside the formal therapy hours.

The length of the sessions for therapy could be kept between two and three hours, however, it can also be adjusted to provide maximum benefit. In addition, play dates should be used to generalize skills and provide opportunities for observational learning.

In the end, the therapy may be reduced when the child begins spending part of the day in school. 

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month...

Did you know that May 15th - June 15th is Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month?

What is Tourette syndrome?

Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. The disorder is named after Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, a pioneering French neurologist in the 1800s. Tourette syndrome becomes evident in early childhood or adolescence before the age of 18 years.  Tourette syndrome is defined by multiple motor and vocal tics lasting for more than one year.  The first symptoms usually are involuntary movements (tics) of the face, arms, limbs or trunk.  These tics are frequent, repetitive and rapid.  The most common first symptom is a facial tic (eye blink, nose twitch, grimace), and is replaced or added to by other tics of the neck, trunk, and limbs.

          These tics occur as involuntary actions, usually outside the patient's control. The tics may also be complicated, involving the entire body, such as kicking and stamping. Many persons report what are described as premonitory urges -- the urge to perform a motor activity. Other symptoms such as touching, repetitive thoughts and movements and compulsions can occur.

          There are also verbal tics.  These verbal tics (vocalizations) usually occur with the movements.  These vocalizations include grunting, throat clearing, shouting and barking.  The verbal tics may also be expressed as coprolalia (the involuntary use of obscene words or socially inappropriate words and phrases) or copropraxia (obscene gestures). Despite widespread publicity, coprolalia/copropraxia is uncommon with tic disorders.

          Neither echolalia (echo speech) or coprolalia/copropraxia is necessary for the diagnosis of Tourette syndrome.  However, for a confirmed diagnosis of TS both involuntary movements and vocalizations must be present.  Echo phenomena are also reported, although less frequently.  These may include repeating word of others (echolalia), repeating ones own words (palilalia), and repeating movements of others.

          Although the symptoms of TS vary from person to person and range from very mild to severe, the majority of cases fall into the mild category. Co-occurring conditions can include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder/ Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD/ADD), impulsivity, and obsessive compulsive behavior.  There is usually a family history of tics, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  Tourette Syndrome and other tic disorders occur in all ethnic groups.  Males are affected 3 to 4 times more often than females.

           A child with Tourette Syndrome in the classroom may bear the outward appearance of a child with behavior problems: defiant, stubborn, emitting sounds, displaying unusual physical mannerisms, unwilling to cooperate. He or she may be disciplined for things he or she cannot control and given low grades for things he or she cannot accomplish. They are probably teased and sometimes imitated by other students.

          Most people with TS and other tic disorders will lead productive lives.  There are no barriers to achievement in their personal and professional lives.  Persons with TS can be found in all professions. It's important for people to be aware and to get informed about this condition to avoid unnecessary stigma. It's also important educate both patients and the public of the many facets of tic disorders.  Increased public understanding and tolerance of TS symptoms are of paramount importance to people with Tourette Syndrome.