Some of Tink’s first functional speech

Tink has just takenat-and-tink-cuddle-225x300n steps along the settee again. She was obviously after something. So I asked her what do you want? Her answer was very clear “BALL.”

Watching Forrest Gump its just started and Forrest is sitting on the bench and introduces himself to the lady sitting on the bench: “My name’s Forrest, Forrest Gump.” “Hellooooo,” Tink said. The funny thing is I bet most people actually say something similar in their heads at the beginning of that film when he introduces himself.

Tink just said to her mum “niddy hug.” Nat “TAGGED” her and gave her a hug. 

I love the fact I can tag and capture then reinforce little things like this. It really dawned on me when I started to tag her for looking at her standing frame and then building it up so I was tagging her for banging her feet on it to tell me she wanted to stand up. I’m going to do the same with potty training I think.

Teaching Tink to manipulate a ball using shaping and TAGteach

My end goal is to get Tink to put the ball in the cup. I have taught her “hold” so the first tag point is to hold the ball. Then the next tag point was starting the task backwards. So I wanted her to take the ball from the cup. So she has actually done what I aimed to do but backwards. That is we are working on taking the ball out of the cup first.

The sound marker you can hear gives instant feedback to her as soon as she does it then I reinforce with the food treat. It gives her lots of little successes and breaks the task down.

The best bit is I’m getting that engagement now and whilst she’s engaged she’s not stimming

She’s only mastered a task when it’s consistent. Lots of repetition tagging and reinforcing makes it consistent. I will do this today as many opportunities I get and will do it for a number of days. I always have a success point to start from so I start from what we did last so she is starting from something she can do.

Here is a later session, two days later.

A very far cry from perfect but I got her to post the ball in the bowl. I had already taught her to drop yesterday. At first she couldn’t put the ball in the bowl. So I went from something she could do which was “drop”. I always go back to something she can already do if she starts having trouble. I want her to have the best chance to succeed each turn and only slowly make it harder and closer to the goal.

For more information on TAGteach for autism parents and therapists, sign up for Martha Gabler’s course on TAGteach for Autism. We discussed these videos in detail there.


Think uses her new physical and problem-solving skills to get her own juice

Here is a video from October 2014, showing the first steps in teaching Tink to pull up on the sofa and begin to move her feet. Each time Tink shows a behaviour in the direction of progress to walking she hears a tag and gets a small food treat. There is no prompting or touching, Tink decides on her own what she will do.

Here is Tink in January 2015, cruising the sofa in order to get her juice for herself. She just turned 3 years old. This is a huge step forward. In the past, not being able to have the juice immediately would have caused extreme frustration and a meltdown. Tink would not have had the physical skills or the problem-solving ability to be able to get her juice herself from the sofa.

Using TAGteach and building on behaviours that Tink offered voluntarily, she now has skills that she can use in new ways. She doesn’t need a tag a treat for every foot movement as in the beginning since now pulling up and walking are reinforcing on their own.

Tink says “No”

Tink says “NO.”

Whilst doing some targeting exercises Tink came out with the the word most parents wouldn’t be too thrilled to hear “NO.” So why am excited about this show of resistance and none compliance? Well it means if my daughter doesn’t like something she can tell me and she can tell others too.

Trying something new with blocks using TAGteach

I thought I would try something with the cups. I stacked the cups on the settee for Tink to cross the room,  pull to stand and knock down the cups. You’d think that would be easy but think couldn’t put that together how to do that. She even said “I don’t know,” a sentence thats only just started to be put in context (although its not always clear). She had told me she didn’t know how to do it and was shaking her head. I answered “Dado knows, Dado do.” I got my target stick and placed it in front of her and asked for “touch”. She did that so I tagged and handed her a crisp. I then placed the target further out of reach so she had to move a little to touch it (which she did) so tagged and rewarded again. I did this right across the floor to the settee. As she got to the settee she stopped and I recognised the certain processing look that you can sometimes see on her face. She was putting together the next step herself after a few minutes she pulled to stand and knocked those suckers down. So I tagged and handed her the full bag of crisps. She looked straight in to my eyes and said “Dado did, I did it.”