Teaching Inferences & WH Questions to Kids with Autism

It can be very challenging figuring out the next steps in programming for a child who has completed or is at the top of the VB MAPP.  I recently got a question from a member of my online community about teaching inferences. Today I’m sharing a small excerpt from a recent Live Q and A session giving you ideas of what the next steps are in programming for kids who are at Level 3 or have completed the VB MAPP.

Teaching Inferences

I get really nervous when behavior analysts try to program for kids that are past the VB MAPP or at the top of the VB MAPP because, when kids get into level three and beyond, I feel pretty strongly that you need to do Language for Learning. Teaching inferences is a higher level skill.  You need to follow curriculum. Amy’s son is seven. So, if he’s still within the VB MAPP, that’s a four year old level, so there will still be significant delays and I would want to do Language for Learning when you get all of that done. And a lot of our kids need one to one pullouts for that. 

So, I have a whole unit on Language for Learning in my Intermediate Learner Course. Those Language for Learning kits are expensive when new, but you might be able to go on eBay and get a kit for a couple hundred dollars. I would systematically go through the kits. And then once that’s done, do Language for Thinking, and then Language for Reasoning and Writing. 

I would say that speech pathologists are better at teaching inferences than behavior analysts. I could assure you  that’s the case, so I still would be concerned about teaching inferences in any rote manner. I would also highly recommend that you look at the book program

WH Questions

Our member, Amy, said, “can you please give your thoughts on when and how to best introduce inferences? Our son is seven and has almost completed the VB MAPP.” Amy is also looking for her seven year old – who is ready for inferences – to compile a list of WH questions plus other questions that would relate to the material in the Language for Learning program. “Has anyone already compiled such a list?” She asks. “I would like to use a prompt for me for use during the reading program.”

I’m not sure if that means Amy has purchased or gotten the Language for Learning program or if her son’s school is doing it – which they can, and that should be part of his IEP. But you can’t, in my opinion, just get lists of questions, get list of inferences and teach it like you would teach opposites within a discrete trial intensive teaching setting. It would lead to some messed up language.

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Teaching Inferences in School

I’ve had a lot of success with Lauren, who’s in a lot of my intermediate learner course videos and the book program videos. I also had another little boy who was almost exactly her age and grade who is at a little bit of a different functioning level. I don’t have video permission or permission to even discuss his case, so I won’t. 

I had the one child from the age of two on. I had Lauren from four or five on. They were both struggling in first grade to get through Language for Learning. They were also both in Language for Thinking. The boy actually ended up going much quicker and got into Language for Writing and Reasoning before I transferred. They ended up being my last two clients. 

With a seven year old, we’re talking about inclusion if he’s in school. We’re also talking about reading and math. But the reading and math really should be based on the language. If you don’t fix the language now, that is going to have major implications. 

The Importance of Autism Programs

I remember with the boy, I’ll call him Adam. He did another program called Fast Forward, which really helped him. I remember being in an IEP meeting when he was in first grade and they wanted to stop Language for Learning – or Language for Thinking, I’m not sure where he was at that moment. He was trying different computer programs and was having problems. 

The school thought he was fine. They just wanted to include him and stop Language for Learning. They said Language for Learning didn’t seem very functional. I had Adam since he was two, he had gone from non-vocal to vocal with me. Now he’s sort of conversational, and Language for Learning was the most important part of his day. I told the school, listen, he can either go be a kid that ends up in college or he can be a kid that ends up in life skills and needs support for the rest of his life. That’s how strongly I felt at that point. 

Intermediate Learner Courses

Of course, nobody has a crystal ball. It was probably even inappropriate that I said that, but I was just like, you cannot stop Language for Learning. The mom ended up getting an advocate and he ended up getting a one-to-one and he ended up flying through Fast Forward. It really helped it click for him and he was just doing so much better. 

It’s very individualized what kids need when they get to the top of the VB MAPP. If you haven’t watched the whole intermediate learner course, I would definitely finish that first. Implement the book program, teach the school how to do the book program, if he’s in school, and take it from there.

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Transcript

It can be very challenging figuring out the next steps in programming for a child who is at level three or higher on the VB MAPP. I recently got a question from a member of my online community about how to teach higher level language skills to kids that are conversational or almost conversational. Hi, I’m Dr. Mary Barbera, autism mom, Board Certified Behavior Analyst, online course creator, and bestselling author of The Verbal Behavior Approach. Each week I provide you with some of my ideas about turning autism around so if you haven’t subscribed to my YouTube channel you can do that now.  Today I’m sharing a small excerpt from a recent live Q and A session giving you ideas on what the next steps are in programming for kids who are at level three or have completed the VB MAPP teach to them more conversational skills and to have them be able to functionally communicate with you and others.

Amy said, can you please give your thoughts on when and how to best introduce inferences? Our son is seven and almost completed the VB MAPP. I feel pretty strongly, Amy and I, I love your questions cause they’re always uh, really spot on. I think you might be a professional in the field too if my memory’s correcting corrected.  But um, so I get really nervous when behavior analysts try to program for kids that are past the VB MAPP or at the top of the VB MAPP because, um, it, when kids get into level three, um, and beyond, I feel pretty strongly, um, that you need to do language for learning. You need to follow curriculum like he’s seven. So you know, he’s still, if he’s still within the VB MAPP, that’s a four year old, so still significant delays and I would do more, uh, language for learning when you get all of that done, and a lot of our kids need pullout. So the, the intermediate learner course on language for learning, those language for learning kits are expensive new. Um, you might be able to go on to eBay, like I did get a get a set for, you know, a couple of hundred bucks. Um, and I would just systematically go through that. And then once that’s done, language for thinking and once that’s done language for reasoning and writing.  And I don’t even, you know, trust, trust, I, I’ll say that with quotes like speech pathologists are better at teaching inferences then behavior analysts. I could assure you that that’s the case. I still would be concerned about trying to teach something like inferences in any rote manner. I would also really highly recommend that you, um, look at the book program. You did have another question that you didn’t put under the graphics, which, which is right under here.

So I’m gonna add to that answer as well. So, um, she’s, Amy is also looking for her seven year old who is ready for inferences to compile a list of wh questions plus other questions that would relate to the material in language for learning program. Has anyone already compiled such a list? Would like to use a prompt for me, uh, for use during the reading program. So I’m not sure if that means you have purchased or gotten the language for learning program or if he’s at school, school can do it and should do it and that should be part of his IEP. Um, but you can’t, in my opinion, just get lists of questions, get lists of inferences and teach it like you would teach opposites within a discreet trial intensive teaching setting. It’s just not gonna work. It’s gonna lead to really, um, some, some messed up language.

And I’ve had a lot of success with Lauren who’s in a lot of the intermediate learner course videos and the book program videos. Um, I’ve had a lot of success with her. Another little boy who was almost exactly her age and grade, um, a little bit different functioning level. I didn’t have, I’d never got, um, video permission or permission to even discuss his case, so I won’t. But, but they were both in like, well, I had the one child from two on. Um, and then I had Lauren from four or five on and they were both in, you know, first grade struggling to get through language for learning. They were both in language for thinking. The boy actually ended up doing, uh, going much quicker and got into language for writing and reasoning before I transferred. They were my last two clients, but you know, a seven year old we’re, we’re talking about inclusion if he’s in school.  We’re talking about reading and math, but the reading of math really be based, should be and needs to be based on the language and if you don’t fix the language now that is going to have major implications. So I remember with the boy, I’ll call him at Adam, um, with the boy that flew through eventually. Um, and he did another program called fast forward, uh, which really helped him. I remember being in an IEP meeting when he was like in first grade and they wanted to stop language for learning or thinking, whatever he was on then.  He was trying different computer programs. He was having problems. They, the school was just like, he’s fine. Let’s just include him. Let’s stop the language for learning. That doesn’t seem very functional. And I was like, listen, I mean I had this kid since he’s been two.

He had was non-vocal when I started. Now he’s conversational, kind of sorta like lay, in my opinion, language for learning was the most important part of his day. And I’m like, listen, he could go either way. He can either go be a kid that ends up in college or he can be a kid that ends up in life skills and needs support for the rest of his life. That’s how strongly I felt at that point. And of course nobody has a crystal ball. It was probably even inappropriate that I said that, but I was just like, you cannot stop language for learning. And mom ended up getting an advocate and he ended up getting a one to one and we, he ended up flying through fast forward, which, you know, really were, I mean, I wasn’t, I had no idea about fast forward, um, but it really helped him click and, and he was just doing so much better.

Um, but it’s very individualized what kids need when they get to the top of the VB MAPP. And, um, I would just keep, you know, if you haven’t watched the whole intermediate learner course, definitely I would, I would watch that. I would watch some of these, some of these bonus videos. And really, um, I would implement the book program, teach the school how to do the book program if he’s in school, and uh, take it from there. I hope you enjoyed this short snippet. Wherever you’re watching this. I’d love it if you would leave me a comment, give me a thumbs up, share this video with others who may benefit and for more information, you can attend a free online workshop at marybarbera.com/workshop. And I’ll see you right here next week.

 

 

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