Achieving Vocal Imitation and Echoic Control in Kids with Autism

Today is all about how to get vocal imitation, or echoic control, to enable kids to talk – or talk more if they are already talking some. I see a constant struggle with people who report – both parents and professionals – that their kids have pop out words or have words here and there, but they can’t get them to talk more. So today I’m covering five tips to get echoic control.

Hi, I’m Dr. Mary Barbera, autism mom, board certified behavior analyst, and bestselling author of the Verbal Behavior Approach. Each week I teach you tips for turning autism, or signs of autism, around. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel or Podcast if you haven’t already.

How to Increase Language Skills

Now, like I said before, there’s what I call pop out words. Pop out words are where kids say things every now and again. Some kids have pop out words every day, while some kids have pop out words only every week or every month.  If there’s autism regression involved, like with my son Lucas – he actually had words and he lost them, and I didn’t know back then how to get his words back. Over the past two decades, I have developed procedures which really enable kids to start talking – in some cases within hours, days or weeks within my online courses and community.

I just recently had a grandmother who joined my toddler course for instance, who posted a video of her grandson saying “apple” for the first time. He was completely nonverbal when he started my course two weeks prior. Even that to me is hard to believe. But it’s not a race, and some kids don’t ever get verbal for the whole 60 days of the toddler course.

I met with a few moms recently about ways they could get echoic control. Because I don’t want to have anybody get stuck. So echoic control, let’s just define these terms a little bit. Echoic control is basically when I say something, whether that’s a word or a sound or a phrase, and then you repeat it either exactly or close enough. So, if I say “apple,” you would say “apple” or “appa” or some other word approximation. Like an echo.

When I say echoic control, some people who have a bad history with ABA are a little turned off by that because they think, why are we trying to control people? But really, it’s just getting them to imitate you verbally and this is the way little kids learn to talk. They listen, they repeat, they start putting things together in a very natural way. With our kids with autism or signs of autism or regression, we need to get vocal imitation as quickly as possible. Because once you do, in my experience, the flood gates oftentimes open and there’s a lot more skills we can teach.

Try, and Try Again

I worked as a board-certified behavior analyst predominantly from 2003 to 2010 and was with the Verbal Behavior Project in Pennsylvania schools. During that time I also had some private clients who were young and taught me a lot. In 2010, I left the project to finish up my PhD. At that point I got a contract with the birth to three-year-old agency in my county. This is really where I took all of my experience and started implementing procedures that were easy for parents to do in their homes. A lot of the procedures I’m going to tell you about today were directly impacted by all of those years of working with the young kids who were not talking or were not talking a lot.

Some of my initial clients that I’ve been given permission to talk about, like Daniel, Mia, and Curt, didn’t have echoic control for months, and in Daniel’s case, for over a year. Now that I’ve learned these procedures, I am gaining better, quicker echoic control.

I really thank my initial clients and their parents for hanging in there while we continued to fine tune the methods to get echoic control as soon as possible.

Let’s go through the five tips for getting vocal imitation. These were things I wasn’t really doing the the first half of my career as a behavior analyst but learned the longer I worked with my clients.

Combine All the Operants Together

With my clients now, I combine all the operants together. I use what we call multiple control procedures. For instance, the shoe box program. Basically, with the shoe box program, you get a large shoe box, cut a slit into it and get pictures of important family members, pets, and other reinforcers. You can even have two pictures of the same thing. You can’t use just the pictures on your phone. Make sure you print out a regular size, 4×6 picture with one person or one item in each picture. So, not a picture of mom on a bike with a helmet, that’s too many things in a picture and that could get confusing.

Next, you take those pictures one at a time and you sit diagonally from your child or client so that you’re close enough that you can physically help the child put the pictures in the box. You want to hold the picture up one at a time and say the item name, usually up to three times, in a slow, animated way, “Mommy… mommy… mommy…” As you say it, the picture is actually coming closer to the child and the box. You can hold it to your mouth, “mommy…” get a little bit closer, “mommy…” and then hand it to the child, “mommy.” This is called stimulus stimulus pairing.

VB Bundle and Early Learner Programs

Now, some kids get stuck on having to say the word three times, or they might cry because you’re holding it out too long and they’re getting frustrated. In that case, you just do it quicker. You say “mommy” and you just put it in the box. We don’t want the child crying at the table, or ever, if we can avoid it. We really want to make this fun and light. You can use the same procedure for Mr. Potato Head, inset puzzles, and for cause and effect toys.

These are called the early learner programs and materials, which are all a part of the VB bundle. So, if you have a child who’s 5 or 10 and still not talking, you would join the VB bundle. These techniques work great for speech delayed kids without any autism as well as kids with signs of or diagnosed with autism.

Vocal Imitation Techniques

Programs like the shoebox are multiple control programs. If a child or client says “apple” while you’re holding up a picture of an apple in front of the shoebox, it is actually part mand, or request, because he wants that picture to put in the box. It’s also part tact, or label, because he can see the picture of the apple, and it is part echo because you will say apple while holding up the picture.

It also builds up compliance at the table. It builds up listener responding, sitting, and putting things inside a box. When we put the manding or requesting at the center of a child’s program, whether that program is 15 minutes at the table with the parent each day, or whether that’s six hours at school, we will have a much better chance of getting echoic control.

The old way of doing echoic control of  the child sitting down with the therapist and saying, “say ball, say ball” doesn’t work. You can’t make a child say ball. You can’t make a child say anything. Even if they said ball two seconds ago, even if they said it 30 times yesterday, you can’t make a child say ball. So we are, with these early learner programs, going in the back door, making it fun, and making it appealing. Because the program is part mand it helps us get rapid responding and hundreds of responses.

Mix Things Up

Even if a child is not echoing – and this happens for some of the kids – they should still do these programs. Some kids will join my programs and sit for 15-20 minutes a day, listening to “apple, apple, apple,” and putting the picture in the box. But they won’t repeat “apple.”

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That’s where tip number two comes in. We want to vary up the programs a little bit because once kids get used to the you say it, then I say it method, then they just listen, maybe they’ll put it in the box and that’s how they’ll get their reinforcement.

A lot of really young kids or kids that are older with developmental ages of a young child like that cause and effect. They just sit and wait, accepting the picture and putting it in the box. If we can’t get vocal imitation that way, then we have to think, what can we do to mix it up? Maybe that means not saying the word three times. Maybe say it once, or four times.

Vocal Imitation Programs

Here’s a real trick that worked for establishing echoic control with my former client, Mia. I could not get vocal imitation for months. That was until we started showing her the picture of an apple and saying apple once, then covering up the picture and saying apple again. Covering up the picture actually helped Mia say the word because she wanted to see the picture.

Another idea is to put the pictures in a box or a bag and this holds true for potato head parts or puzzle inset parts too. You could put them in the bag, reach in, you can see what it is and say the word without showing them the object. Then they might say the word. Then if, say they don’t say the word, you show them the object and then you hide it again. Make it a little bit more playful, a little bit more sabotaging, to see if you can get them to talk.

Matching

Another early learner program is matching. Remember how I said earlier to get two pictures of the same person or object? For instance, get two pictures of mom, two pictures of dad, two pictures of juice, or whatever the child likes. Some of them should be identical. You might have two or three pictures down on the table at the same time. Hold up a picture of mommy. Say “mommy, mommy, mommy.” You can help the child by pointing to the matching one on the table.

Intraverbal Fill-Ins for Songs

Tip three is to try intraverbal fill-ins for songs. More than two decades ago, before Lucas was diagnosed, I didn’t know anything about ABA and very little about autism. My husband says, “Hey, watch this.” He started singing the Arthur cartoon theme song. “Hey, what a wonderful kind of,” and then Lucas said, “day!” My husband continued, “you can learn to work and,” Lucas would say “play!” I was like, wow, that’s cool. That’s weird because he won’t say play or day if I ask him. My husband had intraverbal fill-ins without even knowing it. Neither of us knew what they were for a long time after.

You don’t even need to know what the term is. Basically, we’re going to try to sing songs and leave the last word a blank. So, “twinkle, twinkle little…” and the child says “star.” But if the child doesn’t say it, instead of continuing with the song, I might do it again. “Twinkle, twinkle little… star.” I’m leaving a pause, I’m making it fun, and you could do that for a variety of songs. You can also get a picture of a star or, if the child likes you to sing five little ducks went out one day, get pictures of ducks.

Now you could see, if you don’t have vocal imitation, that’s going to be a lot harder to get, but sometimes for kids, like especially for kids like Lucas, they’ll start to do fill ins before vocal imitation. We can actually use that to get vocal imitation. It’s definitely worth a serious try.

Video Modeling

Tip number four is something I don’t talk about that much, but I should talk about more. It is a great tip and a great strategy to use. It’s called video modeling, and it is an evidence based tool that we use to teach language and play skills. I had a client, Curt, who was one of my first clients. I was with him for months and I could not get echoic control. We had done strategy number one where we had all the early learner programs and potato head and the shoe box and inset puzzles. And Curt would say about 10 words in two hours and they were predictably eyes, ears, nose, mouth, those kinds of words because of Mr. Potato Head.

I was making a plan to teach him sign because if you can’t get vocal imitation pretty quickly, you should really move to sign language so that a child can get their wants and needs met. I had another therapist there, who I was training, take a video of me teaching Curt the initial three to five signs. Curt got up and went behind the therapist to watch me on camera. That’s what made me think about video modeling for him.

How I Use Video Modeling

I had this graph of 10 words in two hours for weeks or months, which is kind of embarrassing because I should have really acted more quickly with getting signs in place. But these were the early days where I was refining my methods. He, at least, was talking some and he was really cooperative when I started. He used to have significant aggression and self-injurious behavior. We were working on a lot of behaviors, not just talking.

I had the therapist I was training take two videos of me. For one, I was saying head, shoulders, knees and toes, very slowly animated. And another video I just said, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, glasses. Hi. As I touched my own face and body parts.

I asked the mom if she could do me a favor, to get the two videos onto Curt’s iPad. I was leaving for two or three weeks as it was around the holidays and I was taking a trip. When I came back two or three weeks later, I walk in and Curt goes, “eyes, nose, mouth, teeth, glasses, hi.” And I’m like, “Oh my God, I forgot about the video.” The mom must have put the video on the iPad and he must have watched it because he was saying the words in the exact same order that I did it.

It Really Works

That day, instead of getting 10 words in two hours, I got 100 words in two hours and we were off to the races. We actually put all of Curt’s programs initially on video modeling. We would just say “touch banana” and video right over top of our hands. He was not in the room. We would say “touch banana” and point a finger to the banana on camera. That’s all he would see.

We would have mom hold up different pictures and just say cup, car, video, whatever words we were working on. She would hold up the picture of a cat and she would say the word one time. He started talking with video modeling.

Assessment

If you’re still not getting vocal imitation after using these four strategies I’ve talked to you about, the next step is more assessment and more learning on your part, whether you’re a parent or professional. You should even do this if you do have echoic control with your child or client.

I highly recommend the VB MAPP Assessment for all kids that have a language ability of under a four-year-old, whether they are not talking at all or have some words. There’s a whole host of many more complicated strategies that you need to be putting in place, not just for language but to control problem behavior, to teach self-care, to make sure the child remains happy, to get independence to teach academics. It’s all very complicated.

But I think actually these five tips to get echoic control are really what’s going to open up the flood gates. If the flood gates don’t open, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is to do further assessment and further learning on your part. Again, the best way I can help you besides these free videos and podcasts are for you to consider joining my online course and community. I know the materials and the community is really making major gains with kids and I’m so excited about that.

The five strategies for gaining vocal imitation are using the early learner programs, such as the shoe box, matching, and Mr. Potato Head. Number two is mix things up. Vary it, don’t always say a word three times. Hide the card during the sessions. Number three, try a song that the child likes for a fill-in response. Number four is video modeling, and I would make your own videos based on what your child or clients like. That might really be the key to getting echoic control and getting good responses going across operants. And the number five strategy is to do a VB MAPP Assessment, or do a standardized language assessment to make sure find out what the gap is and how to get to the next place.

To find out more about how you can teach vocal imitation, learn how to do the VB MAPP, learn about errorless learning and error correction procedures, and how to teach colors and academics and language for learning and all those kinds of things, attend a free workshop.

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Transcript

Today is all about how to get echoic control to enable kids to talk or talk more. I see a constant struggle with people who report, both parents and professionals, they report that their kids have pop out words or have words here and there, but they can’t get them to talk or talk more. So today I’m covering five tips to get echoic control. Hi, I’m Dr. Mary Barbera, autism mom, Board Certified Behavior Analyst and bestselling author of The Verbal Behavior Approach. Each week I teach you tips on my ideas for turning autism or signs of autism around so if you haven’t subscribed to my YouTube channel, you can do that now.  Like I said in the intro, there’s um, what I call pop out words, which is where kids say things every now and again. Some kids have pop out words every day. Some kids have pop out words only every week or every month.

Um, and if there’s autism regression involved, like with my son Lucas, he actually had words and he lost them, but he also lost the, you know, I didn’t know back then how to get his words back, how to get him talking. And over the past 2 decades, I have developed procedures and better and better procedures over the past few years, which is really enabling kids to start talking in some cases within hours, days or weeks within my online courses and community. I just recently had a grandmother who joined my toddler course for instance, who posted a video of her grandson who was saying “apple” for the first time. Um, and he was completely nonverbal, she said 2 weeks prior when she purchased the toddler course. Even that to me is just, you know, hard to believe. Um, and it’s not a race, you know, some kids, uh, don’t get verbal, don’t get talking.

Um, for the whole 60 days of the toddler course because there were, there are still people stuck, um, getting kids talking and getting that echoic control. I actually met with a few moms, um, recently about ways they could get a echoic control. Um, because I don’t want to have anybody get stuck. So echoic control, let’s, let’s just define these terms a little bit. Echoic control is basically I say something, whether that’s a word or a sound or a phrase, and you repeat it either exactly or close enough. So if I say “Apple” and you say “Apple” or “Apple” or whatever you know, word approximation, it’s still an echo. Okay. So you hear something and you say something. When I say echoic control, some people who have a bad history with ABA, um, kind of maybe are a little turned off by that.

Like, why are we trying to control people? And basically it’s just getting them to imitate you verbally. Um, and that’s the way little kids learn to talk. They listen, they repeat, they start putting things together in a very natural way. But with our kids with autism or signs of autism or regression, we need to get echoic control as quickly as possible. Because once you do, in my experience, the flood gates oftentimes open and there’s a lot, lot more skills we can teach. So I worked as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst since 2003, and I was predominantly from 2003 to 10, I was predominantly with the Verbal Behavior Project in Pennsylvania schools. I also had some private clients who were young, who were very young and who taught me a lot. And then in 2010, I left the project to finish up my PhD. And at that point I got a contract with the birth to three agency in my county.

And this is really where I took all of my learnings and really started implementing procedures that were easy for parents to do in their homes. Um, and a lot of the procedures I’m going to tell you today are direct, uh, had direct impact from all of those years of working, uh, with the young kids who were not talking or were not talking a lot. Some of my initial clients like Daniel and Mia and Curt, um, all who I have permission for, um, to talk about that they, they taught me a lot and they didn’t, I didn’t get echoic control over them for months. Um, and in Daniel’s case for over a year. So, um, now that I’ve learned those procedures, I am experiencing better, quicker echoic control using these procedures. So I really thank my initial clients and their parents for hanging in there while we continued to fine tune the methods to get echoic control as soon as possible.

Okay. So let’s go through the 5 tips for getting a code control. So the first tip is, um, and I was making all these mistakes. I wasn’t really doing this the first half of my career as a behavior analyst. But what  what I do now is I combine all the operants together. I use what we call multiply controlled procedures. So the shoe box program, which you may or may not have heard me talk about. If you Google Mary Barbera shoe box, you’ll find out, you’ll find a video blog and other information about the shoe box. But basically what the shoe box is, is, uh, you get a shoe box, a large shoe box, a cut a slit into it and get pictures of important family members, pets, reinforcers. And while you’re at it get 2 pictures of the same thing, yes, you can’t use just the, the picture on the phone.

You actually have to print it out, print out a regular size, 4 by 6 picture, not little ones. So big pictures, 2 of each, all reinforcers, all 1 person or 1 item in the picture. So not a picture of mom on a bike with a helmet. That’s too many stimuli that could get confusing, not a picture of mom and dad together, 1 person or 1 item per picture. Um, and then you take those pictures 1 at a time and you sit, uh, diagonally from the child so that you’re close enough that you can, uh, physically help the child, put it in the box or, or, um, that sort of thing. And you want to hold the picture up 1 at a time and say the item name usually up to 3 times, um, in the slow animated way. So mommy, mommy, mommy, and as you say it, the picture is actually coming closer.

So you hold it to your mouth, mommy get a little bit closer, mommy hand it to the child, mommy. Um, and this is called stimulus stimulus pairing. And we want to, uh, be saying words. Now, some kids get stuck on, you have to say it 3 times and, and they get rote right away. So in that case, or they might cry because you’re holding out too long and they’re getting frustrated. So in that case, you, you just do it quicker, mommy. And you just put in the box, daddy, uh fruit snack and you just get the child. We don’t want the child crying at the table or ever if we can avoid it. We really want to make this fun, make this light. Um, the same procedure of saying words up to 3 times and, and handing it to the child and being animated. Same procedure for potato head, for puzzles, for cause and effect toys.

And these are called the early learner, uh, programs and materials, which are all a part of my toddler course and early learner course, uh, which is part of the VB bundle. So if you have a child who’s 5 or 10 and still not talking, you still use, uh, you would join the VB bundle in that case, not the toddler preschooler course, but the same procedures would be shown. Um, there just might be a little bit difference with the age of the child, but really if a child’s not talking no matter what their chronological ages or if they even have a diagnosis, I mean, these techniques work great for just speech delayed kids without any autism. So, so it doesn’t matter if they are not talking or not talking much or you have no echoic control. These shoe-box programs, potato head, all that stuff is just so critical.

The key to this multiple control is if the child like this little boy did, is saying Apple in 2 weeks. Uh, for his grandmother, if the child does say Apple while I’m holding up a picture of an Apple and he’s got the shoe box and I say Apple and he says Apple, it is actually part mand or request because he wants that picture to put in the box. It’s part tact because he can see the picture, the picture of the Apple, and it is part echo because I am saying a Apple. It also builds up, um, just compliance at the table. He was smiling, he was happy. It builds up, um, listener responding, sitting, putting things in. Um, it just is, is just great too for the parent or professional to use. Um, the mand, the tact, the echoic, listener responding to get good responding and not just 5 mands in an hour or 5 minutes.

We’re talking hundreds of of uh, interactions that all have the mand as the base for it all. And when we put the manding or requesting at the center of a child’s program, whether that program is 15 minutes at the table with the parent each day, or whether that’s 6 hours at school, we put the mand in the center of a child’s program. Uh, we will get, have a much better chance of getting echoic control. The old way of doing echoic control of sitting the therapist and this child and saying, say ball, say ball. You can’t make a child say ball. You can’t make a child say anything. Even if they said ball 2 seconds ago, even if they said it 30 times yesterday, you can’t make a child say ball. So we are with these early learner programs, kind of going in the back door, making it fun, making it appealing, having it part mand and getting rapid responding and hundreds of responses.

And even if a child is not echoing, and this happens for some of the kids, is they will do these programs. Some of them will join my course, they’ll start the programs, they’ll get the materials to start the table time. They’ll do these programs. Okay. 15, 20 minutes a day. I’m doing them. He likes it, he’s happy. He’s sitting there, he’s having me say Apple, Apple, Apple, 3 times. He’s putting it in the box, but he’s not saying anything. And then we’re still getting pop out words and no echoic control. Okay. So that’s where I met with these few moms, um, about a month ago and told them, okay, now it’s time to go to strategy or tip number 2, which is this, um, we want to vary it up a little bit because once kids get used to you say it, then I say, then I just listen.

And then I put it in the box and I get my reinforcement. Like actually the reinforcement is putting it in the box. A lot of really young kids or kids that are older with developmental ages of a young child like that cause and effect. So they’re just sitting and waiting and accepting the, the thing and putting it in the box. So if we can’t get echoic control just like that, then we have to think, okay, what can we do to mix it up? So maybe not say it 3 times, maybe say it once, maybe say it 4 times maybe. And here’s a real trick that worked for establishing echoic control with, with a client. Mia. I could not get echoic control for months and until we started showing her Apple saying Apple once, then covering up the Apple saying Apple again. And then um, that covering up actually helped Mia as say the word because she wanted to see the, the picture, sometimes another idea.

So cover it up, turn the picture around. Um, another idea is to put the pictures in a box or a bag. And this holds true for potato head parts or puzzle inset parts too. You could put them in a brown bag and you reach in and you can see what it is and you can say Apple and not show the the item to the child. And then they might say Apple. Then if, say they don’t say Apple, um, then you show them the Apple and then you hide it again. Um, just be a little bit more playful, a little bit more sabotaging, um, to see if you can get them to talk. So, uh, those are the 2, the actually 3 main things I would do if you are having a compliant child, but they’re still not talking during these early learner programs. Another early learner that I forgot to mention, which I’ll just mention briefly is matching.

Remember how I said get 2 pictures, identical pictures of the mom standing there with no bike, no helmet. Um, get 2 pictures of mom, 2 pictures of dad, 2 pictures of juice, um, fruit snack, whatever the child likes. If you have a pet, get 2 pictures of the pet and call that pet the pet’s name. Um, but we want to get 2 pictures at the same time and we can push them all into the shoe box. But we also want to try matching. Um, so we might have 2 or 3 pictures down on the table. We hold up a picture of um, banana and the child loves bananas. So that’s why bananas in there, mostly it’s 1 to 2 syllables, but banana is kind of one of those uh, uh, acceptable things even though it’s 3 syllables. But okay, so mommy, you might have a picture of mommy.

You say mommy, mommy, mommy. And then that you say mommy instead of match. And you might even have to help the child by pointing to the right one. It’s identical to identical picture matching sometimes. Um, so those matching and puzzles, they all for the same reason we want to get language going. We want to get echoic control. So doing a puzzle or saying match, match, match. I don’t do that with my programs. Everything is language rich and taking, taking advantage of that multiple control of, if they say it, it’s part mand, part tact, part echo. Okay. So tip 1 is to use the early learner materials. Tip 2 is to make a game of it, hide it, surprise, vary it to mix it up. Tip 3 is to use or to try intraverbal fill-ins for songs. Um, I know with my son Lucas, I, this is more than 2 decades ago, before Lucas was diagnosed, I didn’t know anything about ABA, very little about autism.

My husband goes, hey, watch this. And he said, um, he started singing the Arthur cartoon theme song and he said, my husband said, and I said, and Lucas said, Hey, my husband said, what a wonderful kind of, Lucas said, day you can work, learn to work in Lucas would say play. And I was like, wow, that’s cool. That’s weird because he won’t say, if I say say play, say day, he won’t say it. My husband had intraverbal fill-ins without even knowing. Neither of us knew what they were for a long time after. You don’t have to really, it doesn’t have to be that technical to know what the term is. But basically we’re going to try to sing songs and leave the last word a blank. So twinkle, twinkle little and the child doesn’t say it star. And then instead of keep going with the song, I might do it again.

Twinkle, twinkle little star. So I’m leaving a pause. I’m making it fun. And you could do that for a variety of songs. You can also get a picture of star or if you’re singing, if the child likes you to sing 5 little ducks went out one day, get pictures of ducks, um, get pictures of animals for, you know, uh, Old McDonald and those sorts of things. And we’re gonna try to go in the back door to get, um, song fill-ins. Now you could see if, if you don’t have echoic control, that’s going to be a lot harder to get. But, um, sometimes for kids, like especially for kids like Lucas, um, they’ll start to do fill ins before echoic control and then we can actually use that to get echoic control. So twinkle, twinkle little star, twinkle, twinkle little star and the child might say star this and that the next time.

And um, so it’s definitely worth a serious try and not just 1 time try, keep trying. If they like Peppa pig or in my son’s case, he liked Barney. So get Barney songs, get nursery rhyme songs. Um really shape up songs. Tip number 4, um, which I don’t talk about that much, uh, but I should talk about it more. And I am going to be doing a video blog on this soon. And, and because it is a great tip and a great strategy to use, it’s called video modeling and it is an evidence based tool that we use to teach language and play skills. And um, I had a client, Curt was one of my first clients. I was with him for months and I could not get echoic control. So we had done strategy number 1 where we had all the early learner programs and potato head and, and shoe box inset puzzles.

And Curt would, and I’m taking data, the whole 2 hour session I’m there, I’m taking data up, writing down every word I can hear. And he was saying about 10 words in 2 hours and they were predictably eyes, ears, nose, mouth, those kinds of words because of potato head. So I was going away, I was trying to teach him, uh, I was making a plan to teach him sign because um, if you can’t get echoic control pretty quickly, you should really move to sign, um, so that a child can get their, their wants and needs met. So I was um, going to be teaching him sign and uh, I I was having a therapist, another therapist that was there who I was training, take a video of me teaching Kurt the initial 3 to 5 sings. But Curt got up, went behind the therapist to watch me on camera and that’s what made me think about video modeling for him.

So I had this graph of 10 words in 2 hours for weeks or months, which is kind of embarrassing because I should have really acted more quickly with getting sign in place. And, but you know, these were the early days where I was defining my methods and I mean he at least he was talking some and he was really cooperative when I started, he had significant aggression and self injurious behavior. And so we were working on a lot of behaviors, not just talking. So I took a, I had the therapist take 2 videos of me. One I was saying he head, shoulders, knees and toes, very slowly animated. And another one, another video I just said, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, glasses, hi as I touched my own face, body parts and um, I asked mom, I’m like, Hey, could you do me a favor? Could you get these 2 videos on Curt’s iPad?

I’m going to be gone for 2 or 3 weeks. It was around the holidays and I was taking a trip. I said, just get these on, you know, maybe this is called video modeling. Um, maybe it’ll produce something, completely forgot about it. And when I went, came back 2 or 3 weeks later, I walk in, I’m like, Hey, hi. And Curt goes, eyes, nose, mouth, teeth, glasses hi. And I’m like, oh my God, I forgot about the video. And you must have put the video on the iPad and he must have watched it because it’s the exact same order that I did it. Um, that day, instead of getting 10 words in 2 hours, I got 100 words in 2 hours and we were off to the races. We actually put all of Curt’s programs initially on video modeling. Um, we would just say touch banana and just, uh, uh, video right over top of us, our hand. It was just our hand. He was not in the room. We were like touch banana and the finger would go and that’s all he would see. Um, we would have mom hold up different, uh, different pictures and just say a cup car, video, you know, whatever the words were. She would hold up the picture cat and she would say the word 1 time. And he started talking with video modeling. So after that happened with the head, shoulders, knees, and toes with the eyes, ears, nose. I had a lot of kids that were really, um, interested in letters and that’s called hyperlexia, which I did a video blog about. Um, so I would do the Mary videos, which were just me with a Magna doodle, A, B as I’d write the, the, the letters. Um, so all of my kids, because there were no kids in these videos, they were just me doing silly things and singing songs.

Um, all my kids got the Mary videos and this was a big, uh, boost in a lot of their languages. So, uh, highly, highly recommended. And if you’re still not getting echoic control after using these 4 strategies, I’ve talked to you about that the next, even if you do get echoic control, whether you get echoic control or not, the next step is more assessment and more learning on your part, whether you’re a parent or professional. So I highly recommend the VB MAPP assessment for all kids that have a language ability of under a 4 year old, whether they are, um, you know, not talking at all or have some words because just because they have some words doesn’t mean they’re going to be conversational. And there’s a whole host of many more complicated strategies that you need to be putting in place, not just for language but to control problem behavior, to teach self care, to make sure the child remains happy, to get, um, independence to teach, uh, academics.

So complicated. But I think actually the, these 5 tips to get echoic control are a really what’s going to open up the flood gates and if or if the flood gates don’t open, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is to do further assessment and further learning on your part. Again, I think the best learning, the best way I can help you besides these free videos and podcasts, um, are for you to consider joining my online course and community. I know the materials and the community is really making major gains with, um, with kids and so excited about that. So, um, again, the 5 strategies for gaining echoic control are using the early learner programs, um, such as the shoe box and matching, potato head. Number 2 is mix things up, vary it don’t always say a 3 times. Um, hide the card potentially during the, uh, sessions.

Um, make it a surprise. Put it in a bag, make it fun, make sure the child is happy and having fun the whole time. Number 3, try a song fill-ins to songs a child likes. Number 4 is video modeling and I would make your own videos, uh, based on what your child or clients like. And um, that might really be the key to getting echoic control and getting good responding going across operants. And the number 5, um, strategy is to do a VB MAPP assessment, do a standardized language assessments, uh, to, to make sure where we’re at, what the gap is, how to get to the next place, I think is the VB MAPPmai assessment and my courses. So to find out more about how you can, uh, teach echoic control and how you can, uh, learn how to do the VB MAPP, how to learn errorless learning and error correction procedures, and how to teach colors and academics and language for learning and all those kinds of things. Uh, attend a free workshop at marybarbera.com/workshop. And I hope that, uh, I hear from you, or you hear from me next week.

 

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