Autism Resource blog:
ABA Therapy

Parent Support University: Week 18

Jul 29, 2020
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Speaker 1 (00:02):

Hello AnswersNow, family and friends. Welcome back to our weekly parent support university. I'm Adam Dreyfus. I am one of the cofounders of AnswersNow, what is AnswersNow? Answers now is a mobile platform, an app that connects you directly to your own board certified behavior analyst. And if you're wondering, what is that? And what's the board certified behavior analyst that is someone who is specifically trained in the arts of behavior analysis. The vast majority of us work with children diagnosed with autism. It's although that is not how it started, but it is certainly the truth today. And if you are a parent or caregiver of somebody diagnosed with autism, they are a really, really amazing resource. So we are here to talk to you about the things that you can do to help your kids and adults in your care.

Speaker 1 (00:58):

During the pandemic what we have decided to do is demystify behavior analysis a little bit like a lot of specialties they had, has developed his own language and it can be very jargony. Today we're going to be talking about scripting which this is an interesting one because scripting has a very specific connotation for many autism parents and it is not positive. So they're like, what are you talking about? I have been watching these videos and they're full of useful information and interventions. I was talking to a parent earlier and they've said I've taken a bunch of the modules. And I feel like I kind of understand things a lot better, which is perfect, but scripting, why would you scripting? So we'll get into that in a little bit. I want to back up and just to explain a little about what we're doing here and and tap you into that resource.

Speaker 1 (01:52):

So about 10 years ago, yeah, about 10 years ago now the National Professional Development Center, which is essentially a consortium of universities came together and were like, man, this autism things it's blown up, it's getting real big. And parents are feeling really overwhelmed, right? Like it's a they're not sure where to turn to. They go online. There's a thousand different rabbit holes. Is it diet? Is it vaccines? Is it, what is it? There's always seems to be something new, you know, hyperbaric chambers and vitamin D and oxytocin. Like it was just a, it still is like, it feels like, but every six months there's some new miracle cure STEM cells. So they said, let's just hit pause a little bit and kind of compile a list of stuff that we know that works, right. We're not gonna be able to stop all the, kind of the new stuff, but it'd be useful for parents know, like, Hey, this stuff just works.

Speaker 1 (02:43):

And so they pulled together a list of about 24, 25 evidence based practices. And that's exactly what it sounds like. There's evidence that proves that this particular intervention works. And sometimes the proof is very age specific, like but that doesn't necessarily mean it's only just for kids or only just for adults. It just means that's the, those are the populations that it has been proven to work on. So they've got a terrific resource, the National Professional Development Center and I keep saying it so that it makes it easier for you to go type it in and look it up. They have created and left in their wake because they're no longer operational the afirm modules, A F I R M. And you can go on there and they're for free you sign up and it's like a little mini university course.

Speaker 1 (03:31):

So each evidence based practice today we're going to be talking about scripting. But I think there's a 20th one we've talked about. We're getting towards the end of them. Each evidence based practices, it explains like where the evidence came from, came from, like, how did this practice make the list? What are the basic components of it? How do you go about doing it? Each little mini course probably takes an hour, hour and a half. And it's just fantastic. I would caution that it's still a little jargony that it probably you're going to want to have an expert or someone that you can kind of lean on and ask questions about. And that's, that's where AnswersNow comes in. That's one of the, you know, that's one of the the ways that we serve parents is to act as a teaching, how to do this.

Speaker 1 (04:15):

In addition to directly serving your kids AnswersNow has grown in a lot of ways. Over the last few years, we were text-based support for a while. And now we're doing direct services. So we're working just like this with parents and with their children taking insurance. If you are curious as to whether or not we take your insurance or serve your state, like right now, we're just in Virginia. But rapidly expanding out into other states, just go to And we've got a couple of places where you can fill in your information and we'll let you know, we'll look it up and say, where do you qualify? You know, what kind of services you can get? We are happy to do that. The whole point of the new platform is to simplify this whole process for you, the insurance process and especially the delivery of the service process.

Speaker 1 (05:01):

And so we're really excited about it. We've got a brand new interface for the parents and for their kids. So without further ado scripting, now, the reason I say most parents are probably flinching a little bit is most parents think of scripting is like their kid just says things that don't seem connected to something else. So it's frequently around a TV show or a movie. Thomas the tank engine gets a lot of scripting. So the kids watch the videos or read the books mostly kind of watch the videos for this, or watch a show these days. It's a lot of YouTube videos and they memorize the says. So like for someone a little bit older, like myself, like you have a Dabadoo, so they might go around saying, yeah, but Dabadoo, do you say, Oh, what does that mean?

Speaker 1 (05:50):

You have a Dabadoo and they do it all the time or a lot of time. And a lot of folks, parents and teachers and brothers and sisters can find scripting in that sense, in that definition super annoying. And, and it is frequently a behavior that folks target for intervention cause like, say middle school, say the kids in middle school and they got okay academic skills. So they're not in highly restrictive classes, they're, you know, maybe borderline general ed. But they script all the time and parents and teachers recognize that that makes it really hard for them to make friends, right. It's a very different behavior. It can be embarrassing for other kids. And so it's recognized that if you can either make it more functional which is definitely the main focus is, Hey, can we take these scripts and kind of create more functional language?

Speaker 1 (06:48):

There's a lot of work around there. There's a if you look up affinities where we're scripting kind of falls under that, like they just say the same things over and over and to the best of our sort of understanding and this is not, this is an incomplete answer. They serve as like a calming mechanism not altogether different than you singing your favorite song to yourself. And you might do it over and over, or if you've got a saying that you do that that serves to kind of calm you down. What's great from my perspective as a clinician is if, if they've got language, right, like they can say full sentences and you know, the, the pronunciation is correct that you have a lot to work with there to shape that into more functional language.

Speaker 1 (07:41):

So instead of just saying Dabadoo, that becomes how do you do, and you can build social skills and connectivity through that. What we mean today for our purposes today is scripting as an intervention. And at its core, it's very simple. It just means using a written or vocal cue to help people out. So I've done it quite a bit with math skills where you teach the kid to say the math out loud. So you might start with like seven times seven. So they look at it and you say seven times seven, and until they reliably say seven times seven, sometimes seven equals 49, seven times seven equals 49. And then once they've kind of got it, you begin to fade out the script, the vocal prompt, or by vocal, I mean, a spoken prompt, or a written prompt.

Speaker 1 (08:36):

So scripting in the sense of the intervention, that's shown to be very effective just means kind of like writing out or saying what's happening so that they can follow along. Either reading it it's essentially like a, like a list. But you do run the risk, right. Of it becoming just very repetitive for them, them sort of picking it up. And this is sometimes where you will encounter someone on the spectrum and they'll say, hi, how are you doing? And they say, hi, how are you doing? Hold your hand out, shake your hand. And it's nice to meet you, right? Like they're verbalizing this script in their head now to be fair. All of you folks out there watching this, most of our language, yours, mine is scripted. Thank you. Hello, please. How are you doing?

Speaker 1 (09:26):

Oh, thank you very much for that. We have and it's the exact same thing, right? It's it, it makes communication a little bit easier cause you automate a lot of it, like, think about if you're in a conversation that you're not super interested in. You met someone at a party, you know, you're having a glass of wine and they're talking and you're like, this is just not a very interesting person. And so almost all of your answers are canned scripts basically. Oh, that's very interesting. Oh, I haven't thought of it that way. You don't have to look that up when I get home. Have you thought about talking to somebody else about this? And so you know, we all kind of script, but autism, certainly autism spectrum disorder has its own special. So we're basically talking about two different kinds of, well, we're not talking about it.

Speaker 1 (10:13):

We're talking about one specific kind of scripting, which is the clinical intervention, which is where you're giving somebody prompts. And mentioning the other kinds of scripting, because I know a lot of folks on the spectrum equate scripting, like just as a bad thing, right? Like it's something they want eliminated if not greatly reduced. Hey, here's my five-year-old, it's nice to meet you, Adam, you a BCBA. What, what do I want to talk about? All he does is script Thomas the tank engine. Now I will say this even though it's probably good to presume that the scripting is self-soothing some of my greatest successes have come from recognizing that the scripting is serving a purpose other than just it's something that they like to hear. There's a little boy. I'm gonna call him J D and when I first met, he was, were very early on in my career.

Speaker 1 (11:13):

And he scripted almost all the time and almost all the time Thomas, the tank engine, I didn't know very much about Thomas the tank engine at the time. It was like I said, I was kind of coming back into the field after doing something else. So, but I spent a ton of time with this kid. I watched a lot of Thomas, the tank engine. We read a lot of Thomas, the tank engine. It was it was really easy for me to get him to kind of interact with me if any Thomas the tank engine was going on. And there was one day where he looked at me and he said, my boiler is full. And I was familiar with this script out of Thomas tank engine. That's what Thomas says when he's not feeling well. Like when, for lack of a better word his tummy aches, right?

Speaker 1 (11:57):

That's an engine's version of a tummy. My boiler is full. And so I thought I just, in that moment on, I was like, maybe that's what JD is trying to say to me. These guys tell me, okay, so I've made a very exaggerated. I held on my tummy. I went, Oh, your boiler's full. And it was our first kind of connection. He looked at me and he smiled and he touched his tummy and he said, my boiler is full. And that was our first like, communication. So the next thing, just not going to go too long. And it's the next thing I did is I started calling him Thomas and myself, James, which are the two main characters. And then he started calling me James and referring to himself as Thomas. And now we're getting somewhere right now. I've got a name associated with me.

Speaker 1 (12:49):

I'm an actual sort of person. And then after about a month, I faded out Thomas and James and called him J D and he called me Adam. And that was the beginning of him acquiring conversational language. So don't discount that there's other information sort of embedded in the bad scripting and absolutely use the good scripting to help kids out. I was talking to someone the other day about a kid who was really afraid to walk down the hall because they thought everybody didn't like them. And why would you want to walk down a hall full of people who don't like you? I mean, it makes sense. So, but he was always late for classes. It was creating issues. There was not super sympathetic administrators. And so I would script with him. I would go and walk out of the class with him and walked down the hallway and say, and I would vocalize as if I were him.

Speaker 1 (13:44):

And I'd say, I'm walking down the hall, I've got my blue backpack on it's three o'clock. And I was just like the world coming at us. I was just narrating. What was in my head here comes some people one's wearing a blue shirt, one's wearing a yellow shirt. They're obviously telling a joke to each other. Cause they're laughing. They look very friendly. And it, what it did is it, it gave him a new script. He had a very negative script in his head. And so we, for lack of a better word, kind of replaced it with a more positive script that reduced their anxiety and also kind of taught them what I call detective skills, right? Like how to read people's facial expressions and ascertain what their motives are and what their feelings are which is not perfect for all of us, but certainly something that generally we're pretty good at like, Oh, that person say, or that person said, so we're wrapping up.

Speaker 1 (14:37):

Today's I don't want to say podcast. It's not really, it's a little YouTube video. Our parents support university, definitely go check out, to learn more about us. I am Adam Dreyfus. I am the chief science and co founder for AnswersNow you can go to the app store and there we go, download the app for free in the either the Apple store or the Android store, just to go to your search function your store and type in AnswersNow, all one word squished together. Not a space between answers and now, and you will see this a little purple butterfly icon and that's us and download us or just drop us a line, send us a email give us a call and let us know what we can do to help you out. Thank you very much. I hope you and you, yours are staying safe and we'll see you next week.

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