Ballerina has a follow-up IEP Meeting coming up next week. This is a pre-determined meeting to discuss the progress she is making following the changes that we made in October’s Review Meeting. We increased her hours of support, we instituted a behavior modification plan and we worked to ensure consistency across all staff members working with her. And, outside of the meeting, a new behavior reward system was created for her which has been generally very positive.
First, let me describe this new reward system. It’s a laminated card, with a velcro strip on the bottom of both the front and the back of the card. On the front are 6 choices of rewards (which I’m sure can be changed if needed), including a hug, read a book, take a walk, drink of water, some kind of game, and do a puzzle. Ballerina chooses which reward she would like to work towards and then they begin. On the back of the card are the expectations, including Quiet Mouth, Quiet Hands and Great Working. There are 5 squares, each containing the picture of a heart. along the velcro strip on the front. For every 10 minutes Ballerina successfully achieves those objectives, a heart is moved from the front to the back. After all 5 hearts have been moved from the front to the back, she gets her requested reward.
The introduction of this reward chart is the best move that the school could have EVER made!!!!!! Because of her ABA success, we know she responds well to periodic rewards. But they can’t be abstract. They have to be something she can see and something she will receive immediately. With this system, she is rewarded every 10 minutes with something small (the moving of the hearts which she witnesses [and even contributes to by confirming she’s doing the 3 required things]) and then she gets her big reward when the hearts have all been moved. She’s been choosing a hug since they initiated this system, but she has the freedom to choose something different every time she starts again.
I spent just over an hour observing her in her classroom on Tuesday. I was there from the time she returned from specials (Physical Education, in this case) until she left for lunch. I watched her have a snack (and go over to get a drink from the water fountain), sit with her class on the carpet, answer some questions, return to her desk to complete a worksheet, and then go on to her independent learning center. She had a paraeducator with her the whole time (they no longer have her do the independent learning center without one as she is unable to complete anything with success without the support). She listened to the story (If You Give A Moose A Muffin by Laura Numeroff). She answered the teacher’s questions about the story. And she walked back to her table to do the assignment.
During the time on the carpet, I watched the paraeducator move 2 of the hearts from one side of the card to the other, indicating that she was earning her rewards. And I watched her complete the assignment. There were several parts…..she had to write her name (using a “magic C”), color in the pictures, cut the pieces out, and paste them back onto the worksheet in the same order that these items appeared in the story. It involved using her memory and her comprehension skills, as well as following multi-step instructions. And she did it ALL!!!!! Following the sequence of instructions was not a problem. Determining the correct order for the pieces to be pasted back onto the page was a bit more challenging for her, but she had the book with her (and the para) and they were able to put it together correctly with the book to ensure that things were correct. And then she was able to go to her center where, once again, she was asked to cut and paste and put together complete and correct sentences.
And through it all, every 10 minutes (or so) they would move another heart. In the 75 minutes I was there, she received a hug and was about 60% to getting another (which I’m sure happened not long after recess).
The entire time I was there, there were no outbursts. There were no tantrums. There was no threat of being sent to Time Out (for her — others were threatened to move their behavior cards). She did all of her work, and did it correctly. She worked well with her para and apologized for accidentally colliding with a classmate after being reminded to do so by the teacher.
She looked just like everyone else…..just a little different because of the support she was getting.
What a moment for this Autism Mom!!!!!!