My name is Crystal Velez. I am certified to teach early both early childhood and childhood education and students with disabilities. I am entering my second year of teaching. Currently I teach 3K (essentially Pre-K but for 3-4 year olds). In 2015 I graduated with both my high school diploma and my Associates Degree in Liberal Arts at the age of 18. I attended the State University of New York at New Paltz for my undergraduate studies. There, I studied early childhood, childhood education and english. Upon graduating in 2018, I decided to attend the City University of New York Brooklyn College to take classes for my certification extension in Students with Disabilities. In 2020 I extended my learning further and enrolled in the State University of New York at Albany's Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology program.
My initial interest in working with children with special needs and disabilities started immediately after my youngest sibling was diagnosed. Over time I have seen first hand how much progress can be made in an individual's life when given the right tools, resources, and services. Having a sixteen and a half year age gap between us allowed me to become more aware of and involved of his needs and progress over time. I was always interested in finding a way to help my brother and I was interested in the services he was getting. As a teenager I would often ask questions and observe the therapists in my living room. I made connections through these individuals that ended up getting me a registered behavior technician position at the ABA center he attended. I worked with children on the autism spectrum of all ages both in a center and at homes on a case by case basis. Here I gained useful skills that will help me both inside and outside of the classroom. Upon working with so many diverse children of different needs, I realized I wanted to take my knowledge to the next level and become more involved with bringing efficient and useful modern technology to the world of students with disabilities. Hence, my certification in students with disabilities and my current enrollment in SUNY Albany's CDIT program.
My Topic and Purpose
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the practice of applying the psychological principles of learning theory in an efficient way to alter behaviors in individuals. It is a science that is based on observable behaviors and is dedicated to the understanding, improvement and modifications of behaviors. One of the core focuses of applied behavior analysis is skill acquisition which refers to the voluntary control over movements of joints and body segments in an effort to solve a motor skill obstacle, modify and condition condition behaviors, and attain task goals. Going forward, applied behavior analysis is a specific type of therapy that can improve socialization, communication, and learning skills through positive reinforcement and assist individuals on the autism spectrum in leading better lives. Aside from motor skills, social skills, academic skills, and self-care skills can be enhanced and attained through the implementation of the practice of analytical behavior analysis.
The intent of this course is to assist parents, teachers, and registered behavior technicians in throughly understanding the practice of applied behavior analysis and how it can help individuals on the autism spectrum. Applied behavior analysis is a practice that is not commonly known. Although registered behavior technicians typically are the individuals to implement these services, educators and parents can learn useful skills and techniques to help their child or someone they know, live comfortably. Applied behavior analysis is known as an effective way to address the needs of people with autism spectrum disorders.
The following questions will be discussed during this course:
- What is Applied Behavior Analysis?
- What are functions of behaviors?
- What is the importance of reinforcement in ABA?
- What makes ABA effective for children with Autism?
At the end of this mini course, learners will be able to:
- Participants will be able to define Applied behavior Analysis and describe its purpose.(Understand)
- Participants will be able to list and describe the four functions of behavior. (Analyze)
- Participants will be able to compare and contrast positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. (Analyze)
- Participants will be able to apply what they know about ABA to assist cases of individuals on the Autism spectrum. (Create)
|Learning Outcomes||Assessments||Teaching/Learning Strategies|
|Participants will be able to define Applied behavior Analysis and describe its purpose.(Understand)||Reflection, Submit an original form of writing consisting of a definition and the purpose of applied behavior analysis written in own words, short quiz||
|Participants will be able to list and describe the four functions of behavior.(Analyze)||Reflection, Quiz on assessing behaviors, and Analyze Antecedent/Behavior/Consequence chart and complete a statement of inference.||
|Participants will be able to compare and contrast positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. (Analyze)||Statement of writing - opinion piece on reinforcers, Create a poster on the benefits and uses of both types of reinforcement.||
|Participants will be able to apply what they know about ABA to assist cases of individuals on the Autism spectrum. (Create)||Participants will be assessed by relating what they have learned to real world experiences and scenarios in a research paper. (Criterion-referenced assessment - course paper)||
The Instructional Problem
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education partnered with National Center for Learning Disabilities to state that "Today 57% of students with disabilities spend more than 80% of their day in general education classrooms, yet general education teachers consistently report that they do not have the skills they need to effectively instruct diverse learners, including students with disabilities." (Blanton, et al., 2011, pg.4). There are many students with disabilities who are in general education classrooms. It has been found that many teachers who teach in general education classrooms do not feel prepared to cater to these students needs.
Taking a closer look at one developmental disability, Autism in particular, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network found that as of 2016, about 1 in 54 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the United States (Maenner, et al., 2016). With this developmental disorder on the rise over the last 20 years and counting, many individuals who work with children should have some sort of knowledge on how to work with children on the autism spectrum.
Survey I created a survey in which was given to 33 educators at random. In this survey, educators were asked the following questions:
- What are you certified to teach? / What did you go to school for?
- About how long have you been involved in teaching? (You may include fieldwork experience, student teaching, substitute teaching, teacher's assistant, and time having your own classroom).
- Do you feel prepared to teach students with disabilities / students with special needs?
- Have you had a child with special needs in any classes you have taught?
- Do you feel like your teaching practice could benefit from a course on assisting students with special needs?
- Do you feel like having knowledge in how to assist and teach students with special needs/disabilities is important regardless of the type of teacher one is? Why or why not?
- Are you familiar with Applied Behavior Analysis in any way? If yes, briefly describe below. If no, please write no.
Survey Data Click HERE to view an excel sheet of the data recorded from the survey.
Findings The 33 individuals who participated in they survey ranged from early childhood to adolescent education educators. Some of these educators has had up to 37 years of teaching experience under their belt. Below are the survey results in summary.
- 48% of individuals (16/33) surveyed had special education / students with disabilities certification.
- 100% of participants (33/33) surveyed has had a child with special needs in their class.
- 39% of participants (13/33) said that they do NOT feel prepared to teach students with disabilities / students with special needs. 15% (5/33) Said that they feel somewhat prepared, and 45% (15/33) reported that they feel prepared. With this being said, a total of 55% of educators surveyed do not feel prepared to teach and cater to the needs of students with disabilities / special needs in their classroom.
- 97% of participants (32/33) believe that their own teaching practice could benefit from a course on assisting students with special needs. While one participant who is already a special education teacher of 20 years stated that they do not believe their own practice could benefit from a course on assisting students with special need they stated the following: "No but I realize many general education teachers are unprepared to support children with learning differences in their general education classroom."
- 100% of participants (33/33) all stated that they believe that having knowledge in how to assist and teach students with special needs/disabilities is important regardless of the type of teacher they are.
- 48% of participants (16/33) stated that they are not familiar with the practice of applied behavior analysis.
What Will Be Learned
With 100% of surveyed individuals stating that they have had a student with special needs in their classes, and almost half (48%) of surveyed participants stating that they are not familiar with the practice of applied behavior analysis (ABA), this course will teach useful skills to a variety of individuals on applied behavior analysis and catering to the needs of children on the autism spectrum.
By becoming familiar with applied behavior analysis, individuals can increase language and communication skills, improve attention, focus, social skills, memory, and academics of children with special needs, more specifically children on the autism spectrum. In addition, applied behavior analysis can assist with finding triggers of behaviors and decreasing problem behaviors at home and in the classroom.
Exploring the Problem and Solution
The problem at hand is that many teachers and educators will have to teach individuals with special needs including individuals on the autism spectrum. According to the survey, all teachers including general education teachers has had to teach a student with special needs. Not all teachers have adequate knowledge on teaching individuals with special needs.
Applied behavior analysis is a practice that can be incorporated and integrated into the home and the classroom. Having knowledge of this practice can benefit the educator, parent, and individual with special needs. This course is a solution to the knowledge gap to insure that all educators have some knowledge on how to cater to special needs individuals.
The goal of this course is to allow for individuals who are working with students to feel comfortable and knowledgable of working with students who have disabilities or special needs. More specifically, how to use applied behavior analysis to cater to the needs of students on the Autism Spectrum. Keep in mind that applied behavior analysis is a practice that can be used to assist other developmental disorders and behaviors in a given scenario.
Analysis of the Learner and Context
Analysis of Learners
Due to the nature of this problem, the range of learners who can benefit from this course is wide. Many different kinds of individuals may find themselves working with children on the autism spectrum (and with special needs students entirely).
- Parents or family members of a child with special needs
- Babysitters or nannies
- General education classroom teachers
- Special education classroom teachers looking to expand on their knowledge
- Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT)
- Social Worker
- Occupational Therapist
- Speech Therapist
- Educational program director
Context for Learning
This course will be taught in an online format. 4 units will be provided in this mini course. The course is a user-paced atmosphere with check points for understanding of material. Learners will be required to have access to a computing device such as a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other suitable device for viewing webpages, videos, pictures, and course content.
Prior knowledge on autism spectrum disorder is not required but it is recommended. This course is primarily based on learning the practice of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and how it can be applied to help students on the autism spectrum.
- Explore the concept of applied behavior analysis and its uses in and out of the classroom pertaining to individuals on the autism spectrum.
- Identify specific behaviors pertaining to the four functions of behaviors to assist in bettering an individual with special needs.
- Analyze the benefits of positive and negative reinforcement and when to use each when working with an individual with special needs.
- Self-reflect by applying what has been learned about applied behavior analysis to a personal experience working with an individual who has special needs.
The only prerequisite you may need is background knowledge on autism spectrum disorders.
Terminal Goal: The learner will be able to successfully implement applied behavior analysis practices appropriately when it comes to managing a child with autism [special needs]
Unit 1: Applied Behavior Analysis: The Practice
- Read and analyze 2-3 journal articles on the overall practice of Applied Behavior Analysis and it's connection to Autism.
- Submit an original form of writing consisting of a definition and the purpose of applied behavior analysis written in their own words.
- Complete a short quiz to monitor and test knowledge.
Unit 2: Four Functions Of Behavior
- Read and analyze 2-3 journal articles and videos on the functions on behavior.
- Classify behaviors
- Analyze Antecedent/Behavior/Consequence chart and complete a statement of inference.
Unit 3: Reinforcement
- Read and analyze 2-3 journal articles and videos on reinforcement.
- Statement of writing - opinion piece on reinforcers
- Create a poster on the benefits and uses of both types of reinforcement.
Unit 4: Autism & Applied Behavior Analysis: Making Connections
- Apply new knowledge of applied behavior analysis to assisting real world situations and cases of autism spectrum disorder.
- Complete a course paper connecting personal experience to the topic at hand of applied behavior analysis.
References and Resources
Blanton, L. P., Pugach, M. C., & Florian, L. (2011). Preparing general education teachers to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. Washington, D.C.: American Association of Colleg- es for Teacher Education & National Center for Learning and Disabilities. Retrieved from http://www.ncld.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/aacte_ncld_recommendation.pdf
Maenner MJ, Shaw KA, Baio J, et al. Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2016. MMWR Surveill Summ 2020;69(No. SS-4):1–12. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.ss6904a1