Today we have a guest post from Rosemarie Griffin from ABA Speech on the importance of building language generalization into our instructional methods. So important for this time of year as we are getting all of our materials ready!

Have you worked with students with autism or other complex communication disorders before on a labeling target? The student can label the item or action when they are working with you with 100% accuracy. But when you show them a novel picture of that same item or action or they see it in the natural environment, they can’t label it. How frustrating!! When this happens, we need to analyze the methods we have been using to teach this skill.

To provide students with autism and other complex communication needs with systematic language instruction, we need to make sure that we are exposing our students to multiple examples of language targets that we are teaching. We want to make sure that we aren’t just showing students one static picture each time we work on a labeling task. If we only present this one picture, chances are the student will not generalize this skill to other pictured examples or to seeing the item or action in a less structured setting.

Let’s say that you are a classroom teacher and that you have collaborated with the speech language pathologist regarding working on labeling actions when you work with the student during 1 on 1 instruction. You have a student who is working on expressively labeling the action of washing. Instead of showing this student one picture of washing, to teach language more systematically you should expose the student to many examples of the word washing. This may include washing hands, washing hair and washing dishes.

When we embed language instruction throughout a student’s day and we present them with a variety of examples of the targeted language concept, we are planning for generalization. We want our students to be able to generalize the language targets they are working on at school into more natural speaking situations. Following this simple tip, will be a great first step to helping your students expand their overall language skills.

Rosemarie Griffin

ABA Speech

Rosemarie Griffin is a speech language pathologist, board certified behavior analyst and product developer. She is the creator of the Action Builder Cards. The action builder cards can be purchased at Different Roads to Learning or on Amazon. To learn more about working with students with challenging behavior or to gather information about using applied behavior analysis to help students increase their communication skills, check out her website   www.abaspeech.org or like her facebook page here: ABA SPEECH ON FACEBOOK.