Helping Emerging Verbal Skills – Emerge!

Categories: Curriculum Ideas

I am sure many of you have a student similar to the one I have in mind. I have a few students with lower level verbal abilities. They can imitate words or phrases and request highly preferred items. And then it seems like you get stuck. You can make the requests for preferred items more frequent and varied. You can increase the length of the request. You can practice repeating longer words and phrases. But again. Stuck. Getting that question answering social piece is SO tricky. My students are fairly echolalic so when you ask a question they tend to just repeat it.

To start teach question answering, you need to first teach responding. Skinner calls these lovely little tidbits – intraverbals. Intraverbals are verbal behavior that are shaped by other verbal behavior. So, when someone says good morning, you say good morning back, or you say hello or hi. Your response is based on what someone has said to you.

I have been working on intraverbals with two of my students. I start with very common and basic phrases.  I like to pull phrase ideas from the Assessment of Basic Language and Learning (ABLLS) Intraverbal Index. I work on a few phrases at a time. I say the start of the phrase and wait for the student to fill in the rest. For example, I say “up and…” and wait for the student to say “down.” Then I provide reinforcement based on the correct response – the student saying “down” without repeating the start of the phrase. He needs to respond only with his part of the phrase. I take data on 10 trials each day of 3 different phrases. Mastery criteria is 100% correct on 5 consecutive days before moving on to a new set.

Here is my data sheet:

These are the phrases we are working on:

It has been going super well. For one of my students this is one of the first times he is responding to a phrase without repeating it! Once he masters these three, we will add three more. Then we can make them more complicated. Once he starts to master several, we can transition from “a dog says…” to “what does a dog say?” And bam! My kiddo is answering questions.

We also work on answering “How are you?” or “How are you feeling?” using pictures. This is another great way to teach question answering by using pictures. It another great opportunities to veer away from only using verbal language to request items. I feel like 95% of some of my students’ language are “I want” phrases. Starting the commenting skill by using the “I feel” for emotions has worked really well!

For  some of my higher students, I printed and laminated all of the intraverbal phases and organized them by level of difficulty. With my more verbal students, we practice filling in the responses. We use these in morning group and they are prefect for my more moderate level verbal students.

Check back in tomorrow for some visual strategies for helping emerging vocal skills!

 

 

21 Comments

  1. i just don’t know if i could love your blog more! your ideas are so right on for teachers of students with autism and other significant disabilities. thank you for sharing your ideas and expertise!

    Reply
  2. Sasha,

    I read your blog and I sometimes think you have a window into my classroom. I have been teaching Special Education for 10 years. (resource room and consulting teacher) Gen. Ed for 6 years before that. I was asked to start a new classroom I was nervous but you have help me so much along the way. THANK YOU so much.

    Patty

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  3. You’re welcome Patty! Thank YOU for reading 🙂 It’s funny how similar some classrooms can be right?! Hope you are having a great week 🙂

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  4. Karla! Thank you so much! That is so sweet 🙂 Thank you for reading!

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  5. I love all your ideas. I have just gotten another non verbal.. Veryeee low. Thanks for what your posting!!!!

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  6. Thanks for reading Joan!

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  7. I love the phrases that you put up. I have a child that echos whatever I said last. We are working on responding to questions as well. My question is, how do you teach them the responses? Do you teach him what the responses are? Do you tell the child directly?

    Thanks for your posts. They are full of amazing ideas.

    Amy

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  8. Hi Amy! Yes I initially teach them the response using a verbal prompt. I do some mass trial prompting the response immediately following the start of the phrase – errorless teaching. After the student is consistently mimicking the end of the phrase – I provide a delay after the start of the prompt. Ie. The dog says (pause) – hoping the student will independently respond. Independent responses result in a high power reinforcer!

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  9. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!! I have two kids who are highly echolalic on my speech and language caseload. As my first year with kiddos this severe I have been stumped. I am going to be using this idea ASAP!! Do you have any idea how you would write an IEP goal to target this? Thank you!

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  10. Thank you Jenni!! I think my IEP goal is written something like this:

    Student will correctly finish/complete a common phrase for 10 phrases within 3 seconds of the adult saying the phrase on 9 out of 10 consecutive opportunities.

    Something like that! Hope that helps!

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  11. Thank you so very much! I wish you only knew how helpful all of your posts and responses to my questions are! I think you are quite amazing. 🙂

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  12. Hi! I love this post and was curious how you decided which intraverbals were a level 1, 2 of 3?
    Thanks for all of your help!!

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  13. Thanks! I just sorted through which were easiest (animal sounds, song lyrics, etc.) and which were hardest (those involving prepositions, functions, features, etc.) and then put the rest in the middle! 🙂

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  14. Thank you so much for wonderful list of intraverbals with increasing levels of difficulty.

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  15. We are looking into ABA for my son but he truly has no words. I have been told he is not low but is more mid range autism. We are getting him a device soon. Does ABA work with a device or will they just pound away at him even though he may not be able to speak?

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  16. Of course they would work with a device! An ethical behavior analyst would never continue with a program that the parent wasn’t on board with and that wasn’t showing signs of success. Any communication system that is effective is the goal!

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  17. Thank you so much for all your advice!! It has been a huge help! This is my second year working as an SLP and
    I have a extremely echolalic student who is in the supported class at my school. I started practicing the short phrases with him ( up and down, ready set go, dog says woof) with visuals and he has mastered the phrases without repeating (what a relief). I’am just wondering what should my next step be? What if I start asking ‘wh’ questions related to those short phrases and he repeats? Thank you!!

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  18. Where did you find the intraverbal phrases? I have a student who could really benefit from these! I love it! Thank you!

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  19. They were from the index of the ABLLS and then I added some of my own! 🙂

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  20. I would love to try this with one of my students! Is there a link to your list of intraverbals? Thanks!

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  21. The list is from the appendix of the ABLLS-R!

    Reply

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