TAGteacher Spotlight – Martha Gabler MA

Editor’s Note: We are thrilled to have Martha on our team of TAGteach Instructors as a Faculty Member. Martha has made a huge contribution to the development of TAGteach for autism.

Martha is the author of the popular book, Chaos to Calm: Discovering solutions to the everyday problems of living with autism.

By Martha Gabler MA, TAGteach Faculty

My name is Martha Gabler. My husband and I are the parents of two boys. The younger one, now 21 years old, was diagnosed at age 3 as having severe autism and being profoundly non-verbal. He had all the common difficult behaviors typical of children with autism, including self-injury and aggression.

By sheer chance, I learned about TAGteach and realized instantly that this method for positive behavior change could be a huge help for us. This turned out to be the case. My son is now a delightful, happy teen who loves life and loves going places. He still has autism, but life is much, much better for us all.

Here is a video that shows my son Doug going for a walk with his friend Anne and listening to his music. I had to teach him the skills for safe walking and sitting still to listen to music; now he can apply these and gain enjoyment from them independently.

 

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Using TAGteach to Help Learners Acquire Spontaneous Imitation, Functional Play and Social Skills

By Roni Dunning, B.A., ABA M.Sc., TAGteach Level 2, Skybound Therapies

The first time a child performs a skill that they haven’t previously demonstrated is always unforgettable! At Skybound Therapies, we’ve been using TAGteach® to help our learners emit spontaneous behaviours in a number of different developmental areas such as imitation, play and social skills. While we use an audible marker, we tend to limit language to teach behaviours that we want to increase in frequency or behaviours that require a chain of steps.

How Does TAGteach Work?

TAGteach enables the teacher to mark a learner’s appropriate behaviour with a sound made using a handheld clicker (or tagger). The tag becomes a conditioned positive reinforcer through association with tangible rewards (access to a preferred toy for example) or praise if the learner finds praise reinforcing. At times, the tag sound can be combined with a small piece of a highly preferred food, a sip of a preferred drink or a token economy system, which helps learners who are being taught skills intensively to understand when they’ve finished that round of teaching and can access a preferred item or activity. We use the terms “reinforcement” and “reinforcing” when referring to things that increase the likelihood that a behavior will happen in future (Skinner, 1957). There is research evidence to support the use of TAGteach and its efficacy in teaching a number of skills, ranging from the teaching of every day tasks to children with autism, movements in sports and to teach surgical procedures to medical students (Jackson, P. A., 2014; Gabler, M., 2013; Fogel et. al, 2010; Levi et. al, 2015).

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