Monique Pinczynski, BCBA, MEd (University of North Carolina Charlotte) Integrating STEM, Robotics, and Social Skills Instruction for Students with ASD/ID
Monique is a first generation doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in Special Education. She was previously a classroom teacher in Henderson, NV where she taught students with autism and learning disabilities. Monique earned her B.S. and MEd. in Special Education at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she also attained her Board Certified Behavior Analyst certification. Her research interests include implementing evidence-based practices with students with autism and challenging behavior with a focus on communication as well as supporting teachers in this area.
In the U.S. and worldwide, STEM instruction is now considered a part of compulsory education and school curriculum (Passey, 2016). Robotics and computer programming/coding simultaneously incorporate all four areas of STEM while providing students with active learning and problem-solving experiences (Kalelioğlu, 2015). These experiences provide rich opportunities for students to use social skills while problem solving. However, individuals with ASD have deficits in communication/social skills that may require support during STEM instruction. Project Social Code, a five-year grant from the Department of Education brings researchers together from the University of Georgia State, Central Florida, and North Carolina to investigate integrating STEM and social skills instruction for students with autism and intellectual disability. Data will be shared from two pilot studies where teachers implemented a coding curriculum embedded with social skill instruction. Results of the first pilot study found increases in teacher fidelity and student social skills.
Thai Ray Williams, M.Ed., NBCT (University of North Carolina Charlotte) Everyone Gets to Write! Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disablities Write Sentences during Story-Based Lessons
Thai Ray Williams is a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina- Charlotte and a National Board Certified Teacher with 31 years of experience as a special education teacher. Her research interests include: (a) writing instruction for students with extensive support needs, (b) family-centered and culturally-responsive practices for Native American families of children with disabilities, and (c) barriers to the use of evidence-based practices in classrooms for students with extensive support needs. In her spare time Thai enjoys working on her tiny house, creating multimedia art, and random adventures.
Writing is used to express one’s knowledge and opinions, organize and plan, and engage in social exchanges. For many individuals, representative of diverse intersecting identities, it is means of expression and in some cases advocacy. Students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have often been excluded from writing instruction due to low expectations and a lack of knowledge of how to teach writing to students with extensive support needs. This lack of writing instruction has resulted in a population that, in a digital age, has been denied access to what for many are primary modes of communication and social engagement because they are missing the foundational skills needed for such engagement. In this engaging session, the presenter will discuss a recent study conducted in a rural community on the effectiveness of time delay and sentence frames to teach students with IDD to generate sentences in response to text. Data indicated the intervention package was effective in teaching sentence construction of two sentence types with a large effect size per Tau-U. Additionally, the presenter will describe how this study extends the current literature and its implications for designing more effective literacy packages and increasing meaningful access to inclusive educational communities.
Trudy Georgio, BCBA, LBA (Texas A&M University) Teaching Autistic Children to Initiate Joint Attention: A Single-Case Research Study.
Trudy is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and doctoral candidate at Texas A&M University. Trudy has over 12 years of experience providing behavior support services in the home, school, clinic, and community settings. She is the founder of Tru Behavior Development, LLC, a consultation and training service grounded in the science of behavior. Trudy specializes in teaching language to students with autism spectrum disorders and mentoring students and practitioners of applied behavior analysis.
Joint attention (JA) is the ability to coordinate attention between a social partner and a referent in a social context. During JA episodes, children build social knowledge and perspective-taking. JA is a pre-linguistic skill critical for language acquisition and social and cognitive development. Research suggests that JA behaviors emerge in the first six months of life; the absence of these behaviors is one of the earliest indicators of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Approximately a quarter of children with ASD do not develop functional language, an outcome believed to be rooted in deficiencies of JA. Derived from a verbal behavior account of language, a multiple probe design research study was conducted with three children with ASD. The intervention was designed to teach the participants to initiate triadic gaze through a differential reinforcement and time delay treatment package. Sessions were conducted during natural environment mand training, programming for generalization, and maintenance of behavior change. The study results were favorable, with all three participants doubling the percentage of initiation of JA overall. Social validity and participant assent behavior were measured and analyzed with positive results, demonstrating that this is a promising intervention for teaching this critical skill for learners with ASD.