- Success Strategies for Teaching Kids with Autism
“We need to take responsibility when children fail and adjust our expectations and approaches until we find a place in which they can succeed” (p. 232). Success Strategies for Teaching Kids with Autism encompasses this philosophy throughout. The authors utilize their extensive experience educating children with autism to deliver a comprehensive guide to helping similar kids realize their full potential. The permanent product of their efforts is a book detailing the characteristics of children on the spectrum, descriptions and how-to directions for delivering interventions, and tips on how special educators can address specific challenges in the learning environment.
The authors’ familiarity with aspects of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is evidenced by their extensive descriptions of specific characteristics in Chapter 1 (“What is Autism?”). The authors describe the different disorders on the spectrum and they specifically elaborate upon ten characteristics children on the spectrum often exhibit. While the characteristics are neatly outlined, the authors are careful not to be reductive. They specifically comment that educators must look at characteristics of the individual child when deciding upon interventions and that the challenge is “how to create successful programs when presented with such a range of characteristics” (p. 24). Their detailed descriptions of the spectrum serve as an appropriate and useful introduction for the book as the authors begin to elaborate upon specific interventions. With a sound description of autism in mind, the reader next learns about educational programming in Chapter 2 (“What Makes a Successful Education Program for Children with a Diagnosis of ASD?”). The authors outline several empirical findings concerning early intervention services for children with ASD and the efficacy of applied behavioral analytic approaches. They conclude that the main goals of programming are “to improve and increase the child’s social and language skills as well as to reduce or minimize behaviors that interfere with the child’s functioning and learning” (p. 35). Throughout the book, the authors discuss interventions and strategies with these child-centered objectives in mind.
The authors are advocates for and practitioners of applied behavior analysis (ABA), and their extensive knowledge of principles and practices permeates the book. In Chapter 3 (“What is ABA?”), the authors give a detailed answer to this question with specific tips [End Page 287] and definitions for those educators who may not be quite so familiar with ABA terminology. They specifically state their adherence to ABA and recommend that all of the intervention strategies they discuss “be viewed through the lens of an ABA approach” (p. 66). The authors’ expertise in ABA is one of the strengths of the book. In Chapter 4, they discuss (“How Can ABA Principles Be Implemented in Education Programs?”) how teachers can utilize several broad methods, such as Direct Instruction (DI) and Naturalistic Teaching Methods (NTMs), in their educational strategies. The discussion of these larger principles is a useful introduction to the specific interventions which are addressed in subsequent chapters. As various interventions are described, they constantly discuss the importance of practices which are integral to applied behavioral analytic methods, such as ongoing assessment and analysis, and the continuous review of research on developments within the field. The entirety of Chapter 5 consists of a discussion of how to create an evidence-based classroom. The authors whole-heartedly assert that methods based on ABA have been found through research to be the most effective when working with children on the spectrum, and they adhere to this ideology throughout the book.
Having provided a solid introduction to autism and ABA, the authors get to the heart of the guide with Chapter 6 (“Strategies for Addressing the Major Characteristics of ASD in the Classroom”). Ashcroft, Argiro, and Keohane use nearly forty percent of the entire book, about 100 pages, addressing specific interventions for children with ASD. This section is organized intuitively as the authors break the chapter into ten parts, discussing useful interventions for each of the ten characteristics of ASD which they outlined in Chapter 1. The most frequently-used ABA interventions are presented...