Errorless Learning

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Errorless Learning
Tip of the Month:
August, 2018

As the name indicates, errorless learning is a teaching procedure designed to build success and minimize errors during the learning process. The main idea behind the procedure is to provide the learner with as much help as necessary for them to respond correctly at the start of the learning process and gradually reducing the amount and/or intensity of the help over time. The end goal is still to promote the learner’s independent responding. Below is a diagram of the general progression of errorless learning procedure:

There are a number of important items that people should keep in mind when running an errorless learning procedure:

• Fading the prompt too soon. One common mistake that often happens when running an errorless learning procedure is fading the prompts (help) too soon. This can lead to students making error and not learning successfully.

• Fading the amount of prompt by too much. Another mistake often seen is making too big of a jump from one prompt level to another one. For example, going from providing hand-over-hand prompt to a visual prompt. Removing too much of the help can lead, again, to students making error and not learning successfully.

• Keeping the prompt for too long. The last common mistake that often occurs during an errorless learning procedure is not fading the prompt fast enough. This can lead to prompt dependency and hinder a student’s ability to respond independently.

In order to minimize these errors, we need to collect data on student’s performance and make decision based on what the data tell us.


Florida Institute of Technology – The Scott Center Autism Advisor (2018). Errorless learning [Video File]. Retrieved from

Relias. (2018). Errorless learning: An autism teaching strategy video [Video File]. Retrieved from

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Summer Entertainment

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Tip of the Month:
July, 2018

The absence of a school routine may create challenges in daily lives during the summer months. For parents, children are around all day and for children, there is a less structured environment to deal with. Changes can be positive, but challenges may emerge.

Resist the temptation to abandon basic family rules and routines. Although it’s appealing to give children a break, it is important to remember that too much deviance from established routines can lead to irritability and meltdowns. However, some flexibility during the summer months is encouraged. It is a time for children to have fun. Maintain basic bedtime habits, scheduled chores, and other established expectations (e.g., not playing video games all day).

Keep a scheduled calendar of events. Even during the summer months, it is important to keep structure so children are able to anticipate upcoming events. A simple visual calendar that displays activities throughout the summer months allow children to prepare.

Create a mixture of major summer activities (e.g., long weekend trips, family vacation) and casual activities (e.g., swimming, playground trips, hiking) to keep children interested in summer events. Also, it is important to schedule daily quiet time. Children can choose from various quiet activities; however, these activities should be unplugged (i.e., away from technological devices, such as tv, iPad, video games, etc.). This enables children to entertain themselves and avoid overstimulation.

Daily education does not have to decrease since school is out for the summer. Incorporate time into the schedule to research and experiment topics of interest. If available, take opportunities to visit museums, aquariums, etc. to further develop educational ideas. Spend time outdoors when possible to interact with nature and learn about different animals and plants.

Some families live in urban areas where day camps and other structured programs are accessible. If possible, it may benefit your child to participate in one of these programs. There are a variety of programs offered and will depend on the location of the family.
Finally, planning daily time to read is important, especially for those children who have difficulty with reading skills. It does not have to be a book, as long as it holds the child’s attention (e.g., comic books, magazines, posters, etc.).

During the summer, parents hope to avoid boredom and demands of constant parent attention. With the right balance of free time and planned time, children are less likely to become bored and display challenging behaviour.

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Collaborate Problem-Solving Approach

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Tip of the Month:
June, 2018

The Collaborative Problem-Solving Approach is an approach developed by Ross Greene and J. Stuart Ablon that is aimed to reduce adversarial relationship between adults and students.

The approach views problem behaviours as an attempt by the student to solve a problem in the face of missing skills, such as social skills, executive skills, language skills, and other skills.

When a student presents a challenging behaviour towards an expectation given by an adult, there are three ways an adult can react to it.

Plan A:

Continue to impose adult will and expectations: “You must do it!”, “Stop it!”, “Because I said so!”

• Continue to pursue adult expectations

• Does NOT decrease problem behaviour
• Does NOT teach missing skills
• Does NOT result in lasting solution to the problem
• Does NOT create a ‘positive’ relationship between adult & student

Plan B:

Collaborative problem-solving approach
Mutually satisfactory & realistic solution to both parties

• Continue to pursue adult expectations
• Decreases problem behaviour
• Creates a ‘positive’ relationship between adult & student
• Teaches missing skills to the students
• Results in a durable solution to the problem


Plan C

Drop the expectation for the time being

“You can do it later”, “You don’t have to do it”

• Decreases problem behaviour
• Creates a ‘positive’ relationship between adult & student

• Expectations are NOT met
• Does NOT teach missing skills
• Does NOT result in a lasting solution to the problem

As you can see from the chart above, the Plan B approach results in the best outcome for both the student and the adult involved in the situation.

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Reinforcer or Break

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Tip of the Month:
May, 2018

Often, we look at reinforcer (or reward) and break as the same thing where in reality they serve different purposes.

A break is an activity that helps a person bring themselves back into a zone where they are at their optimal condition for participating and engaging in an activity. A break:
· Is something that everyone needs throughout the day
· Is typically short in duration (5 minutes or less)
· Should always ends with the student returning to the current task
· Is NOT something that the student needs to earn
· Is NOT access to preferred item/activity

A reinforcer is a preferred item or activity that the student receives contingent on the student completing a given task or instruction. A reinforcer:
· Uses a preferred item or activity based from a completed preference profile (see Resources for example)
· Can only be accessed by completing a given task or instruction
· Is typically short in duration (5 minutes or less)

To review, a break is a self-regulation activity designed to help a student stay engaged throughout the day, while a reinforcer is an item or activity that helps motivate a student to complete a given task or instruction.


GoNoodle, Inc. (2015). Press play on movement and mindfulness. Retrieved from
CosmicKids. (2018). Welcome to Cosmic Kids!. Retrieved from

Your Kids OT. (2016). Brain breaks to help concentration in the classroom!. Retrieved from

AFIRM Team. (2015). R+ reinforcer selection list in PDF. Chapel Hill, NC: National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder, FPG Child Development Center, University of North Carolina. Retrieved from

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Writing an Effective Individual Education Plan

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Tip of the Month:
April, 2018

An individual education plan (IEP) is the foundation for a student’s instructional program. Both school and home (and sometimes students) should be closely involved in developing and revising the student’s IEP over the school year and across grades. Many teachers and parents believe that longer, more detailed IEPs translate into better learning for the student. However, “less is more” may be the ideal approach when determining what skills and behaviours to target.

First, identify the long-term goals for the student. What goals would be most meaningful and functional for the student? What goals can the team select to focus on both immediate and long-term success? Example goals include “big picture” skills like communication, self-regulation, or numeracy.

Next, determine short-term objectives that will help the student reach the goals. Objectives should be written in clear, concrete language. They should be observable and measurable; if there is no reliable way to measure the student’s progress, the objectives may remain stagnant throughout the school year. Objectives should also be achievable and realistic so that the student experiences ongoing successes at the appropriate level.

In addition to clearly specifying the target skill or behaviour, objectives should outline the context (e.g., where and when) and criterion for mastery (e.g., 80% accuracy). Although data collection can seem daunting to school teams, there are various tricks for making this kind of progress monitoring more feasible. Instead of collecting data all day long for every objective, consider taking probe data only once or twice a week during specific subjects. This may be all that is necessary to monitor progress.

Overall, clearly defining and measuring fewer skills should be more successful than attempting to teach a laundry list of objectives. In focusing on greater quality of instruction for fewer skills, teams may see greater student successes. Similarly, the team should also find this process rewarding and be encouraged to continue creating meaningful yet feasible goals for students.

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Sticky Notes

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Sticky Notes
Sticky Notes
Sticky Notes
Sticky Notes
Sticky Notes
Tip of the Month:
March, 2018

In working with a student, staff often carry a variety of tools with them, such as visual schedule, token board, first…then visual, contingency map, and many others. These tools can be cumbersome for staff to carry and organize, often leading them to be misplaced or unused.

One way to help ensure that staff will always have most, if not all, the tools necessary to support the student without the hassle of carrying multiple items, is by using your everyday sticky notes and a pencil.

Sticky notes provide a blank canvas for staff to create almost all the visuals needed to support a student. The sticky notes also allow staff to individualize the visuals to the present situation.

Some examples of various visuals that can be created on a sticky note are shown to the right.

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Handling Teasing

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Tip of the Month:
February, 2018

Laugeson (2014) defined teasing as any disparaging remark directed toward another person. Often, the teaser is reinforced by the attention that he or she gets from the crowd and/or the pleasure he or she gets from the discomfort of the victim. Research has shown that socially rejected teens, much like most of our students with ASD, tend to get angry, upset, or physically aggressive when they are teased, while more socially accepted teens often respond to teasing with humor or assertion. Understanding these can provide us with a framework on teaching our students how to respond to teaching.

How to Handle Teasing (Laugeson, 2014)
1. Act like what the person said didn’t bother you.
2. Act like what the person said was lame or stupid.
3. Give a short verbal comeback, such as one of the examples below:
“Yeah, and?”
“Is that supposed to be funny?”
“So what?”
“Who cares”
“And your point is…”
“Big deal”
“And why should I care?”
4.Sound bored OR Have an attitude when you use the comebacks. Decide what is more comfortable for you to use.
5. Give a nonverbal comeback. Pick one that you can do and is comfortable for you to do:
-Rolling your eyes
-Shrugging your shoulders
-Shaking your head
-Be ready with several verbal comebacks. The teasing won’t stop after just one comeback.
-After giving a few verbal comebacks, remove yourself by casually looking away or slowly walking away

Role-play various scenarios with your student in a safe environment until he or she is comfortable with giving both verbal and non-verbal comebacks. Focus on the tone of voice and body language as you are practicing with the student.

Important Note:

  • Don’t ignore the teasing
  • Don’t walk away without giving verbal comebacks
  • Don’t tell an adult right away
  • Don’t tease back
  • Don’t banter (friendly, playful teasing) – very risky to engage in
  • Teasing will get worse before it gets better – encourage the student to persevere and continue to use the strategy
  • Expect the teaser to try again
  • Don’t use verbal comebacks with physically aggressive peers OR with adults (e.g. teacher, parent)
  • Reference

    Laugeson, E.A. (2014). The PEERS® Curriculum for School-Based Professionals: Social Skills Training for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. New York: Routledge.

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School | Home Communication

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Tip of the Month:
January, 2018

In 2012, Zablotsky, Boswell, and Smith conducted a survey with parents of children with ASD regarding their involvement with the school system. The result showed that parents of students with ASD were more likely to attend meetings, talk to the school team, and help with homework. However, these parents are also among the most dissatisfied group when it comes to the level of communication between school and home. The study also showed positive correlation between parental involvement and parental satisfaction with the school system.

Understanding that communication between home and school can have a positive impact on the student’s skill development and on the relationship between parents and teachers, it is essential that an effective and efficient form of communication be established at the beginning of the school year.

An ideal communication tool should be:
• Easy to understand
• Contains all essential information for both school and home
• Quick to complete (less than 5 minutes)

Please see attached for an example of communication sheet. Remember, the communication should be individualized for each student.


Broun, L. (2012 August). Strategies for Effective Home/School Communication. Retrieved from$file/home+and+school+communication.pdf

Zablotsky, B., Boswell, K., & Smith, C. (2012). An evaluation of school involvement and satisfaction of parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. American Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 117(4), 316-330.

Communication Book template160.34 KB

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Preparing for Winter vacation

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Preparing for Winter vacation
Tip of the Month:
December, 2017

As winter vacation fast approaches, it might be a good idea to start preparing our students for the transition between school to holidays. Research has shown that individuals with ASD transition better if they are informed ahead of time and if they can predict what is coming.

One way to support the transition is through the use of calendar (see Winter Vacation Calendar TEMPLATE). Using a calendar that shows when the student is going to school and when he or she is not presents a visual prompt to let the student know of what is happening the next day. The calendar can also go to the parents so they can use it during the holidays to prepare the students for returning to school.

Using the calendar with the student (see Winter Vacation Calendar EXAMPLE)

1. At the end of the day, show the student the calendar and inform him/her of what it is for (e.g., “Let’s look at how many more school days before holiday”).
2. Prompt the student, if necessary, to locate the day’s date
3. Have the student mark off the date (e.g., using a marker, put a sticker on it, etc)
4. With the student, count out the remaining days until the holiday begins
5. Show the student of what is the plan for the next day (e.g., “Look at the calendar. Are we coming to school tomorrow?”)
6. Continue doing so until the last day of school
7. Send the calendar home and demonstrate to the parents how to use it to prepare for coming back to school in January

Winter Vacation Calendar EXAMPLE.docx32.6 KB
Winter Vacation Calendar TEMPLATE.docx24.33 KB

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Transitioning from an iPad

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Tip of the Month:
November, 2017

With the increasing popularity of iPad and Apps, students with ASD are given access to more technologies than ever before. One of the challenges that parents and teachers face is to successfully transition the students off the device and on to another activity. It is well documented that individuals with ASD struggle with transition in general (Hume, 2008). This can be due to their needs for predictability, lack of understanding of what is going to happen next, or challenges when their pattern of behaviours is disrupted.
There are many transition strategies out there that can help make these transitions more successful.

Visual schedule
A visual schedule showing the student the sequence of events that will happen can help build predictability for the students. This can be as simple as a First..Then.. visual.

  • At the start of the first activity, show the visual and go through the visual with the student.
  • As the first activity is done, inform the student that the activity is “finished” or “all done” and direct the student to look at what is the next activity going to be.
  • Praise and reinforce the student for successful transition.

Timer & countdown
A timer can provide a visual cue for the students of how much time remains in the current activity. Be aware of your student’s sensory profile to determine the type of timer that works best for your student.

A countdown can serve as a warning signal to prepare our students for the end of an activity. The length of the countdown (seconds or minutes) will vary depending on your student’s ability and the activity itself. A countdown can be presented in various ways:

  • Vocal countdown (e.g. “iPad is done in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, all done”)
  • Countdown using fingers
  • Countdown strip (see attached)

Guided access
iPad and iPhone has a built-in feature that will enable you to control access to the iPad including setting a timer and locking a screen that can be monitored using a passcode. Please see attached handout on how to enable and set up Guided Access for your iPad/iPhone.

Hume, K. (2008). Transition time: Helping individuals on the autism spectrum move successfully from one activity to another. Retrieved from

Countdown Strip22.59 KB
FirstThenVisual21.15 KB
iPad Guided Access3.24 MB

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