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letters and numbers

(32 Posts)
salondon Sun 28-Dec-14 08:39:47

Hello all

While aba has helped our asd daughter acquire skills like matching and imitation, I am struggling with academics.

She can match an copy the sounds. But for a year now, she hasn't learnt letters & numbers. She can match plastic letters to flash cards. But won't point to them.

Same with counting. We prompt 1 button 2 buttons and stop. But she doesn't get it.

I am able to do ot work using aba. Why doesn't this work for academics?

I am so done.

MostHighlyFlavouredLady Sun 28-Dec-14 12:27:55

Can you make the task itself motivating?


Start by having two bowls, one that is more enticing. And get her to choose one, with you getting the other. Repeat lots until the behaviour is consistent.

Later, get two identical bowls, one with 1 smartie in it and one with none.

Get her to choose a bowl. Hopefully she'll choose the bowl with the smartie whilst you label it as 'one'. You take the other bowl but Don't label the other bowl's contents.

When she is consistent you can swap the smartie for something else but reinforce her correct behaviour when you ask 'choose 1'.

Then you can do the same with 2!?

MostHighlyFlavouredLady Sun 28-Dec-14 12:29:42

Gehenna you are teaching '2' you will put 1 smartie in the other bowl, so she understands that 2 doesn't mean 'something' but more than 1 iyswim.

MostHighlyFlavouredLady Sun 28-Dec-14 12:32:04

However when youare teaching 2 with the smarties don't ask her to choose 1 as she obviously will choose the 2 regardless of what you say as she wants the 2 smarties. So don't set her up to fail. You can ask her to choose 1 when the 2 is present only when you are no longer using smarties in the bowls but reinforcing with none bowled reinforcers iyswim.

adrianna22 Sun 28-Dec-14 13:27:33

Have you tried using incorporating letters and numbers in play?

Do you have the numbers or alphabet peg puzzles?

What I do with DS, everyday, is we get out the alphabet puzzle- I make a plan that DS has to know A-D within a month. So I take off the remaining letters and leave just the remaining A-D letters ( to not confuse DS).

I will then point out A,B,C,D and then in time I'll ask DS..."put in the letter A", prompting him to insert the 'A' puzzle.

Have you tried this way before?

chocnomorechoc Sun 28-Dec-14 14:34:37

A year is a long time and if I remember correctly, you run an ABA programme. What does your supervisor/consultant think. suppose you have tweaked the programme to try different ways to teach this.

Could it be that Dd is just not ready for it yet. We worked sometimes on targets with Dd but got nowhere. In that cases we shelfed those targets and came back to them at a later point.

MeirAyaAlibi Sun 28-Dec-14 21:22:28

Just wondering. Maybe she isn't ready. Or has some odd quirk of short term auditory or visual memory, or need glasses, or some other explanation. It could be that it's all a bit too abstract and the penny hasn't dropped yet.

But if she 'can' learn all the other stuff with ABA, might it possibly be that she for some reason doesn't 'want' to learn the academics? Might she find it boring, associate it with school, be enjoying the power of 'refusing' to learn?

boobybum Sun 28-Dec-14 22:59:22

DS was the same - he just couldn't/wouldn't learn numbers and letters. We knew he could see the difference as he could match perfectly and could also put numbers in the correct order but he couldn't point to/name any. We put these ABA programs on hold as he was getting fed up of them even with tons of reinforcement.
I installed a few free apps where he had to match the letter to a word beginning with that letter and the app would say the sound/word. He played these over and over and also similar number apps. To our surprise he could do them so he knew what sound the letters made!
He also started watching youtube videos with numbers and letters over and over. (He somehow managed to find these himself)
And his class started phonics at school and surprisingly he now knows his letters and is making progress with numbers too.
I think it was the apps that really helped him as he is addicted to the ipad.

salondon Mon 29-Dec-14 12:28:40

Lady - We have tried this approach. Someone here recommended 'more' and 'less' to begin with. The challenge is she sees the object not its quantity.

adrianna22 - You are quite good with your son smile I am impressed that you have quantified targets... I should have said all play based activities are not helping either.

choc (I cannot say no to chocolatesmile ) - Yes, the team has been trying a few things. Matching works, somehow labelling and tact isnt working.

I get the feeling that letters, shapes, numbers, colours are very abstract for her. Do ASD kids do this? So for example, 'buh' means nothing, but the picture of ball means something because she can touch/feel/see the ball. I feel shapes and colours are adjectives so a red ball or a blue ball might make sense (when she is able to join two words and process them). And letters and numbers are abstract in a way isnt it. That marking on the paper/sand/plastic/playdoh whether it says s or m is still a paper/sand/plastic/playdoh and not ssss or muh . Am I even making sense? I just feel like I am not reaching out to her in this regard... or may be what Meir said, she just isnt ready. She 'just' doesnt have autism, she also has a global developmental delay. She is functioning around the 2-3 yr old level on motor skills and 8 month old for speech.

Yesterday I made two cards with a picture each and the letter next to it. Those were 'new nouns' so hopefully she wont 'tact' the noun in her head, and I will be able to label the sound. I am then hoping to fade out the picture in due course. What do you guys think?

Another idea an experienced mum gave me was to match whole words to already mastered nouns.. so 'b a l l' to the picture of ball. Not sure about that one... Planning to make a few cards to try that too

bobbybum - What is the name of the 'sounds' app please? I cannot tell you how many times the jolly phonics plays in the sa household... I am secretly hoping its all going in, but I need to keep trying... she loves her ipad and I taught her tracing on the ipad itself.

Thanks again

boobybum Mon 29-Dec-14 17:18:53

ABC MAGIC 5 Letter sound matching.

zzzzz Tue 30-Dec-14 00:36:29

Montessorium apps, pocket phonics

And this revolting toy

MeirAyaAlibi Tue 30-Dec-14 11:52:21

If her speech is still at 8 months, then perhaps teaching functional communication skills should take priority over learning phonics.

Impaired literacy can be remediated later, or even compensated for by technology: text-to-speech apps, dictation software, watching educational videos, using diagrams or images rather than words. But functional communication (of whatever sort) underlies everything. And once she sees positive results from intentional communication, the other skills may rocket.

The other thing is that ABA always works both ways. When we see our dc learning and growing, we're reinforced to keep teaching them. So sticking with objectives that we see little progress in, tends to undermine our efforts.

salondon Tue 30-Dec-14 11:55:41

Meir - Good points... Her speech is at 8 months, communication is a bit further... She has eye contact and uses sounds & signs to communicate

The ABA consultant thinks that she is perhaps one of those kids who read first and speak later. But for reading, she needs to know some letters

MeirAyaAlibi Tue 30-Dec-14 11:57:07

I come out in hives at "global delay". Completely useless descriptor - professionals wouldn't use it on NT kids, so why on ours. Much more helpful to do as you have and identify which skills are delayed and by how much.

MeirAyaAlibi Tue 30-Dec-14 12:01:08

PECS? Can be very helpful as a stepping stone to using flash cards.

Once she's grasped that handing you various "words" brings desirable results, then trying to decode the letters might make sense.

MeirAyaAlibi Tue 30-Dec-14 12:17:12

Was reading some interesting stuff about sign-print bilingualism

If your dd doesn't have the full set of "auditory" building blocks for English in her head yet, it might be tricky teaching her to decode using phonics. Would make a pure guess that success might lie in making or finding a written equivalent to "motherese". Maybe learning/buildconversations/Motherese.asp a bit Like this But you need an expert... Moondog hasnt been on in a while, it might be worth putting out a hi to her? And sign would be a good person to get tips from too.

MeirAyaAlibi Tue 30-Dec-14 12:19:20


zzzzz Tue 30-Dec-14 14:05:27

I think with ds1 that academic learning was very helpful. It helped raise our expectations and it fed his mind which while unable to grasp language was otherwise very able. I too shiver at global delay. I also get a hideous sinking feeling when people describe how children with communication disorders often have low IQ etc. I don't think that one implies the other AT ALL.

Pecs where quite hard for ds as he didn't "see" pictures, particularly those favoured as non-specific pecs (eg stick man on right angle=sit). He has no problem seeing shapes/letters/numbers though.

There are lots of skills before reading that are really helpful. Can she match and categorise? I use solid objects not pictures as ds has fine motor problems too and frankly they have a tactile appeal that helps. This pic is a different more advanced exercise, but you can see all the little things we collect.

We started with paper plates with a letter on and sorting by the first letter sound. So c plate had cow, clock, and clip, d plate had dog! ect etc.

I think ANY skill you can teach helps language development. Reading and maths have a major advantage in that they highlight your brains for teachers etc and they are always the same, d o g always spells dog.

MeirAyaAlibi Tue 30-Dec-14 14:25:57

Thinking back to ds1 - he took ages to notice that symbols carried meaning. In the end, I 'taught' him this concept explicitly (this was before I knew about the ASD and thought I was just hothousing a future child prodigy).

We started with
McDonalds Golden Arches (and yes, I did live to regret it for a while)
then Audi/BMW/Citroen/Ford/ Vauxhall badges (favourite neighbours' cars)
winding up with Sainsburys, Tescos and Morrisons signs (their cafes)

By this stage he was taking an interest in numbers, so we started playing games with foam bath letters - using just the family's initials to start, and gradually added the rest of the alphabet.

It took him 2 years to learn to 'blend' sounds to make a word though. And school didn't believe me because he could easily 'read' his books to the teacher (by guesswork, whole-word-recognition and memorisation)

MeirAyaAlibi Tue 30-Dec-14 14:32:42

What zzzz says about going around the language disorder & developing the 'other' abilities is quite right - and her rationale for helping teachers respect the abilities of a dc they might've discounted is also spot-on.

When it comes to other dc, the key 'other' skill to master may be Minecraft (or whatever is in fashion when your dd gets to 8y old) wink

zzzzz Tue 30-Dec-14 14:47:02

Mine found blending quite easy BUT we did it without the letters first as a kind of I Spy game in the car. Ie what does duh o guh say? Say the word, you get to ask. Very funny sometimes grin

salondon Tue 30-Dec-14 15:29:32

zzzz PECS hasnt worked for us so far either. I think its the 'stick man' that makes no sense to her. And on the same lines, I think somewhere the markings (1/m/b etc etc) mean nothing tangible to her. There is a missing link here. I am testing my 'theory' right now. Your posts earlier(when I asked similar questions) were were helpful and I implemented those. The 'solid' letters to her are just that. 'Solid letters'. She doesnt (yet?) distinguish between an m or an n. But then she matches them to flash cards.. why can she do that, but not point to them or 'tact' them?

Meir - How did your son figure out that symbols carried meaning. This is exactly what I am trying to decipher(and in the process wondering if its a 'delay' (i.e. she isnt ready yet) or an ASD thing (and thus I need to tackle this differently)). I like your idea of 'symbolising' favourite things/places....

zzzzz Tue 30-Dec-14 15:54:15

M gets you milk
C gets you cookie

Cut out the text from the cereal box, for "Shreddies" or whatever. To get breakfast cereal. Remove letters and replace with different fade into normal type (nb choose a handwriting-ish font with out the top bit of the a etc)

Inventing ways to teach things is the best bit for me. The implementation can be quite....tedious.

zzzzz Tue 30-Dec-14 15:55:46

Why does she have to point to them?

Demonstrating is NOT learning. Learning should be rewarding.

salondon Tue 30-Dec-14 17:06:40

zzzz I know what you are saying about the demonstrating bit (and I see why people done 'get' ABA because of this). But, how do I know she knows what 'm' is?

You have given me a nice idea here. will try 'buh' for breakfast etc

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