Intensive language Learning
for children with Asd
Research shows superior outcomes for children with autism who receive 30-40 hours per week of early intensive behavioral intervention. For almost any young person with autism, learning a language is out of reach except with intensive intervention.
This does not mean that children with ASD who receive fewer hours will not learn. But for children to be given their best chance of actualizing their potential as language users, whether that means that some children are eventually able to self-reflect, imagine, deliberate or for others to express basic desires, recall basic events or follow basic directions, the literature is very clear; this requires a considerable commitment in personnel, expertise and time.
Standing in Contrast
To learn a language is to learn a social practice. It is to learn to do things with words, to learn the same practice forms and the use of the same symbols (words and gestures) according to the rules for their use within the practice. This is what it means to learn a language and is our take on language.
Our view of language stands in contrast to the current and popular paradigm which sets out to see that children acquire preset responses determined (controlled) by particular stimuli. This view is sorely lacking and stifles considerations for what is actually involved in becoming a language user. Most important, this paradigm is not about learning a language at all, but rather is about 'acquiring verbal operants'.
While our take on language stands in contrast to most other 'ABA' programs, we do employ an early intensive behavioral intervention framework as the foundation for our work, as do other 'ABA -Based' intervention programs for children with ASD. We target abilities within the same domains and use the same basic behavioral principles, tools and procedures in order to provide maximum efficiencies in our teaching.
Language and activity are bound up. Children at Nexus learn to do many things so they will have a chance to learn English. At Nexus, you will see children looking for things, moving, building and making things. They go places, get and give things, play with , create and copy things. They hang things up, screw and paste things together. As they learn to do things, they learn to account for what they did, are doing or will be doing. As linguistic abilities improve, we show and guide children, in measured ways, the many kinds of things that they can say, ask, tell etc. under the varied circumstances, transactions and situations they encounter during their days.
Language as part
Learning a Language
At Nexus, we employ an active learning platform. Situations are contrived so that children learn to solve practical problems e.g., to hang things up, to get something that has fallen behind a desk, couch etc.. Using this platform, children learn many things within the context of solving the problem: To hang up a picture, they learn to use tape, velcro, and thumb tacks. In order to get the thing that has fallen behind a couch, they may need to move the couch and to get an adult to help or get a tool that will extend their reach etc. At the same time, children learn the language bound up with those activities and events.
Early learning for children is a social endeavor and thus, it goes without saying, attunement- engagement-attention to others is necessary for learning. At Nexus, we engineer things to so that children come to regard and orient to others; to pay careful attention to them. Children come to regard our comings and goings, our gaze and points, the words we use and the way we feel. Children "check in", "check back" and "check us out". Children learn to recruit and assist others. Establishing and maintaining social primacy is a foundational aspect of intervention at Nexus.
The Importance of Others
"After meeting Dr Schnee and his staff, I felt hope. This was the only place that I had found that understood how to build language skills for her. In a short time, she went from screaming all day to having more appropriate interactions. It’s a long road with no finish line but I’m grateful for Nexus. They have given her the opportunity to access her environment and for me, the chance to experience her development. Time no longer stands still for us."
JZ, New Jersey