The construction of a comprehensive ABA program
and the experience which informs that vision.
Dr. Schnee earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Georgia State University and practices as a board certified behavior analyst, doctoral level.
He has been treating children with ASD for more than 25 years. With these years comes meticulous attention to detail, a deep understanding of what it takes for children to acquire language and other complex abilities and an exquisite sensitivity to children's tolerances, needs and joys.
He is the former director and founder of Nexus Language Builders, a center-based, full-day, early intensive learning program formally in Verona, N.J. Most recently, Dr. Schnee directed NAIS Israel. Dr. Schnee is recognized nationally and Internationally and has lectured and consulted domestically and internationally, building EIBI programs throughout the US and around the world.
Dr. Schnee is also committed to bringing quality care to underserved communities around the world. Initiatives are underway in East and West Africa in cooperation with Erez-Africa and the ADAT Foundation. Right now, we are taking small steps, but we hope eventually to introduce the Nexus training system which can have exponential reach and impact while limiting costs.
Dr. Schnee, Author
Dr. Alan Schnee is co-author of Early Intervention for Children with Autism: Considerations. We illuminate analysis and synthesis and target a broad range of language abilities. We emphasize the importance of looking beyond specific content, and illustrate how exercises can be employed to teach foundational capacities such as attention, memory, executive function and social awareness.
Go to the TOC and Sample Exercises page and see more of what's inside.
• To establish a rudimentary understanding of the pronoun “Who” in the
context of “Where” and “What.”
• Two to three (or more) persons are situated around the room or sit in a
circle. Familiar objects are placed around the room.
• This exercise is a combination of previous exercises
• Randomize (a) “What is over there?” (b) “Where is the [object]?” (c) “Is the
[object] over there?” (d) “Where is [person]? followed by (e) “What does
she have?” (f) Who has the [object]?” followed by (g) “Where is she?” (h)
“Who is over there?” (i) “Is [person] over there ?” (points), (j) “What did
you give to [person 1 or 2]?” (see “Who Questions (2)”, #160), (k) “Who
did you give the [object]?” (or “Who did you give the object to?”) see “Who
Questions (2)” #160)
• Same arrangement as above. Add the question: “Where is the [object]?”
when someone is holding the object. The child should answer, “[person]
has [it]” rather than “over there.” Randomize questions about objects in
someone’s possession (“[person] has it”) and not in someone’s possession
Learning and Engagement
Early learning for children is a social enterprise. It goes without saying, attunement- engagement-attention to others is necessary for learning. While children need to learn content, they also need to develop an awareness of others. At Nexus, we've developed strategies and platforms so that children come to regard and orient to others - to pay careful attention to them. We engineer things so that children 'stay with us'. They come to regard our comings and goings, our gaze, points and reactions. At Nexus, children "check in", "check back" and "check us out". They learn to respond to US ... not only to SDs and reinforcers. Establishing and maintaining social awareness and social acuity is a foundational aspect of intervention at Nexus. To learn more about this go to the Autism Spectrum News article.
Language Learning: Beyond the Ordinary
At Nexus, children learn language according to their capacities. Children are taught systematically within an Early Intensive Behavior Intervention framework and are taught with the benefit of behavioral tools, strategies and techniques which, when applied expertly and appropriately, lead to effective and efficient learning. At Nexus, mastery of a language occurs outside the constraints of popular conceptual approaches.
To learn a language is to learn the activities, practices, actions and reactions within characteristics contexts in which the rule governed use of words are integrated. Words are integrated into activities and practices such as asking, telling, naming, directing, promising, describing, explaining, cajoling, negotiating, refuting, refusing, agreeing, correcting, teasing, tattling, inviting, etc. The added benefits of language include being able to reason, deliberate, to talk about our pasts and futures, hopes, wishes, disappoints and joys...etc. It only makes sense that the goals within a language-based program be those things we do in language. This contrasts sharply with popular and trendy approaches in scope and purpose.
This 'ordinary language' framework falls outside of the purview of current popular 'scientific' accounts of language. But this is of little consequence. We simply need to survey what we do as a language users in order to identify goals for instruction and find ways to effectively teach children to do what the rest of do in our linguistic practice. This is not done casually. We need to understand how things hang together, what it takes to be able to do something and engineer intervention directed toward goals several weeks, months and years down the road.
Learning Language while Solving Problems
At Nexus, we employ an active learning platform. Situations are contrived so that children learn to solve practical problems. This platform allows for teaching many things within the context of solving a ‘problem’... So that children also learn the names of things, the properties of the things , how precisely to use things, where to get the things they need should the problem come up again, to learn to ask for help as problems arise, to describe the problem, explain things, and to consider alternate solutions. Examples of how we do this are found in the ASAT article and our book.
Finally, at Nexus, once rudimentary language abilities are in place and once basic tool skills are in place, children learn language as they learn to do things. Therefore, as children learn to look for things, move, build and make things, as they learn to go places, to get, to give, to play games and to play with others, they learn the language that is a part of those activities. This is a required process for introducing new concepts and for mastering the use of terms.
"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