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Socialization through team sports

By combining terminal and intermittent reinforcement, we taught Aaron how to run the bases and play catch with his typically developing peers in an innovative baseball league.

Independence and individual sports

We have begun working with Vermont Adaptive Sports to build a repertoire of activities in which Aaron can improve his fitness and maximize independence while having fun and working on skills like conversation and socialization. Here, he tries out the recumbent bike.

Inclusion in community events

Shortly before our move to Burlington from Upstate New York in late July, at the Albany Tulip Festival. We purposely build weekend scheduling around local cultural and social events to help Aaron find ways to be a part of his local community, planning ahead to identify tacts and intraverbals specific to the event we want him to work on, and contriving MOs we know will be present at the event to make participating in activities there more reinforcing for him.

Staff relationships that live on

In the more than 15 years that we have been running an ABA/Verbal Behavior program for Aaron, we have hired more than 60 local college and graduate students as one-on-one aides, several of whom have gone on to careers in psychology, behavior analysis and teaching, and forged lifelong relationships with our family, further building Aaron's circle of support, and serving as mentors for future team members.

Developing language through play

Through Natural Environment Training, we expand Aaron's language by letting Aaron pick the activity of his choice, then building language development around it. Here, he is playacting a scene we call "Mrs. Jumbo in the Dark", hunting with a flashlight in a darkened house for Mrs. Jumbo. We look for her everywhere with phrases like "maybe she's under the bed", using Aaron's MO to act the scene to contrive tacting and intraverbal opportunities.

Getting to know Burlington

That's me (Aaron's dad, Steve) with Aaron at the Arts Riot food truck rally in Burlington on Friday night. We used this as an opportunity for Aaron to see his lead teacher out of his usual daily routine, as she was helping out that night in her brother's food truck.

Parading on Church Street

At the Festival of Fools on Church Street

Being valued for volunteer work

This is an award ceremony for Aaron at the Regional Foodbank in Albany, where he volunteered for three years in the warehouse. We are currently working with the Flynn here in Burlington to develop a volunteer position for Aaron as an usher at its 2016-17 student matinees, and eventually act in programs that may be developed in the future for individuals with developmental disabilities. We are also seeking to develop a second volunteer position for Aaron that involves working outdoors in nature.

Using reinforcers creatively

Ever since Aaron was 3, he has had a thing for plastic drinking straws. He loves to twist them in his hands and bend them. They have been one of his strongest reinforcers for nearly twenty years. Instead of trying to get him to stop doing this, we use it to our advantage, contriving "conditioned MOs" where using language, learning skills and completing tasks are the pathway to getting straws. Here, I used a selfie of his favorite colored straws from 7 Eleven to encourage Aaron to text me.

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