Peggy HallidayPeggy Halliday is a board certified associate behavior analyst who has specialized in autism education for the past ten years. She is the Director of Outreach Services at the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA) in Charlottesville, VA. VIA is a non-profit organization which provides a day school and other resources for families, educators, and other professionals seeking services, training or information about autism and evidence-based interventions. The Institute operates a year-round school for students ages 2-22, a 700-volume library, training workshops, internships for undergraduate and graduate students and teachers, and customized trainings for schools. Peggy supervises a wide range of outreach services, including development and supervision of comprehensive, home-based early intervention programs incorporating naturalistic, incidental, and structured teaching using the principles of applied behavior analysis; training for parents and home instructors; skills assessments, functional behavior assessments and intervention plans, and consultation on Individual Education Plan goals. She has presented trainings and workshops at state and national conferences.
Host: What skill should be taught to children using ADA or Behavioral Interventions?
Peggy Halliday: The first thing I will look at when teaching very young children is giving them a functional communication system. Children can become very frustrated if they have no language and they have no way to express their wants and needs. So, the first thing I would look at is how can we give them a way, to tell us what they want and needs that is more functional than perhaps a tantrum. So, we would look at if they do not have language can we give them sign language, can we give them pictures that they can exchange in terms of communication or maybe a more complicated voice output device. But it does not really matter what the system is, it just needs to work for that particular child. Then other early learning skills that are really important are the building blocks for later more complex skills that we want to teach. The prerequisite skills for later learning, this would be things like imitation, sharing of attention, joint attention which I have referred to you before because it is such an important skill. Then receptive understanding of language which can translate into direction following is extremely important also.