Structured Teaching - What is it!
Various Other Topics as a Tier 1
Diane Talarico-Cavanaugh, M.Ed.
Lafayette School
April 13,2011
What is Structured Teaching?
 A specific antecedent based approach designed specifically for
students with autism. This approach utilizes the core
strengths of the student with autism to facilitate learning.
This approach was born out of the T.E.A.C.C.H. philosophy.
 T.E.A.C.C.H. was founded by the late Eric Schoppler, PhD.
in the early 1970’s at UNC. It promotes the “Culture of
Autism” as a way of thinking about the characteristic patterns
of thinking and behavior of these individuals.
Goals of Structured Teaching
 Promote independence & meaning through structure.
 Transform curriculum/learning tasks into concrete, visual
sequences that compensate for Executive Function Disorder
and poor communication skills
 Structure is not faded or removed but is modified and
Executive Function
The ability to:
 Plan
 Anticipate
 Organize
 Predict
 Inhibit
Executive function is the way we monitor and control our
thoughts, actions, emotions and behaviors.
Which students have Executive
For many students, the executive functioning system of their
brain is not working properly.
Executive Dysfunctions are intimately connected with
Asperger's Disorder, Autism, ADHD, some Learning
Disabilities and have also been found in adults with OCD.
Executive Dysfunctions also effect middle schoolers as part of
the normal developmental process!!!!
It is also associated with depression, to name but some of the
Major areas of impairment in Executive
Cognitive Flexibility
Working Memory
Executive Dysfunction often leads to
 Causes of Behavior Problems
 Confusion
 Expectation (inaccurate)
 Stimulation (over/under)
 Lack of order
 Communication (receptive/expressive)
 Driven behaviors
Behavior Serves a Purpose
 Compensates for a deficit
 Comforts
 Communicates
 Utilizes a strength
What are some behaviors that you are
concerned with
 Not completing work
 Not paying attention
 Focused on wrong stuff
 Overflow of body/hands/mouth
 Forgetting needed materials
 Poor organization
 Social issues
 Poor impulse control
Discipline Issues
 There is growing evidence that:
 Problems associated with Executive Dysfunction contribute to most
disruptive behavior that result in removal from the learning
 There is increased demands on executive function skills.
 Children are exposed to fewer activities that build executive function
Executive Function or Hard Work,
Discipline and Persistence
Evidence indicates that self discipline accounts for over twice as much
variance in final grades as does IQ, even in college.
Duckworth & Seligman( 2005)
EF skills are important for school readiness and are more strongly
associated with school readiness than IQ or entry reading or math
(Blair, 2002, 2203, Blair & Razza, 2007; Normandeau & Guay, 1998)
So what works?
 Visual Strategies
 External Structure
 Using Their Strengths
 Preferred interests or desired topics
 Smaller segments, fewer numbers, tasks broken down
 Frequent feedback
 Technology
Addressing Executive Function
Why Use Visual Strategies
 Visuals are not transient and compensate inattention, poor
working memory, inability to prioritize/organize
 Visuals help sort out or point out what is important
 Visuals lesson demands on working memory and other executive
Types of Visual supports
 Color Coding (like science folder, books, notebooks etc. all blue,
even what bin to place work into)
 Strips that contain steps in the editing process such as checking
punctuation, checking for capitalization, etc.
 Visual thought or idea organization (inspiration.com)
 Highlighting tape
Structured Teaching
 Antecedent based NOT reward or punishment based
 Uses competence motivation rather than consequence
 Levels of Structured Teaching:
Physical Structure
Work Systems
Routines and Strategies
Physical structure
 Clearly defined spaces so students can visually see what the
expectations are for that area
 Visual structure that supports the task or activity
 Answers the questions of why am I here and what do I need
to do
 Provides a visual (objects, pictures or words) to tell the
person what activities will happen and in what order
 Sometimes it can be faded or changed to match a student’s
skills but not eliminated
 Success does not indicate a lack of need
Work Systems
 What work?
 How much do I have to do?
 How do I know when I am
 What comes next?
Traditional FBA’s
A-B-C Model
 Antecedents (trigger and slow burn)
 Behavior
 Consequence
Looking for Functions of Behavior
 Tangible
 Escape
 Avoidance
 Attention
The Iceberg Model
The behavior is just the symptom of the underlying
characteristics of autism.
 Social Relatedness
 Communication
 Sensory Processing
 Difficulty with Change
 Cognitive Learning Style
Specific Behaviors (tip of the
 Seems lazy
 Unmotivated
 Waits for prompts
 Overly dependent
Underlying Deficits
 Unable to organize behavior
 Poor concept of time
 Does not understand future
 Does not understand expectations
 See how behavior is misinterpreted as noncompliant,
disrespectful, oppositional, impulsive etc.
Use the Iceberg Model instead of a traditional A-B-C
approach to address underlying skill deficits instead of using
consequences to manipulate behavior.
Structured Teaching is a behavior regulation system!!
Rely on antecedent based strategies.
Teach Self-Regulation
The Incredible 5-Point Scale
by Buron & Curtis
A visual scale describing the escalation phase of behavior or
 What the behavior looks like or sounds like.
 Get student input on what the behavior feels like.
 People or strategies that can help.
 The perception of others (added by Diane)

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