Dr. Jed Baker
Dr. Jed Baker started the Denver Super Conference in July by giving the audience, comprised of parents, working professionals and those there to understand themselves, a background on behavior for those with high functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Dr. Baker is an advocate and also implements his techniques in schools adressing behavior responses and bullying.
Dr. Baker teaches those with inadequately developed social skills, usually having Autism and Aspergers, in order to better function in school and the community. He is quick to point out many of their positive characteristics and how to use these when modifying response to situations. His training starts with figuring out, “what triggers the problem?”. There are typical triggers that can lead to typical, negative, responses. Dr. Baker handed out the obvious triggers; hunger, sensory incompatibility and the stresses of the task at hand. Two of these are avoidable, the other is an opportunity for skill building and learning.
Because of the inability to respond in a productive manner, the trigger is not obvious and the response is where behavior modification usually ends up. Here is were most students are told what they’ve done and what they’ve done wrong but not how to avoid the response. Dr. Baker’s energy is put into “Skill Acquisition”, how to aviod difficult situations!
A common difficult situation for younger children is accepting “no” for an answer. While we all expect the very young to have difficulties with this, young school aged children usually get a handle on it and know how to express their disappointment with control. If this social skill is not developed it can create stress for both parties involved in the conversation. Teaching this skill takes small steps, giving opportunities to follow through with the positive consequences for good reactions and a chance for students to see the big picture.
Dr. Baker describes these challenges as “Social Blindness”. This blindness can prevent a student from participation. Teaching these skills requires step by step instruction and even some coaching to follow through. The use of peers who are socially mature can increase the chance that a socially blind student will feel included and successful at implementing newly learned skills. We all know that positive responses will better reinforce the drive to repeat an action, both skill learner and those responding to the situation can gain self worth with these connections.
It is easy to be impressed by the strategies Dr. Baker has implemented in schools that are lucky to work with him. He has been working to deter and diminish bullying, both by peers and also those on the spectrum. His solution is to engage peers to look out for situations, help steer positive situations and also give good advice to those who would not otherwise be quick to pick up on situations to avoid.
Between Dr. Baker’s background information and his implementation and testing of strategies, he has something we can all learn from. Find the positives, work with the strengths and expect more from those around you, while teaching and looking for the missing skills leads to greater success for individuals, student groups and whole schools.