The 22 evidence-based practices in our Social Skills curriculum.
We strongly believe that evidence-based practices are foundational to any meaningful curriculum. With a focus on supporting autistic students, our Social Skills program incorporates these research-proven methodologies into easy-to-deploy programs.
Continue reading below to explore the 22 EBPs in our CASE-endorsed curriculum.
Dr. Pamela Rollins of University of Texas at Dallas Collier Center for Communication Disorders discusses the importance and use of Evidence Based Practices in RoboKind's Social Skills Program
What is an evidence-based practice?
On the surface, evidence-based practice (EBP) is a fairly easy concept to understand. Put simply, EBPs are interventions, processes, and occupational practices that are based on - well - evidence. Particularly, this evidence has scientific rigor and demonstrated effectiveness in target populations and patients.
But, as we all know, this definition glosses over the specific needs of the individual. For autistic and neuro-diverse individuals, evidence-based practices require serious review and consideration of multiple factors.
With the publication of the "National Standards Report" in 2009, the National Autism Center created a methodology for deploying EBPs in the classroom and for autistic students. This framework is much more nuanced and, importantly, considers four major factors and considerations with deploying EBPs, quoted directly below:
"Serious consideration should be given to Established Treatments because there is sufficient evidence that (a) the treatment produced beneficial effects and (b) they are not associated with unfavorable outcomes (i.e., there is no evidence that they are ineffective or harmful) for individuals on the autism spectrum."
"The judgment of the professionals with expertise in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) must be taken into consideration. Once treatments are selected, these professionals have the responsibility to collect data to determine if a treatment is effective."
Values and Preferences:
"The values and preferences of parents, care providers, and the individual with ASD should be considered."
"Treatment providers should be well positioned to correctly implement the intervention. Developing capacity and sustainability may take a great deal of time and effort, but all people involved in treatment should have proper training, adequate resources, and ongoing feedback about treatment fidelity."
In short, when all factors are considered and EBPs are deployed effectively, we achieve the impact we want to make. Additionally, the outcomes provide additional data and insights we can deploy as educators and practitioners to further improve outcomes. The Report also provided helpful visualizations to understand the ideal outcome when EBPs are deployed effectively:
Why should I care about evidence-based practices for teaching autistic students?
We know, autism affects the ability to socialize, communicate, and learn in a traditional classroom setting. Aligning your curriculum to evidence-based practices is proven to create measurable outcomes for your students. The practices focus on individualized instruction, addressing the unique needs of each student, and creating a structured learning environment.
By using a variety of EBPs, educators can better understand how to teach students effectively. For example, using videos or visual schedules can guide autistic students' understanding of what is expected of them. A predictable day can reduce anxiety and improve their learning outcomes.
Using evidence-based practices when teaching autistic students is crucial for understanding how to teach your exceptional students, promote their learning, and improve their overall quality of life.
The 22 evidence-based practices in RoboKind's SEL curriculum.
Our CASE-endorsed SEL curriculum includes 22 of the 28 evidence-based practices for teaching autistic students from the National Clearing House on Autism Evidence and Practice. It’s arguably the most EBP’s in a single curriculum. Throughout the 140+ lessons, the student, facilitator, and robot work together to identify and practice new social skills.
Aligning these EBPs to your SEL curriculum is essential to driving student growth. Here is how our curriculum aligns 22 evidence-based practices for teaching autistic students.
Antecedent Based Interventions are managing events or environments that precede a student’s activity or need in order to support desired behavior outcomes and reduce challenging behaviors.
RoboKind allows personalization within the program implementation in order to adjust the learning environment.
A wide variety of teaching methods, including avatar or remote learning mode, robot interaction in structured activities, robot or avatar usage in interactive mode, and additional paper based structured and naturalistic activities that continue offline as well. In many cases, students can answer questions that influences the flow of the curriculum (meet my friends, red light green light). Visual supports and sensory equipment are included. Facilitator has controls by which it can intervene and adjust the flow by skipping certain steps, changing the speed, skipping videos, repeating previous steps, and switching to other activities.
RoboKind lesson experiences engage students and are of high interest to autistic students.
Behavioral Momentum Intervention (BMI)
Behavioral Momentum Intervention (BMI) is a strategy in which the task presentation is modified so that those requiring less effortful responses (i.e., high probability response sequences) occur before those requiring more difficult responses (i.e., low probability response sequences). This is done so that learners will receive reinforcement earlier and will be more likely to remain engaged and
persist with the more challenging tasks or requests that follow. BMI can be used in academic, social, communication, and behavioral domains. In addition to reinforcement, BMI strategies are often used in conjunction with other evidence-based practices such antecedent-based interventions and prompting.
Cognitive Behavioral/Instructional Strategy (CBIS)
Cognitive Behavioral/Instructional Strategy (CBIS) interventions are based on the belief that learning and behavior are mediated by cognitive processes. Learners are taught to examine their own thoughts and emotions and then use step-by-step strategies to change their thinking, behavior, and self-awareness. These interventions can be used with learners who display problem behavior related to
specific emotions or feelings, such as anger or anxiety (e.g., Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). These interventions can also be used to support learners in acquiring social and academic skills through explicit learning strategy instruction. CBIS interventions are often used in conjunction with other evidence-based practices including modeling, visual supports, prompting, reinforcement, social
narratives, peer-based instruction and interventions and parent-implemented interventions.
Direct instruction (DI)
Direct instruction (DI) in systematic approach to teaching and a sequenced instructional package that utilizes scripted protocols or lessons, emphasizes teacher and student dialogue through choral and independent student responses, and employs systematic and explicit error corrections to promote mastery and generalization. Direct Instruction is usually provided to small groups of learners
and includes brisk pacing, student responses, explicit signals to cue student responses, correction procedures for incorrect or non-responses, and modeling correct responses. Instruction is sequenced so that students are required to master levels in a pre-specified order before moving to the next level.
DI interventions can be used to support learners in acquiring literacy and mathematics skills and are often used in conjunction with other evidence-based practices including prompting, reinforcement, modeling, and visual supports.
Discrete trial training (DTT)
Discrete trial training (DTT) is a one-to-one instructional approach (most typically) used to teach skills in a planned, controlled, and systematic manner. DTT is characterized by repeated, or massed, trials that have a definite beginning and end. Within DTT, the use of antecedents and consequences is carefully planned and implemented. The instructional trial begins when the practitioner presents a
clear direction or stimulus, which elicits a target behavior. Positive praise and/or tangible rewards are used to reinforce desired skills or behaviors. Data is typically collected on every trial. Other practices that are used in DTT include task analysis, prompting, time delay, and reinforcement.
Exercise and movement (EXM)
Exercise and movement (EXM) interventions incorporate the use of physical exertion and/or mindful movement to target a variety of skills and behaviors. Exercise can be used as an antecedent activity to improve performance in a task or behavior, or it can be used to increase physical fitness and motor skills. Movement activities can include sports/recreation activities, martial arts, yoga, or other mindful practices that focus on specific sets of motor skills and techniques. EXM interventions may incorporate a warm-up/cool down and aerobic, strength, stretching, and/or skillful motor activities and be performed in individual or group/team-based settings. EXM is often used in conjunction with prompting, modeling, reinforcement, and visual supports.
Functional communication training (FCT)
Functional communication training (FCT) is a set of practices that replace a challenging behavior that has a communication function with more appropriate and effective communication behaviors or skills.is a set of practices that replace a challenging behavior that has a communication function with more appropriate and effective communication behaviors or skills. FCT is preceded by a functional behavior assessment to identify the function of an interfering behavior followed by teaching an appropriate communication skill that may serve the same purpose for the learner with ASD. FCT often includes differential reinforcement procedure in which an individual is taught an alternative response that results in the same class of reinforcement identified as maintaining problem behavior. Problem behavior is typically placed on extinction. The distinct component of FCT is that the alternative response is a recognizable form of communication (e.g., a vocalization, manual sign, Picture Exchange
Modeling (MD) involves the demonstration of a desired target behavior that results in use of the behavior by the learner and that leads to the acquisition of the target behavior. Thus, the learner is picking up on a targeted skill through observational learning. MD is often combined with other strategies such as prompting and reinforcement.
Music-mediated intervention (MMI)
Music-mediated intervention (MMI) uses music as a key feature of the intervention delivery. This includes music therapy, which occurs in a therapeutic relationship with a trained music therapist, in addition to the planned use of songs, melodic intonation, and/or rhythm to support the learning or performance of target behaviors and skills in varied contexts.
Naturalistic Intervention (NI)
Naturalistic Intervention (NI) is a collection of practices including environmental arrangement and interaction techniques implemented during everyday routines and activities in the learner’s classroom
or home environment. These practices are designed to encourage specific target behaviors based on learners’ interests by building more complex skills that are naturally reinforcing and appropriate to the interaction. NIs are embedded in typical activities and/or routines in which the learner participates. The NI practices emerge from behavioral (e.g., applied behavior analysis) and/or developmental approaches to learning, and encompass interventions that have been noted as naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions (NDBIs; Schreibman et al., 2015) in recent literature.
• Manualized Interventions Meeting Criteria: Joint Attention Symbolic Play and Emotion Regulation (JASPER), Milieu Teaching (also includes Enhanced Milieu Teaching, Prelinguistic Milieu Teaching), and Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT).
Parent-Implemented Intervention (PII)
Parent-Implemented Intervention (PII), parents are the primary person using an intervention practice with their own child. Practitioners teach parents in individual or in group formats in home or community settings. Methods for teaching parents vary, but may include didactic instruction, discussions, modeling, coaching, or performance feedback. The parent’s role is to use the intervention
practice to teach their child new skills, such as communication, play or self-help, engage their child in social communication and interactions, and/or to decrease challenging behavior. Once parents are trained, they implement all or part of the intervention(s) with their child. Parents are often implementing other EBPs included in this report including naturalistic interventions, video modeling, or social narratives.
• Manualized Interventions Meeting Criteria: Project ImPACT (Improving Parents as Communication Teachers); Stepping Stones Triple P (SSTP)/Primary Care SSTP
Peer-Based Instruction and Intervention (PBII)
Peer-Based Instruction and Intervention (PBII) peer social interaction is the defining feature of the intervention. Most often but not always, the peer of the learner is a neurotypical child of the same general age. There are two types of PBIIs, which are characterized by the role of the peer and the teacher. In peer-mediated instruction and interventions (PMIIs), the peer receives training and perhaps coaching from an adult (e.g., teacher, clinician) to deliver social initiations or instructions in a way that supports the learning goal of the learner with autism. In a variation of this approach, a sibling of the learner may serve in the peer role (e.g., sibling-mediated intervention), but the procedures are the same. In adult-mediated instruction and interventions (AMII) the teacher or other adults arranges
the social environment (e.g. brings children in proximity) and provides coaching, prompts, and/or reinforcement for both the learner and the peer to engage in social interaction.
Prompting (PP) Procedures
Prompting (PP) procedures include support given to learners that assist them in using a specific skill. Verbal, gestural, or physical assistance is given to learners to help them in acquiring or engaging in a targeted behavior or skill. Prompts are generally given by an adult or peer before or as a learner attempts to use a skill. These procedures are often used in conjunction with other evidence-based
practices including time delay and reinforcement or are part of protocols for the use of other evidence-based practices such as social skills training, discrete trial teaching, and video modeling. Thus, prompting procedures are considered foundational to the use of many other evidence-based practices
Reinforcement (R) is the application of consequences after a skills or behavior occurs that increases the learner’s use of the skills or behavior in future situations. Reinforcement includes positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement (different than punishment), non-contingent reinforcement, and token economy. Reinforcement is a foundational evidence-based practice in that it is almost always used with other evidence-based practices including prompting, discrete trial teaching, functional communication training, naturalistic intervention.
Self-management (SM) is an intervention package that teaches learners to independently regulate their own behavior. Self-management involves teaching learners to discriminate between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, accurately monitor and record their own behaviors, and reinforce themselves for behaving appropriately. Although learners may initially require adult support to accurately record behaviors and provide self-reinforcement, this support is faded over time. Self-management is often used in conjunction with other evidence-based practices including technology-mediated interventions, modeling, video modeling, and visual supports.
Social Narratives (SN)
Social Narratives (SN) are interventions that describe social situations in order to highlight relevant features of a target behavior or skill and offer examples of appropriate responding. Social narratives are aimed at helping learners adjust to changes in routine, adapt their behaviors based on the social and physical cues of a situation, or to teach specific social skills or behaviors. Social narratives are individualized according to learner needs and typically are quite short, often told in a story format, and often include pictures or other visual aids. Usually written in first person from the perspective of the learner, they include sentences that detail the situation, provide suggestions for appropriate learner responses, and describe the thoughts and feelings of other people involved in the situation.
Social Skills Training (SST)
Social Skills Training (SST) is group or individual instruction designed to teach learners ways to appropriately and successfully participate in their interactions with others. This may include relationships with peers, family, co-workers, community members, and romantic partners. Most instructional sessions include direct instruction of basic concepts, role-play or practice, and feedback to help learners acquire and practice communication, play, or social skills to promote positive interactions with others. SST techniques often include other EBPs such as reinforcement, modeling, prompting, cognitive strategy interventions, social narratives, scripting, and visual supports.
Task analysis (TA)
Task analysis (TA) is the process of breaking down a complex or “chained” behavioral skill into smaller components in order to teach a skill. The learner can be taught to perform individual steps of the chain progressively until the entire skill is mastered (also called “forward chaining”), or the learner may be
taught to perform individual steps beginning with the final step and progressively moving back through the chain of skills until the whole task is mastered from the beginning (backward chaining). TA may also be used to present a whole task to a learner at once with clear steps on how to achieve the skill from start to finish. Other practices, such as reinforcement, video modeling, or time delay, should be used to facilitate learning of the smaller steps. As the smaller steps are mastered, the learner becomes more independent in his/her ability to perform the larger skill.
Technology-Aided Instruction and Interventions (TAII)
Technology-Aided Instruction and Interventions (TAII) are those in which technology is the central feature of an intervention. Given the rapid rise in the inclusion of technology in interventions, this evidence base is more focused to include technology that is specifically designed or employed to support the learning or performance of a behavior or skill for a learner. Interventions that use a
more general form of technology to deliver an alternative EBP (e.g., displaying a visual support on a mobile device, video modeling, alarm on a phone as part of self-management) are not included in this evidence base. TAII includes technologies such as robots, computer or web-based software, applications for devices, and virtual networks. The common features of these interventions are the technology itself (as noted) and instructional procedures for learning to use the technology or supporting its use in appropriate contexts.
Time Delay (TD)
Time delay (TD) is a practice used to systematically fade the use of prompts during instructional activities. With this procedure, a brief delay is provided between the initial instruction and any additional instructions or prompts. The evidence-based research focuses on two types of time delay procedures: progressive and constant. With progressive time delay, the practitioner gradually increases the waiting time between an instruction and any prompts that might be used to elicit a response from a learner. As the learner becomes more proficient at using the skill, the practitioner gradually increases the waiting time between the instruction and the prompt. In constant time delay, a fixed amount of time is always used between the instruction and the prompt as the learner becomes more proficient at using the new skill. Time delay is always used in conjunction with a prompting procedure (e.g., least-to-most prompting, simultaneous prompting, graduated guidance).
Video Modeling (VM)
Video modeling (VM) is a method of instruction that uses video technology to record and show a demonstration of the targeted behavior or skill. The demonstration is shown to the learner, who then has an opportunity to perform the target behavior either in the moment or at a later point in time. Types of video modeling include adult or peer as video model, video self-modeling, point-of-view video modeling, video prompting, and video feedback. Video modeling is often used with other EBPs such as task analysis, prompting, and reinforcement strategies.
RoboKind's program has integrated more than 1000 custom video models to demonstrate concepts and behaviors being taught and videos which show partially correct behaviors to enable students to identify missed steps as part of the social narratives being taught. The incorrect demonstrations are included as part of the integrated assessment.
Visual Supports (VS)
Visual supports (VS) are concrete cues that provide information about an activity, routine, or expectation and/or support skill demonstration. Visual supports are often combined with other practices such as prompting and reinforcement, and they are also embedded in many more complex or packaged interventions. Some examples of common visual supports are visual schedules, activity schedules, work systems, graphic organizers, visual cues, and scripts.
RoboKind's program uses purpose designed icons, flashcards and images synced with the Robot and Avatar speech to reinforce important vocabulary and concepts.