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Autism and Backward Chaining

Autism and Backward Chaining

I had never heard this term before…backward chaining.

I read up on it and discovered it’s a useful way for parents of children with special needs to help a child learn everyday life skills.

What is backward chaining?

Here’s the way I understand it…

Chaining is a way to teach multi-step or complex skills.

A complex skill involves several steps, also called behaviors, that are linked together to form an end goal.

Backward chaining is the process of teaching them in reverse order.

How does it work?

Tying shoelaces.

Let’s say the child can pull the two loops to tighten the laces.

That’s the end.

The adult would break down the shoelace process. The adult demonstrates the two loops and the ties, do all of it except the last step, which the child can already complete.

If the child can do one of the other steps, let the child do that step…and the last step.

Continue the process until the child can do all of the steps.

They have learned how to tie the shoelaces by learning that skill in reverse order. They knew they could finish the task, but then learned the task by backward chaining.

A parent assists the child and then slowly lets the child learn bit by bit.

Can it be used in other ways?

After some research, I discovered that it can also be used to examine a meltdown or a behavior. If the child can explain the end result…”I shouldn’t have screamed.”

Okay, so the child knows the screaming was wrong. They feel badly, they’re old enough to know that they’ve experienced a meltdown or a negative behavior. Then, the adult goes through the meltdown or behavior step by step, discussing the antecedents and each step.

Are there more ways to use chaining?

Well, there’s forward chaining.

The child can begin a task but needs help as the steps mount. This is recommended if the child can complete more steps at the beginning of a chain.

How else can parents assist the complex learning process?

Visuals. Our kids are visual learners. Social stories or pictures are always helpful for our kids.

Autism and Backward Chaining

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