What is Generalisation?
Generalisation is the ability to apply newly learned skills and behaviours in different settings and situations. For example, a child who has learned to change their clothes at home should be able to change their clothing at school or at a friend's house. Generalisation is an important skill for children with ASD because it allows them to function independently in different environments.
Why is Generalisation Challenging for Children with ASD?
Children with ASD may have difficulty with generalisation for several reasons. For one, they may have difficulty with abstract thinking. Abstract concepts can be difficult for children with ASD to understand, and they may struggle to apply them in new situations. Additionally, children with ASD may have difficulty with social communication. They may have trouble understanding social cues and adapting their behaviour to different social situations. Sensory sensitivities can also play a role. Children with ASD may have difficulty processing sensory information, which can make it difficult for them to generalise skills across different environments. Finally, some children with ASD may be inflexible in their thinking, which can make it difficult for them to adapt their behaviour to new situations.
How Can Parents and Caregivers Help Children with ASD Improve their Generalisation Skills?
There are several strategies that parents and caregivers can use to help children with ASD improve their generalisation skills. Here are some tips:
Provide opportunities for practice in a variety of settings and situations. Children with ASD may need extra practice to generalise skills to new environments. Try practicing skills in different settings, such as at home, at school, and in the community.
Use visual aids and social stories. Visual aids, such as pictures and videos, can be helpful for children with ASD to understand how to apply skills in different contexts. Social stories, which are short stories that explain social situations, can also be useful for helping children understand how to behave in different situations. Be patient and persistent. Generalisation can be a challenging skill for children with ASD to master, but with patience and persistence, they can improve their ability to apply skills in different settings and situations.
Work with a team of professionals. ABA therapists can work together with parents to develop individualized strategies to support generalisation for each child.
Generalisation and Applied Behaviour Analysis
Generalisation is a key component of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA therapy), as it focuses on teaching children to apply newly learned skills in different settings and situations. ABA therapy involves breaking down complex skills into smaller, more manageable steps, and teaching each step systematically. Once a child has mastered a skill in one setting, the ABA therapist will gradually introduce different settings and situations to teach the child to apply the skill more broadly. For example, if a child has learned how to greet their therapist when they arrive for therapy, the therapist may gradually introduce new people and settings to practice greeting, such as greeting family members, friends and teachers in different environments.
At Littlefoot Developmental Services we use a variety of techniques to support generalisation in ABA. Teaching skills in different settings such as at home, at school, and in the community, to help children generalise their skills across different environments. Using naturalistic strategies to teach skills in the context of natural, everyday activities, such as mealtime or playtime; this helps children apply learnt skills in the context of their daily lives. Incorporating generalisation into ABA therapy goals helps to ensure that the child is making progress in their ability to apply skills in different settings and situations. Reinforcing generalisation by providing positive feedback and rewards when a child demonstrates the ability to apply a skill in a new setting or situation. For more information on how you can help your child generalise their skills, contact us for a free consultation.
Written by Nicole Yip