Child Observation Essay Research Paper General DescriptionCody

Child Observation Essay, Research Paper

General Description

Cody is an eight-year-old boy diagnosed with autism. Cody tends to perseverant on things that are dangerous. He often verbalizes “glass is dangerous, it cuts your eye, call 211, go to the hospital.” Cody also tends to stare off into space and is socially inappropriate.

Cody had been placed in severely handicapped classrooms that consisted of children with severe cognitive and physical disabilities. Cody was provided with a one to one aide through BCRC.

Currently, Cody is in a new program designed for children with autism. The student to teacher ratio is two to one. The stimulation in the classroom has been reduced to a minimum to provide an appropriate learning environment.

Cody is not able to identify letters or numbers. It has been reported that Cody had severe behavior problems that became the focus of his educational goals rather than academics. Cody appears to have good auditory processing skills and demonstrates this through his ability to attend to stories that are read to him. He is able to ask questions about the story and answer comprehension questions. His visual processing skills seem to be low; he is not able to trace lines or discriminate shapes.

Cody needs to be taught according to his learning modalities. I believe that Cody should focus on academics, as his behavior in this new environment seems to be under control.

Selection of Skills


Cody has demonstrated that he is able to learn. He has picked up many science concepts from listening to stories. According to the psychologist his IQ has been identified in the low average range. Books appear to be natural reinforces for Cody. He would enjoy being able to read to himself. It is for this reason that I believe that teaching Cody to read would enhance his quality of life.


At back to school night, I met with Cody’s mom. At that time, I asked her to think about what she would like Cody to be able to do in a year. She immediately responded that she and her husband had always hoped that Cody would learn to read. She reported that previous experiences with his teacher had led them to focus on self-help and behavioral goals.

Cody loves to listen to stories. It is used as a reward in the classroom. He prefers to look at a book over anything else in the classroom. For these reasons, parent interview and classroom observations, I have chosen to teach Cody pre-reading skills.

Operational Definition

Due to time constraints, I will focus on teaching Cody to identify the letters a,b,c,d, and t and to produce the phonological sound. After he has mastered the sound with symbol, I will focus on blending the sounds to produce consonant vowel consonant words ( cat, bat, at ). Mastery will consist of 80 % accuracy over seven days. These tasks will be single step.

This information will generalize for Cody because he has a natural love for books. Once he has mastered a few sounds, he will be able to read a short a book on his own.

Task Analysis Method

The task that I chose for Cody is a single step task. A plastic letter is placed in front of Cody. He picks up the letter, feels it. After feeling the letter he identifies it. After hearing himself identify the letter, he makes the appropriate hand sign. While feeling the hand sign, he makes the phonological sound.


I assessed Cody in three different ways. The first was to assess his expressive knowledge of the alphabet. This was done by placing plastic letters of the alphabet in front him and requesting him to name it. The discriminatory stimulus was “It’s the letter”. Cody was not able to correctly identify any letters of the alphabet. I tested his receptive knowledge by placing the plastic letters on the table in-groups of five and asking him to “Give me A” and so on. He incorrectly identified the letters. The assessment was done four times for receptive knowledge and four times for expressive knowledge. The baseline data for each area was 0. See appendix for the assessment form.

I also assessed Cody using the task analysis assessment form. Cody was able to trace the plastic letter independently three of the four times. He required a verbal prompt of “ It’s the letter__” to identify the letter. He required full physical prompt to make the corresponding hand sign. Once he felt the hand sign, he was able to make the correct letter sound three out of four times.


During the assessment, Cody sat at a u shaped table facing me. His back was to the rest of the students in order to minimize distraction. The assessment took place in the classroom.


Cody received a + if he gave the correct response and a – if he gave an incorrect response. A three-second-time delay was utilized before providing a prompt. The assessments were broken down into ten-minute sessions. No more than three sessions per day.

Trial Presentation

Five trials were presented during each assessment session for the task analysis. Cody was given a verbal cue of “ pick it up” when he did not respond to the letter on the table. A verbal prompt of “It’s the letter__” was used when Cody did not name the letter. A full physical prompt was utilized when he did not make the hand sign. Modeling was used when he could not produce the sound. Correct responses were rewarded with an M&M. Incorrect responses were stopped immediately using a full physical prompt and modeling.

Assessment and Data Collection Forms

See Appendix for Forms

Analysis of Assessment Data

When provided prompts, Cody was able to perform the skill. Each assessment consisted of five trials. During the first assessment session, Cody was unable to perform any of the skills due to behavior. He stared off into space or yelled. Over the next four days, he was able to carry out the skills with 90% accuracy. This is only for the letter a. Initially, I assessed Cody’s receptive knowledge of the alphabet by placing the plastic letters in front of him and asking him to give me the letter__. He was not able to correctly identify any of the letters. I repeated this process by handing him a plastic letter and asking him to expressively identify it. He was unable to expressively identify any of the letters. This was done in the same setting as the task analysis assessment. See appendix

The assessment was presented as a game as Cody was reluctant after the first session to try. I placed M&M’s on the table and gave him one for each correct response regardless of the prompt used.


Based upon data from the task analysis, I formed the following hypothesis. *Cody is unable to perform the task due to visual processing deficits. I will use plastic letters to address his kinesthetic learning modality.

*Cody is unable to perform the task because he has not been exposed to the information. I will use prompting, practice and expose him to the information.

*Cody is unable to perform the task due to interfering behaviors. I will work with Cody on “hands quiet” so that he can attend to the information.


Given plastic letters, and hand signs, Cody will identify the letters a,b,c,d, and t with 70% accuracy.

Given hand signs, Cody will make the phonological sound for the letters a,b,c,d, and t with 70% accuracy.

Teaching Strategy


Based on the PEPR and Criterion Referenced Assessments, Cody is emerging in the category of alphabet recognition. I am utilizing a single step task strategy and paired associate learning. Cody will identify certain letters in the alphabet and pair them with the phonological sound eventually blending these sounds to form consonant vowel consonant words. I am using visual phonics which pairs each phoneme with a hand sign (see appendix). The letters used for this project were a, b , c, d, and t. It is important that the presentation of information is short and clear requiring few steps, as he is reluctant to attempt new tasks. This is evident by his behavior (refusing to look at the task, staring into space).

The order of trials presented for this task is serial training. It is more effective to present a short vowel sound first and then slowly to add consonants. This will allow the student to begin to read after learning a few letters. The configuration is one student per teacher meeting daily with the reinforcement of skills in a group setting. The order that the skill is presented is sequential. An initial vowel is presented followed by consonants. Practice is conducted separately in a mass trial. The information is drilled. Its the letter A, A says a. Data is recorded daily.

Prompting Strategy

Hand over Hand





My prompting strategy began from most to least with a three-second-time delay because I wanted Cody to experience success immediately. I began with a full physical prompt using my hand over his to make signs for the letters. We have faded to a gesture and verbal prompt. The next step will be to reduce the prompt to a verbal prompt and then no prompt.

Error Correction

Incorrect responses are prevented. If it appears that Cody is going to give an incorrect response, I will form the hand sign with my hand over his and make the correct sound. If he does make an error, I go through same procedure followed by immediate practice with successively faded assistance. Cody requires immediate feedback as he will guess without looking. This is noted on the data sheets.


Through observation and discussions with Codys parents, it was determined that Cody enjoys M&M’s and listening to stories. Cody enjoys books; they are a natural reinforcement. His parents want him to learn to read so they are very supportive and reinforce his efforts at home. Cody also enjoys praise. Reinforcement is immediate following the correct response. When he gives the correct response it is followed with a light touch, verbal praise and an M&M. He is rewarded with a story daily. Reinforcement is on a fixed schedule.

Environmental Arrangement

The environmental arrangement is designed to minimize visual distractions. Materials are placed out of view of the students. Few objects are on the walls and the furniture is arranged to define areas of the room. Cody works at two different areas in the room in order to promote generalization. He works with me at a u shaped table. We face each other keeping all other students behind him. The skills from the discrete trial setting are then reinforced during circle time, which is located in another part of the room.


The materials used with Cody consist of plastic letters, letter cards and M&M’s. The plastic letters used during the discrete trial are placed directly in front of him. He picks up the letter, identifies it, and makes the hand sign and the correct sound. This is immediately rewarded with an M&M. Letter cards are used during circle, however they are also placed in front of him. Cody looks at the card, makes the hand sign and the sound. He receives an M&M for the correct response.


I began using letter cards with Cody and he was not able to visually discriminate the letters. I adapted this strategy to having him trace the letter on a large piece of paper, however this strategy also proved problematic with his poor visual discrimination. This strategy was then adapted to using plastic letters which he can pick up and feel, paired with a hand sign. This has been very successful. After he has learned the letter, I use a letter card and the hand sign during circle and he has been able to generalize the information from the plastic letter to the card.

Data Collection

The discriminatory stimulus, staff-prompting step, student response, and correction strategy are noted on the data collection sheet (see appendix). The SD is “ It’s the letter__, __ says __. The prompt step is for the staff to make the hand sign for the letter. The student response is to provide the name of the letter and the phonological sound. The correction strategy is to stop Cody before he makes a mistake by forming his hand into the correct sign and making the sound with him. The reinforcement is praise and an M&M.

The data sheet has all of the information written at the top of the page to maintain consistency across the staff. Correct responses are recorded as a +, incorrect responses are recorded as a -. The responses are recorded over ten trials and then the percentage is equated and recorded.

Evaluation of the Strategy

Based on the data (see appendix), I believe this strategy has been effective. Due to Cody’s problems with visual discrimination, the hand signs seem to cue him to make the correct response. Cody averaged a correct response rate of about 70%.


I believe that I progressed too slowly and lost his interest. On October 30th, per your suggestion, I increased the amount of letters and he responded quite well. Initially, I wanted an accuracy rate of 80% over seven days. Unfortunately, he seemed to lose interest and his scores dropped. I will continue to introduce new letters and sounds when he has a 70% accuracy rate two days in a row.

The visual phonics appears to be a successful approach with Cody. No modifications were made in the presentation of the skill. Modifications in the data collection sheet were made on October 8th. The new sheet clearly states the SD, student response, prompt level, and correction strategy, which helps, maintains consistency throughout the trials.


The skill initially was taught in a discrete trial method. I drilled Cody at a table. The skill was then brought to circle. Different staff teaches during circle time. This way Cody was required to produce the skill for different people. The materials varied. Plastic letters were initially used during the trials; letter cards were used during the circle time. The setting varied as well. Circle time occurred in a different area of the room from the trial. Cody also produced the skill while he was being read to. During a story, the staff would point to a letter a make the sign and the sound with Cody.

I requested that Cody practice the skill at home however, I am not sure that his parents followed through.


This experience with Cody was challenging. I am thrilled with the outcome. An unexpected outcome from this project was finding that my other students picked up the visual phonics. The entire class is now on the learning to read train. It is very exciting!


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