Progressing towards goals with ABA

August 18, 2021

8.18.21 Coaching

It’s part of the plan in an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) environment to integrate consistent training, guidance, and coaching that’s on the spot and in the moment. While teaching teams run their busy classrooms, the BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) for the room, is often found in the area, taking notes, providing insights, and comparing past and present data to detect progress or alterations needed.

Here’s how this looks. We see a typical half-hour in Room 4, with students and teachers engaged in various activities of their schedule, with a BCBA documenting her observations, which will be shared and found helpful in determining what is working and what is not when the team meets next.

Meetings are also scheduled on a regular basis; team members tend to be forthright with each other and on pointe about analysis, basing decisions on objective data rather than subjective impressions. Sometimes, new team members find it strange to be observed this way, but get used to quickly and look to see it as helpful, an awesome tool for their work.

9.22.2020 Actions!

Being able to perform actions, understand language, and interact with others are important pieces of the human lifetime, which all begin with imitating. Young children start imitating their parents and siblings as early as 6 to 8 months, from facial expressions, hand signs, and other motor activities. Language imitation usually develops a bit later, starting with cooing and babbling.

For many of our students at Crossroads, these developmental milestones may be delayed, making these types of skills targets for instruction here.

Here’s a fun peek into the Clinic where we can catch two youngsters practicing these types of skills. Both B & C are working for a certain app on the iPad as a preferred reinforcer, and both are practicing their actions. One student is seen practicing following 1-step directions and gross motor imitation, while the other is working on performing actions with adverbs, ie clap slow and clap fast, and sing loud and sing soft.

Both learners have made wonderful progress since starting with us. Therapists and parents alike are thrilled with the gains they’ve seen. Congratulations on all of the actions you’re learning, boys!

7.25.2020 What’s so special about Crossroads?

One thing is that sets Crossroads apart from others is our philosophical and operational approach to teaching – ABA.

Whether working on identifying and labeling community helpers, toilet training, or handing the appropriate PEC (Picture Exchange Communication System) to the therapist to exchange information, ABA is the foundation of everything we do at Crossroads. Applied Behavior Analysis is the approach that ensures that the learner is receiving the right reinforcer on the right schedule for his/her work, in order to motivate further engagement and to give the child the understanding that his/her response was what was being asked for. Simultaneously, ABA means both that data is being collected at the time of the trial or skill being worked on, and further that the data that is collected is consistently collected by other therapists working on the skill at other points in the day or week. Also important is the factor of communication between the team members for the clinical impressions that, whether fleeting or recurring, might be shared with each  other for better common understanding of the learner and his or her response to how the goals are being run, and how the data, when graphed, is responding.

CLICK TO WATCH 5 second Room 14 video!

Another noteworthy point about ABA, especially at Crossroads, is that while there is a constant vigilance with regards to supervision and attention to the child and what they are doing, there is also a constant plan to create independence and self-reliance to the greatest extent individually possible. Regularly, on an individual level, the level of prompting needed for each skill is being assessed by the team, as is the extent to which a student is safely able to access the great areas of life that he/she will always be a part of. That promise to help our individuals prepare for life, and to be successful in their lives, is our mission and why we use ABA in the first place, ABA being the one approach to education for children with autism (and many other special developmental needs, too) which is truly grounded in science and research to be effective.

As always, pictures tell a thousand words, and our students each have their own stories. We invite you to scroll through this blog spot to see other posts and get to know the wonderful people of Crossroads Center for Children.


4.13.20 A social story on wearing masks.

Mrs. Kerry, ROOM 11’s teacher, found this great video social story on YouTube by Mr. Mike, on wearing masks during COVID-19 times. Thank you, Kerry for taking the time to share this!

IMPORTANT: Please check with CDC Guidelines regarding safely using masks on children, as they are saying, “Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.”


Autism Speaks recently visited Mrs. Breanna, one of the B.C.B.A.s (board certified behavior analyst) on our team here at Crossroads. They interviewed her and obtained some background on the school and two of the students Breanna works with in the Clinic. Just in time for World Autism Awareness Day, here is the video!

Awesome job, Breanna, twins, and parents! We are so very proud of all of you!


If you share the video, please be sure to tag Autism Speaks and use #worldautismday and #lightitupblue.

3.29.2020 Social Stories for coping with COVID -19

Here is a social story which Mrs. Kerry, Room 11’s teacher found online and shared for her students and others who might benefit. Thank you for finding and sharing, Mrs. Kerry!

STAY HOME social story Doc1

Social stories, story-based interventions and scripting can be very helpful to help individuals prepare for upcoming events, and to rehearse situations that are causing worried thoughts. The following link might prove helpful for a starting place of how, as found at

What is Meant by Social Narratives in the Context of Applied Behavior Analysis?


This is a social story which was found and shared by Mrs. Erin, Room 12’s Special education teacher.


During this school break due to COVID-19, we want to share resources that can help our students and families who are struggling at home to keep skills and routines in practice. Various blog spots will host resources supplied by the professionals at Crossroads. Additionally, you can find them all in one place on our PARENTS page.

Here are two great resources provided by Ms. Kelsi, one of our BCBAs here. Click to access and print out.

Resources For Student on Current Events (COVID-19 )_ Created 31320

School Closure Tool Kit

2.3.2020 Consistent Teamwork is a main ingredient of successful ABA.

The term “teamwork” has almost become a cliche, one that everyone uses but few truly apply. Here at Crossroads, though, teamwork really is practiced in exemplary ways. Team meetings and communication are continual and consistent for the sake of the students and their progress. We know that consistency with programming is dependent upon communication and working together.

Below, a Room 6 team meet to review student goals and analyze data. Team communication and working together is a key aspect of our Applied Behavior Analysis philosophy.


11.21.19 People unfamiliar with how effective ABA (applied behavior analysis) is, often comment that it is “too intense” and “too much work.”

We disagree.

The students we work with are capable of so many things, and ABA is the necessary door to enter in order to help them achieve their full capabilities.

For readers who are looking for ways to implement ABA, or for testimonial proof of its effectiveness, our site is filled with stories about how our students are progressing and learning here at this school where all of the interventions are research-based, where ABA is our philosophical cornerstone. We know, too, that some of our readers look to our stories for how to implement activities in classrooms or at home, how to make the nuts and bolts of ABA actually work. This update is for these folks, to provide an exemplar for morning work in a classroom.

The goals of each student are specifically designed to help increase desired skills and behaviors of the individual. Each student has different needs and goals. But Room 13 has a great way of  targeting a group of skills through morning work.

Students in this room work in their morning work books each morning.

Each student’s book is created specifically for that child, and is set up with many tasks that he or she is working on. In this classroom, some of the goals students are working on are labeling parts of the body, matching letters and numbers, sequencing letters to spell a name, selecting the correct day and number for today on the calendar, and so on.

The books are made with laminated pages, and Velcro is used to hold the response choices in place. Teachers provide prompting as needed and will fade over time as the student becomes more independent with completing the pages addressed on a particular day. As well, teachers provide reinforcement based on each student’s individual preference and schedule of reinforcement, in order to shape the desired behaviors of accuracy and effort.

Data shows increases in performance of skills class-wide. While teachers are providing guidance individually, they are noting independence with completing pages is rising, along with improved attending and pro-social behaviors. From a visitor’s perspective, it appears that students enjoy this time and the work they are doing.

Discrete Trial Training

10.4.19  Our ABA Clinic is providing services beyond the regular school day.

This little story tells of one student’s growth because of her work in the Clinic. 

Asking for what we need and want is so important in life, isn’t it? Among other skills, “L” has been working on learning to use PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) to communicate needs and wants. 

Over the course of time, students who are learning to use PECS will come to understand that the picture symbols have meaning. They learn to associate a given symbol with its object or person. They learn to exchange it for the item it represents, and then, when this action is reinforced, the student learns to use if for making other requests, or communicating other information. Oftentimes students will also begin to verbally reproduce the word that the symbol represents as their teacher or therapist is modeling the word repeatedly.

Part of ABA instruction is to find the items and activities that are highly reinforcing to the student, and provide those reinforcers as the student engages in the skill in the manner in which the therapist requests. This process of determining the child’s preferred reinforcers is called a preference assessment, and is an ongoing process, since interests are ever-changing.

Ms. Laura, Ms. Meggie, and Ms. Breanna have been working with “L” and part of their teaching has been to find the items and activities that are highly reinforcing for her. Early on they discovered her excitement over the fish tank, and when she eventually requested “fish” and did her work for feeding the fish as her reinforcer, there was much celebration!

Now, just about a month later, she requests “fish” as her reinforcer commonly, and along the way has also learned to feed them with less assistance, to get the food, open the sliding tab, and to put it back. While there, she has worked on other skills, too: counting, tapping, and high fives are a few to name.

Awesome job! #ABA #PositiveReinforcement #Jobs #LifeSkills #FunctionalCommunication


Crossroads operates on the science and methodologies of ABA – Applied Behavior Analysis. It’s been the foundation of the program for 20 plus years, and it’s one of the aspects of the organization that makes this school unique.

We believe in ABA because of the wealth of research backing its effectiveness.

Research supports ABA

National Standards Project Phase 2

The school’s classrooms, therapy departments and the clinic, all utilize the techniques and principles of ABA in creating and implementing individual education plans and lesson plans.

This is the case whether students are working in groups….

making a special visit to the Executive Director.

Whether they are learning to label objects…

or to put animals in, on, or in front of the barn. 

Whether they are learning to jump …

or to deliver healthy foods to other classrooms. 

Whether writing words……. 

or making a healthy food….

…whatever it is, it’s being done ABA style.

The structure with which activities are presented, with tasks broken down into manageable sets and steps, and various levels of prompting and reinforcement is all based on the individual needs of the participants. This is how the students make observable and measurable gains with their skills. 

If you are interested in learning more about our school or clinic, we’d love to hear from you. Call 518-280-0083 today!


Interested in learning more about our school’s SERVICES?

Crossroads is located at 1136 North Westcott Road in Rotterdam.

Dignity for All Students Act Training (D.A.S.A.)Group activities in the classroom can help form skills for school, home and life.