Bondy, A., & Frost, L. (2008). Autism 24/7: A family guide to learning at home and in the community. Woodbine House.

Reviewed by Nicole Stewart, MSEd, BCBA
Association for Science in Autism Treatment 

Review of A review of Autism 24/7

Autism 24/7

In 2008, Andy Bondy and Lori Frost wrote  Autism 24/7: A Family Guide to Learning at Home and in the Community, which is currently downloadable at no charge on their website.  The authors names may sound familiar to those with a background knowledge of communication systems: Andy Bondy and Lori Frost designed the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and the Pyramid Approach to Education.  This companion book complements their Pyramid Approach to Education using parent friendly language to describe applications in home and community settings.

Presently, during the Spring 2020 Covid-19 public health crisis, this book can provide a critical groundwork to parents and professionals who are suddenly finding home-schooling or telehealth forced upon them.  How to transfer the essential components of a school or center-based program to the home can be a tricky skill that as an autism community, we are all working to refine.  Autism 24/7: A Family Guide to Learning at Home and in the Community serves as a great jumping off point to get started in the applications of programming into the home.  Every family is different: some may need to start small and select one chapter to focus upon, whereas others may use this entire resource to step up their home learning design.

Chapters

The downloadable version of this book is divided by chapter, which makes it easier to jump into the topic that is most relevant to your child.

Table of Contents & Introduction
Chapter 1: Setting Goals at Home
Chapter 2: Using Motivational Strategies to Build Successful Change
Chapter 3: Important Communication Goals in and around the Home
Chapter 4: Creating Natural Opportunities for Learning
Chapter 5: Teaching Strategies for the Home and Community
Chapter 6: Dealing with Common Errors
Chapter 7: Dealing with Difficult Behaviors
Chapter 8: Evaluating What You are Doing
Chapter 9: Putting It Together in the Neighborhood
Forms & Checklists
Bibliography & Index

Who can benefit from this book?

The ideal target audience for this book are parents who have some foundational knowledge of applied behavior analysis (ABA).  While the book uses a lot of parent friendly language, it does not explicitly create lessons; instead relying on suggestions and examples to paint a picture of home and community applications.

Professionals such as Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs), special education teachers or speech language pathologists can also utilize this book as a model for how to support the development of a home program.  The tables and examples threaded throughout the book can help an already knowledgeable person apply these concepts into a different setting such as the home or community.

The Pyramid Approach to Education

The pyramid approach to education has four foundational concepts:

  1. Functional skills and objectives in different environments
  2. Motivational factors
  3. Functional communication and critical social skills
  4. Challenging behaviors (referred to as contextually inappropriate behaviors or CIBs)

Note: Image taken from: https://pecsusa.com/the-pyramid-approach/

There are four pillars that address the ways to teach the critical skills above:

  1. Generalization
  2. Designing effective lessons
  3. Teaching strategies using prompts or shaping
  4. Planning to minimize errors and know how to respond to errors

When combining these structural elements and instructional components, the learner’s program is designed to promote the social validity and meaningful skills in an instructionally appropriate way.

Description of the Structural Elements

Bondy and Frost divide the structural elements (functional skills, motivational factors, functional communication, CIB) into their own chapters (Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 7 respectively) to be able to flesh out each idea fully.  Tables are used throughout these chapters to highlight different skills that can be addressed in the home.

In Chapter 1, there were several different methods described for selecting targets, including looking at what would be the most impactful for the family, as well as time-based methods or area-based approaches.  By providing a variety of options, the book acknowledges the reality that caregivers and guardians may learn or plan differently, and this cannot be overstated, particularly as we face COVID-19.

Descriptions of the motivational factors, functional communication and CIB are incredibly parent-friendly and easy to follow.  They highlight the social significance of each component and address some of the barriers that different learners may face. Professionals can benefit from the non-confrontational language that breaks down the importance of systematic foundational development in motivation, communication and addressing CIBs.  Of note was the discussion regarding punishment procedures, such as time-outs or fines, which was concise and descriptive.  The authors conclude since there may be risks when implementing these procedures, parents may want to use these only with the guidance of a professional.

Description of the Instructional Elements

Prompts/shaping and error correction are each featured in a chapter.  Bondy and Frost do a thorough job describing their recommendation for error correction, with a comprehensive table describing the process as well as one highlighting examples that a parent may come across.  They describe how to implement the process and provide a large variety of examples that any parent or caregiver could easily follow.

For prompting and shaping, the authors rely heavily on one or two examples to highlight the use of prompting and shaping.  To learn more about types of prompts, parents can complete learning modules on the UNC website or read The Friendship Circle’s complete guide on their webpage.

There were not separate chapters for generalization or designing effective lessons specifically. Chapter 9 (Putting it together in the neighborhood) discusses ideas of generalizing in the community (which is likely limited at this point in time), but there is not a lot of focus on generalization within the home environment.  Since the original intention of the book was to accompany the educational program, and therefore support generalization innately, it makes sense that there is not an explicit focus on this topic.

Designing effective lessons was touched upon briefly in different chapters.  For instance, in chapter 4, the authors discuss how to design task analyses in a technological way that would allow a parent to follow those strategies.  The skills discussed throughout this book provide an important foundation for a newer challenge for many families today: structuring teaching sessions in the home.

Summary

Autism 24/7: A Family Guide to Learning at Home and in the Community is a quick and easy read.  For professionals or parents with foundational knowledge, it can be a great resource to jumpstart a home-based program.  At a time when home-based programs and parent-led learning is happening to varying degrees due to the recent disruption in services, this book makes the task of transferring a program feel manageable and possible.  It also centers a clinician to consider the social validity of the targets as well as the teaching methods, which is critical for success.

Citation for this article:

Stewart, N. (2020). A review of Autism 24/7: A family guide to learning at home and in the community, Science in Autism Treatment, 17(4).

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