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Creating a Comprehensive Paraprofessional Binder for ABA or Autism Classrooms

In an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) or autism-focused classrooms, creating a paraprofessional binder proves to be a crucial tool. The role of paraprofessionals in these classrooms (or any!) cannot be understated. They play a pivotal role in supporting students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in their learning and behavioral development. Creating a handbook can act as a roadmap for paraprofessionals, outlining clear expectations, teaching methods, behavior strategies, and data collection techniques. In this blog post, we will delve into the significance of each of these sections and highlight the benefits they bring to the classroom environment.

ABAParaBinder5square Creating a Comprehensive Paraprofessional Binder for ABA or Autism Classrooms

1. Setting Clear Expectations

Effective communication is at the heart of any successful classroom setting with multiple staff members. For paraprofessionals, a clear understanding of their responsibilities and expectations within the classroom is paramount. Adding a quick section into your paraprofessional binder to explicitly detail their roles, duties, and scope of responsibilities can eliminate any confusion or ambiguity later on. Since in most classroom settings, the teacher is not the direct supervisor of the paraprofessional, take care to explain that you are only detailing classroom responsibilities for clarity, and not creating a relationship in which the paraprofessional feels that you are going to be rating their performance.

For example, I have added things such as “Cleaning up after an instructional session can help lead to a smoother transition the next day” so that it’s clear that these are things everyone in the classroom is expected to do! Or I might write, “When I am leading group, please stand behind your target student and be ready to prompt responses if they do not respond.” Tips like these can give them guidance as to where they can position themselves during various activities that will occur in your classroom. Clear expectations help paraprofessionals understand their role in the larger educational framework, leading to a more productive learning environment.

2. Effective Teaching Methods

A substantial portion of the paraprofessional handbook should be dedicated to teaching methods that are proven to be effective in ABA and autism-focused classrooms. One such method, discrete trial teaching (DTT), deserves special attention. The handbook should include a user-friendly description of DTT, its purpose, and steps involved. This equips paraprofessionals with the knowledge needed to implement this structured teaching approach, promoting skill acquisition and behavior modification in students with ASD.

I like to include helpful visuals such as the one pictured above, as well as bullet points on quick tips for running discrete trial sessions. Remember that someone brand new to discrete trial will likely take time to learn this specific teaching technique, so the most important aspect of their training will be modeling and coaching in a real instructional session (or a practice scenario between staff, if your schedule allows!).

3. Behavior Strategies to include in the Paraprofessional Binder

As you likely already know, behavioral challenges are not uncommon in autism classrooms 🙃. Paraprofessionals often find themselves on the front lines of managing these behaviors. Since you cannot possibly outline every possible scenario they will encounter, your handbook should provide general, evidence-based behavior strategies that they can employ across various situations. Click the photo below to download a free handout of examples of positive language.

paraprofessional binder language Creating a Comprehensive Paraprofessional Binder for ABA or Autism Classrooms

Behavior strategies can include positive reinforcement techniques, communication supports, and de-escalation methods. By equipping paraprofessionals with a toolbox of strategies, you can help them feel more confident to deal with students who are escalated or in crisis. Again, modeling in real-life scenarios will be the best training for new paraprofessionals, and if possible, working alongside them with their target student for the first few times can help ensure consistent strategies are being utilized.

4. Data Collection Examples

In ABA and autism classrooms, data collection is the foundation of all of our progress monitoring. Your paraprofessional binder should offer detailed examples of how to collect and record data accurately in YOUR classroom setting. For example, this could involve tracking behavior frequencies, recording skill acquisition with probe or trial-by-trial data, and/or documenting A-B-C data. Examples are particularly helpful in this section of the binder, so that staff can see firsthand how to collect data based on student performance. Click the photo below to browse a complete paraprofessional handbook for ABA or autism classrooms.

Screen Shot 2023 09 24 at 9.16.05 PM Creating a Comprehensive Paraprofessional Binder for ABA or Autism Classrooms

Conclusion

In conclusion, a paraprofessional binder can be an indispensable asset to your ABA or autism classroom. It creates a cohesive and consistent environment where paraprofessionals are empowered with the knowledge and tools to provide the best possible support to students with ASD. Remember that the handbook does not have to be static; but can evolve over time to accommodate new strategies and insights from classroom experiences. In addition to the paraprofessional binder, regular training sessions or classroom meetings can ensure open lines of communication between educators, specialists, and paraprofessionals. By emphasizing clear expectations, teaching methods like discrete trial teaching, behavior strategies, and thorough data collection, this handbook can serve as a roadmap toward successful outcomes.

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