ABA Jargon: Fluency



Our jargon term for today is "Fluency". Now, I don't know about you, but when I see that I think, "Oh, are we talking about a foreign language?" No, my friends. In this respect, we are not talking about a foreign language. But we're talking about something that is almost as important, in order for our individuals who are on the spectrum to be able to do the things that they want to be able to do. Just not in a foreign country. All right, so let's take a look at what our actual definition...fluency is exhibiting retention, endurance, stability and adduction. Oh, thank you. I don't really know...isn't adduction something you do with you legs, to build your outer thigh muscles? I don't even know what that means. And what does this have to do with making progress? So, let's take a look at our working definition here. Fluency is being able to do something in the right speed, in a naturalistic manner. When you think about it, let's put it through the reference of foreign...yes, that's functional pretend play. Fluency with a language. Let's say you're learning Spanish, because you want to be able to speak Spanish. Until you get to fluency, you're still having to go through the guidebook, if you're actually visiting a country where they speak Spanish. Right?

But when you're fluent, maybe you don't know every Spanish word that there is. But you have the ability to communicate and do it with a speed and with enough authority on your own, without having to stop and think about it. Right? For me, I knew...once upon a time I was semi-fluent in Spanish. And I knew when I had gotten there, because I would dream in Spanish. And I was like, "Okay, now I know that..." And I didn't keep up on it, so I'm no longer enough fluent in Spanish. Right? I have just enough Spanish that I can get myself into trouble. But if you think about...it's not just languages that we want to be fluent in. If we're teaching somebody how to tie their shoes and we've taught them however many steps. Right? Maybe there's 18 steps to the way that we're teaching this individual how to tie their shoes. And we're going, "Okay, step one. We're measuring the laces to see that they're the same. And then step two is that we're crossing them over. And step three is that we're feeding one underneath." Right? And you gotta think through the whole thing. But at some point, we get to fluency where you can do the whole thing and you're not really having...maybe you're thinking of some of the steps of it. But you're not having to think through it step one, step two.

It's just, "Oh, next is this." And you're doing it with enough speed that you can get the job done, without any support or help, and it looks naturalistic. Right? Look at Calby, how fast he is. Speed and accuracy. So...and I like to throw in there that it has a level of...it just looks like it's your activity. That you're able to do it. Right? Anything that we learn, we go through a phase where we're having to think it through, think it through. But when it really becomes ours, we have a fluency with it. We're able to do it fast enough. We're able to do it with enough accuracy that we can say this is our skill. So, what do you want to fluent in? And what do you want your students to be fluent in? What do you want your child with autism to be fluent in? Let's just take the morning routine, shall we? Let's talk a little bit about what happens in the morning and the stages in which we go through to get a child to the adaptive level of fluency that they can do a morning routine. My goodness, you want to talk about having a lot of moving parts? At what point can the child get themselves up, set their alarm clock, get themselves up, get themselves showered and take care of all of the things that they have to do for self-care? So that they smell nice, right?

Pick out their own clothes, get dressed, prepare a breakfast, eat it with a certain amount of speed, put their stuff together, and get out the door? That's a lot of different things. And at a certain point, we're gonna work with our kids on being able to do one part of that. Right? And get it to the part where they can do it, without prompting. But eventually, we've gotta work for fluency. And we have to plan for that, very early on, knowing, "Okay. This is how we're going to get to fluency." Fluency is when they're doing it with speed and accuracy. You gotta love it. And it's not just adaptive skills, by the way, or language skills. We can do this with absolutely any skill. We want to get them to the point of fluency. A very important thing.

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