hello hello and welcome to the 360  method a weekly podcast where we talk  about everything autism 360. each week  we’ll be catching you up with what’s  going on in the program chatting with  team members and talking all things  mindset as well as exploring relevant  ideas that autism parents think about  today hooray  we are chatting with dr jennifer welker  hello  hey how’s it going  so good  jen is a long time coach here at the  program a special education teacher and  a bcba and today we get to chat with jen  about prompting  what it is how it can help build skills  and how we can harness its power in our  everyday lives  so  i am your host i’m ella bailey i’m an  autism 360 veteran coach and explorer of  all things parenting supports  before becoming an autism 360 parenting  member  a team member i worked in psychological  research and in behavioral psychology so  welcome to you  our lovely listeners um thank you so  much for joining uh myself and jen today  we care about you we care about your  thoughts and whether you’re a program  member or not we would love to hear from  you so please drop us a line  at hello we would love your  feedback you can leave jen some  questions and we can um grab her back on  answer them at a later stage  so before we get started i’d like to  acknowledge the gadigal and wangle  people of the euro nation on whose land  i live and work and from where this  podcast is being broadcast today and i  would also like to make the disclaimer  this podcast no matter how  fancy jen is it does not substitute for  medical advice if you are concerned  about yourself or about a loved one  please do  access a medical professional  so jen hooray today yes  yes we’re going to be chatting about  prompting um and everyday life with jen  so i want to start with why are you so  passionate about prompting yen tell us  tell us why this makes you  um so excited  yeah absolutely so  when we think about prompting i mean it  sounds like a fancy term right like oh  i’m going to prompt you to do something  but truly  we are surrounded by prompts every day  it’s really just a form of support and  prompts help teach us things so i’m  passionate because it’s super relevant  and it kind of expands over a multitude  of situations and so if you can kind of  harness  the power of prompting then you can  really do a lot to teach  your kiddos individuals learners family  members whoever it is that you know may  benefit from that and whether you  realize it or not you’re probably using  it already so  um  it’s just it’s a way to support each  other and so why wouldn’t we want to do  that you know  yeah absolutely and i think um something  is is totally um


on the money what you  said just then is that actually we’re  all surrounded by prompts all the time  we were just mentioning before that you  know we have a written prompt in the  form of an outline about what we’re  going to chat about today and that’s  also a prompt isn’t it  exactly so yeah here we think like oh  you know i don’t know how to  use prompts or i don’t know the  different kinds of prompts and so i’m  hoping that today we can just kind of  identify and break down the different  prompts that are out there and just  realize that you know because we’re all  individuals we all respond to different  prompts differently some better than  others and so that’s why knowing many  kinds and having examples of each is  really helpful  because you might try one thing and  think  this isn’t working  but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t  something else that would work just  beautifully so i’m hoping today we can  go through all that um you know it helps  reduce frustration  when you have the right kind of prompts  and it takes something that’s uncertain  or maybe  you know kind of  not concrete and it can make it certain  and concrete which is such a big deal  for some of our individuals who have  trouble with abstract thinking  yeah that’s such an interesting point  and i think from a parent coaching  perspective i’m often thinking about  okay well how are the strategies that  i’m suggesting the support strategies  that i’m suggesting for supporting an  individual  how are they affecting  the the mental health the mindset the  morale of the parents and carers of  these individuals um and i think the  prompting does a lot for  giving parents and carers a framework  from which to understand um how they can  support somebody in a specific goal and  i think that when  they have that they can feel a little  bit impact a little bit less dependent  on therapeutic individuals therapeutic  professionals because they know what the  next step is going to be they know what  success looks like they know what um is  going to help  their loved one to feel um  more more independent which is the goal  and  um what parents are often aiming for  yes and that’s actually just what i was  thinking is  the whole reason that prompting is an  amazing tool is because it does help  build independence and you would think  it’s kind of opposite like oh if i  prompt i’m helping  so maybe i’m not contributing towards  their independence but that is  absolutely not the case and you know as  we dive in i hope that we can kind of  see how  just knowing a little bit of strategy  with prompting we can actually move  more towards independence which is  always what we want yeah absolutely well  why don’t we get started with  some of the fundamentals of prompting  that you feel like would benefit parents  and carers to understand i’m gonna give  you kind of open slather to really um  teach us a little bit about  you know the basics of the topic  yeah absolutely so  i definitely want to  you know address the different prompts  that are out there give some examples  and there is a hierarchy of prompts and  so when i say that i really just mean  um  prompts that are more  intrusive  to helping an individual and then to  less intrusive  and so because we want to build  independence  using the most intrusive prompt all the  time  you might get a little stuck  and so  knowing kind of oh what’s the next level  of prompting i could go to and what does  that look like  that’s a fundamental that’s really going  to help us  and so on that topic too like it’s  called fading the prompts so you might  start here because your individual  really needs that level of support  but your goal is never to stay there but  to move towards something less intrusive  or less frequent or you know whatever it  is so that your  learner  can  take on more of that on themselves  and so  um  are we ready to talk examples of prompts  yeah absolutely i think it will be  helpful just to define what you mean by  intrusive  okay yeah more broadly


yes so intrusive is just kind of how  how much it can  interfere with or just be  i guess more burdensome on the  individual um so for example  we have  physical prompting okay so  let’s say that because i work with three  and four year olds frequently on a daily  basis and so let’s say that i’m like  okay come here  and that’s actually just a verbal prompt  like come here  and then they’re like oh but this ball  over here so much more fun so i’m gonna  go this way  and they need some guidance because  they’re not understanding  come here so if i have to physically go  over and like guide them oh we’re coming  this way  you know there’s nothing wrong with that  but that’s not something that you want  to be doing  every day all the time because it’s not  um  it’s not feasible you’re not always in  close proximity sometimes there are  safety issues where it’s like i just  need you to you know move now so you  don’t get hit by something that’s  passing by um and so a physical prompt  is important and there’s a place for it  but it is more intrusive upon the child  i have to touch them i have to  you know walk over here and i have to  kind of exert myself and so that’s  um again time and place for it but it’s  not something i would want to do  all the time  it can really get in the way of their  independence  okay absolutely that makes sense i’d  love to talk examples what are  um some common ones that you see or ones  that you work with um program families  on  yeah absolutely so  i’m just gonna name some of the  different types real quick in order and  then i’ll go back and dissect them a bit  so if we’re talking  um from the most  intrusive which would also equal less  independent okay we have that full  physical prop so i have to actually  physically help you know  um what to do to get where you need to  go  then there’s a partial physical  which we can talk about the difference  soon  there’s modeling  um there’s gestural  and then we have verbal which is  probably our most common type of prompt  that we use  in everyday life and finally visual  comes in at the least intrusive  and builds the most independent and  that’s why if you have  had anything to do with autism 360 in  the past you have heard visuals visuals  visuals  and why they’re great and um i  definitely agree and and here’s why so  um  talking about full physical again  it’s that hand over hand prompt it’s  that physically guiding a learner’s body  to complete an action  so you know story time i have kiddos and  every day we’re just working on  imitation and they’re so cute you know  they’re sitting there and they’re like  ready to work and i’m like okay  can you do this or can you clap and  they’re like  no  you know and so initially i may have to  kind of help them bring their hands up  and go oh clap yes and i’m doing it for  them and then they’re like oh okay so  sometimes that full physical prompt is  necessary to build that motor planning  that brain body connection  and for them to just understand my  expectation so that’s something at home  too  i think we use so many verbal props  where we’re like  go do this go you know go do this and  our child or individual might just be  kind of sitting there and we think  they’re being  defiant they don’t want to listen  that’s not always the case sometimes  it’s literally like  i’m not processing what you mean  by that directive  so um sometimes we do have to start with  like let me um  help you  get to that point where you’re doing  doing that  um  so then then you can go to a partial  physical which is a little bit less  intrusive  but you’re you’re kind of getting the  learner started but not finishing it for  them so  again i had a kiddo who  is now in  kindergarten  and so he  we really had to break steps down for  him even to clap


because he just his body was just kind  of like i don’t  i’m not very responsive to things like  that so at first we would help him clap  but then he came to kind of  rely on that  like he’d wait for us because he’s like  why kind of like that touch i kind of  like when you put your hands on my hands  um so we began to just lift his elbows  up  and i would support here  and then he would look at me and i’d  wait he’d go  and so then i’m like wow you’re clapping  awesome and  and then that was reinforcing and so i  was able to move from a full physical  where i’m  hand over hand to i’m just kind of  getting your elbows up and then you can  do it  and then finally after some practice  he was doing it all on his own which is  super rewarding to see as a as a  therapist a teacher and then a parent  absolutely absolutely  i think um there’s something  uh  a special  especially um  especially important to the way that the  coaching at autism 360 works which is  and again i i mean i brought it up  before which is that  parents need to feel  seen and validated and hurt in this  process as well and that’s okay it’s  okay to say it feels good when i’m able  to teach my kids something and they  respond that’s not something that we  um  demonize here at the program it’s okay  to have emotional responses to your  kiddo picking something up or  needing you less um i think i um feel  really passionate about that in case you  can’t tell  yeah enough i mean and that’s our goal  right like we celebrate the littlest  things  um and and in my  school  um you know it’s a public school setting  we have you know the mainstream  classrooms along with special education  classrooms that focus on you know  functional life skills  and  i think that sometimes the mainstream  teachers like walk by and hear me going  whoa  you peed on the party and they’re just  like wow  what do they do in there  i listened to another really good  podcast called two peas in a podcast um  and they are two mums of kids with um  additional knees  and uh they have reclaimed the idea of  milestones from something that can be  really tricky and sometimes triggering  for parents of kids you know with  complex needs to smile stones right like  our milestones might not look like  everybody else’s milestone they’re a  small stone for us if your kiddo like  pees on the toilet and they’re nine and  it is the biggest deal ever that is the  most awesome smile stone um and i’m  totally disseminating the use of the  word smile stone so you can take that  and run with it  as far as  yeah i like that i probably am going to  use it actually  thank you for that um yes and that is  it’s and it’s really a mindset shift  isn’t it like  just to be able to  look at these things as  a process and to know that it’s okay  and parents families they’re all in a  different place in this journey  um but as long as you’re working towards  that independence  and just things that help your family  life run smoother i mean that’s our goal  you know and and every family’s  different so it’s not going to look the  same for everyone but  the the point is


our mindset is  okay with  you know slow progress as long as it’s  progress or  you know you may be here and i may be  here but that’s okay because every day  we are learning and we are getting there  and so that’s  prompting aligns with that so well  because it is like a more tangible  tangible and like specific way of seeing  how you move  from here to there and that’s what i  love about it  um so i talked about full physical and  partial physical which are both  really great um  thinking of other times you might use  those  for a littler one maybe they’re learning  how to do a puzzle  or like putting the shapes inside the  sorter you know fitting the circle into  the circle hole and the square into the  square hole and again they just  their little fine motor skills are  trying to get it in there but they’re  struggling so before they reach that  point of frustration a prompt is simply  just to come in with that physical or  partial physical and helping them you  know fit the shape  in how it goes and then good job you got  it in and so those are things i do every  day so they’re easy examples for me to  think of  but you know you might have someone who  has more of a physical  disability or handicapped and they are  just needing to learn how to  um you know more use of their their arms  or their legs or something and so we see  it all the time in physical therapy like  i’m going to support you  uh maybe hold under your you know your  arms  while you take some steps and get  stronger and no one would ever look at  that and be like  well you’re helping  too much i mean if i let go the person  might fall so think of it as like  totally a support where you are showing  and offering a level of um  you know strengthening  until your individual gets to that point  where they’re strong enough to do it on  their own and so that’s  you know that’s why it’s exciting  um so the next one is modeling so that  this is pretty cut and dry you know uh  i’m gonna show you how to do it  and then give you a chance to try  doing it back so  one form of modeling that i love besides  just like okay um you know first  pick up your plate and then throw it in  the trash after breakfast so i’m gonna  do it and show you and then your turn  okay good job you know that’s that’s  easy but also video modeling  i cannot tell you  how  much video modeling has helped with the  simplest routines um around the house so  i’ve used it for potty training  i’ve used it for  washing hands a lot of functional skills  even like taking bites at the table  or or just knowing what it looks like to  sit as a family um our kiddos and our  adults and me and you and all of us  we like watching  videos  we do you’re watching a video right now  probably  youtube is a thing right exactly and  there’s a reason that youtubers like  people are like i want to be a youtuber  when i grow up because  it’s  it’s a it’s a form of entertainment and  so we kind of can tap into that and just  show um  individuals like how to do everyday  things that they otherwise struggle with  because  it’s repetitive it’s consistent it’s  reliable and that is something that many  of our learners look for like i need to  trust this  to not change  so that i know what to do and so a video  model is great um but so is a model  right then and there  um i was actually babysitting  one time more than one time this  happened and the the little  five-year-old like gets on youtube and  i’m just like  what are you watching you know gotta  gotta make sure it’s okay  and she’s watching another like two  girls play barbies  um  yeah in this dollhouse and they’re like  hello how are you today oh i’m fine  thank you do you want to order pizza yes  let’s order pizza and then they go  through the whole like script of a play  situation  and i’m sitting there thinking  this is a video model for appropriate  play  and  every like any typically neurotypical  child would like to watch this


so  you know  it’s it’s very  normal for us to be drawn to these  things  so modeling  is a very very strong prompt that  you can use but you can also fade  because you do you are using it to teach  so  once your  learner starts doing those things more  independently  then you kind of need to move on to okay  i don’t need to show you every time but  maybe they still need some support some  reminders  so that’s where some of these other  other prompts on the hierarchy come in  the next one  is gestural so this could be your  pointing to something  using eye contact which this can be hard  if your individual doesn’t really like  that eye contact so maybe that wouldn’t  be for everyone but i might like  eye gaze to show you  where to go or where to look  um  tapping an area to bring attention to it  so this is you know pretty simple um but  the reason that i like it is because if  i know  that a child at school for example  um  let’s say we say okay it’s time to line  up or it’s time to get your backpack  and you know that your child knows how  to do this right but they’re just  not quite  there  instead of modeling the whole process  okay we’re gonna get our backpack or  physically being like go get your  backpack  a gestural prop could simply just be  like  holding up the backpack and tapping it  or pointing and then put it right back  where it was and then you know the  child’s like oh my backpack yes  i forgot for a second what that word  meant or i was was not listening so  um gestural you know i might point like  it’s time to go to the bathroom  and just  kind of wait and they’re like looking at  you like  oh yeah okay all right got it so  it also gives time for processing right  like words  they disappear straight away as soon as  they’re out of our mouth they’re gone a  gesture can linger a little longer it  engages visual processing it engages um  kinetic processing to give  that person longer to to process your  instruction which we love  yes yes and  it really also can help  reduce or prevent frustration  in a situation where maybe like  me constantly saying something to you is  just annoying you know  i find  it’s very common for us to  overwhelm  those around us with our words  so  if i am constantly like  uh go pick up your toys  hey go pick up your toys  i said go pick up your toys go pick up  your choice so  it’s that definition of insanity again  like is just doing the same thing over  and over and expecting this you know a  different result like right  if your person’s not responding to that  there’s a reason and so  what i like about a gestural prompt  especially is i can take out my verbals  and i can just be like  and just  and you know they’re like okay  got it got it um and so it can it can  prevent that frustration of like  now i’m not doing the task just because  i’m so  like auditorily overwhelmed by your  voice  and for those listening um jen is making  hand signals to  um  indicate and you know gesture to to  somebody to give them an instruction  without needing to um  uh use woods  yes yes a lot of pointing and  referencing i need to illustrate my my  talking hands  exactly  um okay so moving on up the hierarchy to  more independent and less intrusive we  get to the verbal props and so this is  again  probably the most common thing that we  use  um there’s direct verbal so i’m telling  you exactly what to do  and then there’s indirect so that might  be more of a leading  kind of a verbal so like i’m asking you  a question  i’m queuing or giving you a hint  but it’s not as direct with the answer  so  again these are super necessary  especially  if you’re working on like expressive  language with someone and they just  don’t have the words um or they don’t  know the right words to say and you’re  you’re telling them essentially um  oh you want to play with those friends  over there um you can say  can i play with you  and then you gave them that verbal  prompt  um  but then again once you prompt that a  few times you do want to look at fading  it back to more of an indirect so  oh what could you say when you want to  play with friends  and give them a chance to process that  information and recall it for more  independence  and so  verbals are  important they’re around every day  and they aren’t necessary  however  i do think we overuse them a lot of the  time  i really do super interesting i think um  something you mentioned um really speaks  to an interest area of mine which is  when kiddos have um  a  anxiety around demands right so a lot of  demand we don’t often a lot of parents  and carers don’t recognize that they’re  placing demands by using verbal prompts  so


when we’re using an indirect verbal  prompt that might be something like uh  the path is full  so you’re you are giving a verbal prompt  you are um explaining something in their  environment that’s indicative of a  required behavior but you’re not placing  a direct demand and so when we’re using  in you know demand reduction language um  or kind of end state language that’s an  indirect verbal prompt  that helps our kiddo to feel safe with  managing that demand uh without spiking  their um demand anxiety which we are all  about  yeah no that’s a great point because  sometimes and i have to admit like i get  like this too maybe with my my husband  my partner like  just because he said i should  i automatically am like  maybe i don’t want to because i’m  definitely not doing that now yeah  nothing you support me that doesn’t like  to be told what to do i think that’s a  big part of all of us  yes  yes we’re all a little demand avoidant  um for sure  but i used an indirect prompt like that  just today with a kiddo who was she i  don’t think she was feeling well i  really think she wanted to go home  um but that wasn’t  able to happen unfortunately at the time  and so we were just trying to kind of um  move on and and make the day as pleasant  as possible  and so  she sat on the floor  and she just kind of  put all her weight into it like i’m  staying here  and she was in a doorway and not the  best spot  so you know we started by asking her  verbally you know straightforward like  well what would you like to do  and she was just like no no no and so i  went indirect  um  and i went and got some kinetic sand  and some pom-poms that happened to be a  little like build an ice cream kit and i  just was like  oh cool  i can build an ice cream  and then i sat it down in front of her  but not right to her and i started  opening the box and i’m like whoa  i want to do this and i like walk  towards her seat and she like pops up  and kind of follows me and i’m like oh  did you want to do it too okay and so  there was it yeah  that very indirect leading of like  i’m presenting something i’m cueing you  that it’s there but i’m not directly  telling you and then she picked up on oh  this is available okay yeah i’m totally  ready to get up and get going so  and that you know that was also  a little bit of modeling on my part you  know a little bit of  some other things but it prevented me  from having to physically  guide her and that’s what we want to do  um is try to avoid you know touching  when they’re uncomfortable with that or  um forcing  um and again there’s a place for it but  in in situations like that i’d rather  not  have to lift you up off the floor and  move you you’re going to get upset you  know you just absolutely feel good we  want to let that you know  be as independent as possible and be as  least invasive as possible yes  so that helps with that and then the  final  prompt which is  the most independent and the least  intrusive least invasive is  visual prompting everyone’s favorite  here autism 360.  hooray  yes so pictures schedules  um written words checklists color coding  highlighting all of the things that  again i think we use in daily life  all the time  and we don’t even think about it and yet  sometimes we expect our kiddos or  individuals to go without a visual  and we think that if we just tell them  that they’re going to get it but it’s  not enough so  i think the prompts that i encourage the  most to parents  carers and at school are visual props um  and they just once again i can take my  verbals out which can be annoying and  hard to process  um it allows consistency  it provides concrete information  and input  um  there was a child just today that was  very upset  and very dysregulated  and because of this dysregulation he was  being a bit unsafe so  um he we had him in a safe space  but he was just so  you know terribly dysregulated that  i knew that talk  yeah i knew talking to him was only  going to make it worse  and even feed into it maybe a bit so  um i quickly at the end of the day i  created a visual but prior to that i was  like what can i get and i grab a white  board and i just kind of write a couple  words like  calm hands  quiet mouth or quiet body or something  and i just held it up  and  was just you know it was visual it was  gestural and i just kind of waited like  or you might have a breathing you know  symbol or something like that  and you know it took a few minutes but  he did  finally understand like  okay i’m ready and then we were able to  talk and make some choices and move past  that hard situation  but  and and then he needed a schedule to get  through the rest of the day which is no  shocker like  he was like ah  there’s so much i have left to do  and i’m like well let’s make a checklist  so i write it out real quick and i’m  like  um you know science math station  library  home  and then  you know he was kind of like oh i just  went home and i’m like that’s okay only  three things than home and i really just  and i used a timer along with that for  each  section and then he crossed it off so  that was those are all different kinds  of visual props that totally supported  him and instead of having to scream and  be upset and disregulated all afternoon  it was short-lived and then we made it  through the rest of the day with extra  prompting so  i would not be able to do what i do and  see the success that i see without  prompts um so it’s very very important  yeah absolutely well i think we should  move on to our um parent question  because um this is something that i see  a lot for um  parents in the program you know a lot of  parents come to us at different stages  but um we see a lot of parents getting  roadblocks around toileting around  building their kids independence with um  you know bowel movements and those kinds  of things so we have um an awesome  question from chopra in adelaide um who  says


i have a four and a half year old  son uh who we we are working with on  toilet training he will go with us but  only ever after we have asked him to go  once we have said do you want to go to  the toilet  he will go with us how do you how do we  get him to ask to go to the toilet  without us asking all the time when will  he be independent  yeah and that is yeah i’ve seen that  happen  yeah many times and it’s great that  they’re even to that point where they’ll  totally oh my gosh such a win absolutely  yeah  so that’s that’s good in and of itself  but we can still always build  independence and so  um and i don’t know if i use the term  prompt fading too much yet but prompt  fading is kind of what needs to happen  here  so if you’re asking a question think  about what kind of prompt that is it’s a  verbal prompt  probably indirect like do you need to go  to the bathroom it might even be  considered direct in that case  and verbal prompts they are harder to  fade but the thing that is more  independent building prompt wise is a  visual  and even a gestural which is a different  place on the hierarchy but that’s i  think it would still be okay here um so  for example you might print a picture  of  the bathroom or you know just a toilet  off and you might just hold it up  and that’s a cue  to be like do you need to go or you  might just point to the bathroom  and gesture like do you have to go you  know like i you know  i’m asking you this question um  setting a timer  um  throughout the day that that child can  start checking on their own like timer  goes off and then there’s a visual right  there and they’re like timer  bathroom oh yeah i should probably go  and then  yeah  you know essentially you might have a  clock if they can do that a vibrate  reminder um so just think about how to  replace your questions  and your verbals with something more  natural in the environment um and just  you could build it into the schedule too  or leave those visual hints where  uh you have  you know the bathroom picture like all  over the house and the child is bound to  see it at some point and so then if they  look at it it’s more likely to trigger  in their brain oh do i need to go  yeah maybe i should go um and so  that’s that’s how i would kind of  address that situation  trying to use some other things besides  just questions  yeah absolutely i think that’s a good  one chopra um i hope that that is  helpful please get in touch  if um that is something that you give a  try because we would love to hear how  that works out for you  um



jen it is so lovely um to hear um your  thoughts on this one before we finish up  are there any action points or  um  things that you would like our parents  to specifically take home from what  we’ve chatted about today  yeah i think just to break it down um  you know think of a scenario where your  child or individual learner could become  more independent  something that would make life better  for all of  all of the family  um and and don’t feel guilty about that  either don’t feel guilty about you know  this is going to make my life easier  it’s that’s okay that makes it a  functional and an and valid point to  work on so think about that  and then using the types of prompts just  kind of make a list of how you could  support your learner  with the different types of props  look at that and think you know what’s  most feasible for us or where can i  start and build the most success  and then don’t get stuck on that one  prompt though  how can you fade it to get them to be  more independent so just think of a  scenario  list out the prompts and what they could  look like in that scenario and then  finally  make a plan to move from most to least  intrusive and watch that independence  grow  oh how good is that we love it um thank  you so much for joining us today for our  um program parents um if you would like  to see more of jan we have some really  interesting um  coach panel  recordings which jen um really  generously shares her  wisdom and knowledge with our parents so  hop on the portal chat with her about  that and we will be back next week uh  with another topic relevant to what  autism parents think about um so we will  you know hear hear from somebody else  then and until then think360.


Dr Jen Welker on building autonomy through prompting!
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Dr Jen Welker on building autonomy through prompting!
Dr Jen Welker, autism360 coach, special education teacher and behavioural specialist, sits down to chat about building independence and autonomy through prompting. Dr Jen has been working with autistic young people for over a decade supporting skill building, individual control and autonomy by empowering parents, carers and teachers to use less and less intrusive or invasing prompting! Dr Jen lives in Illinois with her husband and their dogs, who Jen likes to dress up and bring to autism360 staff meetings!
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Autism 360
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