What is Scrolling in Children with Autism? | Language Error Correction

If you’re a parent or professional in the autism world, chances are good that you’ve seen scrolling and you may have seen it every day. But you may not have known what it is or what to do about it. So, today I’m covering scrolling and how to help a child who is exhibiting this behavior.

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As you may know, I have some online courses and an online closed Facebook group for the members of my courses. Last week, one of the participants asked a question. He or she said, “What is scripting and what is scrolling?” Because here she may have heard us discussing both of these things.

I was able to point the person to a scripting video that I had previously done, so I knew that was a good answer to the scripting question. For those of you that watch any baseball, you could sometimes see the third base coach doing scrolling, like to try to fake out the other team. He might be pulling on his ear, then tugging on his chin, then touching his nose and he is going through these responses, and the person who’s looking at him knows which response he should be taking or attending to. If we think about the third base coach, he is scrolling through these responses. That is a really good analogy for kids who scroll when we teach them sign language.

If we hold up candy and we want the child to sign candy, but the child is also learning the words movie, book, crunchy and drink, the child can get confused and can scroll through the other responses. He can scroll through one response, or he could scroll through all of his signs and really do a whole lot of scrolling. And this, like I said, is really evident when we teach sign language. But we can also see scrolling for any operant, any child, in any program. For example, we can see scrolling with touching body parts. If we say touch your nose for instance, the child might touch their head, their eyes, and then their nose and that is a scrolling response as well. It’s basically an error, and sometimes it involves a couple of things before or inter-mixed with the correct response.

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We can have vocal scrolling too, where we hold up a pen and we say, “What is it?” But the child is scrolling through pencil, crayon, pen, until they get the right answer and they might be scrolling all the things that are writing instruments all in one. So scrolling is a big problem, I see it a lot with kids who don’t have great language. They are definitely within the VB-MAPP level of programming, either not speaking at all or speaking just in short phrases and they tend to have a lot of what I call conditional discrimination problems and a lot of errors. And if everybody on the child’s team, the parent and all the different professionals are not aware of how to correct the scrolling, how to correct the errors and more importantly how to prevent the errors we just have a vicious cycle of error upon error and people are reinforcing potentially. So if I say, “Touch your nose,” and the child touches chin and then touches nose some people might say, “Well he did touch his nose, good job touching your nose,” and that ends up getting shaped up to these sloppy responses and the scrolling.

So in general it’s always good to react to scrolling by getting the child to put their hands to neutral and prompting the sign. But we want to spend 95% of our time preventing errors. I’m not able to teach you everything to know about preventing scrolling in a short blog, but if you are seeing scrolling within your child or client the one big thing you can do is you can learn more. Not just about scrolling, but learn more about assessing, programming, and teaching. The best way I know how to help you is if you would sign up for my free online workshop at marybarbera.com/workshops where you can learn about how you can help your child or client stop making so many errors and start seeing progress.

If you liked this video I would love it if you would give me a thumbs up, leave a comment and share this video to others who might benefit and don’t forget to sign up for the free workshop today. I’ll see you right here next week.

Want to get started on the right path and start making a difference for your child or client with autism?