Generally, neurotypical children have an easier time learning because they are motivated by social feedback from their parents and teachers. But with a child with autism, it is not always as simple as saying a few praises to encourage learning. Without motivation, it can be challenging for a child with autism to pay attention and even more difficult for them to learn. A social reinforcer is any positive or desired attention or interaction with another person that can serve to reinforce behavior. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of social reinforcers for kids with autism.
How ABA Therapists Use Positive Reinforcement
ABA therapists rely on the ABC model for behavior modification. An ABA practitioner would observe your child’s behaviors and identify the triggers and environmental factors that influence them. Next, they use what they see to create patterns of improvement. Many ABA therapists follow the ABC model:
- Antecedent: The therapist pinpoints the specific situation or item that led your child to behave a certain way, such as bright lights or loud noises.
- Behavior: Then they look at the child’s reaction to the antecedent, which may be positive or negative.
- Consequence: This is what the behavior resulted in. The consequence could be positive (encouraging good habits) or negative (preventing undesirable behaviors).
Using reinforcement strategically can make a world of difference in how kids learn. It’s a powerful teaching tool you can easily incorporate into everything you do together.
Reinforcers Motivate Children
Reinforcers motivate children to learn new skills. Oftentimes, children with autism are not readily motivated by social feedback or other natural consequences received from parents, teachers, or peers. Insensitivity to social consequences and signals is a core aspect of the condition.
Using Social Reinforcers
Social praise is the simplest reinforcer, whether it be hugs, praise, high-fives, or any kind of social interaction. When your child does well, give them a high five and a pat on the back. Shower them in verbal praise to make them feel good about what they did or didn’t do. Reinforcement strengthens and encourages a pattern of good behavior. Eventually, your child will understand the connection between the behavior and the reward.
Above all, parents, teachers, and therapists must all work together to implement positive reinforcement methods and encourage desirable habits. Remember that you can get the most out of your child’s ABA sessions by collaborating with their therapy team.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.