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The Beloved Token Economy

The beloved Token Economy is a tried & true behavior management technique!

A Token Economy is an implementation technique for Positive Reinforcement, the backbone of ABA Therapy. Give a child something they love for behaving the way you want them to and you will see that desired behavior skyrocket!

You don’t have to have a degree in economics to understand it, it’s simple! Learners earn tokens (stars, stickers, tickets, etc.) for displaying a desired behavior. They then exchange the tokens for a larger prize (candy, iPad, fun activity time, etc.).

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THE PROCESS:
1. Decide on the specific amount of tokens your learner will need to earn in order to obtain their reinforcer. (Beginner learners should have very few, while advanced learners can work for more tokens over an extended period of time).

2. Give your learner a choice of larger reinforcers and let them decide which one they want to work for that day. (This is a crucial step. If your learner is not motivated to work for the reinforcer, little behavior change will occur).

3. If possible, explain to your learner the expected behavior required to earn tokens. For some learners, it will help to know what desired behavior you will be watching for them to display. This is not a requirement for a Token Economy to be successful. Some learners will begin to understand the Token Economy after it has gone into effect and the Differential Reinforcement taking place will positively affect your child’s behavior with no explanation ever needing to take place.

4. Give your learner a token immediately after you see them engage in the desired behavior. Tell your learner why they have received the token. For example “Wow Johnny! You just earned another token for staying in your seat during the movie!”

5. Once your learner has obtained all of the required tokens, give your learner their big prize with a whole lot of positive praise for a job well done.

When done correctly, a Token Economy can be successful with just about anyone. It has been proven to be very effective for students with special needs. It is also an Evidence Based Practice (EBP) for children with autism.

One reason that a Token Economy is so effective is due to the fact that the learner can visually see the progress they are making. This Visual Support (EBP) can be calming because the learner knows what is going to happen next. Token Economy is also a great way to teach delayed gratification, because the student must wait for all tokens to be obtained before the big prize is received.

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Token Economy boards are easy to make. All you need is a piece of paper and a pen. Even a post-it note will work to create a discreet token board for an older learner. If you’d like to make a reusable version, you can get creative with laminated paper, a white board pen, Velcro and stickers of your learner’s favorite cartoon characters.

Give it a try! Learn more by visiting Autism Therapy Career College.

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Why we love Dr. Temple Grandin

Dr. Temple Grandin is one of the most influential people in the world of Autism and if you’ve never heard of Dr. Temple Grandin, let me introduce you to her…

Dr. Temple Grandin is one of the most influential people in the world of Autism. Being that she has the diagnosis, she is able to speak easily about how her experiences living with Autism have affected her, explaining in detail why individuals with Autism behave the way they do and how to help them. Not only has she contributed tremendously in the field of Autism research and treatment, but she’s a professor of animal science. Dr. Temple Grandin has fought tirelessly to improve the treatment of livestock on cattle ranches, including inventing animal handling systems intended to ease the fear and pain of animals in meat packing plants.

For all the incredible work that she does, Dr. Temple Grandin has received numerous rewards and honors over the years.

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In September 2017 she earned another well deserved notch on her cowgirl belt and it’s a big one! Dr. Temple Grandin was one of September 2017’s inductees into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, an honor given to other remarkable women such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Rosa Parks.

Dr. Temple Grandin has helped the world see the potential children with Autism have to be productive citizens and do great things with their lives, and she believes a well-structured ABA therapy program can help in making these achievements possible. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a part of the Autism Therapy field which contributes so greatly to changing the lives of children with Autism?

Autism Therapy Career College can make it happen!

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Teaching Life Skills with Task Analysis

Take It Step-By-Step

Time to discuss the details of yet another Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) frequently used in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) by Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs). It’s called Task Analysis. The name might sound complex, but it is actually a rather simple strategy to understand. What Task Analysis entails, is breaking a skill down into sequentially ordered steps, so they can be taught one step at a time. Think of Task Analysis as creating an instruction manual to complete a task.

In our everyday lives, we complete long strings of behaviors in order to accomplish tasks without giving much thought to it. The act of brushing your teeth alone is comprised of a whopping 22 steps or more! Check it out…

  1. Get your toothbrush.
  2. Turn on the faucet.
  3. Get your toothbrush wet.
  4. Turn off the faucet.
  5. Get the toothpaste.
  6. Take the cap off the toothpaste.
  7. Squeeze the toothpaste on the toothbrush.
  8. Put the cap back on toothpaste.
  9. Brush the inside surfaces of your teeth on top and bottom.
  10. Brush the bitting surfaces of your teeth on top and bottom.
  11. Brush the outside surfaces of your teeth on top and bottom.
  12. Spit in the sink.
  13. Brush your tongue.
  14. Turn on the faucet.
  15. Rinse your toothbrush.
  16. Put the toothbrush away.
  17. Grab a cup.
  18. Fill the cup with water.
  19. Rinse your teeth with water.
  20. Spit the water out.
  21. Put the cup away.
  22. Turn off the faucet.

That’s a lot for an individual with autism to take in all at once. Students with autism learn best when they are given small teachable units of information to process one at a time.

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Here are some things to remember when creating a Task Anaysis:

Consistency: Not everyone brushes their teeth in the same way, there is naturally going to be variations to the way a task is completed. The team, consisting of the Behavior Technicians, along with the parents of the child you’re working with, need to agree upon a set procedure for how a task will be performed and write the individual steps down clearly for all to follow.

Tailor-Made: We all have our strengths and weaknesses. When building a task analysis, it is important to consider the skill sets of the child you are working with, this way you know if you need to break steps down into very small sections or if you can group steps together. It will also give you an idea if the skill should be taught starting at the beginning or at the end, and what form of prompting should be used.

Do The Task Yourself: Completing the task yourself while you write your task analysis is very important. You’ll be surprised just how many steps you may leave out unknowingly if you don’t walk through the completion of the steps yourself.

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Discrete Trial Teaching

Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) was developed by Ivar Lovaas and is an
evidence-based practice (EBP) that has been used as a method of teaching
individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder for more than 40 years. It is the
most widely used and well researched form of Applied Behavior Analysis
(ABA).

For children with autism, learning does not always come easily, nor
naturally from observing the people and environment around them. DTT works
well for children with autism, and all children really, because it takes
a complex skill and breaks it down into small simplified steps. Each step
is taught until it is mastered in a structured way.


 The Discrete Trial Cycle:
It has a distinct beginning, middle and ending. The
three main components are as follows:
 

1) Instruction/ Sd (Discriminative Stimulus)
 
2) Student Response
 
3) Feedback/ SR+ (Reinforcing Stimulus)

Inter-Trial Interval (ITI) – this is the transition or pause of roughly 1-3 seconds before the start of the next Discrete Trial Cycle.


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The first component of DTT, the Sd, is the instruction that
a RBT therapist gives to their student. This can be in the form of words or
actions given that stimulate a behavior to happen. This must be said or
shown clearly, concisely and slightly louder than a normal tone of voice.
It should not involve the student’s name and be too lengthy, especially
with a new student just starting ABA therapy.

The second component, the Response (R), is the behavior of the child that
happens in response to the Sd or instruction given.

The last component is the Feedback/ SR+ given to the child. This is the
consequence that immediately follows the student’s response. If a correct
response is given, the child is given SR+ right away in the form of a food,
praise, a preferred toy or activity, etc. If an incorrect response or no
response is given, the child receives corrective feedback by being
presented with the Sd again and being prompted (P) with the correct answer
immediately prior to the child’s next response.

It is important to deliver a consequence (Feedback/ SR+) after every response so your student becomes aware of which behaviors or responses are correct and incorrect. Giving reinforcement to correct responses will make it likely
the response will occur again.
It’s important to vary your reinforcement.
Highest SR+ for correct responses that include eye contact, focus on the
task and good effort will show the student that this is a behavior to
repeat and therefore learn, because great things happen when I display it.
While, correct responses with poor eye contact, focus and
effort still receives SR+, but at moderate to lower levels.

Here are examples of a Discrete Trial Cycle when a student gives a correct
response and incorrect response.

DTT with CORRECT Response
Materials: 2D images of a ball and bicycle
Sd: “Touch the one you ride on.”
R: Child touches the bicycle picture card.
SR+: “Right on, way to go!” RBT therapist gives lots of tickles.

DTT with INCORRECT or NO Response
Materials: 2D images of a ball and bicycle
Sd: “Touch the one you ride on.”
R: Child looks away, no picture card is touched.
(RBT therapist immediately repeats the Sd and prompts the correct answer)
Sd: “Touch the one you ride on.”
P: Therapist physically prompts the child’s hand to touch the bicycle card, making sure he is looking at the card.
SR+: “That’s right, you ride a bicycle!”
(Follow up with an independent trial)
Sd: “Touch the one you ride on.”
R: Child touches the bicycle picture card
SR+: Fabulous! You got it. RBT therapist gives some tickles.
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Did you enjoy your introduction to DTT teaching? Learn more about this method of teaching children with autism and much more at Autism Therapy Career College. It the inexpensive vocational school that prepares you for a career you’ll love in just 90 days!

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An Autism Friendly Thanksgiving

Gobble Up These Fun Tips from ATCC!

Thanksgiving, a joyous occasion filled with festive foods, loving family and time reflecting on all the things we are grateful for in our lives. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to practice many life skills with individuals on the Autism Spectrum.

Social Interaction
Thanksgiving usually brings together family and friends who may not see each other on a regular basis. This opens up an opportunity for an individual with autism to work on conversation exchanges with unfamiliar people. Prior to the big day, it’s a good idea for parents and behavior technicians to practice these skills using conversation scripts, which are pre-written sentences that give the learner the language to use in specific conversations. Details such as making eye contact and responding to greets are also important skills to include.

Critical Thinking
Critical thinking skills can be challenging for children with autism, so it’s always beneficial to practice them. A Thanksgiving themed critical thinking skill for beginners would be having an individual discuss the things, people and experiences that make them happy and thankful. Adding the question of why they are thankful for these things would take this skill a step further, and jotting down a list and categorizing them in order of importance could be an advanced level skill to teach.

Daily Living
Formal dining arrangements allow for students with autism to work on daily living skills such as setting the table, eating with a fork and placing a napkin in their lap while eating. It is also a good time for ABA therapists to work with their clients on manners such as saying, “please pass the gravy” and “pardon my reach.” Targets such as ‘setting the table’ can be taught using task analysis which involves breaking the skill down into individual steps. Then chaining can be used to teach each step, one at a time in sequencial order. For manners, the use of video modeling in which the child watches a video of themselves or others using good manners, would be a beneficial tool.

It’s also important to make accommodations and modify the environment so that individuals with autism are able to partake in festivities with as little stress as possible. An experienced Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) will be able to come up with suggestions of exactly how to do this.

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What To Expect
Children with autism love predictability. If they are informed with what expect on Thanksgiving Day, their level of anxiety will be low and they will be better able to navigate through their environment.  A social narrative that describes what a typical Thanksgiving Day at Auntie Betsy’s house looks like and explains appropriate ways to behave should be read many times prior to the event. This is an evidence based practice (EBP) that will allow a child to gain a sense of familiarity in preparation for the day to arrive.

Quiet Room
Designating a quiet room or even an outdoor space where a child with autism can take a break from all the loud music and boisterous company many Thanksgiving events brings will also help to ease a child with anxiety or sensory sensitivities. A feeling of being overwhelmed can often times lead to extreme meltdowns, so it’s best to be proactive and take breaks at fixed intervals so everyone enjoys their Turkey Day!

 

Join in the fun with a rewarding career in the field of Autism Therapy. So many children need your help to achieve their goals. Autism Therapy Career College will get you started as an Autism Therapist fast with our low-cost online technical school. Get started obtaining your Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) credential today!Learn-More-Button-PNG-HD

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Inspiration – Christopher Duffley

“Seeing is a gift that I share. Because I’m blind, I see people with my heart for who they truly are instead of what they look like on the outside”

Faced with so many challenges at birth, its hard to believe just how far Christopher Duffley has come. Christopher was born very prematurely with a host of medical conditions due to maternal cocaine and oxycontin use. In addition, he has been blind since birth and was diagnosed with autism as a toddler. Soon after leaving the hospital as an infant, Christopher was placed in foster care. It was not until he was adopted by his Aunt Christine at the age of two, that his life began to turn around and the gifts he shares with the world began to be revealed.

From the first day Christopher was brought home by his Aunt Christine, she recognized that he had a profound love and talent for music. In preschool, when he formally received his autism diagnosis, Christopher’s Aunt sought out Music Therapy for him. With Music Therapy, Christopher thrived. He went from having very limited language to developing an advanced vocabulary, ability to comprehend, and communicate with the world around him. He was found to have the rare auditory phenomenon of perfect pitch which allows him to re-create a music note without referencing the tone. In 4th grade his music teacher taught him the National Anthem. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is his first public performance, which he sang for his elementary school.

He went on to sing the National Anthem many more times for even bigger audiences, including at Red Sox games at Fenway Park. One of his most notable performances was of “Open the Eyes of My Heart” with a large choir at 10 years old. This video of the performance goes viral, racking in 5 million views the first month and more than 22 million views a week by the second month.

Christopher Duffley, now 16 years old, is an exceptional singer and runs his own podcast titled ‘Mission Possible’ in which he does his own editing and engineering for. Christopher says, guests on his show are all “people who have a mission.” His own ultimate mission is be an advocate for others, helping as many people as he can to rise above their struggles and find their purpose in life.

How’s that for inspiration!  Become an RBT Autism Therapist, educate, enrich and inspire the lives of children diagnosed with autism. Let Autism Therapy Career College lead the way to your rewarding future career!

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Antecedent-Based Intervention

Antecedent-Based Intervention (ABI) is just one of 27 evidence-based practices used in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for children with autism.  Today we will be discussing ABI and how it is utilized to bring about positive changes in behavior.

To understand ABI, you must first understand what an antecendent is. When a Behavior Analyst wants to bring about positive changes to a behavior, they must first ‘analyze the behavior’. In order to do this, they use the basic model of ABC:

Antecedent – what happens immediately before a behavior occurs.
Behavior – the observable behavior or response of the child.
Consequence – the event following the behavior which may increase or decrease the future occurrence of the behavior.

For example, Sammy has a hard time with brushing her hair during her morning routine. When asked by her RBT therapist to brush her hair (antecedent), Sammy verbally protests ‘no’ (behavior), her RBT therapist then prompts her through brushing her hair hand over hand (consequence).

Now that you know the role an antecedent plays in the making of a behavior, it will be easier to understand what ABI looks like. ABI are a collection of proactive strategies that modify the environment or change components of a setting that generates a maladaptive behavior. Your goal in ABI is to identify what is triggering a behavior, then change your approach to prevent the anticipated behavior from happening. ABI can assist a child with autism in feeling prepared and in control.

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Here are three ABI strategies that could be used in the example above to decrease the likelihood of Sammy’s verbal protest behavior occurring.

Visual Cues: Sammy’s RBT therapist could provide Sammy with visual support in the form of a list which shows her all the morning routine tasks to complete and lets her know when ‘brushing hair’ will occur. Sammy would review this list with her RBT therapist prior to starting her morning routine. Visual supports help children with autism reduce anxiety by letting them know what to expect and when to expect it.

Offer Choices: Sammy’s RBT therapist could also provide choices for when to complete ‘brushing hair’ by saying,“Would you like to brush your hair before or after you eat breakfast?” Offering children with autism choices and respecting their chosen choice helps them feel a sense of control in their lives.

Change the Difficulty of the Task: Maybe Sammy’s verbal protest behavior is happening because she finds ‘brushing hair’ too difficult or possibly painful. Using a detangler in her hair prior to brushing it could make her hair easier to brush and be a simple fix to the problem.

Find out more about Antecendent-Based Interventions and become an expert in Applied Behavior Analysis. Join the growing career field for RBT Autism Therapists. It’s easier than you think, just let Autism Therapy Career College, a quick vocational school, lead the way!Learn-More-Button-PNG-HD

 

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Halloween Tips for Children with Autism

IT’S HALLOWEEN!

A night when rules are thrown out the window. Kids get to stay up late, dress in scary costumes, and gobble down candy they got from strangers’ houses. Sounds like tons of fun for most, though for kids on the Autism Spectrum, Halloween can sometimes be confusing, frightful and lead to a sensory overloaded.  Here are some tips to help make Halloween night an enjoyable one for children with Autism.

Dressing Up in Costumes
As exciting as it may be for most people to dress up and pretend to be whomever they choose on Halloween, costume wearing doesn’t always appeal to children with autism. Whether it’s because the costume is scratchy or hot, making it a sensory issue or because they simply don’t understand why they need to dress up differently then they usually do, here are some solutions. For a child facing sensory overload when putting on a costume, practice having the child wear his costume for a week in advance, to get comfortable with it. If this doesn’t seem to be working, there’s always the alternative of having him wear a simple Halloween themed t-shirt or silly hat instead. For the individual who simply doesn’t understand the need to dress different from all other days of the year, share this with your ABA Technician and seek out their guidance, your child may benefit from reading or listening to a Social Narratives that outline what Halloween is and why costumes are worn, prior to the big day.

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Trick or Treating
What?! Walk up to scary looking houses and knock on a stranger’s door…no way! The thought of this act alone could cause an individual with anxiety to shoot through the roof, as many children with ASD tend to be fearful in new social setting. The use of Social Narratives or Video Modeling that describe and display the steps involved in Trick or Treating, can significately ease tension. Another way to prepare a child with autism for Trick or Treating is to role play it with them ahead of time either at their own front door or a willing neighbor’s door. To help the night of Halloween run smoothly, bring earplugs for the kiddos who are sensative to sounds, skip the elaborately decorated haunted houses and set limits. If a child is pushed to the point of sensory overload, a tantrum may be looming and this will only decrease the likelihood he will want to participate in future Halloweens.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to help children with autism navigate through life, Autism Therapy Career College will guide the way. Start our 90-day vocational school and become a Registered Behavior Technician today!

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Evidence Based Practices

What are Evidence Based Practices?

Let’s start off by talking a little about what Evidence-Based Practices (EBPs) are. EBPs have become the standard for professionals in various fields of study including medicine, healthcare, psychology and education. These fields have embraced EBP procedures in a nationwide effort to provide better quality services to the people they serve. The distinct features of EBPs include: the best scientific evidence, professional expertise, and an understanding of client characteristics. Combining these three features in the decision making process for clients produces an opportunity for the greatest possible clinical outcome and quality of life.

Evidence Based Practices Application to ABA

Scientific Evidence: Scientific evidence is empirical evidence that is interpreted according to scientific methods.This is the foundation of EBP and how ABA Therapists make decisions with regard to which interventions to use with their clients.

Professional Expertise: EBPs are informed by experts in the field. Their knowledge of EBPs guide how they interpret and apply EBP interventions.

Understanding the Client: In order for EBPs to be effective, the individual with Autism’s strengths, weaknesses, values and preferences must be taken into consideration. The concerns of the individual’s support network, such as their family and community must also be upheld.

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ABA Therapy uses only Evidence Based Practices

The United States is experiencing a massive increase in children diagnosed with Autism. One out of every 68 babies born today in America will develop Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is crucial that the therapeutic interventions for these children be EBPs that will yield result that contribute to improvements in learning, independence, daily living skills and overall betterment of their lives.

The following are 27 interventions used in ABA Therapy that have been proven to be effective EBPs for children diagnosed with autism.

  1. Antecedent-based Intervention (ABI)
  2. Cognitive Behavioral Intervention (CBI)
  3. Computer Aided Instruction (CAI)
  4. Differential Reinforcement (DR)
  5. Discrete Trial Training (DTT)
  6. Exercise (ECE)
  7. Extinction (EXT)
  8. Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)
  9. Functional Communication Training (FCT)
  10. Modeling (MD)
  11. Naturalistic Intervention (NI)
  12. Parent-implemented Intervention (PII)
  13. Peer-mediated Instruction and Intervention (PMII)
  14. Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
  15. Pivotal Response Training (PRT)
  16. Prompting (PP)
  17. Reinforcement (R+)
  18. Response Interruption/Redirection (RIR)
  19. Scripting (SC)
  20. Self-management (SM)
  21. Social Narratives (SN)
  22. Social Skills Training (SST)
  23. Speech Generating Devices (SGD)
  24. Task Analysis (TA)
  25. Time Delay (TD)
  26. Video Modeling (VM)
  27. Visual Support (VS)

Stay tuned for details on all these remarkable interventions for children with autism, or get a head start and begin learning about many of these teaching techniques when you start your career as an RBT Autism Therapist with Autism Therapy Career College. Its a quick and affordable vocational school where you can become a Registered Behavior Technician in 90 days!

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Pairing with Reinforcement

Start Off Pairing & Never Stop!

One of the very first things an RBT Autism Therapist will be asked to do when they start working with a new client, is Pairing. ‘Pairing’ is a technical ABA term which refers to the process of pairing yourself with reinforcement. The goal of Pairing is for your client to equate you with preferred items, enjoyable activities and having an all-around great time!

Typically the first few weeks of Autism Therapy, will involve pure Pairing. For successful Pairing, you will want to spend time getting to know what your client enjoys and join them in whatever activity they chose to do. Taking them to the park to swing, chasing them in the backyard, giving them endless tickles or singing their favorite song over and over, are all examples of things to do during Pairing. This is also a great time to introduce your new client to your ‘bag of tricks’ filled with toys, books, games, bubbles and anything else you think they might be interested in. This ‘bag of tricks’ will arrive and go home with you, that way your client will Pair these items with you.

Pair yourself with reinforcement by delivering reinforcers for “free”. This means that the child is not required to ‘do’ anything to get access to reinforcement. The only requirement should be that the client is not displaying any problem behavior. For example, the client can be given edibles (like cereal) while playing with you as long as he/she in not crying. The most important thing to remember is that the client should always have to go through you to get to the reinforcer. In the clients eyes, their world should always get better when you are around. Pairing does not stop after the first few weeks. Pairing intermittently during each ABA session will continue for ever.  Terrific Pairing will enhance the learning environment by increasing your clients’ motivation to learn which will in-turn lead to greater progress to goals. In addition, your young clients will enjoy their ABA therapy and remember it fondly for the rest of their lives.

Please photograph one of the therapists at Kennedy Krieger Institute working with a child. The story is for the federal workplace pa

How you know you’ve successfully paired with a client: 

  • When you arrive your client will smile and run to you, instead of cry and run away
  • You may start feeling like one big toy – being told to do this, play that, or becoming a jungle gym for them to climb all over
  • Your client will want to stay with you throughout your therapy session even when demands start to be placed on them

Bonding initially with your client creates a foundation for success. Pairing increases the chances that once it’s time to begin placing demands on your client (giving instructions), they will engage in fewer maladaptive behaviors and more learning can take place. It’s important to remember when introducing demands, that this happens slowly with simple tasks while gradually working your way up to more challenging tasks. It’s also crucial that pairing NEVER STOP. Even after the initial pairing process, when your child-therapist relationship is well established, you need to designate some time, during each session, to play with your client. Place no demands, just play. This will ensure that you remain a favorite friend to your student.

Take the first step to changing the life of a child with autism. Autism Therapy Career College will lead the way. ATCC  is a quick and affordable vocational school that will get you credentialed to be a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) in just 90 days!