Parents should realize that nothing is "free" in life and this attitude will help them to be more consistant with reinforcement.
One of the biggest obstacles to teaching your child is realizing that things in life are not free. Parents or Caregivers will be more likely to reinforce once they accept this basic principle of reinforcement. Reinforcers need to delivered consistently. If your child does do something good then this good behavior should definitely be rewarded. In contrast, if the child is inappropriate then he should not be rewarded. The first step is to try to reward any behavior that is positive. For example, if the child cleans his room or eats his breakfast be sure to reinforce your child. Secondly, when your child cries or tantrums try not to reinforce your child. For example, the most common behavior is for parents to pick up and hug a child when he cries. In contrast, the parent should realize that this would be giving a reinforcer for free. The child has not performed any appropriate behavior yet he is reinforced. We all work to get money for food and things that we want. We know that we will probably loose our job over time or not get commissions if we do not work. Consistent reinforcement of behavior will lead to rapid learning and appropriate behavior.
Many parents or caretakers do not realize that sharing and teamwork can actually be reinforced and learned based on numerous research studies. Teaching your children to work as a team and to share will reduce the behavior problem frequency in the future that the parent will have to address in the home and at school! The following are some ideas on how to encourage these skills.
1. One idea is to reward your children for working or playing with no tantrum or behavior problems. For example, if they are playing a game give social praise or a snack only on days they work together or play nicely!
2. Practice giving the something and telling them they can have that item (such as a cookie) only if they share it with their siblings.
3. Encourage children to take turns playing with a toy when they both want to play with it. You might even suggest they discuss it and come to some agreement about the use of the toy.
4. Purchase stories that include the theme of sharing or teamwork and discuss the story after reading it together.
5. Point out to your children when other people display team or sharing skills. For example, if someone picks up something that someone drops compliment the action by saying " wow what a gentleman he helped that woman!"
6. In the evening roleplay and discuss how people work together or play together at school or in the community.
7. Play alot of games with your children and focus on good sportsmanship, complimenting each other on playing skills, taking turns, talking nicely to each other and manners. Praise these skills when the occur during the game!
Developing these social skills of teamwork and sharing will probalby lead to many happy experiences when your child is with another person or a group and a happier life!
Teaching new skills and how to fade out physical assistance with autism and children with developmental disabilities.
Parents and caregivers often want to teach an autistic or developmentally delayed children. After identifying a targeted behavior and assessing what level of assistance is needed. The person teaching should start at the level the child is currently functioning at. If the child needs complete or full guidance to perform the task that is the level of assistance to start at. Next after reinforcing the child at this level then move to less assistance or partial guidance. This can be done by moving gradually up the arm for example or using less physical contact to perform the task such as just one finger or sporadic touching of the arm. After reinforcing the child with partial guidance one touch and fading away from the child. Perhaps just giving one or two instructions and one touch and then reinforcing when he performs the task. Finally the trainer moves away physically from the child and just gives the one or two specific instructions and then reinforcers the child. This guidance training procedure can be used with almost any skill you want to teach your child.
Summary= Full guidance-Partial guidance- Verbal prompts
People often start to get agitated and then it escalates into a tantrum. Parents and caregivers often have to deescalate the situation or calm it down after it occurs. The following is a list of possible steps to take beginning with deescalation and then to calming a situation. Each person is different so an observation and analysis of the tantrum behavior will help and is essential to identify which methods to use.
1. If the caregiver or parent observes any facial expressions, movements or behavior that show agitation it is best to intervene at this point. The intervention can include relaxation techniques, redirection or a cue word to calm the person down.
2. Once the behavior starts to begin or even when the precursor facial expressions begin the parent/caregiver can redirect the person to another activity or distract them by discussing another topic.
3. Another method of deescalation is to provide some relaxation methods for the person. Perhaps the person is tired and the caregiver can ask if they want to lay down or take a drink of water to relax.
4. Finally, if the behavior has started to occur then usually removing the person from the environment, moving the audience away or ignoring the person and engaging in another activity will deescalate the behavior.
5. Finally any major reinforcers such as affection or activities preferred should not occur if the behavior has escalated at all into verbal or physical aggression.
6. Also, in some cases training or physical management might be necessary if tissue dammage is imminent. 7. 7. However, on of the best way to avoid aggression or tantrusm from occuring is to fill the time during the day with activities and reinforcers for those activities.Finally one should seek advice of a trained Behavior Analyst for aggression or tantrums.
Parents and caregivers often forget or do not realized the importance of a daily schedule. This schedule should include two specific types of events at the least. These are describled and listed below. A detailed schedule which includes both activities and rienforcers will usually lead to elimantion of inappropriate behavior and maintenance of good behaviors.
The first thing that should be included in a schedule is the actual activities and the time frames in which they occur. Some examples include activities such as school, workshop that occur on a daily basis during week-days. Also, include activities such as outings or vacations that may occur only once a month or once a week.
Another type of activity are self-care activities that occur daily such as going to the bathroom, brushing teeth, eating breakfast, dressing. Also, daily living activities such as chores of wiping the table, taking the trash, making the bed, moping, cooking or cleaning the dishes. Bedtime and time to wake up are important factors to include in the schedule since children need more sleep and behavior problems are often correlated with a lack of sufficient sleep for people. The more detail is preferred so that if another caregiver is there even just for a few hours the routine is still followed. Also, children with autism and developmental delays as well as any child prefer to have a routine which reduces frustration and confusion related to what activities will be done that day.
Secondly, caregivers or family should include in the daily schedule reinforcers. For example, time to use the computer, television, radio, toys can be built into the schedule as available if the behavior is good. A token exchange or time to choose a reinforcer can also be included in the schedule. The schedule should be updated and reviewed regularly for any changes needed in order to assure that it produces the maximum beneficial effect on the childs' behavior!
In choosing which exercises to work on first more frequently in a child with poor motor skills and aspirer or autism one should think about the functional skill deficits of the child. If a child is having difficulty using a fork or spoon then sports or leisure activities that emphasize the hands may be beneficial since you will be strengthening these muscles and movements. Exercises that stress the lower body are also beneficial but if the priority is to develop self-care skills that require more dexterity then he as the fine motor movements should be emphasized. Some leisure activities such as using an iPad may also improve fine motor skills.
Finally, one should also consider forks or spoons for example that are easier for the child with motor problems to use. Considering the selection of equipment and leisure or sports activities can be important in promotion of more rapid learning of self-care and daily living skills in children with both motor and Autism or Attention problems.
Behavior Therapist often use music as part of their treatment plan. In past years music therapy was funded by organizations more often. Soon they started fading out funding for this type of therapy. Many clinicians and parents were disappointed by this fading of the service. Often facilities or caregivers would incorporate music therapy in the recreational therapy which was covered. Currently, music is used predominantly in Behavior therapy and recreational therapy. Parents and caregivers should let the recreation or behavior therapist know if their child enjoys music as a reinforcer.
Behavior therapist do a functional assessment which includes a reinforcer survey. If music is determined to be a reinforcer it is very helpful as a part of the behavior plan informally or formally. Often the behavior therapist will use music as a replacement behavior or just as a learned or acquisition skill with the program. If the child enjoys the sensory reinforcement of the sounds or use of their arms to manipulate items a musical instrument or device can be very effective. The child can also receive an extrinsic reinforcer for playing the instrument. Finally, the behavior therapist may teach the child to play instrument using other reinforcers such as tokens, edible reinforcers or social praise.
Some examples of using music to replace behavior include drums for sensory reinforcement including the sound and the vibration. Another example is using radio stations that are preferred on a headset to provide sensory reinforcement if the child likes that type of music. Music might be also scheduled during the day as relaxation for children that are aggitated or aggressive. In addition learning a new instrument may result in social praise and attention when the child plays the instrument.
Music can be utilize by the behavior therapist in a variety of methods. One method is to have the child play the instrument. A second method is to have the child play music on a radio, stereo or on earphones. Headphones are especially practical and easy to use with contingencies of the program. The headphones are practical because you can use them in any location such as when going to a doctor appointment, in the car, at work, and on the bus. Some instruments can be played outside or in a private room if they disturb others or headsets can be used with some instruments. The therapist or caregiver can put the headphones on easily when the child is displaying good behavior based on the targeted goals for behavior. Music can help the therapist to create a positive environment for the child even during non-preferred activites.The result is an increase in compliance and decrease in inappropriate behavior. As people often say music can make the world go round.
Children with special needs such ADHD or autism spectrum disorder often are not in touch with long term contingencies. Focusing the childs attention on long term contingencies can lead to big improvements in behavior and academic performance. Some tips in focusing on the future are discussed below. When meeting with teachers it is helpful to focus on the potential of your child such as intelligence or social skills. Secondly, the parents can focus on the future by discussing the future with the child. For example, the parent might discuss what car, job, spouse, kids, money or job title they might want when they grow up. This should be done on a regular basis hopefull daily or weekly. Thirdly, the parent might go onto the computer and look at people in jobs or careers the child might like, look at cars they might purchase or computer equipment. Focussing on long term goals will focus their attention on the future.
Social skills training can be done during mealtime very effectively for children with autism specturm, ADHD or other behavior problems.
Mealtime is an excellent time to do some social skills training. Caregivers should set up a reinforcer such as computer games after meals, preferred food items, deserts, social praise with smiles or clapping. Reinforcers can be anything that increase the occurrence of the appropriate social skills. The teaching begins before the meal as well as during and after the meal. The meal should be very structured with different chores such as setting the table, passing items to each other cleaning the childs plate off the table or taking others dishes and washing the dishes or putting them in the dishwasher.
During the meal verbal skills can be increased with instructions from the parents regarding a game or family tradition that is done during the meal. For example, the parent might say we are going to each tell a story and go around the table with each person sharing a story about his/her day. The adults should also participate since this will provide a model of what the child should do. The other children in the family should be encouraged with praise to ask relevant questions, praise or actively listen by repeating parts of the story that is told. Finally, mealtime should have a definite end criteria for the child and this should be set up verbally prior to the mealtime. For example if the parent wants the children to stay for a certain amount of time or until they finish desert this should be expressed prior to the meal.
Also, prior to the meal the parent should explain the criteria for reinforcement. For example, the parent might say if you sit nicely at the table, tell a story and eat your food then you can have desert or computer time. With very small children that eat quickly a small toy or objects to entertain them might be helpful in helping them to control there behavior and stay seated at the table. Mealtime is becoming less common in this country but it is important to try to do this at least during one meal a day if possible in order to develop and maintain your children's social skills. In the long term the time parents devote to social skills training during will pay off with wonderful conversations with their children throughout their lives!
Parents often have behavior problems that seem unsolvable. A brainstorming session about the environment often leads to completely eliminating the behavior problem. Some examples of this type of solution are listed below. The childs home situation can be altered to solve the behavior problems. For example, if two children are fighting regularly in the bedroom the family might make arrangements to have them sleep in different areas. If a second bedroom is not available the living room can be used simply by adding a sleeper couch, futon or even a folding cot for camping. Another area is the school program. At times the bus or classroom can be an arena for arguments. In this case moving the childs' seat, changing bus or bus seating. Finally, if clothing becomes a stimulus for a behavior problem. For example, a child that has tantrums if his clothes are torn or wet might be better off with waterproof or stronger material pants. Brainstorming is very important in design of programs and working together with your therapist is very effective in solving your childs' problems completely!