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.
Parents or even caregivers with other children in the home sometimes forget about the other children in the home. It is important to keep in mind that the other children should be considered along with all factors in the home of a child with special needs. The following are some ideas that will optimized the effectiveness of your treatment package through the inclusion of the other children in the home.
1. Any reward program should be available to all the children in the home. If you child with special needs is receiving a token or reward system then include all children in this program. By including everyone the children all feel they are treated equally and will not feel resentment or anger towards the child with special needs when they receive reinforcers such as a cookie or an outing. If the other children are resentful or angry that might result in more aggression and aggitation or non-compliance from the child with special needs.
2. When consequences such as loosing an outing occurs then you have a choice of either having both children loose the outing or making sure the child with good behavior gets some alternative reward. The most important factor is that the child with special needs realizes he earns the outing only after good behavior. In the case where the other child is good it is usually better to have both children loose the priveledges since that way the child without special needs may help his brother to avoid having tantrums in the future. However, it can also be helpful to have the special needs child see the other child get the reinforcer for good behavior. Either method is useful. Parents should try to see which method results in more improvements in the children's behavior. The only crucial factor is that the consequence of not earning it for the special needs child is implemented consistantly.
3. If the child with special needs requires alot of doctor appointments it may be helpful to take the other child with you and see the doctor for a general check-up or any minor issues they have. This will help to include him and avoid the situation in which the "normal" child is not getting as much attention and time from the parents. This can also be accomplished by offering another fun activity for the "normal" child while his sibling is at the doctor office.
4. If the child with special needs has special equipment such as ipad or toys it is good to provide the "normal" child with some other equivalent toy or equipment while working with the special needs child. What often happens is parents focus on teaching the special needs child something on the computer and the "normal' child begins to tantrum and resent the special needs child. This can be avoided by having similar alternative equipment or taking turns with the equipment you do purchase for the special needs child.
5. If the "normal" sibling is able to understand the parent can ask him to help teach his brother something. This is useful since they can facilitate even more learning and even run some of the reward programs you have set-up for the special needs child. A general description would be useful of what you are trying to teach his brother. Try to avoid any negative statements about how smart he is and focus on just learning new things. Always praise the "normal" child for helping by saying things like " you are so helpful you taught your brother to sing the alphabet!"
Generally, including the other siblings needs and assistance can promote faster progress for you child. The siblings are part of the family system and the enviorment that the special needs child lives in and can contribute to teaching and progress of your child with special needs. If they are not considered or addressed it can actually slow the learning progress. All family members should be a part of the treatment plan!
How do I encourage my child to be nice to me, nice to others and have general social skills when working in a group!
Children with disabilities, autism and a variety of behavior problems often do not display social skills such as sharing, greeting others, offering to help others, praising others and making small talk. The following are some tips on how to encourage these skills during your child's daily schedule.
1.The first step is to identify the skill you want teach. Social skills can be taught, which is often not acknowledged by caregivers.
2. Once the social skills are identified then prioritize which ones you will focus on first. Always work informally on all types of skills so that the training is even faster. Intensive focus on the highest priority skill does ensure that you will make faster progress with the more important skills for the child.
3. There is research that Sharing and getting along can be reinforced and developed in a child. Some children are friendly and share on their own. The children that do not do this on their own can be taught to do so. Also, if caring and sharing are not encourage a child that is predisposed to be friendly might become less friendly.
4. During the daily schedule be sure to include time for socializing. If your child's schedule includes only solitary activities such as his ipad or books and chores he may not have any opportunity to socialize and become friendly with others. For example, you can have time to talk at dinner, time for interactive games, talk in the car or at night before they go to sleep.
5. Include reinforcers for socializing such as a preferred item or activity if your children play a board game nicely.
6. If inappropriate behaviors do occur during the interactive activity be sure to stop the activity. Also, do not give any preferred activity or item to anyone involved in the interactive activity.
7. Modeling and prompting appropriate conversations during interactive games can also be helpful for children. Often the children may not have the skill or forget to perform the skills. Social skills, sharing and friendliness are important skills since getting along with others affects every area of the child's future including job, how they treat their family members, friendships and general happiness of your child.
Attempts to perform the inappropriate behavior should be addressed in treating behavior problems for autism an other behavior problems.
Parents or Caregivers should be sure to address attempts to perform the inappropriate behavior for the following reasons.
1. Reoccurrence of the behavior problems- If you only address the targeted behavior the precursors of the behavior may increase and the behavior may start occurring again if the child does not have consequences or reinforcers for appropriate behavior.
2. Maintenance long term- In order to maintain good behavior the program should address even attempts in order to maintain the absence of the behavior problems.
3. Development of appropriate behavior may be reduced- If attempts result in reinforcement then they will continue and the time used to display attempts may not be used for appropriate behavior such as learning to request what the child wants.
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.
Training can be done for child in a variety of schedules. Before starting treatment one should consider the schedule of the child and how to fit into your life and work schedule realistically. Parents may select to do most of the training in specific time slots during the week or on the week-end. The advantage of this schedule is that you can do many trials and this can speed up learning. However, this may be inconvenient and sometimes the child will wonder why you are repeatedly asking him to do the same thing (ex. taking on and on his shirt). A second option is to do the training during the normal daily activities. This is sometimes easier since time does not have to be set aside specifically for training. The other advantage is that the child can generalize his behavior to different environments or with different people. For example, during meals at home or at restaurants the same training techniques are used. There are many other advantages and disadvantages that should be discussed. Family should review these alternatives and sometimes combine the two methods of scheduling training and decide which is best for them and their child!