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.