Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

Teaching (Young) Children with Autism: The Preschoolers, continued

I am tempted to say that “Playing with your child is where you should start,” but it might be better to say that you should start by interacting with the child within the context of his or her preferred activities and gradually extend those activities to include those which we would consider to be play – by applying the principles of ABA to shape through reinforcement those activities that we would consider to be appropriate types of play for the child’s developmental level – and, within that context, gradually introduce little bits of other teaching.  And just to remind you again,

“There are several lines of research into learning, but the three kinds of learning that have been most fully researched are:

  • Classical conditioning (which was extensively studied by Pavlov and his colleagues and students)

  • Operant conditioning (which was extensively studied by Skinner and his colleagues and students)

  • “Social Learning Theory” (which was extensively studied by Walters and Bandura and their colleagues and students)

ABA makes use of each of these kinds of learning, beginning with classical conditioning …” (posted on May 28, 2013).

Classical conditioning: In this case, pairing your presence and your approval with primary reinforcers such as the child’s preferred activities will establish you and your approval as secondary reinforcers!  You can then use your reinforcement value, plus any available primary reinforcers, to extend the child’s range of activities to include those which we would consider to be appropriate types of play for the child’s developmental level.  The principle is the same as used in TAGteach (Teaching with Acoustical Guidance).

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