Teaching Children with Autism, continued
I have two very important points that I want to make today. First, there are many good books about ABA-based teaching, such as Robert Schramm’s Motivation and Reinforcement and, if you want to be an expert instructor therapist, you should definitely purchase it for yourself. I tend to think of it as “the ABA bible.” Second, Karen Pryor is probably more experienced than any of the rest of us in actually applying operant conditioning principles; and study of her book, Don’t Shoot the Dog (Revised Edition), will be of immense help to you in learning to use this teaching methodology.
With respect to shaping, Pryor recommends that the current level of response needs to be mastered using continuous reinforcement and then moved to a variable schedule of reinforcement before raising the bar, i.e., before requiring behavior that is slightly closer to your untimate goal before it earns reinforcement.
She also offers ten laws of shaping, the second of which is “Train one aspect of any particular behavior at a time….” If teaching a golfer how to put, for example, you might train for distance first and, once that is mastered, then train for direction. And after all the various aspects of that putting task are learned, only then would you work on teaching these sklls to work smoothly together. Of course, you can have many different behaviours being learned at the same time.
These are just a couple of examples of the wisdom derived from her vast experience, and I highly recommend her book to you.