Teaching Children with Autism, continued
To the extent that it is feasible, try not to pair yourself with aversive consequences (i.e., things that the child experiences as unpleasant), such as taking the child from a more rewarding situation to a less rewarding situation, as is likely to occur if you prevent the child’s repetitive behaviours (referred to as “stimming”) or take him away from playing, etc., unless you are taking him to something that is even more rewarding/ reinforcing.
Vince Carbone suggests that you imagine that the child has three levers he can push:
– repetitive behaviour(s)
– participating with you in enjoyable activities within which learning can occur.
Your job is to arrange conditions so that the child is motivated to push the learning activities lever. He/she will do that if it brings him sufficient reward compared to the effort that it requires of him.
Don’t turn every interaction into one in which demands are being placed on your child – at first, most interactions should be just for fun. And, of course, just because many later interactions are formally designed to facilitate learning doesn’t mean that they can’t also be fun. After all, “Play is a child’s work!” and it is within the context of play that most of the work is done to prepare your child for more formal instruction. Play not only provides the main setting in which children can learn and practice both language and social skills; it also provides a setting in which you, as instructor, can practice pairing, prompting (to the extent that it is needed), and reinforcement.