Pairing is an extremely important process when establishing any behavioral program for a child. Simply put, it is the process of combining reinforcing and fun activities for child with your presence. Remember the ultimate goal is to make yourself a reinforcer so the child will enjoy spending time with you and seek you out instead of playing alone. This rapport leads to instructional control and compliance from the child. Especially for early learners this establishes a positive learning environment and works towards learning readiness. Provide these pairings without demands in the beginning of a program and just focus on getting to know the kiddo and exploring on their level. After good rapport is established you can begin to increase demands on the child to gain reinforcement. You will see if pairing is done successfully and you start getting down to demands, the child approaches you more often then trying to escape or engage in disruptive behaviors. Another important note is before you start pairing make sure that you know what is actually reinforcing for the child. Always remember that the definition of a reinforcer is stimulus presented after a behavior and it increases the rate of that behavior. If stimulus presentation doesn’t follow these rules and yield an increase then it’s not a reinforcer for that child. One way to do this is to follow the child’s lead, watch them explore, and then join in with the fun. Pairing can involve playing with a favorite toy, singing a favorite song, or engaging in physical rough and tumble play as well. Taking adequate time to build rapport will make therapy more enjoyable for the kiddo and also make your day easier because compliance will be strengthened. Overtime if you notice decreases in compliance and initiations for play then you may want to reincorporate more pairing activities into the routine. It is likely that this will need to repeat the process many times during the course of therapy.
September 30, 2014