How Can I “Pair” And Why Is It Important?

How can I “pair” and why is it important?

When working with a student with autism or special needs, the first component to good teaching is that the individual must associate the teacher (you) with good things happening. In other words, pair yourself (or associate yourself) with reinforcement. Pairing turns you into a reinforcer. It provides increased compliance and instructional control.

How to start Pairing:

Pairing

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  1. Observe the learner and interact with him/her in a way that is fun.
  2. Offer unconditional items, activities, etc, but only during work time.
  3. Observe the activities, toys, and foods that are enjoyed by the child.
  4. Reserve special items for learning or practice time and make sure they are varied.
  5. Play without requiring a response from the learner.
  6. Pairing never ends.
  7. Try to find items that you can control the amount or duration of (ex. Tickles, hugs, high fives, food, drink, bubbles)

You should never start an interaction with a child using a command—have fun first!

In order to understand pairing, the instructor must understand the word reinforcer. A reinforcer is something presented after a behavior that increases the behavior. If the behavior does not increase, it is not a reinforcer.

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Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

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