Questions and Answers About Positive Reinforcement

Establishing a disciplinary structure at home can be a challenge for any family, but when you have a child with ASD, you may need additional resources to help you meet that challenge. STAR of CA can provide therapy and educational services to support your family, but it is important for parents to understand behavioral strategies such as positive reinforcement as well so that progress made in therapy can be carried through to the home environment. Below, you will see the answers to some common questions about positive reinforcement.

What are the benefits of positive reinforcement?

Though punishment is an instinctual response to negative behavior in children, studies have shown that reinforcing alternative behaviors leads to longer lasting positive change. It is important to recognize that negative behaviors should have consequences, but positive reinforcement is the means by which appropriate behaviors are taught and maintained.

How can parents participate in positive reinforcement?

The first step to learning to deliver positive reinforcement effectively, is to identify items, games, activities, or words that your child finds interesting. Often, behavior change professionals will “audition” dozens of potential reinforcers in order to find items that the child prefers. Once you’ve found those items or routines, the next step is to identify the behaviors you wish to reward the child for performing. Sometimes it’s easier to do this in reverse: make a list of the behaviors you wish to eliminate, then make a list of the appropriate replacement behaviors you want to take their place. Reward your child for using the appropriate behaviors by doling out your identified reinforcers when the child performs the replacement behaviors.

What strategies can be used when positive reinforcement fails?

Most children with ASD receiving ABA will have a Behavior Support Plan detailing both proactive and reactive strategies to eliminate problem behaviors and promote their appropriate replacement behaviors. Professionals, like those at STAR of CA, should provide parents with ongoing support to ensure that parents can follow the plan independently. The professionals should also update the plan periodically as the child learns, grows, and changes.

To learn more about positive reinforcement and other strategies that can help you raise a child with ASD, connect with STAR of CA at (805) 644-7827. Our team can provide proven therapy and support in Ventura for families who are raising children who have ASD.