July 4, 2012

Three Step Reward! Reciprocal Celebration!

 In our last post we discussed the "three step social reward", which we called "celebrating" rather then "praising". This consists of celebrating by (1) physical contact (give "five or ten"), gesture (thumbs up) and declarative statements like "awesome", "we rock", etc. We increase the value by pairing physical, gestural, and verbal acknowledgment in o...ne engagement.

Research in learning has shown over the years that "active engagement" (hands on doing, actively engaging with the teacher) instills learning more readily. The same is true for reinforcing. Children on the spectrum are use to "passively" receiving information, both prompting/instructing and praising, with little active envolvement. Because of their hyperfocus on the task, self involvement, and auditory processing problems, verbal praise often goes in one ear and out the other.

Both the physcial reward (give ten) and gestural reward (thumbs up) encourage active engagement from the child; the child plays an active role in celebrating. In both forms (physical and gestural) the adult initiates the reward (puts hands out) while the child completes it (gives ten!). The same is true for "thumbs up". The parent usually initiates it and the child copies and closes the circle of communication by giving thumbs up! To augment it further we often do "thumbs up and knuckles", where will tap knuckles together while giving thumbs up. In both cases, the the adult is initiating and the child is compeleting the celebrating. The child reciprocates the celebrating, becoming and active participant in reciprocating the praise. It is what I call "reciprocal reward." Just like all of us, we feel twice as good when we are reinforcing the other, as well as being reinforced ourselves. When the child becomes an active agent in the celebrating, he feels more engaged, and more competent. Try it as see for yourself.

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