Pairing with Reinforcement for Students with Special Needs

Do you have a student with special needs in your class with whom you’d like to form a positive relationship?

In today’s Teacher Tips newsletter, Watson experts share information about the pairing with reinforcement strategy to teach your student appropriate behaviors and help you form a bond with him/her.

  1. Identify reinforcers (items/activities that your student enjoys) such as: m&m candies, puzzles, books, or a favorite type of music. The student will have access to these items without any contingent actions on his/her part, but only when the student is not engaging in inappropriate behaviors such as biting or screaming.
  2. Ensure that all of the reinforcers are already laid out and available to the student. As you lead the student to that area with the items, engage in positive and/or playful interaction to show that good things happen when the student is with you (the educator). The goal is to teach your student to respond favorably to being in your presence.
  3. As the student’s bond with you strengthens, you may begin to add simple actions such as sitting near you or having an interaction with you in order to gain access to the reinforcers.

This strategy aims to encourage your student to react favorably in your presence, rather than engaging in biting, screaming or knocking things over. Pairing may take a long time until it is successful.

Learn more about the pairing with reinforcement strategy by checking out our YouTube video below and the corresponding special education resource page. For more special education resources, visit Watson Life Resources.