Let’s Learn to Pair!

Hi BTL Fam!

At the beginning of every new program, intake meeting, and each session, we like to start off with a process called pairing. If you are familiar with ABA sessions, you may notice that the beginning of each day looks a lot like playing. But to our BTL staff, it’s much more than that!

Pairing is the process of conditioning ourselves, materials, and other stimuli as reinforcers. Meaning that we are working to make our presence and the items we may be utilizing, a preferred object. By pairing, we are able to build a positive relationship with the individual we are working with. We work to make our presence valuable and become a “giver” instead of a “taker”.

This process begins by collecting preferred items that are reinforcing (Check out our blog R is for Reinforcement!) We keep preferred items near and follow the individual’s lead. So if a kiddo wants to play trains, we play trains, if they want to play blocks, we play blocks, and so on! We work really hard to involve ourselves in the activity that is reinforcing. The important thing to remember is that anyone can pair!

Some helpful tips to follow while pairing are:

  • Let the individual show you what they enjoy
  • Surround yourself with those preferred objects
  • Incorporate yourself into the activity
  • Make it fun!

One concept to remember during pairing is AVOID placing DEMANDS. This means that we do not tell the individual what to do. Here are some examples and non-examples of what a demand may look like.

  • Give me ball- demand
  • I like that dinosaur- Not a demand
  • Do you want this?-Demand
  • Sit next to me.-Demand
  • Singing song-Not a demand
  • Wow! Those are so cool!-Not a demand

By pairing ourselves with the individual we are working with, we establish a relationship that we can build upon! Consider this our “foundation” to our ABA session. Once we pair ourselves, we can begin to build up on our foundation! We want to continue to pair regardless of how long we have worked with an individual. Pairing should be a non-stop process that we incorporate into our sessions every day!

Next time you are working with a kiddo or just spending some time with them, try pairing yourself to the activity they are interested in. It can be a great way to start a relationship off in a positive way!

Written By: Heidi Mann, M.A., Outreach Consultant

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