Pairing is an ongoing process during which behavior technicians familiarize themselves with your child and discover what he or she enjoys. Just as you or I would not want to follow instructions from a stranger, your child is not likely to respond to demands placed by a technician without a positive relationship first being established.
The First Month of ABA Therapy
Behavior technicians will be collecting baseline data for problem behaviors, language, skills, and most importantly– pairing!
The Pairing Process
The process of pairing is important because it allows the technician to become associated with fun activities and highlight preferred items. In this way, your child will be motivated to build a relationship with the technician. This relationship will be the foundation for building “instructional control.” Instructional control simply means that when the technician instructs your child to do something, he or she will do it. Pairing also helps the technician learn about your child’s preferences and gives the worker an idea of what may motivate your child when work tasks begin.
It Looks Like Playing– Is this Useful?
Playing with your child is exactly what pairing should look like! Technicians should be engaging with your child and letting him or her direct the play entirely for the first few sessions. This helps teach your child that the technician is fun and allows the presence of the technician to become reinforcing. Building the relationship between your child and the technician as a fun person (with fun stuff!) before the technician will be able to successfully place demands.
How You Can Tell That Pairing is Working
Pairing is working when your child looks forward to his or her technician coming to your home. While the technician is there, the child enjoys and seeks out engagement with him or her. When they have to leave, the child may become disappointed or ask when he or she will return.
One of the goals of pairing is that your child engages in more “coming toward” behaviors with the technician, rather than “running away” behaviors.
Does Pairing End After the First Month of Therapy?
Nope, pairing is a continual process! Behavior technicians will continue to pair with your child at the beginning of session and during breaks. Continued pairing helps maintain the relationship your child has with his or her technician and strengthen the instructional control the technician has established.
We hope you find this information on ABA therapy and pairing insightful. Feel free to comment with any additional questions!