Remember that teacher in elementary school that you disliked? You didn’t want to work for her, you didn’t want to learn from her and you certainly didn’t want to cooperate with her. The aim of your class was to make her life miserable. As a result, no one was focused on learning.
The importance of cooperation
Years ago, learners would enter the teaching setting every day kicking and screaming. We know now that this is avoidable if you establish instructional control early on. Many curriculums do not guide therapists through this process, so it is often missed. Early in my career I was lucky to meet Cherish Twigg, M.S., BCBA of Establishing Operations Inc., who helped me solve this problem. She described it like this:
“When I was a new behavior therapist over 20 years ago, I was taught that the child needed to ‘learn to like it’, referring to my teaching. A few years later I was introduced to different ABA studies and terminology that changed everything. I learned that it was MY job to change how I was doing things in order to make the child ‘like it’. Rather than forcing compliance, I learned to change how I presented demands and made subtle changes to the teaching setting. These changes made all the difference in the lives of the children I’ve had the honor to work with.”
Our goal in ABA therapy is to help children with autism reach their full potential. As behavior analysts, we often feel pressure to work on immediately increasing learners’ skills. Sometimes, we forget the value of working on increasing the child’s ability to learn in the first place. Cooperation is a skill to teach and is key to long-term success of our learners.
The problem with most ABA curriculums
The other day, I picked up a new curriculum guide and flipped through it. The book contained some great skill acquisition programs, but had no mention of the importance in first developing instructional control. The guide opened with ‘look at me’ and ‘sit down’.
In theory this sounds good, but the reality is that the learners who are starting their first ABA program or transitioning to you from another program often lack the cooperation required to complete these tasks without engaging in challenging behavior. This will actually increase maladaptive behaviors.
Essential first steps
When designing the Portia Curriculum, I made sure that the first section tackled cooperation. I called Cherish and she graciously offered her expert advice. She designed a beautifully sequenced curriculum to increase cooperation in both the natural environment setting and the intensive teaching setting.
Initially, parents may not value the time spent on cooperation. They will, however, thank you later. Learning cooperation is essential for long-term success and will enable children to reach their full potential. To learn more about Cherish’s cooperation curriculum, reach out and try our free demo today.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide any type of professional advice. Portia does not guaranty the accuracy or reliability of any information contained in this blog from third party sources. You should consult a Board Certified Behavior Analyst or other qualified professional for specific advice. Portia International assumes no responsibility for any reliance made on or misuse or omissions of the information contained in this blog.