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Concept of Rewards–

Hey parents! Ash Bhattacharya here from Autism 360 and while I wait here in my car to pick up my daughter from her piano lessons, just though of spend a couple of minutes talking about the concept of rewards, um, because I know a lot of discussions has been going on of later on whether rewarding your child for the job well done is a good idea or not.

So here is my take on this. Now, I believe that rewards may not necessarily be a bad thing because at the end of the day in its truest definition, reward is something that needs to be owned, right? Okay. And rewards can actually help, um, demonstrate positive behavior and help our kiddos acquire new skills and possibly even help you out with the hosel chose.

Um, and let me explain by giving an example how rewards can actually motivate people, um, even including kids to demonstrate positive behavior.So let’s assume that I’m, I’m working full time on a job and at the end of the year because I have booked really well, my employer feels very happy with my performance and offers me a bonus. Right? Or maybe a paycheck, a pay rise.

Now just because I’ve got this bonus doesn’t make me feel entitled that I am going to get a bonus next year as well because I know that this is something that I really needed to work hard towards. Right? And next time if I have to gain silk, get a similar bonus, I cannot just be me. But I also, I need to be a better version of myself because I want to raise the standard.

And, I also raised the expectations of my management to a particular standard. Right? So next time for me to collect a similar bonus paycheck, I probably need to supersede that standard.

So you see how it actually, encourages me to demonstrate positive behavior wherein I feel motivated, I feel fulfilled having earned, um, this recognition. Right. Um, and, and I feel I feel energized to go ahead and contribute even more, possibly 110% next time to go and collect my reward right?

Now as opposed to that. Okay. When we tend to bribe our kids, that is when we demonstrate a real sign of weakness. And what do I mean by bribery? Essentially it is something that the child didn’t need to need to work towards. Right?

For example, maybe they are just throwing a tantrum or giving you a hard time and just to alleviate yourself from the situation, you tend to offer them the iPad or you give them a chocolate or a cookie or whatever. Right? Now that it’s a sign of weakness on our part because what we are doing is we are complying to their possibly unreasonable demands, right?

And, and uh, by doing so we are sending across a wrong message that the next time the kids realize that next time they are going to demonstrate a similar behavior or similar negative behavior, they are going to be able to collect something good out of it.

And what it does it instead of, instead of, you know, helping them supersede their levels, what they need to do is they need to demonstrate more and more that negative behavior so that you feel more frustrated and hand them over a bigger reward the next time. Does that make sense?

So the question is then how do you effectively administer rewards, so that they are powerful and they’re motivating enough for your child to bring out the best version in themselves and to help you with that process. I don’t want to share 20 different strategies though there exists many strategies to help you with that.

But what I want you to focus on for the next 20 minutes is just one strategy which is called the if-then contingency. Okay. So, um, Ella Bailey, who is one of the behavior psychologists coaches in my team recently ran a workshop with our Autism 360 parents when she explained the strategy beautifully.

Okay. And it would be, it would be really helpful for you if you can focus for the next 20 minutes to find out how the strategy exactly works. And let me assure you just by implementing this one strategy, you will go a long way in effectively administering rewards for your child and helping them achieve more, more than what they possibly can or will under normal circumstances. Right? So I hope you enjoy this workshop and do let me know your thoughts and comments.

Hi everybody. We are onto week two of our little mini behavior crash course within our group series. Today we’re going to talk about the First ->Then Contingency, which is all about high seeing, the behavioral motivation that we talked about last time we were in one of these sessions with me.

And if you weren’t here for that, don’t stress it’s being recorded. You can listen to it whenever you’d like, but also, I’m going to explain everything that you need to know. So don’t worry if you weren’t here last time. Just a brief outline for today.

I’m going to give an introduction obviously of myself and what we’re talking about, a little mini vocab lesson for what we’re going to be talking about within, behavioral management.  , we’re then going to be moving onto premack’s principle, which is the underlying research which backs up the First-> Then Contingency in behavioral therapy.

Then move on to work through some examples, and some troubleshooting ideas about, things that are kind of may and commonly do come up when we’re trying to implement The First-> Then Contingency.

Uh, we’ll then dive a little bit dipper talk about, early learner implementation of the First-> Then Contingency and at the end, I’ll walk you through some of the extra resources that I’ve got so that you can learn a little bit more about it and then we’ll have a discussion time and questions.

Myself Ella…

So let’s get started, Hi everybody! I’m Ella. I’m a behavioral specialist here in Autism 360. My background and degree are in psychology. I’ve been working in, uh, behavior therapy and behavior management for about seven years, particularly with, the kiddos on the spectrum but also with, a pretty broad variety of developmental delays.

So my background is very much in the day to day, hands-on management of behavior in the home and how we can turn it from dysfunctional to functional for our kiddos, which is always the aim. Now today’s webinar is going to be a little bit in my last session.

But we’ll briefly go over some of the things that we talked about then and then kind of as I say, build on that, to talk about the behavioral contingency. So last time we talked a little bit about behavioral drives and the things that drive our kiddos to do what they do, behavior-wise kind of thing.

Shaping behavior —

We talked about internal, external escape, compulsion and attention maintained behaviors after these behavioral drives. Uh, what causes, behaviors to manifest in our kiddos.  , and the way that we respond is going to shape that behavior into, either increasing it in a dysfunctional way or decreasing it, to make it a functional behavior.

So we also learned last time that anything that comes directly after a behavior, whether we intend for it to be our response or not is going to directly impact that behavior and either increase it or decrease it.

Mini Vocabulary —

So we’ll move on just a little bit of, vocab so that we’re all on the same page. Now, today we’re going to be talking a lot about low and high probability behaviors. Which is just a fancy way of saying, a behavior that your kid would do anyway and the behavior that your kid wouldn’t do without your prompting kind of thing.

So a low probability behavior is a behavior that is very unlikely to happen without the offer of some kind of reward or reinforcement. High probability behavior is a behavior that would likely occur unprompted and without the author of any kind of reinforcement.

So an example of a low probability behavior might be eating a broccoli. And the example of a high probability behavior might be watching YouTube on the iPad. The, the word reinforcer that I’m using is a behavioral term for something that, uh, like an item a or a behavior that occurs directly after the target behavior that, uh, increases, uh, the likelihood of that behavior occurring again.

A Punisher, which is kind of a gross word, but in this context, it doesn’t mean anything particularly bad. It just means anything that happens after a behavior that when it occurs will decrease the likelihood of that behavior happening again. And motivation, as we spoke about before, is the underlying cognitive state that causes the behavior to occur.

Premack’s Principle—

So we’re going to move on to Premack’s principle of relative reinforcement, which sounds fancy, but I promise it isn’t. It’s super, super simple.  , and essentially what we’re talking about is the way that we want to harness the motivation that your kid already has to increase functional behaviors and decrease dysfunctional behaviors by using Premack’s principle of relative enforcement or the First-> Then Contingency.

So, the way that Premack put it was that the, likely be, the First->Then Contingency is based upon Premack’s principle of relative reinforcement. That is the opportunity to engage in a more probable behavior will reinforce the engagement of less probable behavior. Sounds fancy!

All it means is that if something good is on offer, we’re more likely to do the thing that we don’t want to do, if that makes sense. So this means that, like in sort of day to day, way of thinking about it, that making the behavior that your kiddo needs to do directly followed by something they want is going to increase the likelihood of that behavior happening in the future.

So for example, a lot of people call it grandma’s law, which is first eat your veggies, then you get dessert kind of thing. It’s super simple, but it’s a really helpful way of shaping the behavior that we want to say. So, if your child, I mean everybody, parents know their kids best, they know what’s going to motivate them; they know what’s going to harness the behavior and drive them to do something.

We want to, use that motivation, not to kind of make that child do anything they don’t want to do, but to increase the functionality of behaviors kind of thing. So, and Premack did take this even further, which parents kind of instinctively know which is that it’s called response deprivations theory.

Which means that the less access that your kiddo has to the high probability behavior, for example, the iPad, the more likely they are to perform that low probability behavior to gain access to it. So for example, your kiddo is more likely to clean their room to get access to a big tub of lollies if they haven’t already been eating while it’s for three hours.

Everybody knows that. But it’s just a sort of behavioral law that we can put in place to understand what’s going on with his behavior. So what this means in practical terms is that the more you ration something, the more it’s going to motivate your kiddo and the harder they will work to gain access to it. so let’s talk about actions. All right..

Okay. So the first thing we’re going to do, when implementing the first thing, contingency for our kiddos, that first of all, I should say first, establish your exact expectations. So you need to know exactly in your head really simply what it is you want your kid to do. You just need one specific behavior.

We’re not at this stage talking about a long string of like behavioral training. We just want to block behavior. We need to know, okay, I know exactly what I’m going to ask my child for and what I’m going to offer them. Which brings us to the second step, which is a reinforcer of preference assessment.

So in order for our kiddo to, be most highly motivated to go through, the less probable behavior, we’re going to need a reinforcement that is most, the most powerful one we have. So for example, that might be I’m holding out Lego and I’m holding up, your kid’s favorite stuffy.

You say, Oh, which one would you like? Kind of thing, which one is more motivating to you right now kind of thing. And you know, kids come and go. Sometimes they like mushrooms, sometimes they don’t.

But what we are going to do is try and get the most motivation we can for a particular item or a particular behavior or particular whatever we’re using as a reinforcer.  before we present the contingency.

When we start doing things like presenting the contingency after the behavior has already occurred or after there is been refusal behaviors or after as a tantrum, that’s when it becomes bribery.

And we were trying to stay away from that. We’re trying to pre-attempt, the low probability behaviors and, catch them before it becomes a problem. So then we’re going to present the first then contingency with the item that we’ve already assessed, uh, to be a higher preference for your kiddos.

So first, I don’t know if brushing teeth, then reading a story with parents kind of thing and the first then contingency depending on where your kid is, developmentally get either the presented verbally or visually, as per early learners of visual representation is extra great.

But for our kind of, uh, maybe our hyper Lexic kiddos or, you know, kids who are a bit older, I’ve verbal, first, a then is going to be totally fine and they’re going to understand that.

And what’s really important once that, low probability behavior has been completed to immediately make that reinforcer available. Because what you want to do is connect neurologically the first low probability behavior with the second reinforcing high probability behavior.

We really want to make them connected in the mind, because that’s where it’s going to increase the likelihood all of our type of behavior increasing over time, which makes sense. We’re going to look through a few examples, and, talk about the way that they are reinforcing for us.

And the thing is that these kinds of contingencies are happening all the time without us even know they’re happening for kids. They’re happening for adults and it’s once you can sort of see them in your environment, it’s like you’ve learned to rage. You can’t unsay them sort of thing.

Working Through Examples–

So here’s some examples, uh, that we will analyze together and see how they apply. This first one, the brush teeth and Lego, that’s obviously a kid’s example. so for example, we know our kiddo hates brushing their teeth,  but they have mastered the motor skills that had sensory issues with it, and they can do it independently kind of thing.

So, before asking them to brush their teeth, we’re going to hold up, uh, for example, say maybe I’m a Lego or as I was saying before, Lego or reading book with that kiddo decides that at this stage what’s more motivating for them is Lego. So we’re going to say, all right, great! First brush teeth, then lego kind of thing.

We by doing that, by linking those two together, we are increasing the likelihood that brushing teeth, it’s going to occur independently in the future kind of thing. Now, something that a lot of parents don’t realize, and just a lot of people in general, not even just parents, is that often the behavioral contingencies occur in nervous.

So, and this is not an on purpose, this is kind of an incidental thing often.  , we find ourselves in a situation where, for example, our kiddo is having a tantrum , they’re having some sort of, not like an autistic meltdown, but something that’s purely behavioral.

You know, they’ve asked for iPad, we’ve refused, or put in some sort of boundary or timeframe,  they are having a tantrum  kind of thing. And essentially the behavioral contingency is in reverse. It’s first gives me iPad then also crying kind of thing.

And so what we do in that situation, if by saying, okay, yes, kind of thing, essentially what we’re doing is we reinforcing that, first behavior kind of thing. And if we remember from our vocab lesson, I reinforce these, anything that’s going to increase the likelihood of that behavior reoccurring in the future.

So as I say, uh, these kinds of behavioral contingencies are all around us and another one that, I hear a lot of parents talking about is like, uh, falling asleep. A behavior contingency So, for example, our kiddo is, you know, we need our kiddo to sleep obviously, but we really don’t want to or have the time or whatever to sit with them and Pat them while they sleep kind of thing.

However, uh, we’re motivated by the likelihood of our child getting to sleep well quickly kind of thing, which is that, second reinforcing behavior. So therefore that low probability behavior, that one of us sitting with them, is going to increase.

Yes. Therefore we’re going to sit through it and do it with the promise of the reward of them getting to sleep earlier. That makes sense. If that same behavioral contingency working there.

Trouble Shooting —

So, uh, we’re gonna move through to some troubleshooting things that we often say, when trying to put in place that if then contingency with our kiddos. And mostly here we go. Mostly we just see, it’s not working kind of thing I’m offering if then I’m, I’m giving them something or whatever I bought, they’re still not doing what it is that I need them to do.

What I would say then is, okay, if you’re, if you’re offering your, your kid or these kinds of thing or these behaviors or access to, tangibles or something like that as the high probability behavior for the target behavior and your kiddo is still not, engaging in that target behavior, then you’ll reinforcer is not reinforcing that behavior.

By definition not a reinforcer because it’s not increasing the behavior. And what you need to do is go back a few steps. You need to find some other tangibles, access to something or whatever and do another preference assessment, see what they want, especially, try items that they haven’t had access to in a while because, as we talked about before, the less access they have to something, the more likely it is to increase the behavior.

And try again with that. So that is one of the main things that parents say to me that, you know, I’m, I’m doing a thing and it’s not working. Try something else that’s clearly not a motivating item enough for your child and you need to find something else to offer them in a, in a preference assessment, uh, that’s going to be more motivating for them.

Another one that I, uh, say a lot of is my child constant on task long enough for me to be able to give them the reinforcer for that behavior, and you know, a lot of parents have this problem where, you know, I’m, I’m literally waiting there with the reinforcer to give it to them to reinforce this target behavior, but they can’t stay on tossed.

They’re distracted there, you know, whatever they have a tantrum halfway through, my suggestion there would be that you might be taking too long a chain of behaviors. We may need to break it, the contingency down into something much, much smaller and build it up again.

So an example of this would be instead of saying, alright, uh, first get dressed, then TV, as The First-> Then contingency. We’re going to say, all right, first on these, on then one minute of TV kind of thing.

So our target task is really short, so short, that we know that they’re not going to, full off task or for the wagon or anything like that. And there is no, it is not bad to break it down into small chunks.

In fact, if you are concerned that your child may not be able to get the whole way through behavior, yeah. Start smaller, you need to set them up for success in order to build behavioral moment and trust that that reinforcer that is going to come through, to make progress essentially.

Early Learner Implementation–

Now, some other thing that, we do get some issues with, with the Premack principle is, implementation with early learners. So, uh, sometimes, kiddos on the spectrum not have an understanding of the kind of first then temporal concept of like a sequence of events or, and they may not trust whoever it is and enough that they’re going to follow through with offering whatever reinforcer it is that they’ve shown they want in their preference assessment.

So in that situation, we need to many to reel it right back. And we need to start with two highly preferred activities and so in a row kind of thing. So the first then contingency is going to still be in place, but both are highly probable behaviors.

The job will do both of them anyway. All we’re doing is setting up that temporal scaffold for them to follow. And as we build up trusts that yes I do come through his second behavior is definitely going to come through. I’m definitely going to give you the iPad once you’ve done whatever.

So yes, we’re starting with two highly preferred activities and once that child has built up the trust with those two preferred activities, that you’re going to come through with what you say you’re going to come through with, you can then drop that first behavioral expectation down to something a little bit less preferred kind of thing.

So an example might be for a kiddo who’s in love with trucks and books kind of thing where we might say first trucks, then books even though they’re on the same, a preferential level, how may kind of thing.

And then once that kiddo understand the temporal concept of first, then we’re going to move that behavioral expectation. For example, the trucks down to something that he likes a little bit less, so I don’t know, a bike kind of thing.

So first bike, then book and that is going to be not too much of a challenge, but more of a challenge then too highly preferred, behaviors or activities kind of thing. Now we’re gonna move on to, Questions and further reading.

Question Time….

Just let me open up my chat so that I can see everybody because this is where the real, kind of discussion happens and that kind of thing. Let’s, see everybody who’s here, shall we?  , if you need to, if you want to put your comments down in the chat, we can talk about that. Let’s see what we’ve got here. Okay!!

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