Random Social Skills/Pragmatics Activity Generator
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Reinforcer Probe for Joint Attention Activity
Description: For some children who are non-verbal or who have severe autism, we need to start with establishing joint attention. The best way to start that process is to do a reinforcer probe. You need to know what the child will work for so you can offer the right temptations. Start by asking parents and teachers what they've found is motivating to the child, but you can also just assemble a list of commonly desired reinforcers. These can include foods, toys, sensory input, and other activities. Hold up two such objects from the list and watch to see which one the child either looks at or grabs. If he grabs one, let him play with it for a moment and set the other one in the "rejected" pile. After a moment, take that one back and pick up two more objects. Keep doing this until you have a pile or list of things that you know the child is interested in. Once you know what the child is interested in, you can begin to offer that to the child as a reward for joint attention. Start with just rewarding the child for getting close to you. Then, gradually increase your demands so that the child is expected to actually attend to the item with you for a moment or even make eye contact before he's allowed to play with it on his own. You can download our reinforcer probe instructions and lists by clicking the link below: