Preschool Language and Skills/2
Positive reinforcement, by definition, is an item or activity that when presented after a behavior increases the the behavior in the future. Simply, the item or activity is only a reinforcer if it increases an identified behavior.
Guidelines for use of reinforcers 
- Sanitize the environment
- Limit the availability and visibility of reinforcers, toys, and items. Put them up, onto a shelf in boxes that are labeled or in a locked room.
- Every time a fun item appears, it is because you made it available, thereby making you more valuable.
- Approach the student with something fun
- Approach the student with a reinforcer in an outstretched hand.
- Make it obvious that you are approaching with something fun.
- Pair your voice and the environment with reinforcement
- While pairing with the student’s reinforcers, say the student’s name and use short phrases to describe what you are doing.
- Make sure that what you are offering is more desirable then their current situation
- Do not interrupt the student’s fun to do something less reinforcing.
- Make activities more fun
- When a student is playing with a toy or engaged in a fun activity, do things that make it more enjoyable.
- Become a conditioned reinforcer
- A conditioned reinforcer is a type of reinforcer that obtains its value by having been paired with other reinforcers.
- Students with autism who have many conditioned reinforcers will learn important skills more easily.
- The goal of pairing is for the student to like to be with the staff and to approach him or her without hesitation.
- The student should be looking for ways to be with you; not escape from you.
- Be sure this happens BEFORE you place instructional demands (ex. identifying body parts, calendar, imitation, etc.).
- Only routine instructions should be given. For example, being asked to sit for lunch as part of the daily routine.
- Have at least 10 reinforcer items/activities. If you don't, shorten teaching time and build up reinforcers.
- Parent/therapist as reinforcer (does child come to you willingly)
- Will take a food reinforcer from a table and eat it.
- Will take a food reinforcer from hand and eat it. If not, start with popping food reinforcer into mouth at first.
- Will take a toy reinforcer and play with it safely (appropriately or inappropriately)
- No free access to reinforcer. If the student has free access, he/she might satiate on the item and then you will no longer be able to use the reinforcer as a teaching tool.
Remember: you want the student to run TO you, not AWAY from you.