The Importance of Offering Choices

We know choices are important. We make choices everyday. However, do you ever stop to think about how often our learners are able to make choices? Not very often. Sure, you may ask your kids what they want to wear to school, or what sticker they want to add to their potty chart. But more often than not, our littles don't have much of a choice of things day to day. They are told where to sit in the classroom, what they are having for dinner, what time they are going to bed. And it makes sense, because sometimes things are just non-negotiable. So how do we add more opportunities to make choices in our learners' days? Read on to learn more...

What Does it Mean?

Offering a learner two or more options and allowing him/her to independently select an option. 

Why to use it?

Providing choices is a simple, yet effective tool for ABA families and staff to have in their toolbox. Allowing the student to make choices provides them with opportunities to have control over their environment, which can decrease problem behavior and increase compliance. By allowing the learner to make choices we are also fostering independence, which is important for the learner’s quality of life and future success.

When to use it?

Choices should be provided throughout a learner’s day, just like it is in our adult lives. It encourages appropriate behaviors while allowing the learner some control over their lives.

How to Use it

This strategy is simple to implement. Choice offering can and should be used with learners of all ages. Provide explicit and specific choices for the learner throughout all opportunities. Giving choices does not mean the child “gets out” of doing a task. Further, allowing the child to make a choice does not mean you are asking open-ended questions and hoping the learner makes the choice you’re looking for. Sometimes you don’t care what tasks is completed, as long as a task is completed. In this case, you may ask “Would you rather make your bed, or pick up the clothes on your floor?” You are still providing choices, but the outcome may not matter to you. However, for tasks that are non-negotiable, your “choices” will be more forced. For example, if the child needs brush their teeth, you may ask “Do you want to brush your teeth now, or after your bath?” The tooth brushing is not a choice, but the time in which they can complete it is.

Opportunities for making choices can and should be included across all types of settings, including during very structured ABA sessions, classroom settings, at home with families, and less structured time out in the community.

ABA at Play: scientific research, antecedent manipulations, evidence-based practices, socially significant behavior, individualized supports, reinforcement procedures, Positive Behavior Supports, manipulating MOs.

How would you provide choices with your learners? Leave an example below!

Behavioral Momentum: What, Why, and How

Behavioral momentum is a term for something you have probably done at some point in your life, whether it be working with students, your own kids, or even other adults in our lives. I bet many of us use this strategy daily with people in our lives and don't even know it! This strategy works great with our more challenging, non-compliant students.

Reinforcement vs. Bribery: Is There a Difference?

We've already talked all about reinforcement, so we know how to define it and when to use it. But is it really that much different than bribery? In fact, yes. Yes it is.

I've had almost every parent and staff member I've ever work with confuse the two and interchange them in conversation. I've also had parents and staff tell me that "reinforcement doesn't work" and that they "don't want to bribe" their learner. These are concerning statements to me as a BCBA, as it is telling me they don't truly grasp reinforcement and how it differs from bribery. Let's fix that today.  
Don't forget about the FREEBIE below!

Reinforcement: Dos and Don'ts

No doubt you use your fair share of reinforcement in your everyday life. For sure you use it with your kiddos, with your spouse, and with yourself. Reinforcement  is everywhere and whether or not you are trying to reinforce anyone's behavior, you definitely do throughout your daily life. So since this is such a big part of your existence, maybe we should break down what it is, and the dos and don'ts of reinforcing behaviors.

Staff Training 101

Raise your hand if you would like the staff you work with to be highly trained in their field? I assume everyone's hands were raised. Now raise your hand if you know how to go about doing that? Maybe some of those hands powered back up, while others are a bit more unsure of themselves. No worries - that's why I'm here!

Women’s History Month: Who Inspires You?

Happy Women's History Month! Today, I want to ask YOU a question. Which woman (women) in your life inspire you to be your best self? Are you a woman who inspires others? How are your children or students inspired by women in their lives, or throughout the course of history?

I'm most inspired by my mother, who rose above adversity and single-motherhood to bring her daughter (me!) the best education, most fulfilling life, and meaningful experiences she could. I never went without, never felt that I wasn't cared for, nor ever felt alone. When I think of all the sacrifices she's made for me throughout my existence, it inspires me to persevere every day, and bring joy and meaning to others in my life.

Functional Behavior Assessment: What, Why, and How?

Many special needs teachers, parents, and professionals have heard of a FBA, or a functional behavior assessment. Maybe you have a few students, or your own child has had one done for his/her behavior. I've talked before about the functions of behavior, so it only makes sense to learn more about how we determine the function. Enter: FBAs.

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