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The Importance of Pairing: How to Bond with Your Child with Autism

It can be very challenging to develop a relationship with a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). You may have noticed that children with ASD like to be alone, and will solely come to you when they need something that they cannot provide for themselves. It is common for people to ask how it is even possible for parents or individuals who work in applied behavior analysis (ABA) to form bonds with children with ASD. ABA is one of the leading evidence-based practices of autism treatment. So how do you connect with someone who doesn’t speak, ask questions, or initiate play? One of the many tricks of the trade is known as Pairing.

Any ABA Therapy Center near you will likely agree that one of the most essential components in the success of applied behavior analysis is pairing. Pairing is the process by which you connect yourself with a child’s favorite items or activities. These preferred items or activities are what professionals refer to as “reinforcers”. When you pair yourself with these highly motivating reinforcers, YOU become the reinforcer. A child will quickly catch onto to the fact that you are the giver of all things that they love and enjoy! That connection increases their likelihood of engaging with you, complying with your instructional demands, and increases their acceptance of your presence. Pairing is what sets the foundation for learning and bonding to occur, so, how do you go about doing this? Below are several tips and rules to follow when beginning the challenging task of pairing with a child with Autism. As always, you can also reach out to an Autism Specialist near you for additional information! Capable Cubs Therapy, a center-based ABA facility in Bergen County, specializes in autism treatment of ABA services throughout NJ. They are always happy to answer any question you might have about a recent diagnosis of your child with ASD or receiving services for their Autism treatment.

Make it Fun and think outside the box.

When you are first starting to pair with a child, let whatever motivates their lead and join in on whatever they are doing. Are they playing on the floor lining up their animals or cars? Join in and make the animal or car noises! Listening to a song on the iPad? Sing along, dance, and be silly! Try giving them some tickles and physical touch to see if they react positively. Spin them around or bounce them on your lap, and gauge their reaction. Whatever they are interested in doing, make sure you are part of it! Be enthusiastic, playful, and fun, and remember to let them take the lead. Also, take note that children with Autism tend to enjoy activities that differ from their typical peers. Don’t try and push these activities on them. Again, let them show you what they are interested in and follow their lead.

Limit Demands.

Remember, we want the child to know that we are the giver of all things good. Placing any kind of demands on the child too early can diminish your value! Try your best not to give any kind of directions or demands, and avoid asking questions. Instead, you can try to narrate and make comments on what they are doing. For example: if they are playing with an animal puzzle you can say, “Look! The cow says moo!”, or “you are doing a puzzle!” Show them that you are interested in what they are doing and that you are there to have fun with them. Remember, you want them to have as much access to their most preferred activities for free, without having to do anything to earn them. That will strengthen the connection between you and the preferred activities and inherently form a bond between you and the child.

Don’t give up! Never stop pairing.

There is really no specific amount of time or formula for successful pairing. You may want to reach out to an autism specialist near you for their opinion. However, all applied behavior analysis professionals will agree that pairing never ends. Once you determine that you have developed a successful relationship with the child, it is important for you not to stop there. If you want the child to continue to engage with you and comply with your directions, pairing should continue during every interaction. For parents, if it is available to you, take the time to start playtime with some pairing every day. This will help to maintain the bond that you have already built with your child. For applied behavior analysis providers, pairing should be built into every session to ensure a healthy therapeutic environment. Most importantly, for anyone looking to form a relationship with a child with Autism, the key is to be persistent and not give up. Remember that these relationships are NOT easy to develop, so celebrate the small victories! Visit or contact an ABA Therapy Center near you for more tips on pairing and how to create a healthy bond with your child with Autism.

Meet the Experienced ABA Therapists at Capable Cubs ABA Therapy Center in Bergen County

At Capable Cubs, we believe that selecting an ABA therapy center near you is an incredibly critical decision with lasting consequences. As a leading ABA services provider in Bergen County, we encourage parents to always ask questions and evaluate our services and therapists without any hesitation.

Our team of highly trained ABA clinicians includes experienced and qualified BCBAs and RBTs who specialize in combining various ABA methods for providing the most effective treatment to your child with ASD. We create a structured roadmap for every child, including extensive initial assessments, comprehensive ABA treatment plans, critical learning milestones, and effective discharge plans to successfully transition out of our care. Our goal is to enhance your child’s functional skills and independence, help them build meaningful relationships and connections with their communities and their members, and enable them to assimilate better into society.

Select an ABA therapy center that works best for your family’s priorities, needs, and goals. Get in touch with the Autism specialists at Capable Cubs. Call 207-786-6280 or contact us online to learn more about our quick intake process.

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