To see the earlier posts of this series, click here.
Number 3 on our list of 12 is reinforcers. The picture to the left shows some common types of reinforcers for children who are complex learners. Some students will be reinforced by praise and attention, but that will most likely not be true for all the students in the class. Some students will need more concrete reinforcement. Toys like play dough, tops and wind up toys are often great reinforcers for younger children. Toys like the wind up toys and tops that students need help with are great reinforcers because they typically require assistance from the adult to make them work, thus pairing the adult with the reinforcer. For older students, you might use the CD player for music for a reinforcer, money for the vending machine, the Tangle as a fidget, or activities like a manicure or magazines.
For ideas about how to determine what is reinforcing for a student and how to use them effectively, see this post. For thoughts about how to keep the reinforcers fresh and directions to a couple of freebies to use for reinforcement, see this post I wrote on A Special Sparkle. Below are some resources for finding sensory types of items for reinforcers for some students as well. You can find some reinforcers at Walmart or the Dollar Store. Look particularly at checkout stands where you can often find trinkets that work well.
Concrete reinforcers are a critical element for students with ASD who are note reinforced by common actions like praise. Sometimes you can make them, but sometimes having a stash of reinforcers of things that spin, smell, are sticky, or are moveable can be the key to getting and keeping engagement of the students. What do you use for reinforcers in your classroom?