Mrs. Smith understands but says something so profound that I still remember 15 years later….’but if I am doing that, I am not working on his IEP goals’. This is true.
My supervisor’s response? ‘But if you don’t pair yourself with reinforcement, you never will’. This is also true.
When we, as clinicians, begin providing necessary services to a child with developmental delays, we often forget this. We cannot just expect to come in as strangers and ask a child, who may be unwilling or hesitant, to do what we want, when we want and how we want.
Years before the above mentioned scenario, I worked in a public school with a young friend who practically tripped running to the door every time his speech therapist came to pick him up. She built rapport by greeting him with the cover of a preferred computer game that they would play for the first few minutes of their session. That is a perfect example of stimulus-stimulus pairing. She did such a great job of pairing herself with reinforcement that my friend would stand up and try to go with her when she was there to pick up other students. Now that is a great relationship!
Stimulus-stimulus pairing procedures have been well documented in peer reviewed literature to improve a variety of skills (Greer et al., 1985) and increase variety of reinforcers in a child’s repertoire (Longano J., & Greer, R.D., 2006). Applying these techniques to establishing rapport with your clients can provide a foundation for improving access to necessary interventions by reducing behavior barriers that are often caused when we dismiss this crucial step in initiating services.