Hopebridge’s Lessons from ‘The Good Doctor:’ Reinforcers
January 21, 2018
January 21, 2018
From praise and toys to snacks and art projects, if your family is touched by autism spectrum disorder (ASD), chances are you know all about reinforcers. Reinforcing behaviors is the core of applied behavior analysis (ABA), but what about the other ways we instill actions, attitudes and feelings in our kids, often unknowingly? Episode 12 of “The Good Doctor” takes a look through this angle, showcasing the side of reinforcement we don’t always think about when it comes to autism.
Spoiler alert: if you haven’t watched last week’s episode of
“The Good Doctor,” check it out, then swing back to the blog.
The main character, Dr. Shaun Murphy, and Dr. Aaron Glassman – his caregiver since he was a boy – have some trouble communicating in this episode. Shaun wants to make a big life change; moving to a new city and new job. Dr. Glassman wants to protect him (remember that theme from last week?) from a decision that could potentially hurt his career, but is expected to give his stamp of approval through a letter of recommendation. He appears torn, but Dr. Claire Brown, puts a spotlight on the real issue at hand.
“I think he might think that you’re mad at him. If you don’t sign, it reinforces what he thinks. But if you do, it lets him know that you believe in him.”
This is a great point, not only for Dr. Glassman, but for all of us. A “reinforcer” isn’t always a piece of candy or plaything. How often does an action or attitude of yours mistakenly establish negative thoughts for someone in your life? How often does it encourage? If the answers are not what you want them to be, make a change and focus on it in the future.
ABA therapy is a way of life. It does not end at building skills. Children with autism may have difficulty comprehending emotion and intentions, so feel free to use ABA principles to make sure your signs are clear and supporting the outcome you intend.
In the end, it seems to work out for Shaun…he gets the letter! We cannot wait to see the next step on his journey tonight. Check back with us next week to see what new lessons “The Good Doctor” team (and we!) discover.