By Nick Goebel, a member of the SkillCorps India October 2017 team
I had never heard of Autism until I was about 14-years old, when I met my two younger sisters. Before I met them, I was told that they were “Autistic”. Not know anything about Autism I went to the library and read up on it, but I really didn’t understand what Autism was other than that they were “different”. Little did I know that I would end up having a career in the Autism field just 9 years later. Last December 2016 my boss got an email from the BCAB about the Global Autism Project (GAP). He read it to us and I just blew it off thinking, yeah that would be fun but not realistic for me.
I knew that Autism wasn’t just in America. I knew that in other counties you could get services. I just assumed that it was as easy there as it was in the U.S. Little did I know, I wasn’t just wrong, I was dead wrong. One of the stories that I have been told was about parents who have to drive 2 hours every day just so that their child can receive intervention. Being here has really shown me how much our services are needed.
While we are on our last week here in India at SOREM we have been going over one of the core principles of ABA (in my mind that is) and that is reinforcement. All of us work with children and some of us work with adults too. We all have diverse ways to teach and implement ABA, but our core principles are the same; such as reinforcement. It’s such a powerful term. I walk into the classrooms here and I see teachers that truly care about their students. They clearly want their kids to do great and in order to make that happen, they have to learn the core principles themselves.
There are many ways to teach students and children, but it needs to be worth it to them. This is where reinforcement comes into play. Reinforcement is used EVERYDAY by everyone. What I mean by that is very simple. For example, when I go to work I’m reinforced by enjoying what I’m doing and also by receiving a paycheck. With that in mind everything and everyone has reinforcers in place; but the level and type of reinforcer has to be based on the individual. One of the harder things about reinforcers is to find what works for that particular person. For some people, verbal praise might be reinforcing, but for another person that isn’t reinforcing. The more I work with children and adults I learn that positive reinforcement is needed for everyone that we work with.