It’s a beautiful New Year’s Day here in Sydney, and I spent the day with friends and family, and experiencing my friend’s young son’s first trip to the beach! It has been fascinating watching him grow up and see all the things he likes to do. It has also been fascinating being able to see situations in which the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis apply to different situations with him.
This kid is absolutely adorable and such a great kid. He listens, is interactive and social, and easily redirected. He also has a few known reinforcers, mainly chips, which are usually plentiful when we are at our gatherings.
I am such a great/terrible Aunty (depending on who you ask – the kid or his parents) because everytime he comes to me and says “Pwease” I give him a chip! The bowl happened to be next to me today, and he came over to me and sat on my lap and said “Pwease” and I gave him a chip (one for each hand!)
As my brain does not turn itself off, every day I notice different examples of reinforcement, or shaping, or pairing, I immediately try to figure out what is causing him to keep coming to me.
In this scenario, he saw the bowl of chips and me, and knew that the reinforcement (chips) was available.
He also knew the behaviour of coming to me and saying “Pwease” has, in the past, resulted in him getting some chips.
And what do you know, he did it today and it worked!
Antecedent – chips & Loz available
Behaviour – going to Loz and saying “Pwease”
Consequence – he receives chips (and it is most likely reinforcement because he has done this in the past, and continues to do it!)
Another example I observed today was when we visited the beach. It was his first time in all his one and a half years of life of going to the beach. He loves swimming and the pool, but the beach is a little different – unpredictable, noisy, funny textures!
He went into the waves (waves = tiny little waves, maybe half a metre), clinging to Mum or Dad for dear life. Every time a wave came, they would dip him into it, and bring him back up for a cuddle. And every time he went into the water, and came back up, Mum, Dad, and the rest of us cheered!
At first, he still looked a little scared and unsure. After about the 5th time he was dipped, he came up with a little smile, and then it got bigger, and bigger. Success! He loves the beach (just like his Aunty Loz!)
This continued on for about 20 minutes. He was still quite apprehensive about actually standing in the water, but he did want to continue, even asking for more.
I’m still trying to figure out exactly what part of ABA this is in relation to. At first, I thought pairing – we were pairing our praise with going in the waves – trying to make the waves as reinforcing as our attention. However it is not quite on the mark. If anyone has any suggestions or further thoughts on this, I’d love to hear it.
Basically, I am really starting to think I live and breathe ABA… which is not necessarily a bad thing, I just need to figure out how to use it to make a changes to a whole lot of aspects of my life.
On that note, I recently read Skinner’s “Walden Two” and am definitely thinking I will write up a book review soon. It was an interesting read.
Happy New Year!