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ABA Pairing Activities

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been an educator for 20 years and earned her Master of Education degree in 2017. She enjoys using her experience to provide engaging resources for other teachers.

These Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) pairing activities can create a connection and are typically used for students with autism. Engage students of any age in these exercises to help build a foundation so that you can achieve goals together.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Pairing Activities

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an individualized process of helping students with autism process emotions, develop communication skills, and engage in life application exercises. Success in achieving these outcomes greatly increases when adequate time is taken to engage in the pairing process. These activities will help you bond with students of any age, serving as the foundation of your working relationship and fostering growth in other areas. No materials are listed for these activities, as the goal is to follow the lead of your student. For example, if she loves playing with toy cars, you will want to have a good collection of them available.

An essential component of pairing involves little to no demands made on the student. Therefore, these activities focus on what you can do while interacting with your student that does not involve instructing or guiding them to achieve goals. After a pairing foundation is established, more instructional, higher demand activities can be introduced. Each activity is designed to be used one-on-one with you and a single student. Effectively pairing with more than one student at a time will be a challenge and could negatively impact future goal attainment.

New Ways to Play

In this activity, the student will learn new ways to play as you interact with and model for them. Begin by following the lead of the student in terms of the kind of play he wants to engage in. For example, if he enjoys playing with a favorite baby doll, he may rock and feed the doll. Playing side by side or face to face, you can place your baby doll on your shoulder to burp her or rock her in a new way.

It will be most helpful if you alternate between mirroring the student's actions and incorporating some new techniques. It is unnecessary to encourage the student to mimic your actions, as this requires the student to meet a demand. As you interact with the student, he may begin to try new ways to play that you have modeled. If not, do not be discouraged. Try mimicking his action for a lengthier time period and then modeling only one new action. At the end of the activity, provide a tangible reinforcement such as a treasure box item or an intangible reinforcement such as ''thank you for playing with me today!''

What's Next?

In this activity, the student will lead the way in determining next steps throughout your time together. Begin by engaging with the student in one of her favorite activities. Play alongside her and communicate with positive statements, body language, and facial expressions. When the student seems ready to move on to a new activity, simply ask ''what's next?'' so she knows she is taking the lead. Whatever she decides to do next, follow right along.

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