It is so important that we find out what motivates a child to learn in order to develop a personalised approach for teaching new skills. Motivation and joy will increase the participation of the child in an activity and the likelihood that they will want to do it again in the future. It is also a more enjoyable experience for the adult.
In Today’s ABA, and a key feature we always consider at Super Kids is that we teach from joy. Usually it is not just one thing that creates joy (eg: iPad) but the entire way that it is consumed (eg: iPad, on bed, with snacks & headphones on).
A useful heuristic that we often use to guide decisions about creating an environment and safe space in which a child is comfortable and connected is “Happy, Relaxed & Engaged” (HRE; Gover, Staubitz & Juárez, 2022). HRE is an evolving thing that depends on the child, the environment, their mood, the day and what their preferences are in that moment!
We always want to ensure that we can create this before teaching your child a new skill. This ensures that they are in a state where they are most ready to learn. HRE is seen as everything around them, such as where they are, what they have and who is there. It often involves a combination of your child’s favourite things including items, interactions, and environment.
This will look different for every child. For example, one child’s HRE may be watching the iPad on a bean bag with headphones, lights off whilst having a snack. Another child’s HRE may be jumping on the trampoline and vocalising, whilst Mum is blowing bubbles and singing songs! It’s also very likely that their HRE may change throughout the day or across days too.
Let’s consider our own experiences and when we learn best. Do you learn best when you feel frustrated and under pressure, or when you feel at ease and comfortable? The answer is most likely when you’re feeling at ease and comfortable. This is also the same for your child!
By ensuring your child is HRE before asking them to do something:
Having an understanding of what makes your child HRE will help foster a trusting and supportive relationship, promote joy for learning new skills, and make learning more effective and valuable for your child!
HRE will look different for every learner! To identify what your child’s HRE is, you could ask yourself the following:
Now consider combining all of these together for your child!
Super Kids acknowledges each individual’s personal preference to use identity-first or person-first language to describe themselves or their loved one. We interchangeably use both language conventions and therefore refer to both autistic children and children with autism.