So what is pairing, and why is it so important?

When we first start an ABA program with a new family, we often talk about pairing as our first objective. 

Pairing is the process we therapists go through in order to:

1. Build rapport with the child.

2. “Pair” ourselves with what the child already finds reinforcing.

This allows the therapist to become reinforcing by transferring the reinforcement of the activity or item onto ourselves. 

This is extremely important for several reasons:

1. We get to become the child’s new best friend!

2. We get to learn about all the things the child likes. Knowing what they like might allow us to use those item/activities as reinforcers for desired behaviors.

3. We start therapy in a positive place. The more reinforcing we become, the more progress we can make over the course of therapy. 

You may also see our therapists pairing not only when they first meet your child, but periodically throughout the course of therapy as well. Over time, the reinforcing value of items, activities, or people can change. A child’s preferences are continuously changing and evolving. We always do our best to remain a positive person for the child which will allow our relationship to maintain throughout all of the behavioral challenges we encounter. 

Here’s a short useful video about pairing!