Step 2.9 Target the toddler's responses to multiple cues

Increase the toddler's responses to multiple cues

Using PRT motivational opportunities, teach and motivate older toddlers and preschoolers with ASD to respond to multiple cues. Cues, also called properties or attributes, are taught incrementally until toddlers respond to more complex tasks. Teaching multiple cues may not be appropriate for younger toddlers and are associated with advancing language and conceptual skills.

Identify multiple cues and gather materials with multiple cues. Parents and practitioners identify a variety of cues (properties or attributes) that are associated with the stimulus (e.g., toy) or activity and that can be used during a PRT learning opportunity.

Add another cue. As the older toddler advances, parents and practitioners provide at least two cues (e.g., overemphasizing feature of object, color, size, type of object, location of object) so that their toddler will begin to use the target skill in response to more than one cue.

Increase complexity. Parents and practitioners gradually increase the number of cues associated with a particular object, material, or toy so that the learner can respond to a variety of stimuli

Schedule reinforcement

Parents and practitioners also use different schedules of reinforcement to teach an older toddler with ASD to respond to multiple cues.

Identify natural reinforcers. Numerous natural reinforcers that can be used to increase a toddler’s motivation to use the target skill of responding to multiple cues. For example, a practitioner might notice that the toddler enjoys playing games on the iPad, including a balloon popping game.

Begin with fixed ratio, continuous schedule (i.e., FR1). Provide reinforcement for every attempt to use the target skill successfully (continuous schedule). As an example, a toddler is allowed to “pop a balloon” (natural reinforcer) on an iPad screen every time she answers what color or shape the balloon is.

Progress to variable ratio, intermittent schedule (e.g., VR2). It is important to progress to intermittent reinforcement schedules throughout an older toddler’s PRT programming. In a continuous schedule of reinforcement, you would allow the toddler to pop the balloons on the iPad game every time she responds to a question about the color or shape of the balloons she wants to pop. With a variable ratio schedule of reinforcement, VR2, the toddler responds with good attempts for an average of 2 questions prior to popping the balloons in the game.