Reinforcement is an evidence-based practice used to teach target skills and increase desired behavior. Reinforcement is a foundational practice underpinning most other evidence-based practices (e.g., prompting, pivotal response training, activity systems) for toddlers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  Reinforcement describes the relationship between the toddler’s behavior/use of a skill and the consequence of that skill/behavior. The relationship between behavior/use of skill and consequence is only reinforcing if that consequence increases the likelihood that the toddler performs the skill or behavior. For example, a toddler being taught to request objects such as toys will only request if the toy is one that he desires. 

Reinforcement can be positive (giving something the toddler wants) or negative (taking away something the toddler doesn’t want).

Both types of reinforcement are covered in this module:

  • Positive Reinforcement

  • Negative Reinforcement

Within this learning module, both will be presented with separate implementation steps, resources, and checklists.