Programming for Happiness in Clients with Autism

Autism ABA Help Mary Barbera
Several years ago, I attended a Keynote presentation where Dennis Reid, PhD, BCBA spoke about the importance of programming for (and measuring) happiness in clients with autism.

During one of the activities, the participants spent 3 minutes writing down every choice we made that morning prior to arriving at the conference. We had the choice of whether to hit the snooze on the alarm, what to wear, what we wanted to eat and drink, whether we wanted to bring a jacket along, where to park, where to sit, etc.

Basically Dr. Reid made the point that we have many choices throughout our days and that choices lead to happiness. He also pointed out that many of our children and clients with autism have few choices.

As Dr. Reid suggested, I have now begun to measure and count behaviors such as smiles and laughs and I give more choices than ever before. I, of course, continue to focus heavily on pairing and manding as well as reducing problem behaviors in my effort to program for happiness.

Since seeing this presentation years ago, I feel strongly that we need to provide our clients with many choices throughout the day and should consider happiness as an important (and attainable) goal.