Programming for Happiness in Clients with Autism

Several years ago, I attended a Keynote presentation where a Behavior Analyst, Dr. Dennis Reid, spoke about the importance of programming for (and measuring) happiness in clients with autism.

During one of the activities during the keynote, Dr. Reid had the audience members spend 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. In just 3 minutes I realized that by 9 or 10am I had already made dozens of choices.

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

As Dr. Reid suggested, as soon as I left the conference, I began almost immediately counting behaviors such as smiles and laughs and I began giving more choices than ever before.

For my son and all my clients, my goal is for each of them to reach their fullest potential and to be as happy as possible.

Over my 2 decades in the autism field, to achieve this goal, I focus heavily on assessment, pairing and manding in my effort to reduce problem behaviors and 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. I urge you to start counting smiles and laughs too and to program for happiness!

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Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next week.