“I HATE speech. I don’t want to do those baby games. I only want to play dinosaurs – if we aren’t doing that, I’m not coming!!” How do you turn these students from negativity to full participation?

A group of our experienced clinicians shared some ideas:

*At the beginning of the year, ask each student about interests and motivators. Ask what they struggle with. Listen. Think outside of the box about how to reward their success.

*Don’t be as concerned with reinforcers or games as you are with your goals being meaningful to the student. Would you want to sit through a 2-hour meeting on science/math budget cuts for a really good cookie?’

*Be sure your students know what you are accomplishing as a team. Give multiple choices as to how goals may be addressed whenever possible.

*Testing is hard work for anyone. Save your best reinforcers, and your most supportive attitude for these students. Let the student chose their reinforcer from a prize box or menu before starting work. This is not bribery if you discuss it PRIOR to negative behavior. Would you come to work before knowing what you would be paid?

*Make sure your students know the “end point.” Consider the use of a digital/sand timer, checklist, or other method to make the end concrete.

*Build in HEAVY reinforcement for applying speech goal behaviors outside of the session. How can you make it easy for teachers/parents to catch them applying their knowledge?? How can the student let you know their successes?

*Consider awarding points or reinforcers on number of responses vs. time to complete the task. This encourages students to “stuff” in more responses in less time. Consider allowing other students in the group to award chips for good responses to improve auditory processing and attention to task.

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