A behavior contract is an agreement between the child and parent. It is a written agreement about how the child will behave and will indicate the appropriate consequence should the child neglect to behave according to the contract. It also states the reinforcer to be used for successful compliance. The behavior contract provides the Aspergers (high functioning autistic) child with structure and self-management.
Developing the Contract—
The contract should be written with the child and parent (i.e., collaboration). Here are some points to consider:
- Consequences and reinforcers need to be thought out clearly.
- Contracts should name specific behaviors to be changed.
- Define who and how the behavior will be monitored (e.g., parent’s initials, stickers, check mark system, etc.).
- Focus only on 1 or 2 behaviors at a time.
- How will the child receive a reward? (e.g., receive an extra hour of computer-time).
- What is the consequence should the child not adhere to the behavior described in the contract?
- Involve the child in the writing of the contract; ask him to make suggestions for reinforcement and consequence for failure to comply.
- Sate the goal (e.g., will not speak out rudely, will keep hands to him/herself, will remain on task, etc.).
- Set a date for reviewing the contract.
- Time should be clearly stated in the contract; choose a half day, a full day, a week, etc.
- You can include tangible reinforcers, social or activity-based reinforcers, curtailment of an activity, tokens that can be cashed in for a specific activity, etc.
Some Successful Reinforcers/Rewards—
o 5-10 Minute Free Choice Activity
o Free Computer Time
o Helping Mother with Cooking
o Invite Friend Over
o Listen to Favorite Music
o Watching Favorite Movie
A little patience goes a long way. It is critical for the child to know that you like him and that you're only disappointed in his behavior. Be sure to let him know that you share this goals, you both want what's best for him.
Praise goes a long way. I have been working with special education (behavioral) children for a long time, and these strategies have never failed me yet!
A minor problem with behavior contracts is that the focus is on controlling a child's behavior rather than helping him to make wise choices. Keep this in mind when developing behavior contracts.
Behavior contracts don't often work immediately. Be patient and consistent and you WILL see results. Know when it's time to review and revise. When the contract is not working well, be sure to include the child when making revisions.
Here is a sample behavior contract for Aspergers children:
Describe Inappropriate Behaviors Observed (Physical, Verbal, Other)
Describe What precedes the Inappropriate Behaviors:
Target 1 or 2 Behaviors to be Modified
Describe Unsuccessful Intervention Approaches:
Brainstorm a List of Potential Successful Approaches:
Describe the New Behavior Goals – Include consequences and reinforcers
Date For Review: