Thursday, February 17, 2011

Marriage Tips from an Autism Guru

  Pair me with this view a few times,
and I'm suddenly going to be irresistable. 
This morning, I attended a morning training on verbal behavior treatment methods for kiddos with autism.  One of the things that really resonated with me from the training was that, for kids who aren't motivated by many things, we've got to create positive experiences they'll enjoy so that they'll have the motivation to ask for the experience again.  Sometimes, we can do that just by pairing a new experience with something they already love.

So, for instance, if a child is obsessed with his Phineas and Ferb action figures, you could read a new book to him while he's playing with his beloved Phineas and Ferb set, and then, after enough pairings of the book and Phineas and Ferb, the child will become conditioned to also enjoy and be motivated to ask for the book.  This is called creating a conditioned reinforcer.

The funny thing is, that the reason this stuck with me is that the Autism Guru who was speaking, jokingly said that it would do many marriages some good if the husband and wife paired themselves with enjoyable and fun activities, so they would associate one another not just with the drudgery that is cooking and cleaning and raising children and working, but also with some fun stuff.

Maybe that's why regular "date nights" are so important for us old married folks.  We're just pairing ourselves with reinforcing activities like eating yummy food and watching funny movies, which makes us enjoy our spouses more as a by-product.

The thing is, this makes sense, but it sounds kind of soulless to me, to break shared experiences down that way.  I'd rather think of date nights as times when husbands and wives enter into one another's interests and share special joint attention, which causes bonding.   I'd like to think we're more complex than just reinforcers and punishments at work.

But, just in case, I think I'm going to take my hubby out for dinner and a movie tomorrow.

What's your favorite date night movie out right now?

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