top of page
  • Writer's pictureCoField ABA

Developing A Rapport With A Child

For many parents, the moment funding is received often causes excitement, as many parents have been waiting a long time to begin service. Once your child begins to start ABA therapy, the process will begin with what the team calls pairing.

Pairing involves your child’s therapist bringing new toys and activities into the home. The toys and activities should be based on information from a child’s family on what things they find most reinforcing (e.g., bubbles, music, food, sensory items, books). Initially, pairing may look more like play than the therapy you had imagined. Successful pairing is essential in order for a therapist to build a relationship with your child. This process is called instructional control, which can be defined as a positive working relationship between a therapist and child. If a therapist has gained instructional control with your child through proper pairing, your child will be willing and motivated to work and learn new skills.

During the first several weeks of therapy, as pairing is occurring, a foundation is being built to support the work a therapist will accomplish with your child. During the pairing process, therapist will be bringing preferred items to associate themselves with fun things your child enjoys. It is important that all fun items and activities during this time are brought in directly by a therapist so your child is motivated by access by new and exciting items. Therapists may place some of your child's own toys out of reach, to ensure they must approach and engage with the therapist to gain access to new items and toys.

As the relationship between a child and therapist develops, a therapist begin to slowly increase demands and simple instructions for learning activities. Initially, these demands will be simple instructions your child can easily complete. Over time the therapist will slowly increase the frequency and difficulty of these demands, with your child continuing to receive reinforcement each time they follow an instruction.

Pairing and maintaining instructional control are consistent processes that occur throughout behavioural therapy. A good therapist will always spend some time during each session pairing with your child to ensure instructional control is maintained. Reinforcement is also a key aspect of instructional control, a therapist must always ensure the items they are using in sessions are motivating to the student. Therapists and parents should always work together to find new items and activities to use in sessions to make sure instructional control is maintained.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page