Behavior Shaping

Behavior shaping can be defined as encouraging a behavior that is wanted, like the ability to sit still in a classroom. It can also be defined as extinguishing certain behaviors, such as fidgeting or talking out of turn. In either case, we are changing behaviors to assist the person in becoming more successful.

Most people with ADHD, children and adults alike, often do not realize that they exhibit behaviors that affect their ability to pay attention. The first step in extinguishing behaviors not conducive to good attention is to actually show the person how certain behaviors affect their attention.

Since attention is an abstract concept, we need to begin by making attention concrete. Using the Bodywave armband, which reads brainwave activity, Play Attention makes attention concrete and controllable.  The user moves characters on a computer screen with their attention alone. In real time, they can see when they are paying attention and when they are not.

Behavior shaping is integrated into the Play Attention program to teach students how to extinguish distracting or disruptive behaviors. When an adult or child is using Play Attention, they are able to understand which behaviors affect their attention. For example, if the user taps his feet as a form of self-stimulation, the screen character will act adversely, giving them immediate feedback that they have lost focus.  The student now has a one to one correlation on how certain behaviors affects his attention.

By monitoring these behaviors and setting small goals to extinguish them, users are able to learn how to control these self-distracting behaviors. Over time the Play Attention learns how to better self-regulate and self-monitor.  The student can now recognize the unwanted behavior and control it at will.

Mike Smith, a Play Attention educational support advisor for over ten years, knows first-hand the benefits of behavior shaping when integrated into a cognitive attention-training program. “Families and adults that I work with are amazed at the impact that Play Attention has on helping with behavior shaping.” He goes on the say that many clients voice that they “never had a way to show how fidgeting or tapping affected attention. Finally, with Play Attention it was no longer me just telling him to stop. Now it’s right there on the screen! He can see how this behavior affects him in real time.  More importantly he knows he can control it!”

Smith, along with his team of educational support advisors, is very proud of his clients’ accomplishments. Thousands of children and adults have successfully graduated from Play Attention, and they continue to benefit from the cognitive training and behavior-shaping exercises integrated into the program.  Click here to see a demonstration of the behavior shaping program.

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