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Enhancing Generalization for Broader Impact in Autism

There are three types of generalizations:

  • Stimulus Generalization: A learned behavior extends to similar situations or stimuli, like a child using words to ask for different toys after learning to do so with a specific toy.

  • Response Generalization: A reinforced behavior leads to increased similar behaviors, such as a child using "please" for different requests after being reinforced for doing so when asking for a toy.

  • Setting/Situation Generalization: A reinforced behavior in one setting becomes likely in other settings like a child washing hands before meals at home after reinforcement for doing so at school.

Generalization skills can be achieved through various strategies.

  • Multiple Exemplar Training: Provides varied examples to foster generalization.

  • Using Natural Reinforcers: Encourages behavior change to occur in real-life situations

  • Teaching Loosely: Altering the teaching method to promote generalization. Initial prompts may be required, which should be gradually reduced as the child begins to independently perform the behavior.

  • Consistency is vital for effective generalization. While it may take time, with continual practice and reinforcement, skills learned during therapy can be applied in diverse settings, making therapy more effective and beneficial.

Looking for more information? For more information on services offered by AIA or to book your free consultation, visit us at, contact us at (480)-707-2195, or email If you are looking for more tips, check out AIA’s clinical director, Rula Diab, monthly blog posts!


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