Operant conditioning uses positive and negative reinforcements along with positive and negative punishment to elicit a specific behavior. In B.F. Skinner's research he used reinforcements to strengthen the probability of a response occurring. A positive reinforcement would be administering a stimulus, such as giving a piece of chocolate to a kid for completing a task. A negative reinforcements occurs when a stimulus is taken away.
One of the uses of operant conditioning is the therapeutic treatment of autism.
In the treatment of autism secondary and primary reinforcers are used in order to reinforce behaviors they hope to make more frequent. A secondary reinforcer is an object that was neutral and then becomes associated with a primary reinforce. An example of a secondary reinforcer would be a token or chip that is given to an autistic patient when a target behavior is performed. A primary reinforcer is an item or an outcome that naturally increases the target behavior, items like a favorite food or drink. These practices have been useful in treating children with autism and people with other mental illnesses and are commonly used in group homes.
A more recent discovery in helping people with autism is the use of an assistance dog. Not much research has gone into the scientific reasoning as to why these dogs help but many children with autism have been shown to benefit from having these companions. The assistance dogs for autism have been shown to increase social interactions, redirect repetitive behaviors, improve independence, and give an overall calming ability. The thing that I found to be the most interesting is how the dog can help improve the child's sense of responsibility. This is done by only allowing the child to feed the dog and walk the dog. Being able to walk with the dog also allows the child to not have to hold onto the hand of a parent or adult at all times. For more information on assistance dogs for autism you can go to the following link http://www.autismassistancedog.com