Tag Archives | special guest

A Simple Strategy to Increase Desirable Behaviors

I wanted to share with you an effective strategy that My Autism Specialist turned me on to earlier this year.  It is meant to help reduce undesirable behaviors or increase the frequency of desirable behaviors.  It employs the use of yellow cards and I have effectively used the strategy with both Toby, my 13-year old son with Autism and my 9-year old son, Zeke, who is typically-developing.

I was talking with My Autism Specialist, Joy, about some behaviors the boys were displaying that I wanted to eradicate.  Some examples of problem behaviors were:

  • Inappropriate dinner conversation
  • Complaining about picking up dirty clothes
  • Complaining about putting away clean clothes
  • Complaining about doing homework/reading
  • Not sharing toys with each other
  • Not turning off lights when leaving the basement
  • Complaining about eating foods they didn’t like
  • Not asking to use the computer before playing on it
  • Lying
  • Not waiting to talk***

Let’s focus on the last one, which is a huge pet peeve of mine.  With me, if two adults are speaking, a child should not interrupt the conversation unless he or she is acknowledged by one of the adults.  To me, this shows a lack of respect for others.  It drives me NUTS to be in the middle of a conversation only to have Toby or Zeke come in and say “Dad  Dad  Dad”  and then to begin tugging on my sleeve “Dad Dad Dad.”

Initially, I would ignore this for a few seconds and then look at them and sternly say “you are being very rude.”  Then I would continue the conversation making them stand there until there was a lull in the conversation when I would address them.

Joy said to me, “why don’t you use a rewards system?”

Yes, sure, I can do that.  What is it?

She said to set it up like this:

  • Reward the boys with tickets for displaying the good behaviors or the absence of the undesirable behaviors.
  • The tickets are collected and when they reach a set number, they can trade it in for the “prize”.
  • The tickets are to be handed out randomly and not on every display of the desired behaviors.
  • The system needs to be explained to the boys as well as what types of behaviors will be awarded tickets.
  • The kids cannot ask for the tickets, even if they have displayed the appropriate behaviors.  If they ask for a ticket, they are not given one and reminded about this rule but they are still praised for their behavior.
  • The awarded tickets need to be kept in a container that is highly visible so that they are constantly reminded about them.

I had some bright yellow paper of post-card thickness so the color of the cards is arbitrary.  I cut up the sheets into little 4”x3” cards and used them.

I determined the point system to be 5 yellow cards can be turned in for $1.00.  Both boys are motivated by money and are working on learning about saving money.  There is a reason for this that I have written about previously.

I bought clear, plastic cookie jars with lids for each of them and labeled them with their names.  The cookie jars were placed on the kitchen counter.  [They also ended up as their money jars since they placed the earned monies in the jars.]

I waited for an opportunity when I could hand them each a yellow card for displaying desirable behaviors.  Upon handing them the cards, I explained the rules to them as described above.

Very early on, they each asked for yellow cards after they displayed good behavior.  When they did this, I reminded them about what happens if they ask for a yellow card and then praised them for their behavior.  Shortly thereafter, they told Joy about the yellow cards and said to her “We can’t ask for the cards though.  Dad needs to give them to us.”

They got it.

When I first began implementing the system, I would award Toby with a yellow card for not interrupting adults in conversation.  This is in lieu of the “punishment” of telling him that he was being rude.  He probably earned this card about a half a dozen times before it became standard for him to not interrupt.  Then, I began to fade it.  Now, he doesn’t interrupt adult conversations and he also doesn’t get a card for it.

Complaining has been one behavior that this system has been instrumental in eradicating.  You can see above that “complaining” made the list four times!  It bothers the heck out of me.  I used to punish the boys when they complained about doing something.  Now, by rewarding the absence of complaining with a yellow card, the complaining has all but ceased.

Many of the behaviors above have been removed by this strategy.  I believe that if I were better at implementing it, all of the above behaviors would be eradicated.

This tactic has been extremely effective and within weeks you will see the elimination of problem behaviors if you are using the system effectively.  Try this out and report back to me in a month or so. I would appreciate hearing how well it has worked for you!

Post a comment here or send an email with comments or questions to [email protected].

Thank you for reading.

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Mummy Why Do People Ignore Me ?

I was asked this question last night by my 4-year-old daughter!!!! Now I think in today’s society this is a sad state of affairs that a 4-year-old has picked up the fact that people are ignoring her. More worrying she seems to understand that they are ignoring her.

I know I have talked about this before but this is really something that needs to be addressed and dealt with.You see it’s not just my daughter that people ignore, in fact this is happening all over the country. All kids that are different get ignored and over looked but why??????, why ????? does this continue to happen …..

Whats the matter? Don’t people realize these children have feelings? Of course they do they are even more sensitive than a “normal” child at times ,because in their world everyone is happy and they get upset if everyone is not happy. Do you know it really upsets me when these people ignore these special angels, more so when it my own children they are ignoring. There is nothing I can do everyone has a right to their opinion but then every child has the right to be treated equally. So why don’t people get to know these special angels and see how special they really are. I know a little boy who can’t talk but when he smiles and laughs his whole face lights up, its wonderful to see.

Here is an example of what I mean. All the kids were coming out of the class because it was home time, one of the parents actually walked away so she did not have to go past my daughter. I thought oh maybe she had to move for what ever reason. Well today my daughter was one of the first out, this same parent moved out-of-the-way as my daughter approached her. It wasn’t a subtle move it was a very clear I’m avoiding you. Talk about small mindedness.

So back to my question Why do people ignore children that are different. The answer is I don’t honestly know. All I can do is keep trying to raise awareness for these special angels. So if you are reading this blog feel free to tell people about it, RT on twitter or share on Facebook, the more people who know and understand these special angels . The more chance these angels have of making it in this world

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Share the Love – Siblings without Autism

One of the main concerns in our home is how to balance our time and attention between our two small children. We have come to realize that there will probably always be a bit of an imbalance between the two since JD naturally needs so much attention because he has autism. Here are a few things we have found that work really well for our family to spread the love.

  • Play time- This doesn’t ever seem to go as planned but it still seems to work somehow. Usually we take a ball and one parent sits with each child while we roll it back and forth. It was suggested by one of JD’s therapists after Gwen decided she was going to push all his buttons to get him to pay attention to her.  It started when she was only 10 months old.  He generally ignores her and she decided that any reaction was better than no reaction and was turning into quite the bully. JD is not always happy about trying family play time but we always try to incorporate some sort of time together if at all possible. It has helped curve Gwen’s aggression to JD because she feels like she is getting some attention from him.  Even something as simple as having JD grab a toy and offer it to Gwen works on some days.
  • Alone Time- If you have more than one child you will understand how different it feels when you are back to one on one time with a child. This stratigy is much easier said than done but we try and do it at night. We will have one parent stay home with one child while the other takes child number two out. We keep it simple and the outings are usually errands that need to be run anyway but the one child really seems to be happy to go alone with just mommy or daddy. The parent at home also makes this a quality time by turning off the TV and just interacting with the child. If JD is the one home we use this time to implement floor time therapies.
  • Parent Time- Taking one child out with both parents.  This one is the hardest for our family to implement.  Often if we have a spare moment where child care is involved my husband and I would rather spend it without the kids.  Alone time for parents is a must!  However every once in a while we will take one of the kids (usually Gwen) on a “date night” with us.  We can focus all of our attention on her and she soaks it all up.

I can only imagine how hard it is to have a sibling with autism that seems to have a different set of rule and will often get more attention.  My husband and I are both middle children from large families so we understand how you can often find imbalance even where there are no special needs involved.  Granted our children are both young and right now this is what works for our family.  We know we will have to get more creative as they get older.

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