Monday, July 25, 2016

Why it's so important to give a child with autism some waiting time...

I am a firm believer that it is imperative to give a child with autism some waiting time to process verbal requests. This is even more when you are asking a child to do a non preferential task. I am going to explain why this is so important, and I will also give some examples. My son really dislikes doing homework. This summer I have him working on reading and math. When I tell him that it's time for math he often begins to get upset. This is where the wait time should come into play. If I were to continue to barrage him with a ton of extra language a meltdown would eventually ensue. When I make a request such as homework, I will always use limited language. If I notice that he is becoming upset, I then tell him that he has one minute to get himself ready for homework. I walk away and let him process what he needs to do. He will almost always pull himself together and join me for homework. If after one minute, he continues to fight me on the issue I gently remind him that YES WORK YES IPAD, NO WORK NO IPAD. I will then give him one more minute and set a visual timer and let him know that he has one more minute to get ready for homework. He knows at this point that he will lose his Ipad if he doesn't comply. I also try and build up the situation and remind him that his Ipad will be waiting as a reward as soon as we complete the homework. I always use as little language as possible and I always try to leave his space and encourage him to come to my space in an allotted period of time. This gives him the time that he needs to process everything that I have asked him to do.


If wait time is not given during non-preferential tasks, there is a huge possibility that a meltdown could occur. If a child is becoming increasingly upset, limited language should always be used. When an adult continues to use verbal language over and over again the child cannot process your first request let alone all of the additional words that are being used. I always say that it is best to state your request, give the child a specified amount of allotted time, and then simply just walk away. If they haven't pulled it together, repeat the directions and then state what the consequence will be if they choose not to listen.

I will note that it is important to always follow through with what you say that you are going to do. If you say that there is going to be no Ipad if there is non-compliance, there really needs to be no-ipad. My child is completely verbal so I stay unemotional and I just walk into his room and pick up his Ipad and then I walk it into my room and I make sure that he is aware of what I am doing. Obviously, he typically gets upset while I'm doing this so I stay as unemotional as possible, and I tell him that he still has his video games and toys. I then repeat the cycle and let him know that YES WORK YES TOYS-NO WORK NO TOYS and then I give him waiting time and the cycle continues. My child is at a place where he rarely moves beyond the first consequence and that's because we have been doing this for some time. Honestly, he rarely even has a consequence because I give him wait time to process all of my requests for non-preferential activities. This is why it is so important to give wait time!

If a child is non-verbal, and you are make a non-preferred request, you can use sign or pictures from the picture exchange communication system. Obviously, requests may look a bit different. A request may be as simple as asking your child to eat a bit of breakfast. In this instance, you could use pictures along with a simple verbal request. I will note that in a scenario such as this, positive reinforcement must be huge when they comply.

I really hope that this blog post will be useful to someone. I know that I could have used the advice when I initially became an autism mom!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this. As I was reading this article, I realized I need to give my child more lead time. I'm quick to say I'm taking away privileges. He probably hasn't had time to process my request and then has to be worried about losing his computer. Thanks.

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