As Simple as That

September 6, 2015

I, probably, wrote about those “techniques” before in a few of my posts. Helas, I won’t find them now among 300+ other pieces of writing. I realized today, that our family’s life became so much more pleasant because of a few very simple tools that manage Robert’s behavior …and ours.

  1. Giving choices.  “Do you want to do A or B?” I ask Robert. He answers.  He might not really voice his preference, but I kept sticking with his answer as a way to install clear understanding of what choice is.  Sometimes the choices are of the same nature or value to Robert. “Do you want poblano or eggplant for dinner?” It is important to provide alternatives specially to someone who has difficulties expressing his or her wishes independently. Robert won’t come and tell us that he wants to go for a walk, or to the movies, or anywhere else.  But he is capable of making a choice when he has the list of options.                                                                                                                                                                                                   Often, I give Robert “unbalanced” choices knowing perfectly well, which one he prefers. “Do you want to study or watch TV?” I ask when I want Robert to, well, leave me alone for a short while.  He chooses watching TV and that allows me to have a calm conversation with a friend who stopped by or talk on Skype with my daughter.
  2.  Five more minutes. Interrupting Robert when he is watching Netflix,  folding laundry, or eating  by calling him to do something else is not a good idea.  Robert needs time to prepare himself for the next activity. When I say, “Robert, we will study in five minutes,” Robert  doesn’t have to jump and come over immediately. He has time to prepare myself mentally for the next activity.  Not once, he surprised me by coming to the table and waiting for me patiently as it is I who forgot about asking Robert to learn with me.                                                                                                 Five more minutes   also gives Robert a toll not to refuse my request straight forward but to delay the compliance. Although, there are times when Robert overuses that phrase, it is a nonetheless one of the most important language tools he has.
  3. First, then tells Robert the order of activities.  That construction, later augmented by the whole list of activities following each other, has resulted in Robert patiently assisting me in doing chores: bank, post office, stores.  At the beginning,  I included McDonald at the end of the list.    I don’t do that anymore.                                                                                                                                                                                                               First, then also encourages Robert to finish the  less preferable activity before the  one he likes more.  “First we finish folding laundry, then we go for a walk.
  4. IF is not exactly the same as, “First, then” although they are closely related and sometimes interchangeable.  When I tell Robert in the morning, “If you want to go to Lifeworks, you have to get up now, ” I both give him a choice and the condition. Of course, when I say that I know that Robert wants to go to Lifeworks.  Although, he wants to sleep longer, he wants much more to go to Lifeworks.  Only when Robert felt very sick, he chose “sleeping longer”.  The IF has been invaluable tool to managing Robert’s behavior specially in those cases when the change in routine was called for or something new was introduced. “If you want to go to Outback restaurant, you have to put on new shoes.”  “Only if we buy you a new shirt, we can go to the Applebee’s restaurant.”

There are other tools which have helped me to deal with some of the excesses of Robert’s behavior. Very rarely now, I have to use, for instance “extinction and redirection” , although that still happens.  (For instance during recent blackout when explanation didn’t help ignoring and redirecting did calm Robert down significantly.) I would still use over-correction, I that were necessary.  It is not, because Robert keep his environment in place without being ask to.

I don’t interrupt when Robert is in the middle of closing the doors that were supposed to remain open.  But as soon as he closes the door, I tell him, ” It is important for me that the door is open.  Please, open the door.” Robert complies 99% of times.  If he doesn’t, I pretend I don’t notice that.  Half an hour later I ask again.  So far, it worked.


Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: