When communicating and giving instruction to your child with Autism, only give directives that you are are able and willing to immediately prompt your child to complete! By immediately following each directive with the necessary prompts or assistance, you are teaching your child receptive language instruction, as well as, establishing the expectation that they are to comply with instructions the first time they are given. In order to effectively teach these skills, it is important that you are careful to eliminate the opportunity for your child to hear an instruction that they never have to complete. You would be better off to never give the instruction than to teach your child that you do not mean what you say by giving instructions that do not require compliance.
This will require some forethought and effort on your part. If you are in the kitchen cooking and can’t leave to go prompt or assist your child in cleaning up the toys, do not give the instruction yet. Wait until you have finished cooking dinner and are available to pair the instruction “clean up your toys” with the behavior of picking up the toys. This is much more effective than simply repeating the same instruction over and over while simply getting louder each time. It will take a few extra minutes in the beginning, but, in the long term it will save you time…..and your voice.
Here are a few specific examples:
1) Say “Come here” – wait 3-5 seconds. If your child does not start moving toward you, go get your child’s hand and take them to where you were standing and reiterate the instruction – “I said Come Here” – then praise – “That’s how you come to Mommy”.
2) Say “Pick up your toys” – wait 3-5 seconds. If your child does not start picking up their toys, use hand over hand assistance to pick up the toy and put it in the bin. Reiterate the instruction “I said clean up the toys”. Prompt and reiterate instruction until complete – then praise “That’s how you pick up your toys”.
3) Say “Sit down for dinner” – wait 3-5 seconds. If your child does not start coming to the table to sit in the chair, go get their hand and walk them to the chair. Reiterate the instruction “I said sit down for dinner” – sit them down in the chair – then praise “That’s how you sit at the table for dinner”.
Let’s focus this week on being consistent in teaching receptive instruction skills and compliance when a directive is given! We look forward to hearing about your success at firstname.lastname@example.org.