Tip: A.M.P It Up – Anticipate, Model and Party
Now that we know that negative behavior has a purpose, let’s focus on strategies that we can implement to help decrease these problem behaviors. The most important thing to remember about behavior is that it is a form of communication. However, it is our job as parents and teachers to teach them that their negative behavior (crying, screaming, grabbing, hitting, pushing, etc.) is not an effective method to get what they want or to avoid what they don’t want.
In order to do this, you must first proactively teach and model appropriate methods to communicate. You must look for and maximize the opportunities that your child is required to communicate in order to receive something they want or deny something they don’t want. When working with children with Autism, it is important to anticipate their needs, model appropriate language, then highly reinforce when your child complies and communicates without negative behavior!
For example, your child comes into the kitchen while you are cooking and opens the refrigerator. You know he typically goes to the refrigerator to get juice, so you anticipate his need and walk over to the refrigerator. First, lean down and establish your child’s attention. Then, model the appropriate form of communication for your child (say “want juice mommy”, say “juice”, or use a sign or picture card to communicate “juice”). Have your child imitate your word or phrase, and then deliver the juice cup. If he does this without negative behavior, THROW HIM A PARTY!! You just proactively eliminated an opportunity for negative behavior to occur and at the same time successfully taught your child the appropriate way to attain what he wanted!
Next week we will look at how to handle situations when your child is already exhibiting negative behavior or when they do not comply/imitate our communication model!
Spend time this week looking for opportunities throughout your day to repeat this strategy! The more you can anticipate your child’s needs and wants, the more opportunities you have to teach them how to communicate successfully! The more repetitions, the more natural it will become for you and for your child!! Before you know it you will realize that you are dealing with a lot less meltdowns and challenging behaviors throughout your day! Again, that’s worth a PARTY!
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