Modifying Behavior in Autistic Children
Schedule and Day strips are a great way to get an Autistic child to understand what is going on on a day to day basis. It teaches them language and can modify their behavior by understanding what is going on.
We found with Isy and other Autistic children that Liz has worked with that one of the major causes of a meltdown is when they are confused about what is happening. This is often happens when a routine is changed and they don’t know about it, or understand why.
We found that by communicating with the Autistic child, by some means, well in advance, perhaps the day before, of what to expect for that day they will be exceptionally calmer even if it is a big change from their routine.
One way we found of communicating to the child is through pictures. Most Autistic children are highly visual communicators. They see the world in pictures, mainly because they can not process sounds and written words.
Compics, PECS and Boardmaker were developed for communicating with persons that have impaired or do not have language skills at all. They can be used for communicating and ultimately for teaching language step by step.
The day schedule strips are just one example of using pictures to communicate, but this for us was one huge step toward teaching and communicating to Isy about what to expect for the coming day and any changes to her routines.
With this knowledge it was as if she was a completely different child, willingly following what was on the schedule, and accepting new and challenging experiences. However if the schedule had to change then there was a problem to contend with.
Over time however we found if things did change we would use the same method, only without as much advance warning, but it was just as effective in preparing Isy for the change.
How to make the Schedule Day Strips
The strips can be made up of laminated cardboard or plastic with a Velcro strip along the front. The pictures used for the strip are made up of either Compic, PECS or Boardmaker style pictures which have a Velcro pad adhered to them on the back. The strip is made long enough to fit sufficient number of pictures for the days events.
It is important to make the strips and pictures large enough to catch the child’s attention and make it easy for them to see and read.
The pictures should have words with them even if they can’t read as this will aid to teach them words associated with the pictures.
How to use the Schedule Day Strips
For each day a schedule can be laid out in order of events from left to right. The child can see what day it is, for example F Friday and what they will be doing during the day. This can be slowly progressed in time as the child learns to read, or recognise the words, into cards with words or short sentences only, to describe the days events.
Now we have progressed Isy to using a diary which she refers to on regular basis during the day to see what her days schedule is. It is great to see her looking and reading her diary and knowing exactly what is in store for her for that day and coming days, such as planned events in the future.
It is important to know when to progress from pictures to words to sentences, and not done too early or too late. If done right they will transition easily and smoothly along.
This is one sure fire way we have found of regulating behavior and keeping the child happy and in control of their reality. It is amazing to see how for the child knowing, makes all the difference in the world. This is also a great aid in teaching children with Autism how to read and associate pictures, words and sounds.
© 2011, EJ Banon. All rights reserved.