Blog #224~Using Social Stories for Behavior Management
Nick’s got a thing for button pushing, all kinds. You name it, he pushes them, including mine. Phone intercom, microwave fan, dishwasher, and his all-time favorite, fire alarms. My son is 24 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism. He has a behavior support plan in place to address this behavior, along with throwing and dropping objects. The incidences of the behaviors, seem to occur when he is bored or seeking attention. It would be tempting to just throw my hands up in the air and accept this as Nick just being Nick. However, I have always been determined to find ways to make things better for my son. So, a few months ago, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work with Nick’s behaviorist. Have things improved, yes and that’s what I’m happy to report this week.
Big Guy Nick 🙂
Nick has quite a rap sheet pulling over 50 fire alarm pulls since third grade. In Blog #216~Putting Social Stories Into Action, I wrote about creating social stories to shape the desired behavior you want for a child. A social story is a visual support that can help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities understand new events, along with reinforcing skills, tasks or behaviors. The behaviorist and I created an incentive plan built into a social story. This is reviewed twice at his adult developmental training program. The story encourages Nick to make good choices. Following the story read, Nick walks the halls with a staff member.
The staff cues Nick, using the compliance commands, “hands to self” and “big guys keep walking”. Now I hope this doesn’t jinx anything, but I’m pleased to report that Nick has gone 3 months without pulling a fire alarm. 🙂
Now back to the behaviors he exhibits around the house. In Blog #216, the behavior of throwing his iPads was addressed. For a week, I locked both of them up. After a very long week, Nick was excited to get them back. Before this occurred, I read this social story to him several times, having him follow along and pointing to the basket where he needs to put the iPads when he is all done. The incidences of Nick dropping and throwing his iPads has reduced significantly.
iPad Social Story:
The success of the behaviors improving are due to 3 things. Nick, as do many individuals with autism, respond well to visuals. He may not be able to read words, but he can follow along with the pictures and understand what is expected. Secondly, parents and caregivers must be consistent in reading the social story and remain in close proximity, reminding the child to make good choices. Behavior change doesn’t happen just by making a behavior plan and putting together a social story. Success occurs when everyone is on board to carry out the plan in a consistent manner and follow through with consequences.
Have these behaviors been extinguished? The answer is no to that question, but they have been contained. Nick attempted to pull a fire alarm out in the community last week, but failed. At home, he drops and tries to throw his iPads, but not near as much. I have to stay on him to make good choices and reward him with praise and elbow bumps when he does. If he doesn’t make a good choice the iPads get locked up.
I think the fact that my son is open to making good choices and being more compliant, is a win in my book. I find it hopeful, that Nick is learning new behaviors at age 24. I will continue to strive on following through and reinforcing the desired behaviors that will help Nick be more respectful and compliant young adult.
That’s what is in my noggin this week. 🙂
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