HOW to Face It
In last week's Autism Spectrum Blog, "Time to Face It
," I shared with you the most frequently asked question I get: "What's the number one strategy you use with children on the autism spectrum?" My answer was (and still is)
Any item I can hold in one hand comes up by my face.
I told you how simple, easy, speechy, and helpful this strategy is and how it even works wonders with your spouse. The thing I didn't tell you is HOW to get the child's attention in the first place in order to be able to pull this off on a consistent basis.
- Here's WHERE, HOW, and from WHOM I learned this strategy a long time ago.
I don't think anybody enjoys a visit to their dentist. When you're six years old, with high anxiety due to ASD, you're less likely to look forward to the "tooth fairies" office.
I had an appointment for my son, Doug, for a regular check-up. I had explained, shown him a picture, and done all of the good pre-teaching that I could in order to prepare him for this visit, and it certainly wasn't his first visit to the dental office. We sat quietly together in the waiting room. Doug sucked on his Wint-O-Green Lifesaver and held his favorite book. I didn't talk to him because I knew that wasn't a good thing to do as it would build the anxiety that was already apparent by the strain seen in his neck and felt on his clammy hands.
"Doug, it's your turn," announced the dental assistant.
He got up. He walked toward the back of the office and I followed. Doug climbed in the brown leather dental chair, sat down, handed me his book, and then- he let out a blood-curdling scream that shook the soul of the entire building. His arms flailed in twenty directions and his legs flew as they nearly touched the piercing dental light that hung down over the chair.
I'm sure more gray hairs popped into my brown locks as the dentist, Chris, came flying into the cubical within three, startling seconds.
Chris took total control. He slapped his open palm firmly down on the dark green laminated counter to the side and in a loud, resolved, yet calm, manner, he said, "Doug, that's enough. This is MY house. These are MY rules. You are fine and safe with me." All the time, Chris held a blue toothbrush up by his face and Doug's eyes never wavered from his.
** The above scenario depicts a desire for change in negative behavior - obviously. There are more times when the adult needs the child's attention and eye contact. The technique is really much the same, although the adult response should not be as abrupt or aggressive.
Ah, the things I learned from a blue toothbrush!
- Hold the item up by the speaker's face
- Take control of the situation
- Get attention using a loud auditory stimulation if necessary
- Use an authoritative voice
- Request exactly what behavior you want (if it is the behavior you need to change)
- Use statements rather than questions (when you need a behavioral change)
If you have not been holding items up by YOUR face ~ try it. Let all of us know how it works for you and in the lives of your students.
"Speech pathologists make good things happen."