After speaking with her teacher, SLP and the school psychologist (her case manager), we've all come to an agreement that it's more behavior than anything else. I come to also learn that my daughter melts down whenever the classroom door is left open or if someone else sits in her seat (partly my fault because I like our bedroom and bathroom door shut and we sit in the same seats at home-opps).
At home she becomes extremely upset if I were to move her blocks on the carpet or do something out of her routine. During her therapies, whenever she's challenged, she tries to avoid and escape so she screams until she gets her way as Autumn doesn't like change period. She likes familiarity and sameness, that's all great, but doing the same things over and over again doesn't challenge her or allow her to grow beyond those skills.
Thus, many know that there's nothing better than positive reinforcement. Children thrive on being praised for good behaviors. Who wouldn't right? It's so nice to be recognized for doing "good", but it's also important to be confronted when doing something that's potentially harmful or out of context for that individual person.
Therefore, I've decided to make a few fun charts to reinforce the positive behaviors that Autumn's doing at home.
Now everyone has their own methods regarding positive behavioral motivators and what works for their family. I still need to fine tune some areas, but below is a good example of what I've implemented at home (her potty chart will be entirely separate and not shown here-that's a different topic for a different day):
In the above picture there are two charts. I will explain each of them here and how I will be using these on a daily basis. One is more "long-term" the other "in the moment".
First chart is what I'm calling "The Rainbow Connection". It has six different levels for all-day behavior. It reads:
Time Out (starting out at one minute)
Lose Privilege (take away for five minutes)
***Im starting out with small minutes and as she gets older, then I will extend the minutes.
***This chart also includes a jar of Pom poms (marbles or tokens can also be substituted).
Each day Autumn starts at "Good". She will start each day with three Pom poms and has the opportunity to receive five Pom poms total a day. If she misbehaves, she will receive a warning (lose a Pom pom) but if she doesn't, she will gain Pom Poms (confused yet?). Once she fills the jar (has the opportunity to do so in one week), she will get to choose something out of her "Prize bag". The prize bag consists of toys that have never been open or given to her yet as we tend to rotate her toys around rather than give them to her all at once.
The purpose of this "chart" is to support overall positive behavior during her day and to hold her accountable for when she's doing something that's not acceptable here at home.
The second chart is her sticker chart. This is more "short-term". On the left side of the chart are things that Autumn does that deserve praise and stickers. They are:
Walks/walks independently up and down stairs
Asks for help/uses her words
Uses inside voice/no screaming
Is gentle with sissy
Tries new (fill in the blank)
I know, the above sounds like a lot, but these are all areas that Autumn will need to do as she grows older. Autistic or not, she will need to learn how to wait in order to help her with transitions. She will need to learn how to play nice so that she can make friends. She will need to learn how to clean up because frankly, this mother is not destined to be her maid, plus it teaches her self-adaptive skills that are vital to her independence.
So each time Autumn does one of the above, she gets a sticker (she picks the sticker and puts it on herself) and then gets to choose an activity to do.
Those activities are:
music (dancing to her favorite songs)
Book (reading her favorite ones)
*** I left out food because I don't want that to motivate her, she's not a puppy and even though I know she would LOVE her chocolate and would ask for it each time, I'm not going to give it to her every single time she does something positive. It would be too easy.
I also plan on using actual pictures of the above and then Velcro them once I get laminate paper, but for now, Autumn will tell me what she wants and the pink hearts are working alright.
Right now, the iPad and her Legos are her biggest motivators. She loves to build and do puzzles on the iPad. She also loves being praised and getting to put her stickers on.
The goal is to try and fill up each area each week so that I will be able to keep track of her overall progression. For example, if she fills up "waits" now for weeks, she probably doesn't need stickers anymore for this area. It will be replaced with another skill. Or if she isn't getting stickers in "trying a new food" category, we will have to work on this area more than possibly the others. It's also a great visual for her to see. Autumn is a visual thinker and it's easier for her to understand things when she sees them. More stickers equates to less space on the board, which means lots of praise and hard work on her behalf that's she's doing without prompts.
Now I know that many of you are probably thinking, "The above looks an awful lot like ABA. I thought that you HATED ABA therapy with a passion?" Yes. You are all correct. I dont care for the "traditional methods" of ABA. The forcing a child to do something he/she doesn't want to do such as the elimination of certain behaviors (stimming, scripting, etc.) in order to "blend in with society". That's not what I'm doing here. Just positive reinforcers such as stickers and Pom poms to keep up the good work. I'm not forcing anything onto Autumn. She's not strapped in a chair and made to do the things listed above in order to comply. She's already doing them. Again, this is just another way to reinforce those positive behaviors and skills she does and knows.
So far, it's working. Autumn does something similar at school and she loves it.
Hopefully she'll love it at home too. I wanted to try something fun for her to do, that would also reinforce me to keep my patience and cool with her as well. Sounds like a win-win situation and let's see how far it takes us.