Monday, April 16, 2012

Teaching Gus the concept of Time

It's a new challenge and as with any new challenge it is also a sign that Gus is learning. I always try to remind myself that when Gus is making new demands on me it means his brain has completed yet another connection. Our newest challenge is the demand to know when we do what. Gus has lots of ideas these days of preferred activities that he would like to do - preferrably NOW - but since that is often no possible, I will say something like "maybe later" or "later this afternoon" and his response will be: "I want to go to the playground"
"I want to go to the playground"
"I want to go to the playground"
Over and over until we are both weary.
So I've decided that he is ready to learn the concept of time. Time to wait, time to be patient, time passing and it being time to do something specific.
After consulting with a few favorite Autism specialists and taking Gus' specific style into consideration (as a parent of a child with Autism, YOU are the best judge of that and it is the most important step to designing any system if you want it to work), I've come up with the following Time System:

This is Gus' CHOICE BOARD. We have had it for a while and until now, he would simply pick an activity from the tangle of pictures above and place it on the "I want" strip. The he would say it to me. Now when he picks something I still make him say it to me (don't forge the please, this is a PERFECT place to teach manners) and then if I say yes. We move it on to the TIME BOARD. Note: Sometimes I say NO (because we can't do something that day, although I try to make sure that the choices are doable for us (the ones that are day specific I leave off on the days it can't be done). When I say No it goes back up (or away) and he can pick something else.

Gus picked bubbles and tire swing. So we move the picture of the bubbles over to the TIME BOARD (ours is on the backside of our daily schedule, that way I only have to turn it around after we have run through our morning routine - there is only so much wall space I want to give over to primary colors and velcro)

Here is a closeup of the TIME BOARD. I printed out the words, enlarged them on the printer and glued them to the board with spaces for his pictures in between. I kept the wording simple, so Gus will understand and be able to repeat them himself.
So once we have agreed on an activity. I tell him "When the timer is ringing we blow bubbles" and we set the timer together and leave it in a place where he can check on it.
So far this has worked like a charm (and I have even cheated a couple of times and re-set it to buy me extra time. Although at first you want to keep the timeframe small so the reward is almost instant).
This has cut down on Gus repeating the same request over and over. Now when he asked I tell him to go check the timer and he does and feels assured that we are still on track to do a certain activity.

For the future, I plan to hang up this wall clock, simple with simple numbers, at his eye level next to the TIME BOARD.

Then, instead of the timer logo we will use this card and I will draw in the time with erasable marker and compare it to the clock. I will say something like "When the clock says it is Four O'Clock we blow bubbles" My hope is - and this is some time into the future - that Gus way he will learn to tell time and reading time on a clock face (after all Gus IS half Swiss and we Swiss pride ourselves in knowing time before we can read)
Posted by Picasa

No comments:

Post a Comment