Teaching If-Then

So in the midst of everything else we’re trying to teach the Monster for his life-goals, we’re also working on the ever-popular if-then relationship.

Such as, “If you eat your dinner, then you can have a cookie.”

Some of the basic skills that we’ve tried to teach him have taken time to get across to him.  Getting him to take items across the room, or to go retrieve something and bring it back, have mostly required getting him to have an attention span long enough not to get distracted en route.  It’s been a work in progress, but we’re at the point that he’s grasping the idea and doing it more often than he’s failing.

But the whole if-then thing is kind of important.

A lot of life involves if-then.  If you do your job, then you get paid.  If you do your chores, then you can go play outside.  If you do your homework, then you can have iPad time.  (If you can wait a bit after we visit this kiosk, then we can ride this ride when the nice CastMember says so. *cough*)

And the Monster, like a lot of children with Autism, does not do well with delayed gratification.

So this has been one of the things that I’ve been trying to teach him to do… if only through food.  The Monster – like so many kids – does like cookies.  (Candy’s kind of a treat anyway, so he doesn’t ask for it like he’d ask for cookies.)  The wife had to go to a mom’s support group pot-luck on Wednesday, so there’s been a box of Oreos where he could see them… and he keeps asking.  Today, I told him that he could have a cookie if he finished his lunch.  He asked a second time, and I reinforced it – if he ate his peanut butter sandwich, then he could have a cookie.

And I’ll be damned if he didn’t do it.

Now, food is a big motivator for him, but there’s not too big of a jump between one preferred activity and another.  We’ll see how this works out as we move into next week…

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