Controlled Choices

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the importance of choices for children with autism. Research shows that providing choices even in small things increases active participation for children and it can also help with behaviour. For example if a child does not want to do something but is offered a choice of e.g. when to do it, how to do it, who to do it with or if the child is offered a choice of motivators (if appropriate) for doing it, then they are more likely to engage.

At home, I used to have issues getting my son’s phone back at 7pm for bath time. At 7pm I now say, “would you like 1 more minute, 2 more minutes or 3 more minutes”…every time he picks 3 more minutes (of course!) and 95% of the time he happily gives his phone back. Another example (especially if it wouldn’t work for you to be flexible with time boundaries like this) could be to say “when you give your phone back would you like to go straight for a bath or read a story first” or “when you give your phone back would you like to read a story with me or your brother”.

Choice making can be used throughout the daily routine including in school. In fact, controlled choice making is a key strategy for positive behaviour support in schools. The number of choices depends on the child; a lot of children are best with just 2 choices, especially initially. Visuals for some children can support choice making. Why not try offering a few more choices and see if it works for you.