Thursday, November 12, 2009

Autism and Social Skills Accounting

Stephen Covey talks about a model that may be helpful to parents of children with autism. The model involves imagining that social interactions are like deposits into and with drawls from a bank.

It is of course not as easy as just talking about deposits. We also need to talk about the deposits being what happens when a child does something that the other person sees as a benefit. The important part here is that the other person has to see it as a benefit whether the child with autism does or not.

Deposits can be large or small. Ideally we want to teach our child to make the largest possible deposit with the smallest effort so as not to wear them out. There are many ways to make the most of a deposit.

Some deposits are just large because they are a huge help. A huge help for a child may be help studying for and passing a test. Small help for a child might be holding a door.

Some deposits are large because you were not expected to help. A good description of this might start with the explanation that it is expected that your mother or father will help. It may not be expected that a child help another student. Therefore the deposit is considered larger or worth more.

Also it is important whether someone asks your child for help or your child volunteers. A child who volunteers to help will get a larger deposit. This is an important technique to explain to your child with autism as it will encourage your child to look for ways to help.

An important idea to talk about is something that has nothing to do with the size of the deposit. It is where you start in this process. If the child with autism starts making with drawls with a typical child, that child will expect your child to continue to make with drawls. Of course the opposite happens. If your child starts by making deposits then the typical child expects deposits.

So now, what is our child going to do with these deposits? Deposits might be used as a way for our child to get out of activities and still be friendly. Sometimes we as parents may not even know how the deposits are being used by our child, but just by the nature of autism they will get used!

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