Friday, September 5, 2014

Streamlining the Morning Routine Naturally w/ #ExecutiveFunction Skill Development

Is it morning time in your household and you are trying to get the children ready? Some of your kids may be independent enough, but what about a child on the autism spectrum, or some other special need? 

Let's work on those executive function and hemispheric skills by making the morning routine on a planned category map. It takes 2-4 minutes to get a piece of paper, pencil or pen, and make 3-4 categories with accompanying morning routine activities. One category can be 'Getting Dressed' while another one can be 'Breakfast & Clean Up,' and a third can be 'Thinking About Your Thinking,' (metacognition).

Activities can be organized according to categories, then number them TOGETHER with your child. Convey collaboration and inclusion by having them help fill up the planning map with you. You can make a game out of it where they have to guess activities and categories.

After numbering, or prioritizing the map... you start the first numbered activity and cross off each as you go. This will create a repeated sense of accomplishment for your child, as well as teach them real-world professional skills that happen to be executive function skills also. These skills include, short-term planning ahead, organization, prioritization, task initiation, task execution, goal-directed persistence, focus, sustaining attention, emotional control, self-monitoring, and time management.

Creating and following-through with this 'to do list' tones the ability to think in a linear-fashion, as well as see the big picture over time.

Tip:  Running into snafus and roadblocks?  Use the 'growth mindset' approach to overrun behavioral objections by doing a variation of the following:

"Ok, I am giving out 20 points for self-control and follow-through!"

Parents are to give out points and not take them away. They are to strain to see where they can give points. Attention-creating language and mannerisms can be employed to direct attention to where you want it. For example, in a session with a six year old child on the autism spectrum I act like I have 'self-control/ follow-through binoculars' which i make by forming my hands into binoculars around my eyes.

I say, "Oh boy, I want to give 'self-control/ follow-through points,' and I want to give out 2 points right now for 'putting on your shoes by yourself' AND your shirt! 

If they protest, continue with emotive desire to give points out. Perseverate on how you want them to get all 20 points, remind them how many points they have already for completing activities on the planning map.

A reward after getting 20 points needs to be small, and not necessarily material. A reward can be going to the park, playing a special game at the end of the day. Playing a 2-3 rounds of an appropriate video game, or something more creative. It all depends on where you live and what resources you have. 

This system works handsomely. If you run into some issues, contact me by sending me a direct email via the contact page at CoachBill.US 

I can email you back trouble shooting tips for your specific situation, we can Skype, or if you live anywhere in the New York City metro area, Connecticut, Cape Cod (incl. Martha's Vineyard), Boston, or Puerto Rico, I can come to your house.

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