More on Choices

A few posts back, I talked about choices and how we made Eddie a tactile “choice board.” For children that have communication delays, we have to give them some control over their lives. Imagine if you were starving, or were thirsty, but you didn’t have the words to tell anybody, and you didn’t know how to take care of it by yourself. Personally, I would quickly find myself demonstrating “problem” behaviors. Therefore, it is no wonder that Eddie has some behavior concerns.

By giving him choices, he is able to make some decisions about what he would like to do in the time he wants to do it. I don’t have to keep presenting him with ten ideas and hope I hit on exactly what he needs and/ or wants. Even though the choice board is great for that, I also try to give him choices throughout most every part of his day.

When he gets up in the morning, he immediately says, “I want gum please.” This works great for bribery. I simply state, “IF you go to the bathroom AND take your medicine, THEN you can have some gum.” This typically works like a charm. The tantrums can show up in the time after this because he has to wait an hour before eating breakfast due to his medicine, and he is usually HUNGRY!

We’ve made this process a little easier by giving him choices about his hour of starvation free-time. I ask questions like, “Do you want to go to your room or upstairs?” “Do you want your light on or off?” “Do you want the hammer toy or the music toy?” “Do you want music on or off?” He can usually answer us verbally because we just spoke both choices. Even though I am only offering him two choices at any given time, I’m letting him make choices, which helps him feel in control.

Recently, Eddie has added a new twist to my simple choice process. It appears he has fully grasped what the word “or” means and has infused it into his daily vocabulary with great ease. I might say, “Eddie do you want milk or water?” and Eddie will immediately say, “Or…” I may even say, “Eddie do you want music or a book?” and I’ll hear, “Or…”

The first time I heard him say, “or…” I thought I misheard him. After hearing it a few more times, I realized my choices weren’t good enough. Well, I know that I definitely want him to make his own choices. I’m blown away by how quickly he understood that a simple word like “or” could widen his options. Again, I feel I’ve underestimated him somehow, and only hope that I can fulfill every “or” in a way that works for us both.