Sunday, April 3, 2011

“Prompts” and Circumstance

“Prompts” and Circumstance

Avoid the dangers of “Prompt” Dependence!!  We've all heard it. First I was taught to give Nicky prompts, then I was told he's getting to many prompts. One day prompts are part of the solution, the next, part of the problem! Oh yeah, nothing simple about his journey.  


A clinician associated with Nicky’s program visited us to see how we were doing. The main observation: Nicky was getting too many prompts from me to help him manage his behavior, he should be more independent.  I resisted the pull to feel judged, remembering my note to self “It’s not about you, it’s about Nicky” and I saw her point of view.  Unlike me, she didn’t focus on how far he had come, or how hard we had worked to get him to this point, she only knew who Nicky was in that moment and she only saw his potential. She brought a new pair of eyes, and I guess we needed it.  


(Can you believe I’m the same protective defensive clawed mama bear who used to have to restrain herself in these situations!?)   

It's true, I do everything to help Nicky manage his behaviors, not just for him, but for me too.  Nicky out of control is awful, and I want to avoid the aggression, tantrums and meltdowns.  I was so locked into stopping them by all means possible, I didn't see that I had become part of problem.  Nicky has been taught self-management skills, and he knows them. The problem was, I was still prompting him to use the skills, instead of standing back -providing no prompts - and letting him figure out when and how to use the skill on his own.  Our goal after all is getting him to use the skills consistently and without assistance, so he can always rely on them, and that’s the only way to independence! I got it, at least for now.


I made a visual tool for Nicky to replace me giving him  prompts.  It's a behavior/consequence cheat sheet showing Nicky what behaviors result in a “Happy” Nicky and what result in a “Sad” Nicky.  I used all things that he knows and understands, things he wants and cares about, to help him connect the dots of consequence to his real world. On the Happy side are things that make him happy or lead him to things that make him happy. For example having a calm body earns him free time. If he earns free time he get's to go on his computer or play a video and that make's him happy. So he connects the positive behaviors that lead to happy events.  Same for the sad Nicky list. 


 I put them in his back pack and around the house.  To make sure they were handy so I don’t have to prompt him, I just hand him the card.  It’s been a few weeks and  it's working. Here’s  what it looks like:


 As always I open to feedback! 


  1. This is awesome! I am definitely going to use this idea. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Donna! This is so great! You don't need to feel so bad. That's why you have a team! I'm trying to remember, is Nicky in middle school now? It's the time when students are learning to be more independent and responsible anyway, so you are on track! Love, Ahbra

  3. You reveal the wonderful part of you here. You are smart enough to figure out what is working for you and your child and what is not. We all get there in our own time and even Nicky will get there with your help and the help of your team. The pictures are actually a visual prompt. However the difference is that they teach self-reliance rather than always looking to someone outside of himself for direction. I love it!