Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘Deferred gratification

The Reward Chart

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I promised an update on what happened with the reward chart, so here it is.  Hopefully this will help anyone else wanting to give this a try.

This was the chart I bought.  It comes with some ready made chores and various circle tokens.  There are also rectangle tokens for completion, and some blank ones to make your own chores too.  The first important thing was positioning.  Pudding would just play with (and lose) the magnets, so I put it up high where she couldn’t reach.  I took on board the suggestion of having a picture of the object she is working for, and found a picture of Abby and taped it up on the wall.  I’d managed to find a smaller and cheaper Abby doll than the one she initially fell for to use as her reward.  For the first trial, I didn’t want her to have to wait too long, so I gave just three chores, and only five days to earn them.  I only put things on there that I was certain she is capable of, so I opted for the following:

  • Get ready for bed (we’d still help with brushing teeth and bath, just taking off her clothes and putting on nightgown)
  • Get Dressed (I’d lay the outfit ready for her, no buttons or zips to contend with)
  • Say Please and Thank You (she is pretty polite, so thought this would be an easy one for her)

After the first day, I realized where I’d gone wrong.  The problem lies with the last one.  In many ways the reward chart is like a mini IEP with goals.  Those goals have to be measurable.  Getting dressed and undressed is pretty obvious.  Please and Thank You, however, get tricky.  Do I demand that she says them without prompting for every request?  Do I just require 50 % compliance.  There is another thing too.  She is a polite kid, especially when she very much desires the item.  So what happens if she asks for something I don’t want to give her (say, a cookie before dinner) and she asks very politely?  And she asks over, and over again (say, every night).  Still politely, but kind of a ceaseless polite whine, even when I’ve said no.  I don’t need to encourage that.

Given that we were just trying to make this as easy and fruitful as possible in the beginning, I just awarded the token for any saying Please and Thank You at least once in any given day.

The other two goals were much simpler.  She gets dressed fine at the weekends when she is going somewhere she wants, but it has become a chore to get her to do it in the morning before school.  Likewise, getting ready for bed signals the end of the day, and that comes with battles when she doesn’t want that to happen.  The reward chart works great here.  I still have to nag remind her that she needs to do it for a token, but the token does appear motivating enough on most days to get her to do it.  Success.

Every single day she asked me for the Abby sticker (the picture I taped to the wall).  Perhaps because our previously unsuccessful attempts at reward charts had involved stickers, she thought that was going to be the prize.  I gave it to her, of course, when she completed her goals, but the smile on her face when she finally got the Abby doll was worth it.  You can see that she is clutching the picture in the other hand.

Ultimately, the first trial was successful.  The chart directly led to increased independence with getting dressed, and also cut out battles over what she would wear that day.  It introduced the concept of waiting for a reward, and having to work for it.  I learned what works and what doesn’t, and shifted the responsibility for some self-care over to her.  For a girl in an ABA based classroom, it was nice to see that she is capable of delayed gratification of rewards.  After several more trials, I’m hoping to introduce a kind of pyramid reward scheme, where she can choose to cash in her tokens for a smaller reward, or save them to get something bigger.  Deferred gratification is a tall order for an impulsive kid like Pudding, but an essential lesson nonetheless.

The second attempt, that was more interesting.  I’ll tell you about that next time.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

April 18, 2011 at 6:58 am