A big take-away from Autism New Jersey’s annual conference was the reminder that many occasions and events can be used to build a child’s skills and reinforce positive behaviors. After we bought MJ his cool ninja outfit, I started to consider how we might use Halloween as a fun occasion to work on some goals in his school and home programs. Here are five goals that we can address:
1) Walking independently – We won’t walk him completely up each driveway, but instead will ask him to go the final several steps on his own and ring the bell.
2) Following Two-step directions – (see #1)
3) Waiting appropriately – When other children are in front of MJ at someone’s house, he’ll wait several steps behind them and approach the door only after they are out of the way. He responds to “wait” fairly well, but I will keep a hand on his shoulder if necessary.
4) Reciprocal greetings – He’ll wave “hello” in response to greetings from the folks at each house. (I’ll be there to remind him if necessary)
5) Establishing and maintaing eye contact – I’ll ask MJ to look directly at each candy-bearing home-owner as a pre-requisite for receiving any treat.
The fact that Halloween falls on a weekend this year will will work in our favor. Since we’ll have more than a two-hour window to do our trick- or- treating we can time our walk(s) around the neighborhood according to MJ’s need to get out for some fresh air. As long as we get some good weather, we ought to be in good shape.