Category Archives: General

prompt dependency

A Three-Step Process to Decreasing Prompt Dependency

It’s important that we not let children become too dependent on the direction we provide for them. However, even in the best of cases this does happen sometimes. There are various reasons for that. There is no magic fix, but there is a process that can help reduce dependence on prompts. In this article we will go over the process to decrease prompt dependency in autism, but first let’s discuss what it means to be dependent on prompts.

Prompt Dependency Definition

Prompt dependency is a type of behavior where a child relies on being told what to do by a parent or caregiver. This is normal, and expected, in certain situations. When it crosses the line into being prompt dependence is when the child knows exactly what to do, but is still waiting for the prompt before taking action.

Being dependent on prompts can make it difficult or impossible for a child do things by themselves. In the most extreme cases of prompt dependence, even something as necessary as eating or going to the bathroom might not be possible on one’s own without being prompted to do so. That’s why decreasing prompt dependency is critical as a child gets older. The goal is to teach them greater independence in all areas of life, including responsibility, regulation, and relationships. This is accomplished by teaching skills and skill sets that the child can initiate independently, use across all environments, and maintain over time.

Identifying Prompt Dependency

You might notice prompt dependence in a number of different ways. For example, your child may stand by the door every morning completely unprepared for the day. That’s because he or she is waiting for you to prompt them to do something like get their backpack, get their lunch, put on appropriate outdoor clothing, and so on. If your child stands around waiting to be told what to do, whether it’s getting ready in the morning or anything else, that’s a key sign of prompt dependence.

Prompt dependence can occur for many different reasons. It most commonly occurs in children with autism because children who have difficulty with motor skills or cognitive and language delays receive more prompting than others when they’re very young. As a result, they get in the habit of waiting for the prompt, while parents get in the habit of providing the prompt before they actually need it.

Decreasing Prompt Dependency

There is no one way of breaking prompt dependency in autism. This is a process, and it’s perfectly OK if it takes some time before you start to notice progress being made. Just keep in mind — when you change your behavior, your child’s behavior will change as a result. So stick with the process and you will start to notice a difference.

  1. Consider the areas in which your child is too dependent on your prompts. This involves any situation in which your child waits for you to act before they do, even if they know what they should be doing. Think ahead to all of the skills they eventually need to learn in the coming years, but start with the most basic activities of daily life (personal hygiene, dressing, safety, etc.) before moving onto more complex tasks.
  2. Instead of providing the usual direct commands or answers in these situations, encourage your child to try figuring out what to do on their own before asking for help. For example, instead of stating “Go clean your room,” you can ask “What steps do you need to take to clean your room?” Be patient, and offer positive reinforcement for the attempt, even if the child isn’t always successful. This will help them learn that the act of trying is a good thing.
  3. Plan which strategies you want your child to use and teach them over and over again. Going back to the example of the child waiting for a prompt to get ready in the morning, a strategy you might use in this situation is a checklist of things they need to do before leaving the house. Then, when they ask for help in the morning, they can refer to the list. Eventually they may progress to the point of getting ready in the morning without referring to the list at all.

This simple 3-step framework is an easy-to-implement starting point for decreasing prompt dependency. To take this concept even further, parents can educate themselves on prompt hierarchy and how to move from external to internal self-prompts. There are various types of prompts (i.e. physical, verbal, and gestural) and strategies for how to decrease dependence on them.

Always remember that it’s an extremely gradual process to move an individual from intense prompt dependence to self-sufficiency. As you begin trying new approaches, remember to pause and give wait time to encourage the thinking process, rather than immediately correcting the child.

In Summary

We hope you’re able to take these examples and use them to generate ideas for reducing your child’s dependence on prompts. This is a simple process that could be applied to just about any situation where you find your child is particularly dependent on your clear, explicit direction. The goal in every instance is to encourage independent problem solving. Remember to always reward the attempt, because taking action without waiting for direction is considered a success.

Recognizing a child’s areas of greatest intelligence, and strongest executive functions, can help create an effective plan to reduce prompt dependence. The most fun and engaging way to identify talents and strengths is to have them try some of our free games, which explore the full range of a child’s multiple intelligences and executive functioning skills.

Further Resources: Transition Planning For Students With Autism: Achieving Success on the Spectrum

rewards for chores

Creating a System of Rewards for Chores

Giving rewards for chores is an effective way to reinforce good behavior. Rewards are also a good motivator, but it takes more effort to get kids to actually complete the chores than simply rewarding them for doing so.

Getting kids to do chores involves creating a plan, providing structure, and giving them a sense of purpose. Rewards for chores is encouragement to continue going through the process day after day. But there has to be more to get them going in the first place.

One of the most effective methods of getting kids to do regular chores is chore charts. While there are great computer programs and mobile apps that keep track of chores, there’s still something to be said for the visual reinforcement of an old fashioned, printed out or hand-written chore chart.

Rewards for Chores Step One: Creating a Chore Chart

A big misconception about chore charts is that they’re only meant to list jobs, and other things the child should be doing. However, chore charts are far more effective if you look at them as a way to shape behavior. This is important to keep in mind, because doing regular chores around the house at an early age pays off later in life.

What you want to focus on with a chore chart is the behavior you want your child to eventually develop into a habit. Chores do not have to be limited to tasks like doing the dishes, folding laundry, cleaning the litter box, and so on. Household chores can involve anything that would be helpful for the child to develop into a lifelong habit. Some examples could include having them brush their teeth twice a day, pick up after themselves, hang their clothes up, make their bed, etc. Consider giving extra rewards or some kind of additional accolades if the task was completed independently.

When you’re creating a chore chart you want to list things that are easy for your child to do, even things that they may naturally do on their own anyway. The idea is to set them up for success. So you want to choose things they can do, but struggle with doing consistently over time. The very last “chore” at the end of the day could be reporting to you what they’ve accomplished. This will make it easy for you to monitor their progress without having to check off the chore chart multiple times throughout the day. Also consider the use of a companion app to help your child independently stay on track with their chores throughout the day.

Step Two: Determining Rewards for Doing Chores

Now, let’s get back to the main thing you wanted to learn about today. What are the appropriate rewards for chores your child has completed throughout the day? As a parent, it’s easy to go completely overboard with rewards for your child. We highly suggest you refrain from doing that. What you want to do is make the reward equal to the task they’ve been able to accomplish. You also want to make it meaningful for them. With that said, money isn’t always the best reward for children. Money doesn’t really have value to children in the same way that it does for adults. So, for some children, being rewarded with a favorite meal could be meaningful. This would be appropriate for accomplishing larger goals, whereas a small treat might be more appropriate for completing smaller tasks.

What would be helpful for your child, and to you as a parent, is determining what is most meaningful to your child when establishing this reward system. Once the rewards for chores have been determined, match them with a task (or series of tasks), and add them to the chore chart. Then the child will know exactly what to expect when completing chores, and it will be displayed on the chart for them to see as a means of encouragement.

Rewards for Chores: In Summary

Now you can see how chore charts and rewards tie in together, and hopefully you have a better idea of how to determine appropriate rewards for chores. Another way that rewards for chores pays off later in life is that it teaches the child about contracts at an early age. This is important because life is made up of contracts. Chores and rewards is one type of contract. School is another type of contract— when you fulfill a series of requirements you earn the right to graduate. Employment is another type of contract— fulfill your duties for the employer and earn a paycheck. Completing tasks on a chore chart to earn rewards will set your child up for success at fulfilling other contracts when they get older.

Identifying strengths and weaknesses in a student’s multiple intelligences can help guide you toward the areas that need the most attention when developing a plan for developing behavior with a chore chart. The most fun and engaging way to identify talents and strengths is to have them try some of our free games, which explore the full range of a child’s multiple intelligences and executive functioning skills.

Calling for Q&As to “train Abby”

We embarked on creating Identifor to help address 3 needs teens and adults have:

  1. Help identify individuals’ abilities, strengths and interests so that appropriate educational and vocational plans can be pursued to enable fulfilling adult lives.
  2. Help create job opportunities that leverage the strengths of these adults.
  3. Support them 24/7 while they pursue what they are good at and enjoy doing – especially since aides and parents are no longer around to provide support.

We’ve making progress on the first goal through Identifor’s games and Dashboard.

The second goal is a work-in-process.  We’re working on a few things, but not far enough to discuss at this point

The third goal is the reason for this post.

 Abby Personal Coach

Screenshot_2015-08-19-20-17-52We built Identifor using an artificial intelligence-driven avatar (Abby) with the objective of enabling her to help adults address situations that arise over the course of a day – whether that’s at school, on the job, at home, in transit, etc.

We are now taking the next step by creating a mobile app that works on iOS and Android phones and tablets so that Abby can provide constant support over the course of a day.

Rather than explaining in text what we have in mind, let us share a “first peek” at what our developers are working on to show what Abby can do.  Please view this 2-minute video to see how Abby can provide support over the course of a day.

Abby App Demonstration

Abby is only limited by our imagination, and she can address virtually any situation we “train” her to support.

We are making good progress “training Abby,” but we think there’s much more that can be done to address all the situations adults and teens face.  Therefore, we are reaching out to ask for help in creating an exhaustive of situations and questions (and answers) that Abby should address.  We believe direct input from those who can benefit from Abby’s support will enable her to provide the best support for the broader community.

Through the generosity of a donor, Identifor Foundation is launching a contest and prize program for those who contribute questions and answers for Abby by September 4, 2015.  A $1 prize will be given for each submitted question and answer we receive by midnight Eastern Time September 4, 2015.

Please send Q&As directly to Abby at abby@identifor.com.

Our journey towards creating Identifor

We are parents of a precocious 13-year old daughter and a 12-year old son who is on the spectrum.  Our daughter has good grades (especially math and science), is active with lots of activities (including 7 hours of dance a week), and our dinner conversations allow us to understand that she wants to grow up to be a physician specializing in the medical needs of dancers.  She also wants to go to college to major in a science and minor in dance.

After years of limited communications, we’re now having back-and-forth conversations with our son.  Our understanding of his abilities and interests, however, is not as deep as what we know about his sister.  We observe remarkable abilities in some areas (he has a knack with calendars and flight schedules), and his teachers comment about his visual and memory skills.   Yet he struggles with math when presented in class (but he can do mental math when presented in the context of time and calendar), and his standardize test score are low.

As a result, Cuong decided to retire as Merck’s Chief Strategy Officer and put to use skills developed over a career as an executive in high technology and healthcare companies to build Identifor.  Identifor aims to help families identify and build upon each person’s unique abilities, skills and interests for the pursuit of fulfilling futures for each individual (thus Identifor).  We want to help parents answer questions such as: “Can your child do mental arithmetic with four digit numbers? Does he/she think in pictures or words or music? Would he/she rather be outside working with plants or at a computer creating a mobile app?” so that educational and/or vocational plans can be formulated to create the most rewarding experiences before an individual reaches high school, while in high school, and after high school graduation.

We aspire to build – over time – a set of tools to help parents and individuals develop a systematic understanding of their child’s:

  • Abilities using the work pioneered by Harvard Professor Howard Gardner in his theory of Multiple Intelligences.
  • Executive Function (EF) skills based on the work by Professor George McCloskey from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, a leading author in the growing field of EF.
  • Career interests building on the work by John Holland from Johns Hopkins University.

Our unique approach in creating this understanding comes from the analysis of data on how individuals play games. We will offer a set of games that children and adults will love to play, and the games themselves will collect data on how the player reacts, answers questions, makes decisions, etc.

Learn more about what we do at www.identifor.com.  The site has just launched and the iPad/Android apps will soon be available from the respective app stores – so visit the site and download the apps to learn more about what we do and play our games.  The reports and dashboards about the child’s abilities will become available soon, and families associated with Autism Speaks and Profectum Foundation will have free access to these reports by using a special link from their websites.

Cuong Do & Lori Rickles