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How does ABA teach children with ASD to follow instructions?

happy_child_0Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often demonstrate higher rates of non-compliance than typically developing children. A common method for increasing compliance to instructions involves presenting instructions that become gradually more challenging over time.

At first, you will issue instructions that your child is likely to follow. For example, you can ask him to play with his favorite toy. Since such an instruction will likely lead to compliance, you will have a chance to provide social praise and perhaps external for following the instruction. Gradually, the instructions will become more challenging; however, you will still utilize praise and reinforcement to encourage compliance to future instructions.

The followings are some tips to consider while practicing compliance training:

  1. It is important to follow through with instructions. Therefore, you should only issue instructions that you can reinforce upon compliance or provide a consequence should your child not follow through.
  2. Avoid giving too many instructions over a short period. Issuing instructions in that way can be unduly aggravating, and actually reduce the likelihood of compliance.
  3. If your child can answer choice questions, then you can give him/her options that are preferred. For example, “Do you want to play with the iPad or your toy cars?”
  4. The strategy of providing choices can also be applied to less preferred activities. For example, “Do you want to finish this worksheet or do you want to change clothes?”
  5. If your child does not respond to or complete an instruction, you should stay calm and not stray from a neutral tone.
  6. Before issuing an instruction to which your child is less likely to follow, provide preferred instructions immediately before and after the less preferred instructions.
  7. You can capture moments when a child is likely to perform a task on their own, and issue that instruction right before they do the task. For example, if a child is walking past a toy to pick it up, then you can say, “Pick up that toy” just before they pick up the item.
  8. Present instructions with confidence, as if you expect your child will listen.
  9. It is okay to give your child some things to control.
  10. When your child is compliant, provide meaningful reinforcement to him.

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