Thursday, January 3, 2013

Clean Clothes vs. Dirty Clothes

I still laugh every time I look at this adapted book/work task.  I had a student a couple years ago who had to get himself ready in the morning (his parents were at work and he was only home with a brother or another relative).  He would constantly come to school with dirty clothes.  I talked to his parents, and his mom said she would leave out clothes for him to wear each day (but he would choose dirty ones to wear instead).  Like most of our kids with autism, they are very rigid and routine.  These behaviors can be hard to break.  Luckily, when we can find a way to create and teach "new" rules for our kids to follow (and reinforce their behavior when they follow the new rules), we are able to change behavior.  Also, teaching kids to discriminate between example (the "right" way) and non-example (the "wrong" way) is important in truly teaching rules. 

Each page has the phrase, "Can I wear these clothes to school?"  On the back of the previous page, are velcroed the words "yes" and "no."  The student has to move the correct answer and velcro it onto the page in the blank space provided.

Although this is kind of a rare example, I figured it is worth sharing since we can do similar things for any individualized issues we are working on with our students.  For instance if you have a problem with a student getting attention appropriately, you could make a similar book.  One page could say, "Do I hit people to get attention?" Answer=NO, while another page could say, "Do I say 'excuse me' to get attention?" Anseer=YES.

If you have a problem with a student eating or chewing things in the classroom that they shoulden't (i.e. markers, pencils, paper, etc.) you could also make a similar book.  One page could say, "Do I eat markers?" Answer=NO, while another page could say, "Do I eat chips?" Answer=Yes.

Reinforcing the correct behaviors when you see them is the most important part in teaching new behaviors.  Remember, each kid has their own reinforcers (and these can change across time).  For some students, praise can be punishing (I had a student who would scream in pain every time I told him "great job").  Luckily, for the student who wore dirty clothes to school, praise WAS reinforcing.  So every time he wore clean clothes to school we would praise him like crazy (sometime even give a round of applause for his "nice outfit").  Luckily, this worked and we no longer had problems with dirty clothes at school!


  1. Haha, love it. I have a similar book in my room on what to wear appropriate to the weather, since I have a student who notoriously wears shorts and tank tops in the middle of winter (and then complains about being cold). In fact, I need to bring out this book again after break - concept is not reinforced at home so I assume he will be back in shorts on Monday!


    1. Haha...these are the things that keep our jobs so interesting EVERY day!