backyard therapy: the power of First - Then

I wish I had given Trevy more credit ages ago. 

Now I'm battling the Mommy Guilt that comes with wondering if I misplaced the credit all that time. Giving the Seizure Monster more than deserved. And Trevy not enough. How many times did I believe he couldn't understand? Or wasn't cognitively capable of such n' such? Too many... 

I wonder if I had just...

pushed him harder...

demanded more of him...

expected more from him...

believed more in him...

Would he be a different boy today? If I had just...

I can't rewind time. But if I could...I would have instituted the First - Then concept a looooong time ago! I just learned about the First - Then strategy from an ABA trained therapist who spent a little time with Trevy recently.

It's very simple and easy to follow through. And even for the easily distracted child...I think it's a concept that (with, in our case and possibly yours, TONS of repetition) any child can catch on to. Eventually.

Foltzie Family Example:

First Dressed - Then Play

Mommy: Its time to get dressed Trevy.

Trevy: (runs other direction flapping arms and vocalizing)

Mommy: (chases little runaway and repeats) It's time to get dressed Trevy. First dressed - Then play.

I repeat the phrase First Dressed - Then Play several times. Because I'm mean like that!

Also...lest you get the wrong idea. Trevy doesn't smile sweetly whilst grabbing my hand. Nope. He's cheeky like that. I must physically pick him up and return him to the room where his clothes are laid out. Then piece by piece dressing commences. Labeling each item as we go. Now that it's obvious his cognition is improving...I require him to hand me the clothes requested. My follow through on this part varies on how much time we have to get ready. How much coffee I've consumed before attempting. And even how thin or thick my patience happens to be at that particular moment. But I'm committed to demanding more of myself - as well as him! And even if I don't make him hand me the various articles of clothing...I always reinforce the First Dressed - Then Play concept by making him stay with me until he's dressed. Even if it's just me silently dressing him while he actively tries to escape!

Mommy: Give mommy shirt, Trevy.

Trevy: (grabs fistfull of everything and throws it at me while laughing, consequently causing his sister to laugh too because evidently it's hysterical to throw clothes in mommy's face every.single.day!)

Mommy: No throw, Trevy. Give mommy shirt.

I then hand over hand his obedience. Repeating with each article of clothing. He also attempts to run away each time I reach for a new item. Again...follow through variations to be expected.   But even with my parental lapses...I have seen a dramatic improvement in our getting dressed routine. I really believe Trevy is beginning to understand that he doesn't rule this roost and that there are expectations from him. It'll be interesting to see what our morning routine looks like six months from now!

So that ,my friends, is an example of our First - Then morning routine.


First Clean Up - Then Play Outside

Trevy loves outside play. Trevy also loves dumping buckets of toys everywhere while playing inside. As I was murmering and launching toys back into their homes I was hit upside the head with a thought: Trevy can do this! He can help me clean up! Even if we have to hand over hand it for the next two years. I know he can do this! Which is why I have now instituted the First Clean Up - Then Play Outside policy. With all my kids actually.

Trevy's que that he wants to play outside is going to the front door and either rattling the knob or heartily drumming on the door. When I notice this I respond:

Mommy: Trevy, do you want to play outside?

Trevy: (laughs and jumps and flaps arms...this means, yes!)

Mommy: Okay, Trevy. But first clean up - then play outside.

Trevy: (stays at the door laughing, jumping and flapping)

Mommy: (singing) Clean up...clean up...everybody everywhere (who ever said Barney didn't give us anything?)

Trevy: (now jumping and fussy complaining)

Mommy: Trevy, come help. (wait few seconds before going to physically bring him over to help. A time or two he has actually come on his own!)

Mommy & Trevy: (hand over hand clean up all the toys)

Mommy: Good job, Trevy! Hi five!

Trevy: (gives happy excited funky dance hi-fives and runs to the door ready to go play)

Mommy & Trevy: (hold hands and head outside to play!)


The options to implement First - Then are really limitless.

First Medicine - Then M&Ms

First Brush Teeth - Then Watch TV.

First Do Your Homework - Then Play Your DS...toby

First (fill in the blank) - Then (fill in the blank)

 Click here to print your own First-Then (freebie) visual by E-learning Autism visuals.


Anonymous said...

I love that.

I love that it's so obvious yet we need it spelt out to us.

Esp for our special kids, when it's so easy to get caught up in happiness at them doing anything that stopping that to enforce any kind of discipline is hard.

I'm resolving to find ways to use this with H :)

kt x

Anonymous said...

YOU are an excellent storyteller, Happy's Mommy! You make a point and educate at the same time.

Just because the timing is on the same day I offer this link:

A little instruction for Happy's Mommy: first STOP second-guessing yourself; then give self treat. ;)


happy's mommy said...

kt...I'm curious where you apply it!

Barbara...I LOVE the link! And as I'm currently in the depths of conversation attempting to convince our school department that Trevy NEEDS ABA as part of his EDUCATION piece...I completely agree with your comment there!


KC's Mama said...

Danielle...the way I got KC into a full time ABA program was to have a neuro-psychologist to confrence in on the IEP and recommend it. It was a piece of cake. Just as a suggestion...because Trevy sounds like the perfect cantidate! Also, I can so relate to the gettin dressed routine! Sounds very much like our mornings :)
Also, ditto to what Barbara said!

Sinead said...

First put the kids to bed, then drink.

Carolyn said...

*ugh*... ABA....

But love the first, then!

Anonymous said...

I'm with Sinead :)

D - I meant with Henry, not H(usband) lol, though i can see how it might work well there too ;)

Actually used it with Tom who's 4 today at dinnertime, i think it lends more resolve to my voice/tone so he took me more seriously, was a good feeling! so thanks again.

kt x

Mama Skates said...

ha, he so gets it! glad to see he's not only improving, but getting put in his place ;0)