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I Made a Choice Today!

Teaching a child to make choices should be considered an important skill when teaching functional communication to individuals with ASD. Children with autism have choices made for them throughout the day. Often their day consists of following demands and instructions from others without being given the option to make a choice themselves.

When we teach a child to make a choice we are really teaching the child to think (Which one do I want?), decide (That’s the one I want!), and accept (If I pick the train that means I cannot have the bear). Allowing choice making opportunities involves the child in what is going on. When an individual makes a choice the outcome naturally becomes more motivating to the individual. Offering choices produces opportunities for the child to practice functional communication to express what they want or need at a given time and can minimize the occurrence of challenging behaviors related to escaping undesired situations or to access desired items or activities.

How to teach:

1. Begin with one preferred choice. Present the item to the child and immediately deliver access to the item if the child every time they reach for it. Once they consistently reach for a preferred item add a second one.

2. Present two preferred items and say “Pick one”. Provide them with access to the item that they select. If they reach for both items move the items away and represent the choice. Physically prompt them if necessary to pick only one item at a time. Once a choice has been made remove the other choice option to prevent immediately reaching for the other item.

3. Once the child can consistently make a choice between items encourage the child to use functional language. This could be a verbal request, speech sound, sign, PECs, or gesture.