When dealing with children with special needs it is often important to take steps you would other wise not need to take. Many children are very awkward in social situations so they need to be prepared for what is going to happen and how they should act.
- Why preteach? Have you ever taken your child into a situation and wished they had understood better what the situation would entail? I think we have all felt that way at one time or another. This is the primary reason to preteach. When you have an expectation of how you want your child to act, or what you want them to do, preteaching is one of the most important things you can do. Another way to look at it, is helping the child to understand what others in the public expect of him or her and what is exceptable behaviors or actions.
- How to preteach? When you begin preteaching keep what you want to be the end result in mind. If your plan is to take your child on a plan and then to Sea World, then you must explain to them what it will be like on the plane and what you expect their behavor to be. The child will attempt to please you if they understand what you are looking for. Here are the steps I take when I preteach.
- Make yourself a list of things which the child must understand when you have finished preteaching.
- Beginning telling the child what to expect and what you expect of them. This will need to be done a number of times. When they can repeat it back to me, I know they have it.
- Set up a “mock exercise” so when the exerience happens they will feel comfortable.
- Give honest feedback.
- Preteach again anything which they need to work on.
- Outcome when you preteach vs when you do not: The above example was an experience I had. I took my son to Sea World taking a plane to get there. We had little to no problems because he understood everything that was going to happen. We had even taken him to the airport so he could get use to that environment. We packed special backpacks forf the kids so they would have things to do during layovers and on the planes. While we did not think of everything, we did a good job in making the trip painless. This enabled him and us to relax and not be constantly on guard. We also built in times which we considered down times especially for him. We wanted him to be able to unwind in ways which were normal to him.
Taking these extra steps takes time and energy, but I believe you will find this energy well spent.