Tip of the Week: TEACHING TOLERATION
This week’s tip is teaching toleration of new or non-preferred tasks or activities. Many of our students (as well as the rest of us!) have difficulties when tasked with experiencing something new (e.g. wearing a mask) or non-preferred (e.g. eating vegetables). Below outlines the steps to take when trying to get your student to tolerate these situations. These tips can be applied to any new or non-preferred experience, but I have outlined a few in more detail below. If you have any questions or would like advice tolerating specific situations, please feel free to reach out to your clinical supervisors or myself.
- Determine the goal (e.g. wearing a mask for 1 hour, going to the dentist, eating a full plate of a new food)
- Determine reinforcement that will be provided for tolerating the steps of the new or non-preferred activity (praise, snacks, tokens, etc.)
- Break the goal down into small teachable steps (see below for examples)
- Introduce each step one at a time
- If the individual tolerates the first step without challenging behaviors, provide reinforcement.
- After the individual is consistently tolerating the first step, move on to the next.
- Continue moving through each step as the steps before are being tolerated.
- Generalize the skill by making sure the individual can do it across different environments and with different people
- Visuals can be used (e.g. social story with pictures of the activity, token board, timers)
- Video models to show someone actually going through the same steps
- Don’t move too quickly to the next step as this may scare the individual off trying it
- Pair the activity with something preferred (watching a video, playing a game, playing music, etc.)
- Have the individual help prepare the new activity (e.g. make the mask, prep the food etc.)
- Imitation can be helpful to teach toleration. So, you complete the action and have your child copy.
- Practice skills first in the home or school setting before going to the final destination (e.g. hair salon)
EXAMPLES OF STEPS FOR TOLERATION
Wearing a mask:
- Allow the mask to be out next to the individual
- Touch the mask
- Hold the mask while counting up to 5
- Bring the mask to touch the face
- Hold the mask against the face while counting up to 5
- Put one ear strap around the ear
- Put one ear strap around the ear and hold the mask against the face while counting to 5
- Put the second ear strap around the other ear
- Put both ear straps around the ear and hold the mask against the face while counting to 5
- Wear the mask for 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 min, etc.
- Generalize wearing the mask across different environments and with different people
Eating new food:
- Allow the food to be out next to the individual
- Touch the food
- Hold the food while counting up to 5
- Bring the food close to the face while counting up to 5
- Touch the food to the lips
- Lick the food
- Take one tiny bite of the food
- Take a larger bite of the food
- Eat one half of the food, etc.
Getting a haircut:
- Walk into the salon
- Wait in the waiting area
- Sit in the barber chair
- Wash hair
- Brush hair
- Cut hair
- Dry hair