Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to a question from readers. Today’s question comes from a parent of a previous client. We wrote about the client in our What Works Wednesdays post a few months ago. Little Cherub’s dad writes,
Little Cherub is doing great with her feeding. But the hurdle we are facing now is going out in public. Little Cherub literally acts and looks terrified. Our main goal right now is to commit to getting her through this just like we did with ABA, school, eating, and potty training. Do you have any suggestions?
Hi Little Cherub’s dad! It is great to hear from you again. However, I’m sorry that she is giving you this trouble. Just remember, it is another behavior that she is using to “control” her environment. Think about what we did for food. We did not let her escape the bites, no matter how much she fussed. You will have to do the same thing for this new behavior. I like to add a few strategies before and after the behavior.
Before you head out to a public place tell her where you are going. Be sure to use a picture to help her understand. We have written about the importance of visual schedules before. Tell her that she is going in and that she needs to behave. Tell her she will get X treat when you guys finish your task there and leave the store. Be sure to show her a picture of the item as well.
When you are in the public place, do not give attention to any junk behaviors that she uses. If she drops to the floor, pick her up and put her in the basket. If she screams or cries, simply look away. If she swats at you, move to the side without looking or responding.
You will have to work through these behaviors just like you did for her behaviors around food.
As soon as you have finished your shopping (or whatever you were supposed to do), immediately tell her good job and immediately give her the treat you promised her.
My recommendation is to initially go when it is less crowded so you get fewer stares from people. Using pictures will really help her understand where you are going and what she gets when it is over.
If you have a behavioral question for me email me directly at askmissy at applied behavioral strategies dot com. Thanks!