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Simple Ways to Keep It “Cool” this Summer


Summer is finally here, and the temperatures are rising! Thankfully, we don’t have to see a rise in tantrum behavior with those temperatures. Here are five simple ways to help prevent the heat from rising inside your home:

Grandma’s Law

There is no way to avoid asking your child to do tasks that they don’t want to do. When this occurs, remember what Grandma used to do! Try to follow the activity they don’t like by allowing them to do something they enjoy. For example, “first clean your room, then you can go to the pool.” This highly preferred activity will serve as the reinforcement for the less preferred activity or demand.

Use visual supports

Picture schedules, written schedules, and timers are all tools that can be used throughout your day. Even when your child is spending the day at home, a visual schedule will allow you to build structure into their day. Timers can be used alongside the schedule to help signal that a transition will be occurring. Giving your child an idea of what is coming next in their day helps set them up for success.

Provide choices

When possible and feasible, give your child choices. This will allow your child to exert some control within their day. You can provide choices over what reinforcing item he/she would like: (Do you want ice cream or a popsicle?) Choices can also be provided with non-preferred activities or items as well. (Which do you want to do first, clean your room or read a story?)

Keep it simple

It’s important that we aren’t avoiding less preferred activities just because they result in challenging behaviors. When presenting demands or tasks, keep it simple! Keep your language simple, sticking to short sentences and pairing with visual supports. Break down complex tasks into parts. Rather than telling your child to clean the entire playroom, tell them exactly what should be picked up.

Keep it positive

Rather than providing lots of attention to the things you want your child to stop doing, focus on the things you want them to keep doing. Give your child attention for the good things that they do! Give your child behavior specific compliments (“Great job sharing with your sister”) when you see them doing positive things. Provide preferred items or activities without requiring your child to do anything throughout the day.

Remember, summer is a time for fun and leisure! These simple tips can help keep you cool for the summer.

Erica Brown, MA, BCBA, can be reached at ebrown@autismsociety-nc.org or 919-390-7238.


ASNC’s Clinical Department staff is composed of PhD and master’s-level licensed psychologists, Board Certified Behavior Analysts, and former special education teachers. We provide individualized intensive consultation using evidence-based practices to support children and adults across the spectrum in home, school, employment, residential and other community-based contexts. We also deliver workshops to professionals and families on a wide range of topics including but not limited to, strategies to prevent and respond to challenging behaviors, best practices in early intervention, functional communication training, and enhancing social understanding in individuals with autism.

To find out more, contact us at 919-390-7242 or training@autismsociety-nc.org.


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