Mini-maps can be highly effective in dealing with work avoidance behaviors at school and at home. Let’s now take this same strategy and apply it in community settings. Remember, a mini-map takes an event or task and breaks it down into smaller, more doable steps.For a family that has difficulty with seemingly simple shopping trips, a mini-map might be a good tool for the Aspergers family member. Mini-maps help to stay focused on the task at hand while preventing intense preoccupation with specific aspects.
An Example for How to Use Mini-Maps When Shopping
A family would struggle when going to a store where there was a video section. The son would immediately take off for this area of the store as soon as they got there. He would stay there for long periods of time in spite of many verbal reminders on the way in the car.
This behavior would turn a short trip to the store into a long and almost painful event for everyone. Over time, this family might avoid these trips all together.
A mini-map for this situation might include a list of different departments in the store that they plan to visit. By adding either time limits or number of items to purchase at each part of the mini-map, their child might be able to flow through the strategy more successfully.
The following is an example of what this mini-map might consist of:
- Boys Clothing Department [2 pairs of socks & 1 shirt]
- Dental Hygiene Department [1 tube of toothpaste]
- Video Department [look at 20 videos & return to shelf]
- Grocery Department [pick out snack]
- Check Out [pay for items]
- Go to car
- Eat snack in car
Notice that the mini-map has strategically placed picking out a snack right after the video department, which is where the son with Aspergers has difficulty leaving. Remember to have the person with Aspergers either check off or mark through each step of the mini-map as it is completed. This will increase the effectiveness and meaning of the strategy.
Take almost any difficult moment in the community and see if a mini-map might reduce that difficulty and enhance the experience. From a sporting event to a movie, mini-maps can be tailored to almost any community experience.
By Lisa Rogers
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