Gift Giving: Avoiding the Tinkerbell towel.
Gift giving is a great exercise in perspective taking. Can your clients think of some things that their parents would like or their siblings?
This is a hard skill for a lot of neurotypical adults such as my husband. One year, he bought me a child sized Tinkerbell towel at Target. First of all, I am not a one of those fortunate child sized ladies. Why would he get me a gift that I can't even wrap around myself? When he gave it to me, he was so excited because I LOVE Tinkerbell. Um....no. Randomly, he still thinks that I love Tinkerbell. Last Christmas he bought me a Tinkerbell lip gloss watch. It's not actually watch-it's just cleverly designed to look like a watch-but then when you open it up-it has lip gloss in it. Let's take a minute here-I am a 40 year old woman. When would I have the chance to wear a lip gloss watch?
Choosing a gift requires you to think about the other person. It's a great opportunity to use our "people files" by remembering information about people. Questions to think about when getting a gift
- How old are they?
- Are they a boy or a girl?
- Do they have any hobbies?
- Have they mentioned that they need or want something?
- Who is in their family?
- Do they have any pets?
- What about favorite movies, t.v. shows or other special interests?
- Do you know what they already have?
- Is there anything they really DON'T like?
Here is what we are doing next week. You will need a Sunday Paper chock full of advertisements. It would be great to have pictures of the child's friends, parents, etc. I would use a sheet of paper for each gift giving subject. Starting with first person, have your student or client determine what store would be appropriate for them. Then they go through the circular and cut out 3-5 items they think the person would want.
Then you can discuss how to narrow down your options. Price might be one factor. You could extend this activity by creating a "budget" and having the student determine where to spend the money or discussing concepts such as greater than/less than.
I don't expect that my clients (or clearly, my husband) will be able to think of the "perfect" gift so as long as they are in the ball park of an appropriate gift, I would give them credit for it. What activities are you planning for the holidays?
Gift Giving: Video Perspective Taking Activity
Last year, Jimmy Kimmel had a segment on his show called, "I gave my kids a terrible present." In it, parents across America wrapped up cleaning products and old bananas and gave them to their children as presents.
This is a great video to use during speech therapy for expected and unexpected behaviors. First from some of the kids who have some pretty extreme reactions as well as talking about what would be expected and UNexpected as a gift from a parent. If you decide to use the video, make sure to preview it first. I think the last kid in the video uses some inappropriate language.
My husband tried this with our son last year when he was three. He didn't have expectations of what a "Christmas gift" should be yet, so he was really excited to get a can of Spray starch. (That this was what my husband picked would be the subject of a whole different blog called, 101 dangerous gifts my husband tried to give to our kids.)
Struggling with how to accept an unwanted Christmas gift is part of normal development, but for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other pragmatic language impairments, more direct teaching is required. Here are some ideas I've used in therapy:
1. I usually start with a Social story to give them information about what will happen during gift opening time. An example would be something like: "On Christmas Morning we will eat breakfast and then it will be time to open gifts. Everyone gets to take a turn opening a gift. On my turn, I will open my gift and see what it is. Most of the time, my gifts are things that I like. Sometimes they are not. When I get a gift I don't like, I can try to smile and say, "Thank you" to the person who gave it to me. This makes them feel happy."
2. Practice. Years ago, I bought a fabric wrapped box with a bow on it. We practice putting gifts in it and using a script to "thank" each other. I try to have 5 things I think the client would like and 1-2 silly or unexpected gifts. You could expand that activity by first writing a list and then cutting out items from catalogs that matched-OR didn't match the list.
3. Apps. There are alot of "present" opening apps available for the Ipad. You could use these apps to engage the chilld.
For some of my more "black and white" kids who can't get past the idea that saying "I like it" is lying, we work on the noncompliment. I use this all the time. You start by just naming it. Let's say you give me a T-Rex. I open the box and say; "Wow, a T-Rex." then finish by making an observation regarding the present: "I can't believe it's arms are so little."
What activities have you used to teach gift giving?