“Must Do” versus “Want to Do” is another big foundation skill for s successful Collaborative Schedule. Most children pick up the differences between Must Do and Want to Do activities as a matter of preference and mutual social understanding, but children with autism may have a different understanding of these activities. By second grade, most children understand that homework is a Must Do (although a few may also consider it a Want to Do), but for Little Miss, this distinction was cloudy. Why she must do homework just didn’t jive with her social understanding.
To help her, we created a set of picture cards with the different activities she Must Do throughout the day (left image) and another set of cards with activities she might Want to Do (right image). We glued the cards to different colored backgrounds (Must Do was orange; Want to Do was yellow) and asked her to sort them.
After practicing sorting until she had mastered the differences between Must Do and Want to Do activities, we began using the cards to build her ABA therapy schedule. For example, her first activity might be “Read Sight Words” (Must Do), followed by “Play iPad” (Want to Do). In this way, Little Miss got used to completing Must Do activities and being rewarded with Want to do activities. We also began stretching the time between Want to Do activities so that Little Miss was able to complete 3-4 Must Do activities before being rewarded with a Want to Do. Even now, her sessions are run with this foundation (although the structure is a little more flexible) and it has been hugely successful for both her and her tutor.