What would you do when a child with ASD keeps asking already-known questions repetitively?
Every time you give a child a glass of water and ask him to take a sip, he keeps asking the same questions “Do I need to drink the water? Is this water? Why do I need to drink it?” He won’t drink it until he gets the answer from you. While obviously you know he already knew the answers to those questions but he has this behavior problem as his enjoyment, what would you do?
- Ignore the child completely and give no response.
- Scold him “Stop asking, just drink the water”.
- Respond him patiently each time.
- Tell him not to ask questions again and apply reward system. So every time he stops asking you give him a reward.
- Draw his attention to other things (e.g. toys.) so he forgets about asking questions.
Let’s check the result! If you choose…
- You attempt to ignore the troubles, however, the child may get more upset and throw a tantrum.
- You probably got very annoyed by his repeated questions and hope he understands this is not correct by yelling at him, however, be aware that scolding may not stop his behavior. He may just want to seek attention from you, either negatively or positively!
- You have satisfied the child’s needs but this may not help the situation. Now the child knows you will answer what he asks and he will just ask more and more!
- This may help! Knowing this is not a good behavior, you teach him not to ask questions and give a reward when he behaves as told. Through reinforcement, he will learn to do the right thing! This can be the first step for you to do behavioral intervention.
- You try to distract him but have not addressed the problem. It may work for the first few times but he is going to ask questions again and again later, and the trouble still exists.
Using reinforcements to motivate learning is a very effective way to deal with this kind of behavior problem. Below see how Toby apply these skill sets.