As humans we all make decisions every moment of the day, this is what is special about our lives. We can choose what we want to do, how we want to act, who we want to be, how we respond to others, if we respond to others etc. Our decisions help to shape who we become and how well our day is going. I recently introduced this concept with some clients teaching them how to understand the importance of decision making, recognising the power that it has and types of dynamic decisions we can make as well as how to begin creating those opportunities.
When we reach a decision point we are facing a fork in the road and we have choices and options of how to proceed forward. Each choice has their own pros and cons and advantages or disadvantages leading to consequences of that choice. Sometimes we are faced with situations and circumstances that might not have many or any positive repercussions yet we still need to make a choice; a decision to move forward and weigh up the negative options to find the best possible outcome.
Today I want to share with you two types of dynamic decision-making examples that you can use and begin to implement with your own child.
1. Good enough
Think about being in an information session or lecture of some sort, where you have not been given handouts, you were supposed to go along with a friend but your friend couldn’t make it and asks you to make notes for her, you agree to because you would have liked this too if you couldn’t go.
Decision point – how neat should you make your notes?
Factors to weigh up – the content is the most important, spelling and grammar is not as important but your handwriting is quite messy and your friend (and you) need to be able to refer to them in the future to make sense of them.
These may be things that by now we do automatically or at least this kind of decision doesn’t cause us too much stress, but still require some initial thought. In the process of taking notes you might stop to reflect and monitor whether your notes are legible. The point is you have applied ‘good enough’ thinking here by saying to yourself that the grammar and spelling is not important, the content holds the most value but will be lost if my handwriting is too messy, so you choose a good enough type of handwriting for the situation.
Many children with autism in school may be facing similar situations with handwriting but may not yet have learnt to apply ‘good enough’ thinking and decision making here. This can cause a lot of stress for children who particularly like their handwriting to look very neat or spell things correctly every time or concern about grammar ‘rules’.
Think about situations where you have the opportunity to help your child apply ‘good enough’ decision-making.
2. Best fit
Imagine you are building a Lego house with your child, this is something you have done many times before together. The piece that you usually use for the door is missing, you can’t find it, you’ve looked everywhere, and it has been misplaced for now.
Decision point – What do we do now?
Factors to weigh up – you know it is not essential to use the same piece each time. Your child could possibly be upset that it’s missing. The most important thing is the interaction together and building the house. This is a learning opportunity to focus on flexibility.
This kind of scenario is a common challenge for many children on the spectrum. We know that there is not a lot you can do about it if the piece is missing. We also know that its not the end of the world and that we can still build a perfectly functioning house by using another piece that is the next best fit. Certain pieces might not fit so well, so you need to find something that is the best fit. You are applying best-fit thinking and decision making here.
Meltdowns are happening all over the world with children on the spectrum because they haven’t learnt that they can apply ‘best fit’ solutions and decisions and still achieve their ultimate goal.
What other situations can you think that you could use to help teach the ‘best fit’ decision making process?
Helping children to develop flexibility in this way will help them to gain experience of competence when faced with various dynamic decision making situations in life. Since we face them every single day, and so it is important that they feel competent in making decisions and applying good enough thinking and best fit solutions.
Please contact me at email@example.com if you would like to discuss how the RDI programme can help you support your child to make decisions in a dynamic world!