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 of 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
After an extensive career broadcast marketing, Jennifer and her husband searched for answers when their oldest son hit the kinder years with great difficultly. After finally learning that their oldest son had Aspergers Syndrome, she left her career in television and became a full time mother to both of her sons. Jennifer elicited the participation of her sons and together they produced several independent programs including a children’s animated series titled Ameriquest Kids (now distributed by Landmark Media) as well as her documentary and book titled, Coping to Excelling: Solutions for school-age children diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome.
The need for more information encouraged Jennifer to elicit a team of autism experts to provide weekly, original content to a website free to anyone seeking to live their best under the diagnosis of High-Functioning Autism/Aspergers Syndrome… appropriately titled: Aspergers101.com.