Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Product Review: Chore Chart/Picture Schedule

In the last few months, I have been trying various methods to get Jaymes to calmly do the assorted daily living tasks that Sierra does on her own. Tried the PECS, and it was just too hard to keep up with because Jaymes has a habit of squirreling away the cards.Tried a written schedule on a white board, but Jaymes didn't have interest- aside from erasing the schedule and scribbling on the white board...

Anyway, I have finally had success! I found this fantastic Reward Chore Chart at My Precious Kid. It's actually meant to be for reminding kids of chores like cleaning their rooms, taking a bath, etc... Not really meant to be a picture schedule type deal, I guess. But, it actually functions as both!

The kit comes with a heavy duty cardboard back with an easel-style stand. Three hooks are labeled for morning, noon, and night. An extra hook is below those for "extra" chores. It also comes with a hook to hang it, but I used that as another hook to hang completed task cards on. The cards come with stickers that are pre-printed with typical daily chores, and there is also an entire page of blank stickers that you can either draw/write on or put in the printer to make fancier stickers. Finally, a plastic box sticks to the bottom right of the chart to place completed cards into.

Tokens are included, along with some suggestions of rewards to offer your child to "buy" with the tokens they have earned. There are a LOT of tokens, and in two different colors to denote different values.

Quality-wise, everything is really nice and heavy duty. Nicer than you would expect for the really reasonable price, actually. The board is a very heavy cardboard, with plastic stick-on hooks and the plastic card box. Cute animals on it makes it fun, and there is a large space at the top to write your child's name. The cards are heavy plastic, very durable and they handle the grabbing/yanking/pulling/occasional drooling on them very well.

The cards themselves are color coded for organization purposes, but as I was too excited to start working on it to actually read the instructions first, organization went out the window for us! The idea is that there are different colors for each part of the day (morning/noon/night) and then another color for the "extra" chores. Assuming you don't start slapping stickers onto cards all willy-nilly like me, you will LOVE how easy the system makes organizing your child's chores!

I took the pre-printed stickers/cards with tasks that actually apply to Jaymes (self care tasks, basic picking up, etc) and set aside the more advanced tasks (take out the trash, wash dishes) for future use. I drew and labeled a bunch of the extra blank stickers, and made cards for the things Jaymes needs to do daily but that were not included. A typical set of tasks for the day looks about like this:

(* means I made the card for that task)


-Diaper change*
-Take meds (this card actually says "take my vitamin" but it's close enough and Jaymes recognizes the picture as "time for meds.")
-Get dressed*
-Shoes on*
-Sit at table*
-Drink soy milk* (this one is the best thing ever- I have struggled with getting him to drink his soy milk, he needs the calcium and since he cannot have "real" milk...)
-Clean my plate up from the table
-Brush teeth
-Brush hair

(Insert typical play time/going out to the grocery store..etc here)


-Clean up my toys
-Read my book (this one says "read my book for 15 minutes" but I just use it as a reminder for a book in general)
-Sit at table*
-Eat lunch*
-Clean my plate from the table
-Nap time*

(Insert typical play time/going out to the grocery store..etc here)


-Clean up my toys
-Sit at table*
-Eat dinner*
-Take my meds
-Take my bath
-Brush my teeth
-Brush my hair
-Get ready for bed
-Say something nice to my sister (is that not the coolest addition?)
-Go to bed

When we first started this, I kind of had a feeling that it would not work. Very few systems like this have actually accomplished much at home, and I was not sure that he would be able to understand the token system. As usual, I had really underestimated Jaymes!

Jaymes has done SO well with the system. He understands what each card means, and he understands that if he does it, he gets a token. He understands that he can "buy" candy or special items (like time on his game system) with his tokens. And unlike when I ask him to do something, he has respect for the cards and gets that if the card says to do it, he better do it. Not to say he has been 100% cooperative with it, of course... He's not perfect. But I have seen a HUGE difference. Before, I could not get him to drink his soy milk. He hated it, and would not even think about drinking it. I could not get him to put on his shoes. He will still scream at me (or the card), and fuss about the shoes... But he eventually gives in and puts them on. The "sit at the table" card has him actually sitting at the table to eat- instead of running around the house, pausing to grab a bite to eat before bolting off again.

He understands the routine, and it's building great habits. Jaymes thrives on structure, so he LOVES that he can look at his cards and know what he should be doing now, and what he'll be needing to do next. That is rewarding in itself to him, but then there are also the tokens to further reinforce good behavior. I started with giving him a token for each task, and letting him exchange the tokens for skittles every 2-3 cards. Once he understood that, I started letting him rack up tokens (showing him each time he earned one) and cash them in later. Once he got the idea that his saved up tokens could be used to get candy, I have now started giving him a token for every few cards (3-4 cards).

Originally, he was getting a skittle for cooperating with the chart, and that meant every few minutes. I'm not wild about stuffing the boy with candy, so that is why I started to cut back. I've taken it to the point of attaching higher prices to certain candies. Rewards go as follows (I need to make a printout showing pics of each reward, with circles representing tokens alongside):

-Skittle = 1 token
-Rainbow Twizzlers= 2 tokens
-Rainbow candy belts = 3 tokens
-Time playing with IXL game system = 5 tokens
-Cookie = 5 tokens

This will be something he'll have to learn slowly, I know that the concept is a little above where he is, cognitively... however, he understands that he asks for an item and I tell him how many tokens he needs to "pay." So it's a start, and I think it's a good math skill builder.

This token/card/chore chart system has made life SO much easier. Jaymes knows to look at his cards and to move completed cards himself. He always knows what is expected of him, and he understands that if he does not comply, he will not get a token. He is motivated because I keep a good variety of rewards that are VERY valuable to him, and the structure helps his little mind keep on track. This has helped SO much, since Jaymes is on winter break from school. Normally, school breaks are torture for all of us- Jaymes included. Jaymes likes his routine, he does not like to be in an unstructured environment. It's been a struggle for me to try and keep things as structured as they can be in our crazy home. The cards make it so much easier. I prepare the cards in advance- at night, I set up the morning's cards. In the morning, I set up the noon time cards. At noon, I set up the night time cards. sometimes I can set up a whole day's worth!

One especially cool thing that this product offers is a card labeled "say something nice to my brother/sister." You don't see that in many chore charts, behavior charts, or picture schedules. I know that I've never even thought about adding that as a task... But what a great idea! While on one hand, it's a little sad that being nice to Sierra has to be a task for Jaymes, it is what it is... Having that card motivates Jaymes to actually talk to, and give good night hugs to his sister- things he generally avoids at all costs. It's already become habit for him, before he goes to bed, he gives Sierra a hug and says good night.

I really love this item, and am super grateful to Kay at My Precious Kid for allowing me to test it out. This is a keeper, and I see it being an incredible tool for helping Jaymes get through his day with as little frustration as possible.

Check out Kay's store. My Precious Kid has an awesome inventory of items you cannot find just anywhere. We're talking Medical alert/ID bracelets, shoe ID tags, home and car safety items... Even child locator systems! Really cool stuff. I have never seen this many hard to find items that are perfect for our kids with autism and other developmental disabilities. Her prices are really reasonable too- something that online "specialty" type stores rarely manage!

1 comment:

Melanie said...

I ordered one - sounds great!