The Importance of Offering Choices

We know choices are important. We make choices everyday. However, do you ever stop to think about how often our learners are able to make choices? Not very often. Sure, you may ask your kids what they want to wear to school, or what sticker they want to add to their potty chart. But more often than not, our littles don't have much of a choice of things day to day. They are told where to sit in the classroom, what they are having for dinner, what time they are going to bed. And it makes sense, because sometimes things are just non-negotiable. So how do we add more opportunities to make choices in our learners' days? Read on to learn more...

What Does it Mean?

Offering a learner two or more options and allowing him/her to independently select an option. 

Why to use it?

Providing choices is a simple, yet effective tool for ABA families and staff to have in their toolbox. Allowing the student to make choices provides them with opportunities to have control over their environment, which can decrease problem behavior and increase compliance. By allowing the learner to make choices we are also fostering independence, which is important for the learner’s quality of life and future success.

When to use it?

Choices should be provided throughout a learner’s day, just like it is in our adult lives. It encourages appropriate behaviors while allowing the learner some control over their lives.

How to Use it

This strategy is simple to implement. Choice offering can and should be used with learners of all ages. Provide explicit and specific choices for the learner throughout all opportunities. Giving choices does not mean the child “gets out” of doing a task. Further, allowing the child to make a choice does not mean you are asking open-ended questions and hoping the learner makes the choice you’re looking for. Sometimes you don’t care what tasks is completed, as long as a task is completed. In this case, you may ask “Would you rather make your bed, or pick up the clothes on your floor?” You are still providing choices, but the outcome may not matter to you. However, for tasks that are non-negotiable, your “choices” will be more forced. For example, if the child needs brush their teeth, you may ask “Do you want to brush your teeth now, or after your bath?” The tooth brushing is not a choice, but the time in which they can complete it is.

Opportunities for making choices can and should be included across all types of settings, including during very structured ABA sessions, classroom settings, at home with families, and less structured time out in the community.

ABA at Play: scientific research, antecedent manipulations, evidence-based practices, socially significant behavior, individualized supports, reinforcement procedures, Positive Behavior Supports, manipulating MOs.

How would you provide choices with your learners? Leave an example below!


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