The most useful PEC of all time

Picture Exchange Cards, flash cards and social stories – I tend to use these terms interchangeably – the format isn’t important, it’s the underlying message, without the need for words which is key.

Time is an abstract concept for youngsters. It may take a while to master it completely. Meanwhile, the practical day to day, passage of time, may prove problematical. As adults, we often forget that time passes very, very, very slowly for children.

Hence, if you are designing a social story for your child to encompass a new event, outing or pursuit, it’s as well to prepare in advance and include quite a few ‘time’ PEC’s to help our children manage the unexpected.

The unexpected may come in many forms –

– waiting while everyone gets out of the car if you’re in a group
– any preparatory activity by the parent such as locking the car, gathering belongings, setting up a push chair, fumbling for change to pay the meter
– a ‘delay’ while you pay the entrance fee

It’s basically anything that isn’t the ‘on task’ activity which means there is/are delay[s] or waiting involved.

As with all ‘new’ campaigns, timing is critical. Explain how it works first, in advance, many times, then pick an occasion when you can guarantee success, when you’re absolutely certain they will wait for a very short time, no more than a few minutes so they can experience success and relief = times up, no more waiting. This means that short of an earthquake or other natural disaster, their waiting time will be minimal.

We experienced considerable success when we later paired ‘the waiting period’ with a stop watch, the kind you can hang around your neck. Minutes of waiting could be exchanged for extra minutes at a preferred activity, later.

But be careful how you adopt this with some children, those children who exhibit obsessive traits, as this approach can swiftly morph into a strait jacket for the parent – but that was just my mistake.

Before I knew it, a symbiotic relationship developed – a run of bad luck for the me: no cash for the cafe latte, the credit card that won’t swipe, an error in the pin number, ditto with the duplicate, scrabbling for coins amongst the dust bunnies under the seats, the coffee spill which gums up the automatic window function, the refusal to be transported in a car like a wind tunnel, lengthy minutes squandered, static, as I explained the need to get back on track, a waste of breath, words and energy……..time racks up pretty quickly.

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