Teach Decision Making Skills

Decision making is an important life skill in our everyday lives. Due to underdeveloped executive functions in individuals on the spectrum, the person could run into obstacles and even hazards in daily situations. We want to avoid that by teaching the client how to “think” and plan pragmatically.

The use of a Flow Chart could help lay out the immediate conceptual situation (or crisis) visually and state the solution steps textually. Here is a simplified example:


Decision Making Flow Chart 20160307

Decision Making Flow Chart 20160307

Please find some recommendations for using visual display in teaching decision making.

  • Start with simple situations. Examples are: Getting around in a crowded classroom. Picking toys during break time. Where to visit on Sunday? Who to invite to a playday? Someone took my gym shirt.
  • To begin with, offer 2 very different solutions (can be from different modalities). Later, offer more solutions and a variety of “say & do” options.
  • Sometimes the decision tree could be just a linear flow in either horizontal or vertical direction.
  • Use convenient graphics according to the situation. Examples: Stick person on a dry-erase board. Pencil sketch on a piece of paper. Computer graphics are not necessary.
  • Make sure the Flow Chart has a close loop. A “Problem-solved” status.
  • The wordings and pictures are all simple, positive, and encouraging.


Della is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®). Check with a BCBA® if you have questions about treatments based on Applied Behaviour Analysis. You could look up a Certificant in your city at www.bacb.com. Feel free to share your experience and discussions in my blog https://dellatam.wordpress.com/. Visit my website at www.DellaTamBehaviourAnalyst.com.


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