After weeks of preparation, shopping for the perfect toy and wrapping it carefully, many parents are disappointed when their child with special needs does not want to open presents or does not know how. To set you and your child up for success, try following the below procedure to help your child become excited to rip open that gift and find out what is inside.
The goal is to not only teach your child how to open the gift, but also to anticipate what will be inside.
You will want to start practising this at the beginning of December and do it as often as possible.
We recommend at least one time per day.
1. Start with a box that is wrapped, but easy to open. For example, the bottom and top are wrapped separately and the child simply has to pull the top off.
2. Put a preferred treat or toy (not a new present, but something you already own) inside the box, so when they open it they find something they really like. Ensure the child has not had that item for a few days or weeks. Also, remember to change the “gift” you put inside the box each time you do it.
3. If your child needs help opening the box, provide them with hand to hand guidance to be successful. Slowly decrease how much you help them until they are independent.
4. Once your child is able to take the lid off and does so willingly to access what is inside, increase the difficulty of opening the box. For example, they may need to rip one layer off the box to get the lid open. Remember to go back to hand over hand guidance if necessary for success and then fade your involvement.
By slowing increasing the difficulty and by providing a reward once opened, you teach your child how to independently open the gift as well as teach them the reason for opening the gift – there is something great inside!!