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This article focuses on the 'what if' skill.
puzzle on beach
© Swinburne University of Technology 2020

In Weeks 1 and 2 we discussed the ‘person first’ thinking skill which helps you empathise with a person with Autism and imagine what the person might be thinking and feeling that is leading to a particular behaviour. We then talked about the ‘define’ skill where you select the most likely reason for the behaviour.

This week, we focus on the ‘what if’ skill. The ‘what if’ skill means taking your ‘defined’ reason for the behaviour, then considering possible solutions for the behaviour. The ‘what if’ skill also asks you to consider potential outcomes as a result of trying those solutions.

For example, we return to the lunchbox scenario used in the introduction video where we thought of reasons why Mick might not be eating his lunch. We focused on the temperature of the food in the lunchbox, deciding it was the most likely cause because we know he is sensitive to cold food.

  • Using the ‘what if’ skill, we can imagine what might happen if we move Mick’s frozen drink bottle so that it no longer makes his sandwich cold? How might we explain this to him, and what might be the outcome be for Mick? For example, if we know that Mick is very attached to his frozen drink bottle, will he be upset if it is in a different place?
  • This skill of asking ‘what if’ enables you to consider what might happen before you implement any strategies.
© Swinburne University of Technology 2020
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Supporting and Engaging People with Autism

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