Helping with New Experiences

I recently did a bowling outing with a group of boys who have been working with me on social communication skills. We spent the session prior to the outing planning and preparing. Because the boys were prepared for this new experience, the game went well. They took care of getting their shoes and balls, bowled, ordered snacks, feasted and we all had a really great time with minimal upsets.
I’ve done similar plans for to help kids prepare for vacations, weddings, airport security, class performances and attending a new school. Pre-planning can help a child deal with the anxiety and uncertainly of a novel experience. Understanding the expectations can reduce or eliminate undesired behavior or over-excitement.
So, I thought I’d share our plan with you to use as a model with your children. Keep in mind we did this plan together on a large piece of paper with colorful markers noting each section. I photographed the plan, made copies for the boys and texted a copy to the parents so we were all on the same page.


What we expect to see:

bowling balls

bowling pins

alley where we will roll the balls


snack bar (we will order snack half way through the game)

video games (we will NOT play video games on this trip)

other people


special shoes (which led to a discussion about shoes sizes and I taught the boys how to find their shoe size in their shoe so they could ask for shoes independently)

What we expect to  hear:

loud crashing


other people talking

video game sounds (but we will NOT be playing video games on this trip)

Expected behaviors



watching each other and cheering for each other

eating is OK, but not food brought from home

ordering for yourself (we previewed the menu online and practiced ordering)

take turns

stay with the group

In addition to making a plan, you can read books about your planned event or watch online videos to prepare.  Role playing is always good along with  discussions about what behaviors are not appropriate and what to do if the plan needs to change (rain on an outdoor event, no more tickets, the snack bar being out of pizza, having to wait, etc.).

I’d love to hear your comments on your summer plans and what you did to make them successful!  You can do it….one word at a time!


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