Thursday, October 4, 2007

Traffic Violations (in a Power Chair)

What do you do when your high school aged power chair users drive unsafely? I give traffic tickets.

I started doing this last year after multiple problems with several students who knew how to drive safely, but did not. They were jacking up their speed, driving on the left in packed hallways, not wearing their distance vision glasses, not following staff instructions to stop or watch out, and, on occasion, crashing for fun. Thus I instituted traffic tickets. The kids knew what they were, of course. All could indicate many people they knew who had been stopped by the police for speeding and other violations. That included their teacher, who explained, in detail, how scary it is to be stopped and how you can end up losing you license.

Parents were brought on board and all agreed that the students needed to learn the importance of safe driving and the consequences of violating roles. The students were told in no uncertain terms that three tickets mean you lose your power chair for the day. Several students received one or two tickets, but it took months for a third ticket to be issued. That student has never received another ticket.

Normally I am a positive behavior support all the way kind of person and I don't want you to think my students don't have the supports to drive properly. They have had tons of direct instruction, they have visual and other types of cues and reminders as to the rules and how to best follow them, they are given all sorts of positive reinforcement for doing well. However, in this safety related situation I do use a more draconian last resport.

(I am reminded as I write this of Dr. Laura Riffel's workshop when she asked the participants to imagine a work where one day a month the police stopped excellent drivers and gave out cash. "Here's two hundred and fifty dollars, thank you so much for using your turn signal back there!")

You can get the Boardmaker file of my traffic ticket at the TLWMSN group.

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