The Guessing Game.

In my son’s ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) sessions, there are tutors who work “programs” which teach certain concepts to my son.  Lately, they’ve been working on a program called the “guessing game.”  The idea is a pared-down version of 20 questions, using three “clues”, one of which is to narrow the field of objects.  It goes something like this:

“I’m thinking of something.”

“It’s an animal.”

“It’s got a long neck.”

“It’s yellow and brown.  What is it?”

My son says, “Giraffe!” and then is duly praised with an excited, “Good job!”

The tutors have gone so far with the program, that they have allowed him to switch roles.  This means that he acts in the role of the “teacher” and gives the clues and the tutor guesses the object.

The little guy loves this game.  He wants to play it all the time, in and outside of behavioral therapy.  But as with most things he learns, he likes to put his own little signature twist on it to suit his own purposes.

It’s become somewhat of an obsession.  The obsession can escalate to a behavior.   If he is on the verge of a meltdown, he will manipulate the game to serve as a method by which he plunges himself into a scream/cry-fest.

We are at home.  He runs up to me and, in his little boy sing-song voice, says, “Wanna play the guessing game!” He’s so excited and happy.  I agree, of course and then he says:

“Wanna guess this!”  and he will hold up an object that he covets.

He doesn’t get the concept of a guess.  This is a bit of a cheat and control mixed together.  Currently, “guess” items include a small rectangular timer we got from Crate & Barrel (yes Grace, you are going shopping there with me someday!) or a car from the new Cars 2 movie among other objects.

I tell him that is not the way the game works.  He still forces his method.  “Wanna guess it!  Wanna guess it!”  and when he is in his good, “cute” mode, I really have no reason to argue over it because – well, he’s cute and he’s making an effort to use his communication skills and thought process to guess, or so I think.

“Ok,” I respond.  “T’s turn.”

“No, it’s your turn, mommy,” he responds.

Let me pause here.  Do you ever feel like you are weighing, in your head, whether to give in to the child versus dealing with the meltdown? And you let giving in win to avoid the meltdown?  Because sometimes I take the path of least resistance.  Usually, because it is either shortly before or after I have a fight with a lawyer, AT&T, the bank or the hubs.

So, sometimes, I just say – okay, it’s my turn.  We get through a few rounds of “guessing game” just fine.  We guess pigs, cats, elephants, kangaroos, swimming pools and playgrounds and then…

“I’m thinking of something.  It’s a vehicle-”

“Wanna guess green!  Green!”

“It’s got four wheels”


“It’s green…”


You see where I’m going with this right?  I have to pull the plug on the game and, sometimes give a time out.  There are tears, sniffling, a whole dramatic production. 30 minutes later, he’s laughing and running around like nothing happened.

“I’m thinking of something, it’s a little boy.  He talks a lot.  He dances and likes cars.  Who is he?”


Hmm, sometimes.

I don’t think the program is mastered yet.



About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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10 Responses to The Guessing Game.

  1. Oh yes, I recognize the control…sometimes I just focus on the turn-taking. Sometimes I’m just glad she is communicating. Sometimes I just want a quiet life! I like the game though, I might have to start playing it around here. Thanks!

  2. LuvMyCrzyLife says:

    Really? I love him! He seems like such a happy little soul!

  3. Ack. Sounds a little maddening. I’m rather glad we’re not there yet in either our development OR our language 😉

    By the way, I guess BLUE!

  4. Kara says:

    Oh my, right on. When I’m feeling like that I totally rationalize it – I’m so good at it. It’s my best skill. I tell myself, “Does every stinkin’ minute of the day have to be developmental?” or “Why can’t she just have her way once in awhile? The poor kid is going to grow up thinking she can’t have anything her way. Ever.”

    That sounds like such a fun game! Kind of. Maybe.

  5. Tessa says:

    OMG! Tinkerbell has this game called “What’s On My Head?” Same concept. You ask questions to try to figure out what card is on your head (fits in a headband). She demands the same three questions every time, and you only get three tries. After your third attempt she says, “Say, is it a swing” or whatever. She loves the game. She and your son wouldn’t be able to tolerate playing it together! I’m picturing the battle in my head! LOL

  6. Lizbeth says:

    We’re going through a “gross out menu” right now. He wants to make up menu’s 24/7. When I put a stop to it he tries to get me to play again, he gets mad or I cave. I so wish I were playing a guessing game and not making up a menu consisting of snot soup with a side of slippery salad, bugger brain pudding, pig tongue tart and well, you get the idea….

  7. eof737 says:

    Adorable piggy! What is it eating? Oh yes, the guessing game; what can I say, indulge him! 😉

  8. eof737 says:

    Woohoo! I believe I’ve caught up on comments for your blog… on a roll now as I feel less tired from my grueling week. 🙂

  9. Grace says:

    I totally take the path of least resistance way too often. Only difference is I’m fighting with my prescription plan and Comcast.

    And I will go to Crate & Barrel with you, but only if you’re paying. Be warned, my mother has always said I have champagne taste and beer money. Which wouldn’t be so bad if I actually drank beer.

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