Behavior Modification with Lil Jon

Rules are almost never fun.
Devin is almost always fun.
Music can help make just about anything more fun.

I’ve been seeing Devin since October – working on academics and social skills as well as piano performance and songwriting. Several months ago his parents, along with some behavior specialists, created a set of rules for him to follow.

  1. Ask for help
  2. Safe behavior
  3. Follow directions
  4. Stay focused
  5. Keep a normal volume
  6. Look at the speaker

Whether or not Devin follows his rules during a music therapy session determines whether or not he gets to choose a preferred song or video at the end of the session. The rules are on a printed visual, but based on Devin’s excellent ability to recall song lyrics I thought that putting these rules to music would also be helpful… and fun.

I wanted a call and response song – structured so that I would sing a rule and then Devin would repeat it. But something was missing. I wanted a cue that it was Devin’s turn to sing. I also wanted verbal praise when Devin was listening and accurately repeated the rule. Lil Jon to the rescue! I couldn’t name a single song by Lil Jon, but I was familiar with some of his catch phrases from watching Dave Chappelle’s Show. “What?” would come to signify “Were you listening? What did I say?” and “Yeah!” was just the sort of verbal affirmation I was looking for.

I’m pretty sure that Devin appreciated the song. The first time I played it for him, he got out of his chair and gave me a hug. After a few attempts, Devin nailed his vocal recording. The song now serves as a rule reminder at the beginning of each session. If Devin is straying during a session, I can now put on my rapper voice and say the first word of a rule and Devin will verbally finish the rule and get back on track.