Coaching Persons in Decision Making: Forgot My Lunch

We’ve all been there, right? We get to work and realize we forgot our lunch. For someone with a disability (or anyone who tends to be forgetful), this probably happens more often and it can be anxiety-provoking. It’s distracting and keeps us from doing our best work.

Several issues and choices come into play. Does the person have money? Is there something that they can buy at work or close by? Do they have a good friend who might share some of their lunch? Is there someone who can bring their lunch or money (not recommended, but an option for some). Can they just go without?

If you are a support person and are helping someone work through this issue, here’s how the conversation might go.

Guided Decision Making Script:

A is the person ‘Asking’ for help and R is the person ‘Responding’.

A: I forgot my lunch.

R: Where are you? Work, school?

A: Work

R: Do you have time to figure it out right now or should we talk when you’re on break?

A: I’m on break now (or I’m freaking out about it and need to figure it out before I can get to work).

R: Let’s see. Do you have money with you?

A: A little bit.

R: How much?

A: I have a debit card.

R: Do you know how much is on it?

A: I’m not sure.

R: Do you think you have $5 or $10?

A: I think so.

R: Do you know how to check your balance?

A: I usually call my mom and ask.

R: That’s an idea. You might want to do that. If you do have money, is there something at work that you can buy?

A: There are some vending machines.

R: Anything else?

A: There’s something across the street.

R: Which do you want to do?

A: Across the street I guess.

R: Are you okay with getting across the street? Is there a crosswalk to use?

A: Yeah, it’s easy. I’ve done it before.

R: And you have time to get back and forth on your lunch break?

A: Yes.

R: Well, what I would do is call your mom and check your balance and then eat across the street. Sound good?

A: Yes

R: Can you figure out what to get if you just have $5? For example, just getting a burger and ordering water to drink?

A: I’m not sure.

R: Call back when you get there if you need help with that.

A: Okay

R: So, ready to get back to work after you call your mom?

A: Yes.

R: Tell me what you’re going to do after we hang up.

A: Check my balance.

R: Excellent! Thanks for calling and be sure to call back if you need help ordering lunch.

A: Okay bye.

Problem solving is difficult because it’s so contextual. Issues to check include available resources: How much time do they have? How much money do they have? Can they count their money or check the balance on their debit card? [A proactive step would be to be sure the person knows how to check their debit card balance. This will reduce stress the next time around.]

Planning a purchase requires a few steps. The most common misstep is when a person makes a purchase with no regard as to whether they have the money for it. (Cashiers tend to be nice when they’re short, especially if they are regular customers or the cashier can tell that they have a disability, but it’s not a good habit).

What if the person has no money? What food is available? If no money, see if they can borrow money, even if it’s 75 cents to buy some chips from the vending machine. If they have a good friend at work, they might share some of their lunch. They can call someone to bring food or money.  As a last resort, they’ll just have to go without lunch.


Making decisions is hard work because they’re so contextual. So many variables come into play.

Smart Steps(R) is here to help with a system for those individuals who can handle some independence but would like some just-in-time backup support. To get started, set up an account on our website and download the free Smart Steps Mobile app on the Apple Store or the Google Playstore.

(C) 2015 Smart Steps LLC