"Any tricks for getting a very stubborn 4 year old Asperger's child to do what he is told. He truly has a mind of his own. For example, if our requests don't make sense to him, he refuses to do what we ask, which usually results in a mother-son tug of war."
A "token economy" seems to work best for kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism. This is a system where the child earns tokens as a reward for desired behaviors. A predetermined number of tokens are then "cashed-in" for a privilege the child desires (e.g., a favorite snack, time for playing video games, etc.). A token economy is flexible and can be easily tailored to suit the individual needs - and desires - of the youngster.
Token economies that use money tokens seem to be the most successful with Aspergers kids in increasing their ability to delay gratification, and lessening the risk of satiation (i.e., overuse of a reward that results in the child no longer viewing it as a reward). Using money in a token economy negates the need for the child to decode an abstract concept, because in the "real world," people are paid money for completing tasks in their place of employment.
Aspergers kids take a long time establishing trust, and for this reason, a token economy should initially focus on rewarding desired behaviors and actions. Once the program has been established for a number of years, you may then be able to introduce "response costs" where the child is fined for inappropriate behavior. This correlates the token economy with real world experiences (e.g., if I drive too fast, I get a speeding ticket; if I park where I shouldn’t, I get a parking ticket). However, the focus of the program in the early stages must be on the positives, because Aspergers kids are prone to quickly losing their motivation and trust.
Be creative with the reinforcers offered as motivation. Offering a "menu of rewards" to choose from seems most successful. Initially, "cashed-in" rewards need to be fairly instant (e.g., at the end of each day). Over time, this can be stretched to the end of each week. As the child matures, this delayed gratification may be able to be stretched to a month; however, small rewards and motivators should be offered consistently along the way.
As with all strategies used with Aspergers children, patience and perseverance are the keys to success when using a token economy, but the rewards for both the parent and child are awesome!
The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook