I am looking for more tips on how to get a 9-year-old with Aspergers to enjoy writing more.
Aspergers (high-functioning autistic) kids respond best when their motivation level is high; when the answer to the question "What's in it for me?" is something an Aspergers youngster most wants or desires. Kids with Aspergers never really make the leap from instant gratification to internal motivation or drive, such as self-satisfaction in a job well done, or pride in their ability to face a challenging situation. Aspergers kids are simply wired differently emotionally, and parents and educators soon come to realize that motivation to attempt or complete tasks is closely linked to perceived personal gain or reward for the youngster.
For Aspergers kids to achieve and keep on achieving, the possibility of personal reward must be present as a motivator. Often this reward revolves around the special interest of the Aspergers youngster.
So how do we achieve a state of constant motivation and satisfy the need for almost instant gratification without bankrupting our finances?
I believe Token Economy best suits the needs of kids with Aspergers. A Token Economy is a system where the Aspergers youngster earns tokens as a reward for desired behaviors or actions. A predetermined number of tokens are then exchanged or “cashed in” for an item or activity the Aspergers youngster desires.
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 (overuse of a reward can result in the youngster no longer viewing it as a reward). Using money in a Token Economy negates the need for the Aspergers youngster to decode an abstract concept, as in the ‘real’ world people are paid money for completing tasks by way of employment.
A token economy works well with Aspergers kids at school and at home right through Elementary School, and can continue to be used successfully at home throughout High School.
Aspergers kids take a long time establish trust, and for this reason a token economy should 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 “fines” or response costs, where the Aspergers youngster is fined for inappropriate behavior. This correlates the Token Economy program with real-world experiences for Aspergers kids. However, the focus of the program must be on the positives, because kids with Aspergers are prone to quickly losing their motivation and trust.
Be creative with the reinforcers offered as motivation for Aspergers kids. Offering a ‘menu’ of rewards to choose from seems most successful. Initially for kids with Aspergers “cashed in” rewards need to be fairly instant i.e. at the end of each day. Over time this can be stretched to the end of each week. As the Aspergers youngster matures this delayed gratification may be able to be stretched to a month or term, however small rewards and motivators should be offered consistently along the way.
My Aspergers Child: How to Prevent Tantrums