How to Motivate Aspergers Children


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


Anonymous said...

Our son likes trucks, and even though it isn't writing, we encourage him to draw his favorite things, or like Christmas time make a list of what he wants. Anything he can write down that He likes; video game, names of cars, year. It is ALL Very Important to them! Hope this helps, it has helped us, and he is ten.

Anonymous said...

We did that with our son too. He writes recipes he sees on tv & wrote down every dinosaur museum he wanted to visit in the US including the city & state.

Jokysu said...

One of the things we did was to figure out what was the challenge in writing. What we determined was getting the thoughts down on paper. If he could tell the story and I typed, the stories were fantastic. On his own it was a major struggle. We worked with a speech therapist to help him learn how to make webs of his thoughts and help him turn them in to sentences and then paragraphs, short stories and then longer stories. This was all in second grade. It took about 6 months of meetings twice a month to make him comfortable. Now in seventh grade we keep writing and really enjoy writing fiction stories about fun characters he made up. His assigment at school was a 2000 words story and he has gone way past that. It all takes time, but it gets easier. Figure out the reason why it is difficult or not motivating and then take it part and teach each piece. It helps. My 12 year old son is proof of it.

SpecialeducatorM said...

Use Kidspiration software; it's terrific! First, help your child make a list of at least ten related things that come to mind on a given topic in Word. Using the computer is a great motivator--he can have time for a game or drawing on the computer after his assignment is finished, or after so much time working at it. Token economy does not have to cost money. Make it an activity he enjoys that he gets more time to do IF he completes his assignment. Practice doing this every day.

After he's used to making lists on topics, then use Kidspiration software to link three supporting details to his main idea, and add a topic sentence and a concluding sentence. If you email me I can give you some tips with these.

Anonymous said...

Typing, my son finds writing hard but through OT, he now types really well and gets all his thought out on his laptop.

Anonymous said...

Yes, typing is great and Diana Hanbury King has an excellent keyboarding book--check out the Society of Orton-Gillingham for that and also use Kidspiration for creating writing webs. Feel free to email me for more information if you're interested. Free time on the computer after a certain amount of productive time is an excellent motivator.
3 minutes ago · Like

Anonymous said...

my son who is now 12 and a half still and never has liked writing. his handwriting is terrible. i hope as he gets older it gets better

Raising Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Parents' Grief and Guilt

Some parents grieve for the loss of the youngster they   imagined  they had. Moms and dads have their own particular way of dealing with the...