Finding activities that motivate your child on the spectrum can be a struggle. Parents and professionals often search for inspiring ways to get a child with autism to complete a difficult task or improve their behavior. Below you will find some resourceful ideas that can be used to inspire your child in a difficult situation. Since all children on the spectrum are unique, please take these ideas as guidelines and feel free to adjust any of the concepts to fit your child’s interests.
- Interests: Find out your child’s interests. Are they interested in video games, specific topics such as animals, trains, cars, or specific television shows? Topics and activities that interest your child can motivate them to complete tasks that are either difficult or do not interest them.
- Rewards: Is your child working on a large goal such as potty training, brushing teeth, dressing, etc. If that is the case, use what interests your child and give them a reward for a job well done. Creating a chart is a great way to motivate your child to stick with larger goals. For example, every time your child goes on the potty, or follows the step-by-step instructions to brushing their teeth, you give them a sticker on their chart. At the end of the week if they have 5 or more stickers then they get a prize. Working towards a reward can be very motivating for children on the spectrum.
- Helping Roles: Some children on the spectrum are motivated by being allowed to help their parents with tasks they like to do. Giving your child a choice of which reward they can pick is a way to let your child feel grown up and learn that helping can be fun. When children on the spectrum are engaged, they are able to stay focused and occupied. For Example, if you have a child that runs from you, tell them that if they hold your hand all the way home they can (a.) help make their favorite dinner or (b) bake their favorite dessert.
- If/Then: Other ways the staff at Beautiful Minds Center has found that helps keep children who have been diagnosed with autism motivated is through the if/then scenario. For example: If you finish your homework, then you can play outside; or when you finish cleaning your room, you can watch TV. This method has also proved very effective in motivating children to complete tasks that are less preferred. By allowing them to do a favored activity after completing a less favored activity, you motivate your child to complete their tasks and reward them with something they either love to do, or asked to do.
There are many ways to motive children on the spectrum, the best thing to do is to find what interests your child and uses these interests in creative ways to get them to complete tasks that are difficult or less preferable. Also try to keep using rewards instead of consequences. By creating a positive environment, you help your children grow and learn instead of pushing them away from unwanted tasks and causing frustration. Get creative with your ideas and think outside the box. The more creative and fun you make the process, the more motived your child on the spectrum will be.