Prioritizing education. How involved do you get or plan to get, and how do you incentivize their effort and success in this area? - Melissa

I try to stay as involved as I can with my daughter's IEP (individualized education plan) at school meeting monthly with her school team. The very best way to give kids with autism incentive is to use their interests and strengths to teach them.

Without motivation, it can be like hitting a brick wall. Many are not socially motivated to please you, to do what their peers are doing, or to get good grades. They do have an interest in being successful as well as not making you frustrated with them, but their success - to them - is quite often not the same as what you want.

It frustrates them when you are frustrated, and this can cause behaviors. It also causes behaviors to try to get them to work on tasks that are meaningless to them, especially when you keep pushing it time and time again because they do not appear to be grasping it. It takes a lot of patience and creativity to work with kids with autism, but often times you find out, unexpectedly, that they know much more than you thought.

Finding a way for them to show you what they know can be a huge task, as many are not socially at a place where they want to fulfill your expectations and desires for them. Often times, it will not come until a way is incorporated that includes an interest of theirs or something highly motivating to them -using bribery…hmm…I mean rewards. With our kids, motivating rewards can be a mom's best friend because so little else often works! Working on that social reciprocity is important, but it can be slow to come.

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