Monday, September 19, 2011

ACTIVITIES ON THE ANGLE: Rewards and Motivation

Reward systems, praise and motivation are not always a perfect match for individuals with autism.  Using rewards that are more understandable and meaningful can take a little creativity and patience.  A few things to keep in mind when making these systems more understandable can go a long way.  We talked previously about behavior difficulties that can occur with those on the spectrum.  We want to go more in depth with the motivation so that some of these difficulties can be avoided. 

Tips for rewarding: 
Make it Visual:  Show through pictures, objects or short written information. 

More Immediate:  Make sure the time from the reinforcement (such as TV time at home) is not too far from when the action (such as cleaning up at school) occurred.  There are a lot of students that can understand rewards at the end of the day or week but there are just as many that do not make this connection. 

Individualize the Reward:  We aren't all motivated by the same thing and it can change for all of us as well.  Stay on top of what is the current interest to help things from getting stale. 

Don't Take Away:  Removing rewards that are earned are not recommended.  It is confusing enough trying to make the connection between what 'to do' and the end result. 

Systems to Use:

First-Then Sequence
Through pictures, objects or words (depending on your child's current level of understanding), you can visually show first 'this' happens and then you receive 'this'.  Starting out very slow with contingencies is important, in other words, we want the child to understand that this behavior = this outcome.  We don't want to jump to complex reward systems that may be confusing and therefore not meaningful. 

First brush teeth, then TV time

First put your jacket on, then you can play outside

Puzzle Pieces
This system can be used for TV time, toy or other treat.  Simply cutting up a picture of a specific item of interest can help create a reward system that is specific to that child's motivation.

This child earns pieces of a tractor and then gets to go visit his Grandfather's farm.

This chart is earning 3 pieces of a treasure box and then the individual gets to chose one item out of the treasure box.
Reward Charts
Lot of samples can be found of these online.  Specific characters can be used to help motivate the individual.  Whether it is 'Thomas the Train', 'Dora' or 'Sponge Bob', charts can be found at various sites to incorporate the interest. 
-A few sites we have found:

Token System 'I Did My Chores' 
I lucked out finding this at a consignment sale.  This system is like a token system/economy.  It can be too complex for some students, so use a system that you have assessed to make sure it is understandable to the individual. 

This system can be purchased online:

Choice Board
Also, using choices of rewards allows for flexibility with what is available but also giving the individual control over what they want. 

Creating motivation for your child or student can greatly increase compliance, interest and enjoyment.  We are looking forward to finding new ways to motivate individuals on the spectrum and always looking for new ideas!


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for such a well written article. It’s full of insightful information and entertaining descriptions. Your point of view is the best among many.