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Autism news: This can do wonders to motivate children with autism
July 13, 2020

It was a typical moment of frustration.

How was I going to get the kids in my class to be quiet and sit still long enough to participate in the lesson?

Most of them were talking, playing, moving around in their seats—anything except sitting still and paying attention, except for only a few children.

“*Colleen,” I began, “I like the way you’re sitting still in your seat, ready for the lesson.”

“Myra—you’re doing a great job paying attention! You’re ready for the lesson, too.”

“Jack, way to go! I love the way you’re looking this way so quietly and sitting still!”

Just like clockwork, all the other kids snapped to attention. One by one, they all sat up in their seats, looking straight ahead, waiting to get some of the praise they craved.

That was years ago when I was teaching a special needs class. And believe me, there were a few behavior challenges in that class. But even still, praise was highly effective.

These days, I often see my own sweet boy brighten up with a beautiful smile when I say, “You’re such a big helper. I’m so proud of you!”

It makes him want to keep helping with whatever I’m doing.

We love our kids so much that we want to do all we can to help them. But I know how easy it is to get so busy that we sometimes forget to let them know that we notice when they do something right.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t correct our kids when they’re doing wrong. Of course we should.

But we also need to be careful to praise them when they’re doing what’s right. Then they’ll have more motivation to keep doing those things.

I realize you may be thinking, “What about kids who struggle with success so much that it’s hard to find anything to praise?”

In such cases, it often helps to try to “catch” them doing something right—anything, regardless of how small it may seem—and praise them for it immediately.

If you do this, I believe you’ll find that they will be encouraged to do more of the same.

Praise works, not only for behavior issues, but also for teaching reading, math, and other subjects. Kids need to know when they’re doing a great job with their studies. In fact, they need to know when they’re doing a great job ALL the time.

Our children struggle with so many feelings of low self-worth that they need all the encouragement they can get. My suggestion is to make sure they’re receiving plenty of love and recognition from us every day.

In fact, why not start right now by telling them, “I love you so much. I’m so proud of you!”

I truly believe this one gesture will make their day.

Warm Regards,

Kay Donato

*Names are changed to protect privacy.

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