Motivating Special Needs Children

Motivating Special Needs Children

Children with Autism should be given small rewards every time they give appropriate responses. These ‘reinforcers’ or rewards have to be interesting enough to a child to serve as motivation and should be based on a child’s personal interests and preferences. These rewards may help in the development of their social, language, and behavioral skills. Here are some ways to effectively motivate your child:

Use of Positive Reinforcement

Praising a child for every right action made or giving him another try when he gave a wrong answer are positive reinforcements that will encourage more participation from the child and open a communication line between you.

Encourage Activities Such as ‘Social Stories’ and ‘Scripting’

 These will help in the behavioral development of verbal and non-verbal children, which is very important as early detection can decrease future social isolation and improve communication skills.

Allow Them to Choose Their Own Activity

Make them choose the activity they want to do and join them at it until they initialize eye contact with you.

Use Play Therapy 

Children with autism can be motivated by using teaching skills that promote play and self-expression.

It provides them with a sense of accomplishment.

Reward Children with Favorite Toys or Food

Give them something to strive for by giving them something they truly like every time they accomplish something.

Use Music Therapy 

Simple and repetitive phrases can help in developing the language skills of children with autism. It also helps them change monotone speech patterns by matching their voice to music rhythms. It can also promote social interaction by motivating them to join group activities.

Integrate Activities that Affect the Level of Sensory Stimulation

 This will help them adjust to different sensory stimulation, which can normally overwhelm them.


Constantly Introduce New Fun Activities 

Studies showed that autistic children learn faster, stay focused, and are generally more behaved when fun tasks are regularly changed.

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Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

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