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How Do You Motivate Someone with Autism?

Updated on November 28, 2017
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I enjoy camping, hiking, backpacking, and traveling. I hope to visit all 50 states one day along with traveling abroad. I like meeting ne

What Motivates You?

How Can We Motivate People with Autism?

It is very hard to get motivated sometimes having autism. Sometimes people with autism feel trapped. They feel like there is nothing they can do to help them get through life because their autism is just keeping them trapped in a never-ending cycle of hopelessness.

This simply isn’t the case though and this is a misconception that some people with autism have because of some of the traumatic experiences that they have. It is important to note that everyone’s experiences with autism are valuable and something that we need to consider when we are designing a treatment plan for someone on the autism spectrum.

Many of these individuals have been bullied. Therefore, we cannot just design a one size fits all treatment plan and expect it to help every single person with autism the same way. We need to be more focused on person centered planning as opposed to disability centered planning so that we can continue to provide the best interventions so people with autism can be successful and happy in their lives.

It is hard to get excited about things when you are struggling in so many areas of life. There are days where some people with autism feel like giving up or throwing in the towel. They do not need to do that, we just need to find them a better support system to help them cope with their autism.

From personal experience, coping with autism is very challenging especially when the therapies and interventions that they are trying to do with you are not being more successful at helping you make friends. That’s the challenge. There is no right answer on how to make friends or an exact formula, but we have some pretty good ideas for people on the spectrum of how to improve their social skills and get them access to more skills and in return more friends.

Social skills coaching is new in the autism community and a lot of people just do not know of the benefits to having a social skills coach.

The social skills coaches can walk you through step by step every scenario that you will encounter throughout the day and they will help you process what you did right and wrong and you will be able to learn from your mistakes.

The social skills coaches might even video tape you on how you socialize and then allow you to watch that as you can see your own social skills in action.

The idea of social skills coaching seems logical since autism is a social disorder. The issue is that there are so many different functioning levels of autism that not everyone would benefit from the same kind of social skills coaching.

It is likely that people who are higher functioning on the autism spectrum would benefit more from a social skills coach than someone who is lower functioning. If we are lower functioning or have trouble speaking, then we need to try to learn how to speak and focus on that, so we can then use a social skills coach to help us learn social skills. A lot of this idea seems impossible, but I have seen where children with autism were non-verbal and then suddenly one day they learned how to speak. It is the most remarkable thing in the world.

So, we must do a better job of starting to divide the different functioning levels of autism down into smaller parts and then brainstorming a plethora of services that would be adequate to meet the needs of people with autism at each single functioning level of autism.

There is higher functioning that have an entirely different set of needs for interventions than people who are lower functioning. The same is true that people who are lower functioning need different supports than those that are higher functioning than they are.

It is difficult to explain this approach to insurance providers as they are very well known for a one size fits all approach to autism. The sad thing is that not many insurance companies even want to provide important therapies for autism because they do not see how it is medically necessary.

If they do not see how it is medically necessary, then maybe they need to experience autism first hand. There is no way that someone who experienced the challenges of autism first hand would ever say it is not necessary to help someone with autism.

Sometimes when people with autism do not feel like their support services are addressing their needs it takes them a while to get motivated because it is like going to therapy each day but coming up empty and feeling like they are not meeting your needs.

After so many months and years of going to therapy and feeling like the therapy is failing you it becomes frustrating and you just want to crawl into a ball in your room and lock yourself inside of your room because you feel like no one will ever understand you or your needs.

There must be a way to get autism services that motivate people with autism. Social skills coaching is the best motivator I know because the social skills coaches address the specific area in which you struggle the most. They go above and beyond to teach you social skills when no one else is trying to teach you social skills. That is the hardest part about all of this to understand. There is no one even trying to teach social skills other than social skills coaches and the problem is that the social skills coaches are not covered by insurers leaving people with autism out in the cold without any kind of social skills training.

People with autism also struggle with needing immediate rewards for something they do. A key example is going to work. Sometimes with autism you want to go to work and then get paid on the same day. People with autism can have a hard time with the concept of waiting a week or two for a paycheck. There are many people who will quit their jobs because they do not get paid right away. It is just a social motivation problem because they are not getting reinforced for their behavior or work right away. Delayed reinforcement is not as helpful as immediate reinforcement.

Motivation can also be a mental illness thing. After so long struggling with autism it is easy to develop a mental illness. But motivation can also be from the autism. Imagine having both autism and mental illness and trying to get motivated to start your day.

There are so many challenges ahead for people with autism. One of those biggest challenges is in getting motivated. Do you have any ideas on how we can help people with autism get motivated?

Where does motivation come from? Does it come from our parents? Does it come from our peers? Does it come from with inside of us? What are your thoughts on this?

I am not sure there is a right answer to the question of where does motivation come from but I certainly know that one can not get motivated by sitting around at home in the basement playing video games. A lot of people with autism are scared and afraid to leave the house because they do not know how to socially interact with people. It is easy to see how that could contribute to someone’s lack of motivation.

If you know someone with autism, I encourage you to take some time and sit down to come up with a few ways to motivate your loved one or friend with autism.

Where Does Motivation Come From?


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