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Low Motivation and the Child with Autism

Updated on December 27, 2012

Low Motivation and the Child with Autism

One of the things that mystified me about children with Autism is the vast difference between one child and the next. Just like many people in society, I imagined a child with Autism one way. I also believed they were basically that same way all the time. Then I had two daughters with Autism and realized how different it can be from one child to the next.

One of my daughter’s is a bundle of energy. She just vibrates from the minute she gets up till the minute she goes to bed. As she was the first child with Autism I resisted medication for a very long time. When we did start a medication for ADHD, the chatter that had been coming out of her became words and then phrases. I was so surprised and a bit upset I had waited so long.

Then I had my second daughter with Autism. She seems like she came out of the womb talking sentences. She talked and talks all the time. But as far as energy goes she has none. She cannot seem to get out of bed in the morning. She has trouble finishing what to everyone else seems to be the simplest things. When she goes somewhere she is tired within minutes of getting there.

It took me years to realize that the difference between the two girls was like night and day. I also spent years listening to people tell me one of the girls was lazy and needed discipline. I finally asked one teacher what she meant. Another time I became very loud and upset that my child was not lazy. This was not the best way to handle the situation, but I knew she was not lazy.

At some point I was introduced to the concept of sensory integration for the oldest daughter. Although medication made a huge difference in her, it was not a total answer. Another part of the answer turned out to be a sensory diet. Basically, we used several sensory integration techniques regularly scheduled throughout her day.

This was a big help with the Autistic Behaviors that medication did not really seen to help. Unfortunately it took a little longer for me to realize sensory integration techniques would help with the second child. Where the first daughter with Autism needed a sensory diet to help her calm herself, the second child needed a sensory diet to help her get through the day.

The sensory diet helped the second daughter keep up. It helped her have the energy to focus and sustain the attention to get through her day. It did not help with the constant talking to a significant degree, but that was a small concern compared to getting up in the morning and getting through the day.

If you have not considered sensory integration in your work with a child with Autism who is either called lazy or unmotivated you might want to look at it. I was lucky to find a physical therapist and later an occupational therapist which had extensive experience with children with Autism. They were key people which helped me develop a system that we still use, in part, today with my daughters as adults with Autism.

What type of strategies have you used to calm a child with Autism?

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    • toknowinfo profile image


      5 years ago

      You are an amazing person and have my great admiration. The involvement you have taken in making sure each of your daughters have gotten what they need based on who they are shows, your intelligence and dedication to being a good mother. You are an example to all who, often just listen to the masses and don't spend their energy taking care of what that special person in needs. In your case you had to do it twice. I hope you keep writing about your experiences and sharing your knowledge.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for sharing the interesting information about autism, mylindaelliot. It must be a challenge having two daughters with this disorder.


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