How do I know what my child is motivated for?

FROM BECKY: This is such an important question if you have a child with autism. In fact, if you have a child that you want to support and teach, MOTIVATION is the number one learning tool that you can use to help them. There are few forces more powerful than a motivated child or adult. It’s actually very easy to figure out what your child is motivated for if you know how to look.

1) What does your child do when they are on their own?
Take some time to observe your child when they are hanging out around the house. Do they watch the ceiling fan? Do they talk about Lightning McQueen? Do they balance on the window sill? Perhaps they hum a certain tune over and over again? Maybe they crawl underneath the couch cushions? if you take 15-20 minutes to watch them you will find a mine of information to work with. For example, if my child watches the ceiling fan or the washing machine, then they are motivated for visual stimulation and things that spin. If they talk about lightening McQueen then they like characters from movies and possibly slapstick humor. If they walk along a thin window sill then it’s physical activity and balancing they like, if they hum, they like music and singing and rhythm and if they hide in the couch cushions they are motivated for small spaces and pressure on their bodies).

2) Be a detective!
When you are working one to one with your child in The Son-Rise Program, try doing different actions or introducing different objects and see what their response is, look at their face and body and see what they like and what they don’t like. If I sing a song and my child stops what they are doing and looks at me more, then singing is a motivation. If I pretend to fall over and they giggle, they like silliness and big, physical movements. If I blow bubbles and they completely ignore me then bubbles is not their thing right now. If I impersonate cookie monster and they turn away and do something else then that doesn’t do it for them either. It’s all a big experiment!

3) What is their personality like? Is your child controlling?
If they are then they may enjoy cause and affect style games where they get to control what you do (e.g. they press a button on your nose and you do a fake sneeze). If they tend to like to know what’s happening that day (e.g. they ask when the trash truck is coming or what happens next in a story) again and again, then play games with a structure to them like a step by step list of how to be a pirate. If they are an affectionate physical child, then create tickle, squeeze and hug games.

Have fun following these guidelines and being a motivation scout!

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