I don’t know about you but I have never found a reward system that works well for children on the autistic spectrum. Or maybe that’s just my autistic children. The tears we had years ago when the wee man (as he was then) desperately wanting nice stickers on his chart like his siblings but failing to cope with the (reasonable for them) demands in order to earn them. M is much the same – she will only ever do something if she wants to or the alternative is so awful she can see the sense in it e.g. getting dressed for school as the alternative is being taken in her pyjamas. And yes, I have done this, school is not an opt in arrangement depending on mood/weather/what’s on tv.
So, what have I discovered that works? Moshi Monsters. For those of you who have been spared the little critters here is a stock photo I found on Google:
It appears to be one in a long line of crazes fuelled by television that incites small children to nag their parents for the accompanying bits of plastic that clutter up drawers and schoolbags and collect vast quantities of dust. However, they have also captured M’s imagination. I rather like them as they are small and a few can be scooped into a handbag for those annoying waiting rooms and similar places where you want to guarantee a few minutes peace.
There are lots of series and the cognoscenti among the cool kids will demand the latest series: M is not into all that so I have been sneakily purchasing the old series at discount rates.
I made a simple chart from Mon to Fri, and against each day is a box for “spelling” and “reading”. M is pretty good at both but she does need the extra input from homework to make the best of her learning ability. Homework has been such a dirty word in our house that the school have been happy to let it ride as long as she is in school.
I decided to show M a packet of Moshi and ask if she would like to earn them. She was extremely keen. I then showed her the chart and her face fell a bit. “What, both of them?” “Yes, both of them” Anyway, the lure of a figure was too much for her because she ran around to find pencil and paper and off she went. She copied out all her spellings and brought them to me for checking. Then we had a small blip because she wanted to read the part of her book she thought rather than what was specified in her homework diary, but I persuaded her and she did very well. I duly ticked both parts of the chart and got the packet out. She chose one and her big smile as she bounced off was lovely.
The next two days didn’t go so well. Part of the blame for this was school, as they had slipped up and not been specific that it must state spellings are to be practised every day. Even though I was quite firm she refused point blank to do anything but the reading. I felt sorry for her but I had to stay firm and so she didn’t get a monster.
This week has been a revelation. She comes in from school, has a drink and a snack and watches a little tv until her brother comes in, then they both sit at the table and do their homework. I am certain this has helped B as he can visibly see that she is not “getting away with it” as he tends to think of her previous lack of homework. He can’t see how much the school day takes out of her and just thinks it’s all very unfair. I do see his point.
Yesterday I explained to M that at some point she would start earning a monster for every two days’ homework. She asked if it would be after next week. Thinking on my feet I said yes that would be right, as she needs to learn that not everything has an instant reward. It will also mean I don’t go broke before the summer as there surely can’t be that many of them still on sale. I intend to stretch it out further in the future but as yet I’m not decided on how. Oh, and I will be giving B something at the end of every week for a good attitude to homework. Sadly Lego is never on sale.
I will let you know how we get on.