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How to Safely Motivate Autistic Children

Children with autism have problems interacting with others and may suffer from impaired communication skills. A challenge for parents and teachers is to find a method to motivate these children that is both safe and effective. Developing language, behavioral and social skills can be extremely challenging for some autistic children; however, some tips to aid this effort are highlighted here.


Getting to know the child

Before you can get started on any type of learning strategy, it is essential you get to know the child in question. This includes:

  • Creating and updated a list of the child’s interests and strengths. Include any fascinations or preoccupations that could be strange.
  • Take not of activities that cause anxiety of frustration.
  • Notice any pacing or processing issues that may be present.

When you understand these things, you can create a strategy that will be conducive to the way the autistic child will learn best. No two children are exactly the same, which means you need to carefully observe and evaluate prior to trying to motivate.

Methods of motivation

There are a number of methods that can be used to motivate an autistic child. Some of the most common motivators are highlighted here.

  • Play therapy

You can motivate autistic children with play therapy, which can help to provide a sense of accomplishment, encourage self-expression and teach new skills.

  • Provide choices

It is also possible to motivate autistic children when you allow them to select the stimulus activity, such as dancing or jumping. You can join them in with this activity until the child successfully makes eye contact or they communicate spontaneously.

  • Utilize positive reinforcement

When you are actively learning or providing therapy, prompting for another try after the wrong answer, or praising a correct choice will encourage a child to respond more often.

You can also use other types of reinforces to help children learn new skills. In some cases, children who suffer from autism are not able to be adequately motivated with traditional, social feedback. In these instances you will have to find a reinforcer that works for your child.

One way to find an effective reinforcer is to set out a number of different items and see which the child chooses. Take note of what they choose and how long they interact with that item. In most cases, the first item selected will be the most powerful reinforcing tool.

Once you have discovered the reinforcer that works best for your child, then you should deliver it directly after a correct response is give. Be sure that this is always paired with some type of verbal praise, such as “good job.” This will help them also understand the importance and effectiveness of verbal praise.

  • Cover new and familiar skills

It is important to keep learning fun and interesting for your autistic child. This means you should introduce both new activities and skills, as well as ones they are familiar with. While it is important to create a routine and sense of familiarity, studies have also shown that autistic children remain focused, give more right answers and are better behaved when the activities are varied.

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To illustrate, you might want to help them create motivational posters with inspiring quotes such as, “Smile” or “Be Awesome.” Then, as they look as these posters they will experience both inspiration and pride knowing they helped to make them.

  • Integrate sensory activities

Utilizing sensory based activities can help autistic children learn new skills more quickly. However, it is important to introduce these slowly to begin with in order to ensure it does not become sensory overload.

  • Use music therapy

There are a number of autistic children who can sing, even when they are unable to speak, and when you expose them to songs that have repetitive, simple phrases can help them to develop new language skills. Singing may also be beneficial in helping to eliminate monotone speech patterns and by learning to match various musical rhythms. It can also help to enhance a child’s social interaction by encouraging them to participate in a group activity, such as a music group or class.

  • Implement rewards

While reinforcers and rewards are similar, you can use rewards for good behavior, or a day of completed lessons. These rewards can be something that is given at a certain time of day, if they have completed the necessary tasks and activities.

Motivating autistic children is more difficult than those without the disorder; however, there are still a number of methods that can be used to do this successfully. When you read the information here and take some time to get to know your child better, you will be able to create a plan or strategy that can help to successfully motivate children that suffer from autism.

Be sure that you work with teachers for the child in order to ensure the same reinforcers or rewards are used, which will help the child better understand the verbal cues that go along with these items. This will help to further motivate your child and help them pick up on new skills much more easily.

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Countering snoring in children with Autism

It is not uncommon for toddlers and kids to experience trouble in enjoying an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Discomfort with the darkness, snoring, fear of dreams, and even the habits of sleep walking are deemed pretty routine affairs with children. However, if a child has had a history of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), any instances of troubled sleeping should never be ignored. These problems could well be taken as a measure of the ravages of ASD caused in the body. More importantly, by being conscious of the need to identify such uncommon sleep habits in children is the first step towards alleviating them, as it is certainly possible to do so, with just a few easy to understand and implement behavior strategies. Here, we try to understand the links between autism and sleeping troubles such as snoring, and also try to tell you more about the simple remedies for such situations.


Why children suffering from Autism are more prone to develop the habit of snoring?

There’s enough medical literature and research documentation to establish that children suffering from ASD are not great sleepers. Among the most common sleeping problems they exhibit are insomnia and sleep apnoea, which is primarily linked to snoring. Here are some of the causes that lead to these observations –

  • Children with ASD also suffer from problems such as throat infections, ear infections, and coughing. This leads them into sleeping with their mouths open, a natural reaction when clogged body airways necessitate more inhalation of air. This majorly leads to snoring in children diagnosed with autism.
  • Lack of communicative powers rendering children unable to tell their parents as to what they want to be able to sleep better, and unnatural emotional attachment to sleeping patterns which can get easily violated, are two lesser known yet correlated causes leading to disturbed sleep patterns, sleep apnea in general, and snoring in particular.
  • Anxiety is a serious deterrent for sleep in children being afflicted with ASD, which slowly but surely leads children into the habit of waking up a few minutes after falling asleep. This is known to worsen snoring in children.

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Snoring solutions to bless children with uninterrupted sleep

A child losing their sleep is certainly not a great sign, and needs to be set right at the earliest, as lack of proper sleep can lead to several health complications in the child. Here are some effective snoring solutions and tips that can help children sleep better.

  • Among the simplest anti-snoring aids is an elevated neck position for the child. Such a position prevents the tongue from falling back in the mouth, and hence prevents snoring.
  • Give a warm bath to the child before putting it off to sleep, so that the airways in the nostrils and throat get cleared up and snoring can be avoided.
  • Consider using anti-snoring devices such as masks and mouthguards, as there are several manufacturers that make child-safe anti-snoring devices.
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Casein and Gluten Free Diet May Not Be Effective in Improving Autism Symptoms

A study conducted in Rochester, New York reveals doubts over the effectiveness of casein free and gluten free diets on improving the symptoms of autism. According to the study, there are no demonstrable improvements in the small group of children studied following the autism diet.

A Look at the Autism Diet

Impaired communication, social interaction and restrictions on activities, due to repetitive behavior, are some of the characteristics of autism spectrum disorder. The condition also involves gastrointestinal conditions such as celiac disease (a disease where the small intestine becomes damaged when gluten is consumed). The cause is a complex combination of factors and how they co occur still remains a mystery.

Autism can be a debilitating condition and treatment usually focuses on lessening the symptoms by managing every aspect of the child’s life. Diet is one of them. Managing autism through dietary intervention is based on two hypotheses: the first one states that allergies in food can exacerbate the symptoms of autism, second one states that vitamin and mineral insufficiency may cause some of the symptoms.

The autism diet involves choosing foods that are gluten free and casein free. Gluten is found in foods such as wheat, barley, rye and oat, while casein is the major protein found in milk. 27% of parents with autism claim that following this diet is helpful.

What Research Says?

A small study done by an associate professor of pediatrics at the Golisano Children’s Hospital in New York reveals otherwise. The study involved 22 children with autism spectrum disorder. 14 of the children went on the study. All the participants were placed under strict gluten free and casein free diet for a span of four weeks. After undergoing the strict autism diet, the children were given a challenge snack of either: wheat flour, evaporated milk, both or placebo.

The practice continued until all children received a snack three times for 12 weeks. Children’s behavior, sleeping pattern, bowel movement, socialization and communication skills were observed before and after the snack challenges and they found no difference between those given the snacks and those given just placebos.

Though the results show no significant difference, the researchers still recommend further studies on the aspect of diet and autism symptoms be conducted. Another co-researcher also suggests that a study that is more inclusive, or those including children with apparent GI issues should be done.

What Other Researchers Suggest?

While the New York study suggests that the autism diet may not be as effective, other studies reveal that there are certain diets that might work. Research is taking an interest in autism diets that have been popular among parents for a long time. This is according to the Center of Autism Research in Philadelphia.

In an effort to improve their child’s condition, parents are going beyond medical management and are beginning to explore alternative and complementary medicine. Some researchers say that the scientific community tends to ignore what parents actually use to lessen their child’s symptoms.

The length of the clinical trials and the studies involving diet and autism patients might also be an issue. 18 weeks of study, according to critics, may not be enough to produce real results. This is compared to six months and even one year of experience of parents with a certain dietary intervention, and some parents suggest it takes this much time to see results.

Despite the studies casting doubts on the effects of the autism diet, some experts still suggest to try it, though parents are advised to approach it with skepticism.

Guest Author Bio:

Alapati Amarendra is a doctor and he blogs about recipes, conditions like autism. He is a middle eastern recipes lover and he recently browsed an awesome website which contains various diet recipes.

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Pharmacologic Agents May Trigger Autism in a Genetically Predisposed Individual

The exact cause of autism is not known, but studies support a strong genetic predisposition of the disorder. The development of autism is traced to the presence of genetic abnormalities especially on the genes that affect the neural signaling in the brain. The presence of family history of autism may increase the risk of the development of the disorder in succeeding generations and twins also have a greater chance to have autism when the other twin is affected.

Along with genetics, environmental factors are also seen as causes of autism. This may include exposure of the pregnant mother to certain chemicals such as phthalates, pesticides, heavy metals, infectious diseases, phenols, smoking, alcohol, vaccines, flame retardants and other toxic substances. Pregnant mothers who are exposed to these factors during the first trimester when organogenesis or the formation of the brain takes place may have offspring with autism. However, there are no strong evidence of these occurrences.

The development of autism tends to happen during the early life as early as infancy. Signs of autism are usually observed even during infancy and the signs tend to manifest more as the child grows. Not all people with genetic predisposition to autism may develop the condition; however, a study revealed that normal people with genetic predisposition for autism may eventually develop the disorder when they are exposed to certain pharmacologic agents.

This finding was seen in a recent study conducted at the Idaho State University. The study involved the use of fathead minnows, a variety of fish, which have similar gene expression as humans in terms of autism. The study revealed that when these fish were exposed to certain pharmacologic agents, the gene expression profiles were affected, which is related to the development of autism.

These pharmacologic agents tend to be medications used to treat neurological disorders. These include fluoxetine, an antidepressant drug with a class of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor; carbamazepine, an anticonvulsant drug; and venlafaxine, a Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor.

The study further showed that these pharmacologic agents only affected the gene expression associated with autism spectrum disorders, which are largely genetically predisposed. In conclusion, these agents may just trigger autism in genetically predisposed individuals when taken in adequate amounts to cause autism.

While the exact cause of autism is unknown, it is essential that people know their family history of diseases in order to avoid potential risk factors that may lead to the development of disorders. In line with autism, people who have a family history of the disease should as much as possible avoid pharmacological and environmental agents that may trigger autism later in life. Also, pregnant mothers should also avoid these factors to ensure that their offspring may not develop the disorder especially when genetic predisposition is present.

Autism is not a disease that can just go away or can be treated. Autism is a lifelong disorder that may affect the learning abilities of children. Although the symptoms can be reduced and the child may have maximum abilities, preventing autism is still more essential.

About the Author

Dr. Amarendra, the author is freelance writer. He writes at dental implants and

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Dear researchers: please stop

I used to argue that all research was good research, that information is simply good to have no matter what it is. But at this point, I have to revisit that position and question it.

If your research concludes with….

Listen, I won’t argue that you’re more than qualified, you get paid very well and I respect what it is you do and what you’re trying to do… I understand you have the best of intentions, but here’s the thing:

If your research involves the phrase “may increase the risk of Autism” or anything similar… I ask that you please just don’t even tell anyone. Keep it to yourself.

In fact, if you know, going in, that your findings won’t result in 100% of all cases… don’t even bother doing the research. You know full well that a study on how close parents are to a highway when they have a child will not result in 100% of all close proximity cases having Autism so just don’t even bother doing it.

What the results mean to us

statisticsIn the beginning, these studies were very intriguing and really got people thinking. People wanted answers, we were starting to get answers. But what are the answers, really?

“May increase the risk” simply means that instead of 0.1% to 99.9%… now it’s 0.2% to 99.9%.

As far as we know, there’s always a risk of your child having Autism. So it’s not 0%. And we don’t know what causes it so we can’t do anything in particular to ensure it happens (not that anyone would want to).

So ultimately, all you’re really telling us is that doing something to increase the risk actually has very little bearing on whether or not our child with have Autism at all. Because for every study that says the risks go up, I can show you dozens… hundreds of parents that contradict that study and yet their child still has Autism. Or even better, parents that fit the study to a T and yet their child does not have Autism.

Will we ever move on beyond the Refrigerator Mom theory?

Granted, no one thinks Autism is caused by an uncaring mother anymore but it would seem that we certainly haven’t moved on from blaming the mother.

Recent articles include taking antidepressants, not taking prenatal vitamins, environment they live in (twin study) and older studies along the same lines include jaundice, c-section and other birth stresses, living near a freeway… and the list goes on and on and on…. and on.

If you read those articles and others, another catch phrase they use often is “new insight into autism” and yet.. a month later, a new study is released with that same catch phrase and the old one is all but forgotten.

What all of these catch phrases and conclusions really tell us is “it’s the parents fault, they did something that caused it, let’s find out what it MIGHT HAVE BEEN”.

What we’d like to hear

First of all, no one is opposed to finding out that some environmental factor or other possibility is the reason for our children having Autism. We just don’t want to know what it MIGHT BE. We just don’t want to hear about an increased risk anymore unless you are absolutely certain.

Tell us what caused an increase in 100% of the children. Heck, we’d even be ok with 75% or more… because then we’d know what to avoid for sure.

But “an increased risk” really only tells us that you blame us, will keep finding ways to blame us even though you’re not entirely sure why or how.

It’s now out of hand

These studies were intriguing at first, but now they’re just out of hand. It seems we get a new study per month that says they found something that increases the risk of Autism.

But new parents don’t read the ones before right now. They only read these stories as they become pertinent to their world… which is right now, when they’re about to become parents for the first time.

If they had the back story, if they had read the dozens of studies leading up to the one that will be released next month, perhaps they’d know just how out of hand it has all become. But they won’t read those previous stories… they’ll read the next one and believe it. And they’ll be scared.

They’ll take their prenatal vitamins, they’ll sell their house and move away from the freeway, they’ll avoid vaccines, they’ll risk their baby’s life avoiding a c-section and they’ll do it all out of complete and total fear from what they read in a recent study and for what?

The sad thing is, they could do all that and still end up with a child that has Autism. And then what? Do they wonder what they did wrong? Do they blame themselves since that’s what the studies have taught them to do? Or do they accept that despite all the risks they avoided… it was just meant to be.

Your studies mean very little to me any more. I find them to be a waste of money, a burden on the system, a way of blaming parents further, a media circus and a panic storm for new parents.

Crunch your numbers if you have to, talk to other people that did the same thing, compare those numbers, find others that did the same… and so on. Keep doing it until you have some actual answers for us. Until then, stop running to the media every time you have a chance to get your name in the paper.


Other similar stories:
Autism shouldn’t be about playing the blame game
“Wombs of Doom” or “How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Poisoning My Children with SSRIs”
“May increase the risk of autism” studies versus real scientific research

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