How to motivate someone with aspergers

How to Motivate Autistic Adults?

Table of Contents

Almost one in eight children aged 2-10 years in India suffer from a neuro-disorder that can include autism too.

Autism is a word that a lot of people would not like to hear when it comes to their loved ones especially adults. It’s a sensitive topic and sometimes they don’t even like talking about it. They tend to be in denial and would say that their adult is just delayed or something of that nature when in all reality, your loved one is what he or she is and you have to do the one thing that you can do, research and help your family and yourself cope with it.

In this post, we will take you through – what is autism, its symptoms and causes, how to help someone with autism, and multiple other segments around the topic.

So, without further ado, let’s begin

What is Autism? – Definition and Statistical Overview

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder as many call it, is a neuro disorder that can trigger in early childhood or in some cases, is visible in adults too. In children, the first signs come forth as early as 12 – 18 months. 

Autism is a developmental disorder that impairs social interaction. It’s not a disease where people can catch it nor should it be hidden to the outside.

According to the statistics, it has been found that autism is more commonly observed in boys than girls (4 times higher diagnostic rate). Even the World Health Organization (WHO) report indicates that 1 in 68 children across the world suffers from ASD. Globally, nearly 70 million individuals suffer from autism, out of which 10 million alone are from the Indian subcontinent.

Tell-tale Signs of Autism

Since no two human beings are similar, the autism symptoms too vary between individuals and impact them differently. Some of the signs that you must look out for include:

  •  Limited eye contact when someone is interacting with them
  • Showing no signs of response while hearing a familiar voice/sound
  • Unable to communicate or point out at things
  • Completely avoiding and resisting physical contact

Every individual experiences a varying set of challenges, strengths, and needs. ASD refers to a wide spectrum of conditions wherein the individual faces difficulties with:

  • Delayed development in language and speech learning
  • Difficulty performing tasks requiring analytical and cognitive skills
  • Poor motor skills and lack of sensory sensitivities
  • Repetitive behavior and restricted interests

The problem with some people is that they tend to hide what their autistic adult has and not do anything about it to help them. The more you know, the better and more comfortable you’ll feel about the situation and you would want to do whatever it takes to make sure that he or she will get the right and the best help that they can get.

Before we try motivating autistic adults or learn subtle ways of how to motivate adults, we must keep in mind the following pointers:

Autistic Adults Behavior – Learning to Accept them is the first step

Working with autism isn’t easy, but following the below-listed pointers can surely help empower people with autism and their families:

  • Remember that the individual isn’t “autistic”

They are, first, primarily and always an individual, a student, a child; and they have autism. Do not confuse the person and the condition. Friends and family should never speak about the term in a negative or hurtful way especially in front of them.

  • Adults with autism are not the “same” as others with autism

Make an effort to get to know each person as an individual. Seek to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and personality. Ask them – and their friends and family, if they cannot reply – about their hopes and dreams.

  • Autistic adults need services

Services should begin early. These tools can apply in the context of screening for other disabilities. An early start will change lives! Roughly that about one-quarter of siblings of those with autism will have developmental problems.

  • Evidence-based services need to be provided to those with Autism Spectrum Disorder

If you’re wondering how to support people with autism, including evidence-based services is your best bet. Though these services are difficult and time-consuming, they are helpful for cognitive and social skills.

Replacing medication with education and social service isn’t encouraged and while medical treatment can help, you must take them with a pinch of salt and exercise some level of caution. Another way of working towards autism encouragement is by including autistic adults in your research and ensure their rights are protected so they can help others.

  • Keep individuals with autism active in society

Involve those on the autism spectrum in vocational training so they can have a say. Services provided during adulthood should be led by determination, personal relationships, and activity in community events. The community should make an effort to adapt to environments to help accommodate needs. This will help make our society better.

Those on the autism spectrum face discrimination and disrespect for many reasons including fear and ignorance. Many individuals with autism live at a higher risk of violence and abuse. Remember, every adult has a role to play in the world. Families dealing with autism want to be involved in helping to create and shape policy development and evaluation. The motto: “Nothing about me, without me,” should guide leaders when making decisions about treatment and accommodations.

How to work with someone with autism?

Therapies for autism spectrum disorder aim to reduce the abnormal behavior that is exhibited by people who are affected by this condition. Furthermore, people who are living with individuals with autism spectrum disorder have to play their part. You don’t have to be an expert to be able to do this. It is essential that you know what you need to do and what you need to avoid.

To ensure your conversations goes as smooth as possible, you can use the following guidelines:

  • Address them as an adult, not a child

Never assume that the individual has limited cognitive skills. He/she may be slow in verbal conversations, but his/her ability to comprehend the contents of the conversation might not be. Hence, exercise necessary caution.

  • Avoid familiar and personal words/phrases

Too adorable and sweet words like ‘honey’, ‘cutie’ can backfire and sound disrespectful to someone who’s trying to be independent.

  • Follow a direct approach while communicating

You must ensure that you’re interacting clearly with autistic adults. Sarcastic tone or slang must be avoided as they can confuse the individual.

  • Create a consistency, a schedule and stick to it

If your child suffers from autism, and you’re Googling about ways of – how to work with kids with autism, the first and foremost step is to be consistent and follow the schedule. Your child being autistic can have issues in learning, so be consistent with their environment to reinforce learning. Also, set up a schedule allowing them enough time to learn, play, and sleep. Minimal disruptions in their set schedule can go a long way in curing them.

Support from family and friends is essential for any person with autism to live a life that is as normal as possible. Some of them may even be able to excel in particular fields that they have chosen to be in.

You would be surprised at how adults with autism, with the right help, can live normal lives like the rest of us. So, don’t turn your back on the situation, do something about it now and early.

Activities to help autistic adults gain social skills

A lot of our everyday social interactions depend on certain non-verbal cues, facial expressions and language nuances. This can pose to be a problem for autistic adults since they have a hard time reading other people’s expressions or understanding certain non-verbal cues. But there are several activities which can be significantly helpful in overcoming such social challenges and help them form better relationships. Some of them include:

  • Non-competitive sports: The best way to help autistic adults build social relationships is by helping them participate in non-competitive sports such as swimming, biking, etc. It can be a perfect icebreaker and help provide a structured interaction opportunity. 
  • Classes- Taking a class in any subject of interest such as cooking, art, language, etc. with other people can also be a great way of improving social skills. This can also boost confidence over time. Classes also work really well as a team-building exercise. 
  • Roleplay- Another way of motivating autistic adults to participate in social interactions is by engaging them in roleplay. This helps bring emotional reciprocity and the feeling of empathy in them. The scripted interaction can help teach them about real-world conversations without having to deal with any social pressure. It also prepares them for the unexpectedness of social interactions. 
  • Board games- Playing board or card games with peers can be helpful in enhancing the ability to hold casual conversations. It is one of the activities for adults with autism which are fun and impactful at the same time. 

Working with children with autism

The challenges that come with working with autism require some insight. To increase the learning potential of children with autism, you need to understand them. 

Find out how they learn best– Every child has a different inclination when it comes to learning techniques. Most kids with autism respond well to visual cues. Using visual aids to teach various concepts can help in motivating autistic students to become better learners. 

Create a suitable learning environment– When interacting with autistics students, ensure that the surroundings are free of any distractions. A quiet environment free of any sensory stimulus can help them concentrate and learn better. 

Become an expert on them– Be mindful of what triggers them and what comforts them. This can help you create a sense of comfort between you that can be helpful in difficult situations.

Celebrate small successes– If you are wondering how to work with children with autism, the first step is acceptance. Instead of fixating on how the child is different from others, accept their quirks. Celebrate all success, no matter how small. 

Engage with them– Play therapy technique is very effective with autistic children. In this, you gain their attention by doing what they do. This will help you get closer to them, and they will pay more attention to you once you have engaged them in a common activity. 

Don’t give up– The journey is going to be different for everyone. You have to be as patient and as supportive as you can. 

Learn more about Autistic Adult Treatments

Need any personalized support about how to help an autistic adult? Connect with our well-trained specialists who can help you with the right information, resources, and tools to help autistic adults cope with their daily activities. Reach us at our 24/7 helpline number- +91 96111 94949 or mail us at [email protected] for more information about treatment options or any other queries . 

Disclaimer: Please note that terms like ‘autistic adult’ or ‘autistic child’ should be avoided. These words may cause autism to define the person. Instead, phrases like child/person with autism should be used. Autism is now referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD to better explain the range of symptoms it can cause and to include sub-types like Asperger’s and pervasive developmental disorders.


What motivates an autistic child?
Due to the various difficulties arising from it, Autism and lack of motivation go hand in hand.  Motivating an autistic child takes effort and determination. However, if done right, you will be able to help the child live a normal and fulfilling life. Some things you can do to help a child facing autism are:

  • Take time to understand how they learn best. 
  • Create a holistic learning environment for them
  • Celebrate the smallest of successes.
  • Engage with them
  • Stay committed and don’t give up.  

How do you motivate someone with autism?
For individuals with autism, motivation is one of the main obstacles to leading a fulfilling life. So, how can you motivate individuals with Autism? It includes a combination of these :

  • Address them as adults, not children. 
  • Avoid Familiar and personal words/phrases
  • Follow a direct communication approach
  • Create a consistent schedule and stick to it. 

Do autistic people lack social motivation?
Individuals suffering from Autism have difficulty in learning, social interactions and completing everyday tasks. All of these together cumulate into a lack of motivation to interact with the society around them. However, with effective communication, proper understanding and consistent efforts, individuals with Autism can learn to interact effectively and lead a fulfilling life.

How do you calm an autistic person down?
Individuals with Autism face significant difficulties in daily interaction and completing daily social tasks. This stress can cause them to have meltdowns or breakdowns. In such cases it is important to have a plan to help calm them so that they can resume their normal routine. Here are some things you could do to help:

  • Giving them some time – As it is with all individuals, time is one of the most important aspects. Allowing them to take their time and then trying to approach them is the best option to ensure that they remain as calm as possible. 
  • When you are conversing with them, be as calm in your tone and language as possible. Ask them or their guardian if they are feeling okay. Remember, they may take much longer to respond than you expect, but it is important to be patient and not push them too much. 
  • Try to help them find a secluded space where they can spend some time alone till they are able to overcome the sensory overload. This goes a long way in helping them face the strains of social interaction again. 

The Most Effective Way To Motivate Someone On The Autistic Spectrum

The Issue Isn't That They Are Unmotivated (Here's Why)

In my experience, most people that manage to roll themselves out of bed in the morning and engage in some activity besides staring at a wall all day are motivated people. How do I know that? Because they’re moving with a purpose.

Psychology has a much broader definition for motivation than most of us. Someone might think of the motivation behind a morning jog as the desire to be happier and get in shape. However, a psychologist would want to add a few more things to that list of possible motivations.

You might run because:

  • You’re late and you’re in a hurry
  • A tiger is chasing you
  • You’re afraid if you don’t, then you might die of a heart attack someday
  • It’s cold, and you want to get inside quickly
  • You want to be fast enough to join the track team
  • Your friend told you that if you run around the block barefoot he’ll give you $5
  • The list goes on...

Motivation is anything, internal or external, that moves you to action. It doesn’t have to be a high-minded internal desire, and the action doesn’t necessarily have to be something productive. Motivation can be an instinct, a biological urge, an emotion, a reward, a punishment, a habit, a compulsion, you name it.

Why am I telling you this? Well, your child is probably rolling out of bed and spending their time doing something (like video games, for example). If that’s the case then, believe it or not, the issue is not that they’re unmotivated. The issue is just that they don’t have motivation to do the thing you want/need them to do (like their homework that’s due tomorrow). As it so happens, that is a much easier problem to solve.

Two Kinds of Motivation

Here’s a graph for you to look at.

Isn’t it lovely? This particular graph illustrates one of the two major approaches to motivation: Red-Line.

(Editors Note: Watch a video explaining this concept here.)

Let’s break it down. On the X-axis (horizontal) we have the number of interactions. That’s simply the number of times you’ve attempted to motivate someone. When the red line is on the left-hand side, that means that there have been very few interactions and not much time has passed. When it’s more towards the right, that means that there have been many interactions and more time has passed.

On the Y-axis (vertical) we have results. This is simply the thing you’re trying to accomplish. When the red line is closer to the top the results are high, life is great, and things are happening. When it’s closer to the bottom the results are minimal or non-existent. Sometimes the results can even be the opposite of what you want.

Make sense? Cool.

Red-Line motivation is by far the most commonly used kind of motivation out there. A Red-Line Motivator’s go-to question is, “What can I do, give, or take away that will produce a result (a change in behavior) now?” Red-Liners love carrots and sticks, rewards and punishments; it’s all about control.

If a Red-Liner wants you to do something, then they will find the sweetest carrot they are willing to give and dangle it in front of you until you start chasing after it (money, video games, love and acceptance, etc. ) Alternatively, they will find the scariest punishment they can and throw it at you until you move (losing privileges, yelling, withholding love and affection, etc.) They will bribe, manipulate, control, and coerce you to try to get you to do what they want.

Basically, Red-Liners seek to reduce human motivation to its most basic elements. They assume that people avoid pain and effort, and that they will only work hard if moved upon by an outside force or a biological urge (hunger, sleep, sex, etc.) Red-Liners see human beings as little more than animals responding to stimuli. Trained rats in a cage will press a lever over and over if you give them food. A yappy dog with a shock collar can be conditioned to stop barking. Similarly, a Red-Liner believes that you can motivate humans by tapping into that same desire to avoid pain and seek out pleasure.

And it works! If you offer to give your potty-training toddler a piece of chocolate every time she successfully uses the toilet, then she will start going to the bathroom more consistently. If you incentivize your employees with substantial bonuses, they will work harder to get that payout. Alternatively, if you put the fear of God in your teenager before handing them the car keys, they will likely drive more cautiously. If your boss tells you that the next person who turns in a late report will be fired on the spot, you will see tardiness rates drop significantly.

Psychologists have known for nearly a century that people will respond to the right rewards and punishments (they call it conditioning). Meanwhile, kings and rulers have understood this basic truth for millennia. You have to admit, it’s a rather elegant idea. If you want more of a particular behavior, reward it. If you want less, punish it.

However, nowadays we have decades of scientific research showing that the carrot-and-stick philosophy we hold dear actually has quite a few holes. Parents, teachers, and managers are gradually discovering that people, particularly people with Asperger’s, don’t always respond to external influences in the ways we would hope or expect.

What’s going on there? Well, as awesome as carrots and sticks can be, they come with some pretty serious drawbacks.

Problems with Red-Line

Let’s pretend, for a moment, that you were suddenly in a tragic accident that caused you to be irreversibly paralyzed from the waist down. No more walking, running, jumping, or wiggling your toes. Would you be sad and upset? Would you be sad and upset for a long time? How about for the rest of your life?

Now, let’s try another question. Imagine that today you win the lottery in the amount of ten million dollars. And, because this is your imagination, let’s say that you receive all of this money tax-free. Would you be significantly happier? Would you be happier for a long time? Would you go so far as to say that you would be happier for the rest of your life?

In both of the examples above, you probably assumed that their effects on your emotional well-being would be significant and long-lasting. And that’s where you would likely be wrong.

In a classic 1978 study, three psychologists investigated and measured the happiness levels of paraplegics and lottery winners. They found that less than a year after experiencing one of these life-changing events both the lottery winners and the paraplegics had mostly returned to their baseline levels of happiness. We would normally expect lottery winners to be much happier than regular folks. However, they were, on average, only slightly happier. Similarly, the paraplegics were only slightly less happy than others. For the most part, they were just as content with life as they had been before that fateful tragedy befell them.

Human beings are truly incredible at adapting to almost anything. Given enough time, both positive and negative changes in our lives can quickly become our new “normal.” When this happens they no longer have a significant impact on our day-to-day emotions. Scientists call this phenomenon hedonic adaptation. It crops up everywhere.

You buy a fancy sports car and its shiny, new features excite you for a while, but months later it brings you little, if any, joy. You move into an old, run-down apartment and its outdated appliances and off-color decor bother you for a while, but months later the annoyance barely registers. You get married to your sweetheart so, of course, you’re blissfully happy for a time. However, a couple years later you have more or less returned to your original level of happiness.

What does hedonic adaptation have to do with motivation? Well, it means that any reward or punishment consistently used to motivate your child will quickly be adapted to and thus rendered ineffective.

For example, let’s say that Margaret, a mother of three, has a son, little Johnny, who isn’t waking up for school. As a Red-Liner, she would go into his room, flip over his mattress, and tell him that if he’s late for school he loses all video games for the day. Well, as you would expect, that’s incredibly effective… the first time. He scurries out the door, and she’s quite pleased with how well it worked. However, with every subsequent mattress flipping after that, she would notice that it doesn’t work quite as well, and eventually it might start producing the opposite effect. She would have to keep upping the ante and putting in more work in order to try to get the same result. She needs to find a scarier stick.

The more Margaret uses this Red-Line approach, the more Johnny goes into Defense Mode and lives in a state of fear. He’s shut down and angry. Any semblance of trust or mutual understanding in their relationship has been destroyed. In fact, he might even start missing school just to assert his independence and regain a feeling of control.

As shown in the Red-Line graph, each new attempt to motivate will produce fewer results, and, in the long-term, will continually require a sweeter carrot or a scarier stick in order to maintain its original effectiveness. As a parent, unless you have unlimited power and resources (doubtful), a Red-Line motivation strategy is simply not sustainable long-term.

By now you may be thinking “Well, of course Johnny would be ticked off and defiant if you punish him like that every day. But what’s wrong with carrots? Aren’t rewards like gold stars and ice cream a more positive and “nice” way to motivate someone?”

To that I say: Yes and no. Carrots come with their own set of issues too. Allow me to illustrate.

Problematic Rewards

A chaotic cacophony of laughter, banging, and shrill exclamations came from every corner of the preschool classroom. Small children were wandering from place to place or talking with their friends, while others sat playing with toys or drawing with markers. A small group of researchers observed the chaos as it unfolded. They had been there for the past several days compiling a list of all the children who typically spent their free-time in the “art corner” drawing with markers. Tomorrow they would be moving on to the next phase of their experiment.

As is usually the case with psychological experiments, the researchers randomly separated their list of artistically-inclined children into three groups. The first group was shown a fancy, “Good Player” award, complete with a blue ribbon, and were told they would receive it as a reward if they drew a picture. The second group of children were not told about a possible reward. They were simply asked if they wanted to draw a picture and when they finished the researchers surprised them with the “Good Player” certificate. The third group was invited to draw a picture and then sent on their way when they finished. No reward promised or given.

Two weeks later, the researchers returned to the preschool to see if rewarding children for drawing had any effect on how the art-loving children now spent their free-time. We would normally expect that those children who were rewarded would draw more frequently now that the behavior had been reinforced, but that is not what happened. The children in the second and third groups (unexpected-reward and no-reward) still spent roughly the same amount of time drawing as they had before. However, those children in the first group (expected-reward) drew significantly less. Plenty of paper and markers were set out and easily accessible, but now that there was no shiny certificate being offered the art supplies seemed to have lost their appeal.

Contrary to what we would expect, introducing an expectation with a contingent reward attached actually decreased the rewarded behavior instead of increasing it. Why? Because human beings are incredibly adaptive. When this new drawing experience taught the children that drawing a picture=compensation, they got the message loud and clear. The children used to draw because they enjoyed it for its own sake (intrinsic motivation). Now they will only draw if they’re expecting to receive some kind of reward.

To give another example, let’s imagine that Margaret, a mother of three, offers to pay her son Johnny an extra allowance so he will finally brush his teeth and wash the dishes. Granted, it might actually work, but in the process, Margaret risks teaching her son that personal hygiene and basic home maintenance are tasks that people should be compensated for. Now it’ll be a lot harder to convince him to ever do it again for free. To give one more example, if Margaret offers her daughter Susie a special treat or a gold star in exchange for cleaning her room, then Susie may stop appreciating cleanliness for its own sake. That will make for a rougher transition when Susie becomes an adult who is expected to maintain a clean house without being rewarded for doing so.

Red-Line tactics tend to increase effort, enthusiasm, and compliance in the short-term, but using them also establishes a long-term pattern of undesired consequences that is very difficult to break out of. Short-term results, long-term consequences.

When to Use Red-Line Motivation

Let me be clear: Choosing to use Red-Line carrots, sticks, and other if/then methods of motivation is not inherently bad and wrong, nor is it always good and right. Red-Line is simply a tool that is uniquely suited for specific kinds of situations.

A hammer is great if you need to drive a nail into wood. It’s less than ideal if you’re trying to perform surgery. The problems arise when you encounter a situation that requires a tool, you look into your toolbox, and you discover nothing but a single, lonely hammer. You’ll probably end up using the hammer because, after all, it’s better than nothing, right?

If, however, you happen to be in a situation that requires a more delicate touch than a hammer can provide, you may inadvertently do more harm than good. This is what happens when Red-Line tactics are used in situations for which they are ill-suited.

What are those situations, you ask? Well, there are quite a few. Red-Line is an extremely specialized tool that is well-suited to a narrow range of circumstances.

There’s been a great deal of research done on this subject and if you want a full-on deep dive then I would recommend you start with the book Drive by Daniel Pink. It’s an amazing treatise written on the subject of motivation.

That said, here’s the short and sweet version.

The “Should I Use Red Line?” Checklist:

1. Is the task boring, monotonous, and/or routine?

☐ No? Don’t use Red-Line!

☐ Yes? Then… maybe. Move on to #2.

2. Does the task have any potential for intrinsic motivation? (i.e. Is this a task that someone might choose to do just because they want to?)

☐ No?- Maybe. Move on to #3.

☐ Yes?- Don’t use Red-Line!

3. Does the task involve creativity or intellectual skill?

☐ No?- Maybe. Move on to #4.

☐ Yes?- Don’t use Red-Line!

4. Is the task related in some way to morals, ethics, and/or some kind of “greater purpose”?

☐ No?- Then...maybe. Move on to #5.

☐ Yes?- Don’t use Red Line!

5. Does the task involve some degree of challenge or variety?

☐ No?- Move on to #6

☐ Yes?- Don’t use Red-Line!

6. Could you change the task in some way to make it more challenging and interesting?

☐ No?- Okay, if you made to this last question and you’ve answered “no” then go ahead and use Red-Line. Just be sure to use the principles taught in Chapters 7 and 8.

☐ Yes? Maybe? Haven't Tried Yet? - Don’t use Red-Line!

There’s a much better way to motivate your child. Yes, really. It’s called... (drumroll please)... Blue-Line Motivation

You need only look at young children to see our innate human nature in action. They run, play, and explore the world with bright eyes and active minds. They are creative, curious, and purposeful. You see the same thing when you look at adults. People all over the world frequently volunteer time and money, master new skills, and work on projects for hours because they want to, not because their boss tells them to. In fact, people often continue in these pursuits even when it is difficult or painful, so there must be more to motivation than just carrots and sticks. That’s where Blue-Line motivation comes in.

Blue-Line Motivation is all about holistic influence. This means that a Blue-Liner recognizes people as whole, complex human beings who are often intrinsically motivated. They know that people are so much more than animals that simply avoid pain and seek out pleasure.

A Blue-Liner will tap into this innate drive by approaching people and situations from a place of trust and love. They sincerely believe you can and will make good choices for yourself and others. They assume that you’re not necessarily unmotivated. Rather, they are open to the possibility that you might just be scared, stressed, missing resources, or lacking understanding, etc. A Blue-Liner will not try to “force” things to happen, or control you from the outside with carrots and sticks. They will work with and catalyze the natural, intrinsic motivation processes that already exist inside you and within the situation.

However, the Blue-Line path comes with one costly trade-off. A Blue-Liner will need to put in most of the work on the front end, and they will see few (if any) results for the first while. That’s just how the organic process of intrinsic motivation works. Blue-Liners are 100% okay with that because they understand that once you hit the tipping point (i.e. the point where you’re intrinsically motivated and you truly choose it for yourself), then the whole system will become largely self-sustaining.

Blue-Line is essentially the opposite of Red-Line. As more time passes Red-Line requires more and more work, whereas Blue-Line requires less and less. In the end, both approaches to motivation require work and effort. There’s no getting around that. The trap of Red Line is that it looks so easy in the beginning, while it’s actually the more difficult out of the two. The work is still there, it’s just hidden. A Red-liner will undoubtedly find more and more of it as time passes and they slide further down the slope. They have to keep working endlessly and putting in more effort as they attempt to produce the same result. Blue-Line motivation, on the other hand, can get to a point where the parent (or teacher, therapist, whomever) can step back and watch their child soar.

So, rather than insisting on results now (Red-Line), a Blue-Liner will take time to talk to you, listen, hold the space, discuss your personal motivations, and give you what you need. They will trust that, in time, you will make good choices for yourself once you’re ready. Granted, this can be a long process that requires plenty of trial and error, patience, and effort, but it’s all worth it because a Blue-Liner knows this endeavor will pay off in the long-term.

A Red-Liner is a like a carpenter using their tools to shape, manipulate, and polish an inanimate block of wood in order to produce a specific result. A Blue-Liner is more like a gardener, using their tools to adapt the environment and add the necessary resources in order to give the living plant what it needs to grow and flourish on its own.

Let’s go back to the example of little Johnny who is struggling to wake up for school. His mother, Margaret, wants to use Blue-Line methods, so she won’t threaten him, bribe him, or flip his mattress. Instead, she will take an additional ten to fifteen minutes to sit and talk with him, get him a glass of water, rub his back, listen to his concerns about school, and assure him of his own capability. And she’s not lying to him! She knows he’s fully capable of waking up on his own. She doesn’t need to force it to happen. She just needs to remove the blocks and provide nurturing guidance to the innate motivation that already exists inside Johnny.

The Blue-Line approach might mean she needs to wake Johnny up for school ten to fifteen minutes earlier than usual to provide time for her to sit with him and help him wake up. If so, that’s worth it because it’s time well-spent. It might also mean getting a sleep study, or providing the school with a doctor’s note while she takes the necessary days or weeks to work with Johnny one step at a time. In a few months time, Johnny will be waking up on his own, no problem.

The Essential Elements of Blue-Line Motivation

When you’re looking to cultivate the “Blue,” intrinsic, self-sustaining kind of motivation, then there’s three key ingredients you need. They are as follows:

  • Capability
  • Belief
  • Desire

I’ll briefly define each of them, and then we’ll spend the rest of this book exploring in detail how to implement each element.

1. Capability

This may seem fairly obvious, but you’d be amazed how easy it is to forget that this is a factor. If your child does not have the time, energy, resources, emotional capacity, and knowledge/skill, etc. to accomplish the task at hand, then it doesn’t matter how motivating you make it; it’s never going to happen. Or at the very least, it won’t be done properly.

So why do we forget this so often? It happens because of an innate cognitive bias called the curse of knowledge (Yes, really. )

Basically, with the way your brain works, once you know and understand something, it becomes far more difficult to imagine what it was like before you knew it. Later, when you’re teaching that concept or skill to someone else, you may accidentally skip over “obvious” steps, use words and concepts that they don’t understand, or you may just take it for granted that they already know how to do XYZ. You tend to project your knowledge and understanding onto other people and assume that they already know and understand what you do.

For example, here’s an experience related by one amazing mom in our community. We’ll call her son Ron and her partner Bob:

“My partner, Bob, discovered that Ron was still paying our car insurance for an old car he no longer owned. He had $40 auto-deducted from his checking account every month.

When Bob discovered it, he told my son that he needed to cancel the insurance because he was paying for a car he no longer owned. For months, my son assured us he had cancelled the insurance, but still, every month the auto-withdrawal notice would come in the mail.

Then several months later, when we asked him about it yet again, he assured us he had called the insurance company. (He hadn’t, but he was probably embarrassed to admit it.) Supposedly, the insurance company told Ron he couldn't cancel by phone, and that he needed to come in for an appointment. I asked him when the appointment was scheduled for and he gave us a date. To my knowledge, our insurance company is only open for appointments Monday through Friday, but the date Ron gave us was a Sunday. I said nothing.

I later looked up the phone number of the insurance agent, gave it to Ron, and told him all he needed to do was call her. Apparently, that was all he needed. The charge was officially cancelled the next day, and we never saw another notice in the mail.

Turns out, the auto-withdrawal letter that came in the mail did not have the phone number of the insurance agent on it. Bob had told Ron to call the insurance agent, but assumed he would know how to find the phone number. Ron was too embarrassed to ask how, so the whole vicious cycle started: Procrastinate, avoid unpleasant interaction with parents, repeat. Over and over again. Gosh, it took me a while to catch on...

I often have to stop and ask myself, ‘How on earth would Ron know how to do X if he has never done X before or seen it done?’”

2. Belief

There are two kinds of belief that need to be present when fostering Blue-Line Motivation. If either of them are missing, it won’t work.

#1: Belief in Capability

It’s one thing for you to know your child has the capability, but it’s quite another for them to know and believe in their own capability.

If your child genuinely believes that they can’t do math, then any attempts to motivate them, or persuade them that math is really important will only stress them out more and possibly cause them to shut down or get angry.

Alternatively, let’s say you have some serious misgivings about your own competency when it comes to managing your finances. Finances will probably cause you a lot of stress, and it’s unlikely that you will feel motivated to sit down and get it done. While it is entirely possible that you could balance your checkbook without too much trouble if you gave it a try, as long as you continue to doubt your capability you will remain blind to that possibility. You will be more likely to continue procrastinating or you might even give up altogether.

In order for someone to feel motivated they need to feel capable and competent.

#2: Belief in Results

Let’s say that Margaret asks Johnny to do his math homework a particular way and he either 1.) Doesn’t believe doing it that way is even humanly possible, 2.) Does not believe that “Mom’s way” will accomplish his desired result, or 3.) Does not believe that doing the homework and getting that result will ultimately get him where he wants to be. If any or all of those are true for Johnny, then chances are excellent that he won’t want to do his homework the way Mom asked him to.

Again, because of the curse of knowledge it’s easy for Margaret to assume that when she asks Johnny to try a new approach to his math homework he automatically understands exactly how A leads to Z, and he shares Margaret’s world view. She may also erroneously assume that Johnny trusts her completely and wholeheartedly, so when she promises A is going to equal Z, Johnny should immediately take her word for it. Not surprisingly, Johnny, like many other human beings, does not possess that kind of radical, no-questions-asked kind of trust, even with his mother.

So if you have a child that trusts you enough to take a leap of faith blindfolded, then consider yourself blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view). However, if you happen to be the parent of a child whose trust is less automatic, then it’s important for you to remember that your child may lack the experience, trust, and understanding to know that what you are saying is true. Additional effort will be needed to overcome and move past that block to motivation.

3. Desire

If you’re motivated, then you genuinely want something, right? You have personal, moving, and emotional reasons for moving forward. You see a purpose for acting and believe that the time, energy, and resources you’re expending are worth the expected result.

That’s desire, in a nutshell. Desire is what most people think of when they hear the word “motivation,” and don’t get me wrong, it’s important. However, it’s no less important than the other two essential elements. When all three are present, then motivation is the natural result. When one or even all three are missing, then motivation is scarce.

Eliciting someone else’s passion and desire can be a little tricky because we all want and care about different things. However, when you can successfully stoke a burning desire in someone’s heart, it’s a beautiful thing to behold.

Want More? This is an excerpt from our book "7 Easy Ways To Motivate Someone With Asperger's". Get the whole book here.

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How not to give up if your child has Asperger's

The mother of a special child wrote a book in which she shares her experience and gives practical advice to other parents

“When I was sitting in your tummy, you had two hearts: one loved me , the second one worked for me,” a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome once said to his mother. This mother's name is Ekaterina Ivitskaya. She is a programmer by profession, but she became a real teacher for her son and wrote a book about it to inspire other parents to fight for their children. nine0006

Asperger's Syndrome is one of the autism spectrum disorders (ASD), sometimes referred to as high-functioning autism. The syndrome was named after the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger: in 1944, he observed four children who had difficulties with social integration. Their intelligence seemed normal, but the children lacked nonverbal communication skills, lacked empathy for peers, and were physically clumsy. Their speech was difficult or overly formal, and as a rule they were interested in one single topic. nine0003

Syndrome symptoms

  1. Child rarely interacts with others or behaves inappropriately in social situations;
  2. "robot-like" speech or speech repetitions;
  3. below average non-verbal communication skills, with average or above average verbal communication skills;
  4. a tendency to talk about oneself rather than about others;
  5. inability to understand topics or phrases that are considered common knowledge;
  6. insufficient eye contact or exchange of remarks during a conversation; nine0014
  7. obsession with specific and unusual topics;
  8. awkward movements and/or mannerisms.

Asperger's syndrome is rarely diagnosed before school age, because it is in school that the social interactions that are difficult for children with the syndrome arise. This happened with Maxim Ivitsky.

Amazing abilities and strange behavior

For the first time, Maxim was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of 4, but his parents did not pay much attention to this. The child did not look like a person with autism in the usual sense: he did not avert his eyes, communicated, talked. He loved mathematics very much, but many children love mathematics - this is how parents reassured themselves. nine0003

True, later Maxim's mother, Ekaterina Ivitskaya, will tell in her book about what looked amazing even for close relatives. The boy learned to operate with numbers at 2.5 years old, and to speak on everyday topics only at 4. At 5 years old, he described the nature of electromagnetic radiation to amazed grandparents, quoting from memory a cartoon for little know-it-alls.

The second time I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome was when Maxim was 7.5 years old and was already in school (the family lives in Latvia). Giving the child to the first grade, the parents could not even think that the boy, who is so passionate about mathematics, would have serious problems. nine0003

“Any step away from the process that Maxim built in his head led to an explosion of emotions,” says Ekaterina. Any step could be a misspelled letter or a lost pen cap. The son, who happily went to school on September 1, before our eyes turned into a child "who is not interested in anything."

Why didn't the parents listen to the doctors when Maxim was 4 years old? Then he attended a special speech therapy group in kindergarten, which was a real "greenhouse" for him. There were few children there, no workload, his mathematical talents were recognized there. “There were no irritants that would drive him into a corner,” explains Ekaterina. nine0003

At school, irritants appeared: peers and teachers who did not understand the reasons for Maxim's strange behavior, his tantrums. They did not understand why, with all his knowledge and passion for mathematics, he could not learn to write accurately, lagged behind in all subjects.

Mathematics lessons as a way to maintain interest in the world

The diagnosis was finally made when Maxim began to limp in mathematics. Ekaterina writes that mathematics for her son is the main way of perceiving the world. His main question is not “what”, but “how much”. Maxim is only interested in what is connected with numbers, and what can be counted. Ekaterina regularly worked with her son from the moment he showed interest in numbers. nine0003

Subsequently, experts said that it was thanks to daily activities that he did not go deep into the autism spectrum. When mom stopped classes, relying on school, Maxim lost interest in classes; “disgusting behavior and withdrawal into oneself” set in.

To remedy the situation, the psychologist advised Ivitsky to transfer Maxim to individual tutoring in mathematics, because it was with the teacher in his favorite subject that the boy did not find a common language. For the teacher, the main thing was the observance of formal requirements, and not the correct answer. nine0003

Ekaterina again became her son's teacher, although for this she has to take math lessons herself: “Maxim's brain constantly needs new information. And if you don't give it, he regresses."

Struggle for motivation and love

Asperger's syndrome changes not only the perception of reality, but also motivation. For Maxim, motivation is important at every lesson - without it, he also begins to withdraw into himself.

From the very beginning, he was ready to learn new skills outside of mathematics and numbers only for a reward, even if virtual, in the form of points. As a result, there was a danger that the result would become more important than the process, and everything except the reward would cease to make sense. Therefore, Catherine dosed awards - they were issued for a certain stage of work or its completion. nine0003

Sports activities

The Ivitskys' experience in teaching their son to sports activities is interesting. They just imply both work on oneself and an elusive result. But for the boy, interaction with the coach was also important. Children with Asperger's Syndrome have a peculiarity - it is almost impossible to force them to do something against their will. Maxim did not want to obey strict requirements or stopped working after the next stage, which was celebrated as an achievement.

“Probably, then for the first time my dreams about the achievements of a child were shattered,” writes Ekaterina. — It was necessary to forget about what my ambitions want, and learn to really look at the desires of my son. More precisely, on unwillingness. Since then, Maxim has been engaged in sports only for the sake of pleasure and inspiration from the process. nine0003

Search for motivation

Maxim did not want to sleep during the day during the holidays, and his younger brother needed daytime sleep. In order for this time to pass for the elder with benefit, and for the younger in silence, Ekaterina allowed Maxim to turn on the computer. But instead of a game, she put a tutorial on one of the programming languages ​​for children. As a result, the boy who wanted to become a programmer wrote his first program.

It took a long time for Mom to teach Maxim how to fold his clothes. Maxim did not react to requests (including emotional ones). Finally, Ekaterina came up with a good move: for those who neatly fold their clothes on a chair in the evening, a gnome (bunny, hedgehog, cat) brings candy in the morning. And if the clothes are not neatly folded, then there will be no candy. nine0003

At the same time, the reward does not always have to be material, especially when it comes to relationships. Over time, the family managed to convince Maxim (with the help of conversations) of the need to help his parents. He has several household chores: throw out the garbage, bring heavy bags from the store, and in response to hear the gratitude of the elders.

Ways of expressing feelings

People with Asperger's syndrome are said to be "active but strange", interacting with others, but communication comes out rather clumsy, awkward. But Ekaterina came up with a way to convey her feelings to her son. nine0003

“No matter how much you love your child in your thoughts, he needs to talk about feelings out loud as often as possible. I started saying the phrase "I love you" from the moment Maxim began to understand speech. But this phrase did not receive any response ... Attempts to discuss this topic did not bring any results, until I accidentally formulated it differently after reading another mathematical book: “I love you endlessly!” It lit up instantly. Because the abstract “love” cannot be measured. And the meaning of infinity is something that he could well understand. “And I love you endlessly!” he answered me, focusing precisely on the immensity of his feelings.” nine0003

Working principles of training and development

Ekaterina Ivitskaya formulates her principles of training and development of her son as follows:

  1. any event/activity/lesson should have a tangible goal;
  2. more math for everyone.

Probably other children with Asperger's Syndrome will have other areas of study instead of math on this list.

“This book is not a guide to raising a child with Asperger's,” warns Ekaterina. - This is a diary that I kept from the moment when Maxim showed interest in mathematics (at 2 years old). Here are my observations, ideas, plans; our dialogues; his thoughts. An attempt to describe from the outside how a person lives and perceives the world, whose brain is not arranged quite like the majority. This is a "recipe for survival" in a society that often does not know what this syndrome is and what to do about it. [Many people] don't know what it's really like to raise a child who sees the world differently." nine0003


Ekaterina Ivitskaya "Beyond Infinity: How Not to Give Up If Your Child Has Asperger's Syndrome" (Genesis, 2020)

Vykhod, a charity fund for solving autism problems in Russia

Photo: Collection/iStock , Nikolai Skirda (collage)

How to teach students with Asperger's syndrome and high-functioning autism in colleges and universities?


Asperger's Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Guidelines for Asperger's and High Functioning Autism


Translation: Alexander Mikhailov
Source: National Autistic Society

When we are trying to understand someone with a different view of the world and a different interpretation of life, it is very important to try to understand them. We will have to step away from the subjectivity of our thoughts, feelings and beliefs and look at the situation dispassionately and objectively. When teaching a student with Asperger's Syndrome, staff and faculty should be aware of how the triad of impairments manifests across all autism spectrum disorders, and what specific characteristics of Asperger's Syndrome may show up in the student's behavior. nine0003

Features of the autism spectrum are reflected not only in behavior. They will influence the thought processes that govern reactions to environmental influences, other people's demands, and everyday situations. Let us first briefly describe the triad of disorders in autism and other possible symptoms in Asperger's syndrome.

Asperger's Syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder. It is caused by disturbances in the functioning of the brain at the biological level. In order for an autism spectrum disorder to be diagnosed, there must be impairments in three main areas:

Social communication - verbatim understanding of the language and the formal use of speech in the form of a monologue, difficulties in interpreting non-verbal forms of communication.

Social interaction - difficulty initiating communication with other people, inability to determine the thoughts and feelings of others, problems establishing and maintaining relationships.

Social Imagination is a rigid, inflexible mindset associated with obsessions, stereotyped behavior, and resistance to change. Along with this, poor motor coordination can manifest itself as clumsiness. nine0003

Asperger's Syndrome Specific Symptoms

Language Features - includes overly monotonous speech, monotony, excessively correct use of grammar and vocabulary, problems with pragmatic use of words (i.e. vocabulary can be very rich but used in inappropriate situations, and it can also be "empty" - for example, when a person does not have a clear idea of ​​​​the meaning of the words used).

Predilection for rigid rules and routine - obsessive insistence on immutability, including in relation to others. This can sometimes lead to phobias and avoidance reactions.

Problems with non-verbal communication - may include blank facial expressions, limited eye contact, misunderstanding sarcasm or irony (since people with Asperger's understand language very literally, when a tone of voice or a raised eyebrow completely changes the meaning of seemingly unambiguous words , they fail to interpret these visual non-verbal cues and miss the intended meaning of the conversation). nine0003

Clumsiness - may include poor gross motor skills, poor coordination, clumsy movements, difficulty learning certain activities (e.g. cycling), or performing certain actions (e.g. balancing on one foot to put on shoes, etc. .P).

Problems with social relationships - Serious problems making and maintaining friendships. This is not a temporary phase that a person goes through; there will always be peer interaction problems. As a child, a student with Asperger's may have preferred the company of adults or played with younger children whose social skills were less developed and therefore easier to understand. nine0003

's single, dominant and all-consuming (sometimes rather bizarre) passion is not just a hobby or a fad, it is by nature deeper and more obsessive.

As mentioned above, people on the autism spectrum are naturally very inflexible thinkers, which means they have a hard time coping with change. It has long been noticed that such people act much more efficiently if everything is carefully planned. This is reflected in the strict scheduling programs found in special education institutions where every period of time is on the schedule and the child always knows what to expect. While this example applies to a child in a school setting, this approach will also be effective with adults in a range of situations, whether at home or in a professional setting. nine0003

Because people with Asperger's have a rigid, inflexible mindset, even a small change in the way things are done can cause great suffering. Unforeseen or continuous changes in familiar people and environments can upset a person greatly. If change is unavoidable, it is very important that it occur as slowly as possible, gradually, within a clear structure that the student can anticipate and become accustomed to.

It is important to provide as consistent an environment as possible for students with Asperger's Syndrome; changes should be kept to a minimum. Considerations of integrity and permanence of lifestyle should have the highest priority. If change is unavoidable, faculty and staff should carefully consider the intended response that the change might elicit, taking into account the characteristics of the individual student. All measures must be taken to minimize negative consequences. nine0003

Example. Exam Preparation

- The date, time, and duration of the exam must be communicated to the student as early as possible.

- If possible, please indicate the location of the exam and list which employees will be in the admissions office. If you cannot be specific, please provide a list of possible candidates.

- Tell me how many other students you estimate will also take the exam.

- Be very specific about the topics and modules that will be tested. If possible, provide preparation tips to make sure that students review all the required sections (sometimes students devote too much time to details and not to the big picture; then it is necessary to draw their attention to areas that they are not particularly interested in). nine0003

- If you think a student is worried about where they will sit on an exam, draw a table and chair layout.

— If the seating plan is known in advance (for example, alphabetically), announce it to the students. Help them visualize in general terms where they will sit (the indication does not need to be precise; for example, “as you enter the hall, on the left, in the back rows” is enough).

- Give students the opportunity to arrive early on the day of the exam so that they can get comfortable with the surroundings (here is an example: one very bright student could not write a word until he ran his hands all over the walls of the exam room). nine0003

- Be flexible. If a student is unable to concentrate in a large group, allow him or her to come in later than everyone else, or consider putting him or her in a separate room.

- If he is hypersensitive enough to be distracted by the creaking of handles, consider using ear plugs or earmuffs to help reduce the noise.

- Also, if a student starts showing repetitive behavior, such as muttering or making sounds, try to anticipate this in advance, as this may annoy other students; and on the day of the exam, it will be more difficult to take action. nine0003

- Distraction/replacement techniques may help. For example, allowing a student to chew gum may prevent murmuring and other sounds. It is important to understand that these behaviors are of great importance for the student - they allow you to feel more confident or relax. It is necessary to set a goal not to eliminate them, but to bring them into a more acceptable form or replace them. It can be helpful to play role exams to find all possible problems.

— Relaxation techniques that students can practice while preparing for exams can be of great benefit. nine0003

- Sometimes it is necessary for a member of the examination committee to directly address the student. A message to the entire audience is not enough. The student often needs personalized instructions to fully understand what needs to be done.

— Help may be needed to help the student decide which questions to answer. Written instructions may be confusing or misleading. Once the student has read the assignment and decided which questions need to be answered, the questions may need to be renumbered for them. For example, if a student can answer questions 2, 3, and 5, it would be helpful if the instructor renumbered them with a pen to 1, 2, and 3.

The teacher as a positive role model

Teachers perform many tasks and functions, some explicitly, some covertly. Teaching staff (sometimes unwittingly and possibly unintentionally) may also dictate the style of communication in the classroom, the levels of behavior adopted, and the reactions and attitudes towards certain students.

Some individuals will always stand out, for various reasons. Students receive labels—sometimes positive, sometimes self-flattering, sometimes cruel. Labels may be given by others, but sometimes by the instructors themselves. At times, some teenagers may support and encourage the use of labels (such as "classroom clown"), but for others it may hurt or make them feel like an outcast. The teacher can often set the standards of behavior that the class follows (see Bandura's work for evidence of simulation's effectiveness). If a teacher sends a message through their behavior that one can tease or make fun of a classmate, this opens up real hunting season. nine0003

On the positive side, decent teacher behavior can often help students follow a positive example. If the teacher demonstrates participation, patience and understanding, this can become the norm for the class. It is necessary to immediately respond to all cases of harassment or insults if the teacher has witnessed them or received information about them.

Who needs to talk about the diagnosis?

In general, people are quite delicate and try to help a person if they understand his problem. If, in the absence of correct information, they believe that a person is arrogant, categorical, arrogant, rude, etc., then they are unlikely to waste their time and help. Therefore, it is important to discuss whether or not to tell classmates about Asperger's syndrome. There is no right or wrong answer. For a person with Asperger's Syndrome, this is a very personal decision that they make with the support and guidance of family and friends. Each solution has advantages and disadvantages, but in any case, it is necessary to carefully consider it. nine0003

What problems can affect the learning process?

Group work

The student with Asperger's syndrome may find it difficult to work in a group due to problems with communication and understanding of social conventions. People with autism also have trouble understanding other people's feelings and cannot work well in a team because they do not by nature take into account the wishes and needs of their classmates (for example, the desire to win and succeed). nine0003

An illustrative example of a problem situation is term papers in groups. In these situations, the success of all the students in the group depends on how everyone pulls. A student with Asperger's Syndrome will not only find it difficult to motivate himself (especially if the subject matter is not in an area of ​​personal interest), but it will also be difficult to understand why his team members are so angry or so unhappy if something does not go according to plan. Someone from the group or the instructor should act as a mediator in such situations so that the student with Asperger's understands exactly what the group expects from them and that any disagreements are resolved in a calm and logical manner. nine0003

Lack of understanding

Our speech is filled with metaphors and extended meanings of words. We use these terms without realizing how much they confuse those who take the language literally. Just in the paragraph above, the expression "pull" was used, when one could say "do your part of the work. " It is important to be careful about those phrases that are heard every day in the classroom. A student with Asperger's Syndrome may become confused and confused about certain expressions, and people may think from his answers that he is arrogant, uneducated, or simply rude. The student may be embarrassed to admit to classmates that he did not understand what was being said. A person with Asperger's syndrome may have developed a number of mechanisms to get around such problems - they may act like a clown or pretend that their confusion was intentional. Problems can be avoided if the teacher acts as a translator, as if unintentionally. nine0003

For example, if during a discussion a student says, "I want everyone in my group to get off me with this work."

The teacher says to the class, "You seem to be angry, but you just want the others not to remind you about work all the time."
This method can work well because you don't have to point out that one student with Asperger's has a problem.

Lack of understanding of other people's feelings , sometimes referred to as the lack of a "model of the person's mental state". nine0003

We have already briefly touched on this above, I would like to expand on the topic. Problems can arise in situations that require an understanding of other people's feelings (i.e. the ability to put oneself in the place of another). This applies to situations in which a student says something that hurts a classmate or teacher, but does not feel responsible for the upset or anger that his remark caused. In such situations, it is necessary to clearly explain to the student, in simple understandable terms, what effect his words produced, since the student will not be able to independently grasp the connection between the words and their consequences. nine0003

This problem is the main cause of all problems with establishing and maintaining friendships. During adolescence, it becomes more important to make friends than to know where babies come from. A person on the autism spectrum can be helped to figure this out, but they need friends with whom they can speak directly and honestly. Too often we expect people to guess our mood by tone of voice or choice of words. We want to be asked questions so that we can talk about our problems to an attentive listener. nine0003

For example, Tom asks: “What was it like at college today?”

Sue replies: "Yes, it's fine."

Volume: “You sound tired. Really, is everything okay?”

Sue: “Well actually…”

Something Sue said or how told Tom that his girlfriend was having a hard day. Maybe it was her voice or the emphasis on certain words, facial expression, posture - there are so many non-verbal cues that help us understand others. People with Asperger's Syndrome cannot truly interpret the non-verbal part of a conversation correctly. They may ask Sue how her day went, but in response they will only accept her words and will not ask further. This is why sarcasm directed at a person with Asperger's syndrome causes problems - words are perceived by their meaning. It may even seem that the person is responding with sarcasm to sarcasm. For example:
Tom (sarcastically): "Cool shirt."

Rob (without a second thought): "Thank you."

This may not be sarcasm, since sarcasm is an example of a highly developed use of language and is highly idiosyncratic; depends on who is using it. There is no set of rules by which to learn sarcasm. Some wink, others raise an eyebrow, some emphasize certain syllables when they say something sarcastically. It is very difficult for people on the autism spectrum to learn the rules of sarcasm and, as a result, learn to recognize and respond to it. A person with Asperger's can recognize and use some basic forms of sarcasm himself (for example, at a party in the 70s, two friends - one with Asperger's - can have the conversation described above, and both will use sarcasm, but this is obviously a form of communication for special cases). nine0003

Lack of understanding of the mental state of others makes it difficult for a person with Asperger's syndrome to distinguish between what they know and what others know. This can lead to misunderstandings - the student may not bother to ask the teacher to extend the work on the essay, as he assumes that the teacher automatically knows that the student's grandmother died over the weekend. Complete instructions can prevent misunderstandings. For example, "if you need more time to complete the task, please tell me." nine0003

Problems with motivation

Students with Asperger's may have a special interest. It may even be the course they are taking. But, as it usually happens (with everyone), there are also subjects that are uninteresting to the student in studies. Most students think rationally and understand that they need to take the entire course, even if there is something they don't like at all. Students with Asperger's usually focus on something very specific, "here and now". For example: "I'd rather work more on repeating statistics than on writing." Obviously, this will undermine the student's overall performance in the course. Students with Asperger's Syndrome have great difficulty motivated by the future (for example, "If I write the right papers, I'll get a certificate next year"). They need additional guidance and motivational support to help them set more tangible goals (for example, “if you want to become an engineer, you need to complete all parts of the course, including the written work”). nine0003

Stress caused by lack of information

People on the autism spectrum always double check the details. This allows them to relax if they know what to expect. Interest in details is especially evident when the routine of life changes. In the example below, the student will feel more secure with Teacher A's statement than Teacher B's:

Teacher A:

“Next Tuesday afternoon we won't have geography, unlike usual. I have an appointment that day. Geography will be done by Mr. Stokes for me. I will give you a task in advance to prepare. I'll be back on Wednesday morning and classes will continue as usual. " nine0003

Teacher B:

“One day next week I won't be here in the afternoon. Someone will replace me."

Obviously Teacher A spent more time instructing his class. However, taken as a whole, he may have saved time, as an autistic student who is not satisfied with the information provided is likely to come up and ask a whole list of questions until he feels he has collected all the necessary details. In the worst case scenario, a student with Asperger's Syndrome will express concern with their behavior. Such students may begin to show more actively adaptive mechanisms of behavior, for example, actions-rituals. They may panic, truant, continuously ask other students questions, etc. This can be easily reduced or prevented if enough information is provided right away. For students who are especially stressed by situations like this, it can help if the timetable is set for the week, showing all the changes. It will confirm to the student that although one lesson has changed, the others remain in place. Such a strategy will also reduce the number of questions asked, as students have something they can refer to whenever they feel anxious. nine0003

Social chameleons

People with Asperger's Syndrome can fit in well in familiar situations with a predictable course of events. In ordinary life, it is sometimes difficult to single out someone with an autistic disorder. They will manifest themselves only if something goes wrong, or occur. It is hoped that with sufficient support and understanding from the beginning of the course, all difficulties can be predicted and minimized.


The above has only described the difficulties that students with Asperger's syndrome may have. I don't want you to get the wrong one-sided idea about them. Your student with Asperger's will be completely different from others.

The impression you might have from reading this article that a person with Asperger's is constantly depressed and anxious is very, very far from the truth.

Learn more