Using A Reward Program

What is the purpose of a reward program? 

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reward program

Using a reward program for your autistic child at home is a way of giving your child extra support which is targeted on specific behaviors. This will encourage him to try again if he did not meet his target.

 Giving praises or positive reinforcements towards a good behavior will also encourage your child with autism to concentrate and follow every instruction you will give him towards a particular task.

Having a system that works for you and your child will help your child to concentrate and follow consistently the task at hand.

 Rewards program not only helps achieve this but it is also good in modifying the behavior of your child with autism.

This has helped my son, John in performing a specific task at home and also has helped him think about his behavior.

How to use a reward program at home

  1. Choose a particular behavior you would like your child to change. You need to talk about this with your child to make sure that it is clear to him what target behavior that he needs to change. For example, I told my son that I don’t like him always screaming when he is asking for something or does not like something. I use a visual aid to add support on what I am asking him to do. I showed him a picture of a child screaming and put my thumbs down as a gesture of saying “no”. I even showed him a picture of an X mark as a symbol of “no”.
  2. Try to make sure that it is a target that your child will likely to succeed at. Success will give your child a reason to carry on behaving well, but failure can just be a reason to give up trying. Change targets once your child has achieved the first one or if you find that it’s too difficult to achieve. I make sure that the target behavior that I set for John is achievable so that he may not get upset and give up easily.
  3. Before you begin, take some time to discuss with your child what rewards he would like to earn. Agree a few smaller rewards and one special one. I utilized John’s toys e.g. Lego, puzzles, play dough, small cars as a prize for behaving well. I will let him choose which toy he wanted to play as a prize. I told him that if he will continue to behave well, he would get a special prize. This special prize may be a trip to the park or a cinema.
  4. Using a reward chart as a record for every good behavior may be helpful but this needs consistency in order to be successful. Every good behavior accomplished could be marked in a sticker chart. The more sticker your child sees, the more he will be encouraged to continue doing an activity that you will ask him to do. If you want to avail a free printable sticker chart, please click this.

In summary,  reward programs are a good way to help your child concentrate and maintain a good behavior in doing a specific task at home. These should be reinforced by constant praising for good behavior. For example, if John wants something, he won’t scream in order to catch my attention instead he will point to me or say the word for the thing that he wants me to get. I will acknowledge his good behavior by saying to him, “Well done for not screaming”.

By doing this, you are giving your child the greatest reward that he should receive which is your constant love and support for him.

Positive reinforcement by acknowledging good behaviors is a good way of helping your child to maintain positive behaviors thereby allowing him to concentrate on every task that you ask him to do.

On my next post, I will be writing about the ways you could help your child improve his fine motor skills.

If you have any comments, suggestions or clarifications on how to use a reward program at home, please feel free to leave your comments below and I will try to answer back as soon as I can.


Adel 🙂

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10 thoughts on “Using A Reward Program

  1. I’m really interested in reward programs for children right now and have been reading about them here and there.

    My 3.5 year old daughter is not autistic, but she sure needs a bit of incentive to do some basic behavioral activities too.

    I think you’re right that you need to outline SPECIFICALLY what you want to change and also have it objectively measured by both of you if the challenge has been met that day. (I fear that if she thinks she earned a star for her chart, but I don’t, for example, it will defeat the whole purpose.)

    Are you thinking sticker charts, or something else, by the way? I have a brother with Aspergers (on the Autisticspectrum), and as long as he could pick the stickers out, sticker charts worked ok, if I remember correctly. 😉

    1. Yes, I’m referring to sticker charts but you could also reward your daughter with anything that she likes like her favourite toy or a trip to the park. Whatever you think will benefit her most. Sticker charts work well for specific behaviours. You have to make sure that your daughter understand this well for it to be effective. I wish you all the best in managing your daughter’s behaviour.

  2. Hello,
    Positive reinforcement is so important with children, especially those with special needs. My son is not on the spectrum, but he has Epilepsy, ADHD, and a few other disabilities that have created obstacles to learning.

    You are so right about how this system works. I wish all teachers could be forced to read this and adhere to it. It works so much better than negative discipline.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with Autism.


    1. It is good to know that using a reward system and positive reinforcements work very well with your son. This is an excellent way to discipline him which will also help him to concentrate on the task at hand. Thank you as well for your wonderful comment. All the best to you and your son! 🙂

  3. As a former speech-language pathologist with some experience working with children with Autism (and many other developmental delays), I agree with you that having a reward program is a wonderful idea. Children with Autism are really motivated by tangible rewards, more so than praise.

    I used to use visual schedules and reward charts quite frequently in my therapy sessions!

    I hope many people read this wonderful article!

    1. Thank you, Tanya, for finding my post on using a reward program for autistic children very useful. It’s good to know that you are also applying it on your therapy sessions with autistic children and other children with special needs. Keep up the good work!

  4. I’m interested in autism as some of my friends are on the aspergers spectrum and I always want to be able to understand them more.

    Reading this post was informational on how children with autism behave. I’ve read a few materials about autistic child but few talk about teens and adults.

    I’d like to know what you think on this subject since autism is a kind of disorder that you cannot just cure.

    Thanks for sharing!


    1. Autism is a wide spectrum. They could be classified into four types. Autistic Disorder is known as childhood autism or early infantile autism, Asperger Syndrome or Aspergers are the high functional type, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder(CDD) which has classic symptoms of infantile dementia and disintegrative psychosis and the last is Pervasive Developmental Disorder( PDD) or atypical autism. Nowadays, you could classify autism into two categories which are the high-functioning (Aspergers) and Severe type (the remaining types that I have just mentioned). Your friends with Aspergers have a normal to above-average intelligence but have problems with social interaction and being with large crowds. They tend to be clumsy which is due to weak muscles of their hands and wrists. Their fine motor development is not fully developed and needed help on these. Severe autism, on the other hand, has lots of problems with regards to sensory, social interaction and communication, behaviour and nutrition. There is no cure but we could help them through our love and support by learning to accept, being aware of their difficulties and understanding. We need to be able to go into their world to fully understand them. This is the primary reason why I have created this site not just to raise awareness and understanding of autism but by focusing on ways on how we could help them. Thank you for your interest in autism and hope that you could help me in my mission in raising world autism awareness and understanding by referring families you know who have a family member with autism to my site. All the best!

  5. Good article Adel,

    I don’t have an Autistic child but did use a reward program for my son with ADHT and found it to be very beneficial. Positive reinforcement is the way forward 🙂

    Thank you for writing this.

    1. Hi, Suzanne. Reward programs could be beneficial to every child who has an attention deficit and behavioral problems. It is good that you are already implementing this to your child and reinforcing good behaviors. Well done and all the best to you and your son.

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