It’s that time of the semester. The time when all students begin to struggle – but the struggle just seems amplified for our spectrum students.
I don’t know why…but I would guess something like this.
It’s just hard. It’s hard to block out all of the sensory components and building language and making friends while simultaneously trying to learn. One of the values of this blog is I’m able to look back. It was about a year ago we began running into these same issues. How do we help him keep going when he’s exhausted? Thanksgiving break is still three weeks away…and he needs a break. His brain needs a break, but it’s not time for a break.
Four emails and two calls last week. It was a rough week. I came to that moment that I just didn’t know what to do…at the end of my rope…at the end of the road…and then…it struck me.
Bribery. I wrote about bribery on Day #293. I wrote about my ‘pre-child’ self that was NEVER going to bribe my children, NEVER going to leave a function if my child had a meltdown, NEVER going to feed them fast food, and certainly NEVER give extrinsic rewards.
Then I had children and opened a REALLY big window for all of those never statements.
As a teacher, I am inherently a believer in intrinsic learning motivation. You should do your best and try hard in your classes because you WANT to learn.
You know what though? Not everyone is like that.
Dun dun dun (be sure to read that dramatically)…once again autism teaches me.
Tucker wants an xBox 1 like he’s never wanted anything in his life. Okay, to be honest….he’s never really actually wanted anything – so this is a first.
So, I gave. I sent a message to his SpEd teacher with an idea for him to earn money towards this black box of goodness. His teachers could assign certain amounts for achievements and I would create a chart at home that would allow him to track his progress towards $350.
The next thing I know his super fantastical math teacher sends me a message that they had already devised a plan. He gets $1 for every ‘on-time’ assignment that he turns in on time and earns 80%, for every 3 (which is the equivalent of an A/B…don’t ask…it’s screwy) on a test, quiz, or major assignment he earns $3.
I let Mr. M. know my appreciation and that I will begin making some fake dollars for them. I also tell him how much I have struggled with this decision – because I ‘preach’ intrinsic motivation so often…but I’ve come to terms with it in this way.
No joke. These people are remarkable. Not only are they playing along but they are doing it at an AMAZING degree.
We get home today and he says, “Oh mom. I have something. I have to go get my bag. I have to show you something.”
He returns with a HUGE smile and three ‘Tuck Bucks.’ Then this conversation happened…
“Tucker. That’s awesome! How did you get those?”
“I got a 3 on my science test.”
“You did! What was it about?”
“It was all about balance.”
“That’s so great. Why don’t you tell me about it while I get $3 regular dollars for your exchange.”
“Sounds great. So, balance…”
So…these Tuck Bucks? For now they are working wonders. Not only is he trying harder in the part of the year he historically doesn’t try…but we’re having a conversation about the learning.
It may not work forever, it may not work for long…but it’s working for now – and in this world, that’s sometimes the only thing that matters. Right. Now.