Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What are you working for?

I must ask this question at least a dozen times on a good day.  If you are living in an autism world like me, you are probably familiar with reminding your kid about what currency they value.  You also are very well aware that currency might be less about actually money and more about something sort of quirky. Hence, the reason my carpets are the cleanest part of my house.  My kiddo loves to vacuum them.  Having two dogs, I use this to my advantage.

I bet you are now thinking "Great she's got something to hold out as a carrot to the donkey but my kid doesn't like anything!"  I hear you my friends.  I really do.  Since it took till about the age of nine before we realized that the vacuum made my kid so flaptasticly happy.  Trust me, we had many years of staring blankly at both therapists and teachers when they asked us for ideas as to what would light a fire under his arse.  Literally nothing worked on motivating this kid.  Nada!

My kiddo also has the fabulous habit of growing weary of said motivators.  Right now he's digging it but I wouldn't be too surprised if he drops it soon.  He'll decide he is over vacuuming and the joy that is chasing my two dogs with it.  I will be sad.  Partly because I will no longer have him being Captain Carpet but also then what? What will be the thing to get him to want to do all the things.

Since we started with early intervention at two years of age we have been looking for the great motivator.  We would find some toy or food and I would think we were in the clear.  Then he would ditch it.  Pretty quickly too.  The professional would look to me and I'd just shrug and say "I got nothing.".  I get the reason why they would ask me. Here's the thing therapists and teachers, a lot of times we just don't know.  We are up an autism creek with only one paddle and it's one that's about to break.  The only thing I have learned from all of this is the motivator will change often and suddenly. Without warning and usually when we really need him to get through something.  It's just the way this autism life is for us living it. You work for a paycheck.  I bet despite the fact you are getting money there are many days you just don't feel like working.  My kiddo doesn't have the worry of paying rent or bills.  Right now, it's a pretty french fry filled charmed life.  (Yes, even his beloved fries don't motivate him really.  With his food issues, he has picked starving many times.  So yeah, doesn't hold much weight with the boy.)

So what else can we all do? Keep trying I guess. I mean, what's the alternative?  I think back about a time when not only did nothing motivate him but the very thing that moves him now used to scare the living daylights out of him.  Vacuuming was not something I did unless I really craved a small child howling like a spider monkey clutched to my leg.  Yet here I am today, making plans on when I will let him visit the vacuum section at Target this week.  We're going on vacation soon. We have to get that in before we go. Makes and models change more often than you would think!  I wonder if that means by the time he is old enough to drink he won't be scared of the blender anymore. Maybe he'll offer to make Mama her margaritas in the summer.  That would be awesome.  You're all invited over for cocktails.

A girl can dream can't she? ;-)


  1. Odds are, his interests will be sustained longer as he gets older. I too had many interests at his age, some sequential and some simultaneous. Perhaps this will be the first to stick. For me that happened at 13. Someone needs to create the vacuum of tomorrow.

    1. With two dogs in the house, this fixed interest has been great. I would be proud if he created the vacuum of tomorrow. :)

    2. I agree with John. As Jonathan got older, he held his interests much longer and through that process we discovered that some of them were great pursuits as meaningful work.

  2. I use LEGO :) Love the POWER those little plastic bricks and mini figures have :) THE TERROR is now 11 3/4 and I have been using Lego since she was 4 :) Praying this is the ONE CURRENCY that sticks.... on the upside the deck and floors look great too she loves to sweep and mop.... doesnt like the vacuum as the noise hurts her ears......But we all do what we gotta do!