On the Joy of Learning

I hear a lot of questions from parents and professionals on how to motivate autistic children. But motivation itself isn't the issue.

These things I know

All children are curious, all children want to learn, all children want friends, to feel good, to be happy. Yes, autistic children, too.

These aren’t things that you have to persuade anyone to want. So when they aren’t present, it’s important to ask what is blocking them.

For autistics, those barriers are sometimes different than for non-autistics, in sometimes unexpected ways, which is why they can be tricky to spot if you aren’t autistic.

A lack of motivation is a symptom

It’s like trying to push a car up a hill with the brakes on.

When the things holding someone (anyone) back are finally removed, that person naturally begins to become curious about their world again, and try new things, and have positive experiences which foster self-esteem and create independence and motivation. And everything feels so much better—for everyone involved. Then the potential for that person is extraordinary.

Trying to teach someone, or work on skills or strategies, when there are things getting in the way of their ability to learn those lessons or skills or strategies, is like trying to push a car up a hill with the brakes on. But if you take off the brakes and turn on the car, you can just drive up.

That’s what I want for your child. Whether you work with me or not, I hope that becomes your child’s trajectory.

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Heather Cook

Heather Cook

Heather Cook is an autistic writer and autism coach. She finds joy in helping neurowonderful adults, teens, and parents find and remove the hidden barriers that are holding them back, so their natural strengths can shine.

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