I wanted to share this with you only because I thought it was cool that Mike’s picture from Special Olympics was one of the ones chosen to be in Autism Speaks Science blog and, according to Nora Rubovitz of Autism Speaks Family Services division, his picture will also be part of the Science pamphlet that they will publish and distribute.
Mike has been a part of Helping Hands Behavioral Outreach (http://www.helpinghandschildren.com/HHBO/HHBO.pdf )for about six eyears now. He joined their Special Olympics team last year determined to earn a gold medal. He wound up with a silver and is participating again this year to literally ‘go for the gold’. It is one of the few fitness-related activities that don’t require a special reward system.
Rewards can be tricky; our current one involves earning a dollar for completion of a series of tasks e.g. Mike’s morning routine consists of making his bed, getting dressed and brushing his teeth using only one verbal prompt. Mike has taken to saving his dollars for something he wants to buy later on, like a dinosaur toy or a new DVD. He searches the Internet and chooses; it’s funny that he has become a connoisseur, choosing Blu-Ray movies over regular DVDs. Any way this reward system offers both instant and delayed gratification, and teaches counting and functional money skills too. Not bad at all.
I am intrigued that Mike is learning about being rewarded intrinsically: feeling good about his performance and having a desire to improve. Yes, he would be praised and lauded for simply participating, and the medal he earns is something I can buy at A.C. Moore for $2, but that’s not the point here. The point is, quite simply, the unadulterated joy in seeing an autistic child interacting, competing, earning and winning like a typical child.