I have always enjoyed feeling the gentle pat on the back from the sturdy hand of my father or hearing my mother say “I am so proud of you!” in her sweet angelic voice when I was growing up. It seems we all need words of encouragement from our parents, our teachers and those we look up to. How else can we measure our accomplishments if we don’t have positive feedback? It is essential in developing our confidence, in raising our self awareness and in promoting our self esteem. If we are to set goals and have dreams we must be praised for the things we accomplish. I believe it is psychological but it really makes a difference when you receive a “gold star” on your homework assignment or your manager celebrates a team victory with an outing to the pizza place where he not only buys your pizza and soda but he also gives a team winning speech and makes every team member feel great for the win as he praises one and all.
As a parent of an autistic child I know how important it is to reach my son and help him to feel good about himself. I have learned from experience that it is not so easy to give him praise and complement him for his good deeds. I have sometimes asked my son why he does not like to be complimented when he does something good and he simply says that if he is to be complimented at school he believes all his classmates should be complimented and not him individually. I thought that was quite noble of him and I realized how special he is. He seems wiser beyond his years and he has taught me about being empathetic and kind hearted in his sweet way. I can now relate to my mom as I think how proud I am of my son for the compassion and good will he feels towards his peers.
One effective way of praising my son for the good things he does is to reward him with something he likes. Every child likes to receive a gift and if your child is rewarded with a gift for doing good I believe it is a very positive way to show your praise and in helping your child in their development and in the learning process. If you are consistent with rewarding your child for good behavior and in achieving success you are helping them build their confidence and in teaching them to strive to accomplish and fulfill their goals and dreams. Every parents wish is to enhance their child’s self esteem and have them feel good about themselves.
Autistic children may encounter difficulty with verbal communication so sometimes praise may not always be effective if it is said with words. Sometimes actions do speak louder than words and with children on the spectrum this tends to be very true. We as parents have to find more creative ways to praise our autistic children and we must never lose sight of this very important aspect that is so important in their development. As good as I felt when I received praise I feel ten times better when I give praise and I realize now how important it is to recognize our children’s accomplishments and to properly reward them for it.
It is nice to know you have someone looking out for you and teaching you the ways of life. Autistic children also need to understand the “rules” of life and they can only learn this if they are properly informed and given the opportunity to explore, learn, understand, evaluate and act. When they act they will be doing something that we all take for granted. Autistic children tend to live in a “vacuum” where they have very little interaction with others so they tend to lack the social graces and are unable to connect with others as most do without thinking twice about it. The beauty of an autistic child is their view of their surroundings and the many special qualities they exhibit in their day to day life. If we are to help bring an autistic child out of their own “little world” we have to first make a proper connection with them. We then have to gain their trust and help them to believe they are special and can do anything they set their mind to do. When we praise a child we help them to start believing in themselves. When we praise an autistic child and they understand we are helping to change lives. An autistic child that starts to believe is the most exciting thing you can ever hope for. I am in awe of the tremendous potential my son has and I want him to remain focused and to believe in himself because I believe in him and I know he can do anything he sets his mind to do.
We must all learn to praise an Autistic child so we can help to change their lives for the better!
Edward D. Iannielli III