SLP 039 Using Special Interests to Motivate & Engage

Sue Larkey Podcast

Special interests, fixations and self-stimulation are often a very important part of life for someone with autism. They are usually their only form of relaxation and down time. Special interests and fixations often give the child something they can control and is predictable to them, bringing order to their world. Special interests can include drawing, Lego, Minecraft, Music, YouTube and so much more. Self-stimulation can be more sensory based like rocking, hand flapping, twirling, vocal stimming and more. If you are unsure what their special interest or self-stimulation is, watch what the child is doing when they are left alone. These can often be quite bizarre – over the years I have seen collecting bottle tops, filtering tan bark, fans, lights, light bulbs and vacuum cleaners.

It is very important that we have in place the rules and routines around special interests, as they find it hard to finish and self-regulate. Special interests should also be used to motivate and engage students. By using a child’s special interest we can teach them just about anything!

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