Rewarding Support

March 13, 2008

By Dan Coulter

Do you crave recognition?

Do you secretly yearn for praise of your accomplishments?   While it’s socially appropriate to be modest, just about all of us want our good works to be noticed. And we love rewards.  What could feel better than someone praising us and offering a concrete expression of their appreciation?

During the years I worked in various corporate jobs, these expressions were frequently tangible.  Company rewards often come in the form of plaques or promotions or bonuses.  One of the best I ever received was a trip to Disney World with my family when my kids were little.  Talk about making dad a hero.

Now that I’m working for myself, the rewards are different.  It means a lot when customers praise the videos my wife and I make or when a program gets an enthusiastic review from an expert.

Living with less tangible rewards helps me appreciate all the other folks out there who provide support to children or adults who have Asperger Syndrome or autism and who don’t have a formal reward structure.  Folks like the moms and dads or siblings. Let’s add grandparents, friends, teachers, tutors, counselors, aides, coaches, and therapists.  You can’t capture all the possibilities of people who should get credit in a list.

Some jobs, such as teacher or counselor, do sometimes offer structured, work-related rewards for providing excellent support.  But in my experience, they usually don’t reach the levels or frequency of the corporate cornucopia.  And, trust me, many of the folks I’ve met who support people with Asperger Syndrome or autism deserve rewards just as much as my esteemed former corporate colleagues.

A while back, I wrote an article about the importance of giving positive feedback to the people we deal with on a daily basis.  Now, I’m proposing that we take this a step further.

Think about someone who’s made a difference in the life of your child on the spectrum and give him or her recognition AND a reward.

The reward doesn’t have to be expensive.  For example, as I write this, there’s a framed document hanging on the wall next to me titled, “Five Reasons I Wouldn’t Want Any Other Daddy.”  My daughter gave it to me when she was a lot younger.  The five reasons she wrote are extravagant and funny and it’s one of most treasured rewards I’ve ever received.

In an age of computers, it’s relatively easy to create and print your own award citation. You can make up your own category and describe the great work someone’s done. Pick up an inexpensive frame and, voila, you’re giving a reward that announces your appreciation to everyone who sees it.  But whether you offer an award plaque or cookies or a custom printed T-shirt, a tangible reward is a great way to give extra spark to recognition for someone who truly deserves it.  Not to mention giving him or her that emotional boost we all need to do our best work.

Never underestimate the cookies.  Rewards come in all sizes.  And appreciation fills a part of us that should never go empty.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dan Coulter produces DVDs about Asperger Syndrome and autism.  His most recent releases include “Understanding Brothers and Sisters with Autism” and “Understanding Brothers and Sisters with Asperger Syndrome.” You can find more articles on his website at coultervideo.com.

Copyright 2008   Dan Coulter    All Rights Reserved   Used By Permission

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