Christine A Howard

Teaching Your Autistic Child Generosity

The emotional side of life can be a bit confusing for children on the Autism Spectrum. It’s not that they don’t feel all the same emotions everyone else does. Kids on the spectrum find it difficult to understand those motions in others. Because of this, things like sharing and generosity may not come easily. This is why it is so important that we teach our children generosity. Here are a few tips you can try to make things a little easier.

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children playing with blocks

Don’t Force The Issue

Remember, sharing and thinking about how others feel can be a difficult field to navigate for your child. The most important thing to keep in mind, is not to force your child into anything. I mean who would be happy if the boss came into the office and demanded you share your hard earned client list? That just might be grounds to quit immediately, which is exactly what our children will do if we force the issue.

Instead, do lots of encouraging, coaching and demonstrating. Make sure to regularly give your child the opportunity to be generous and share. This needs to be done in a safe space, so in our house, we have shared play spaces.

Shared Play Space

Shared play spaces, for those of you that don’t know, are exactly how they sound. It is a space in your home, with easy adult supervision, that is shared by anyone. In this space, resources are shared. So, if your child has a train set that she would like to share with her siblings, the shared play space is the place to do that.

children playing with Legos

This also means that in non-shared play spaces, sharing and being generous does not have to happen. This typically would be your child’s bedroom, but can extend to other areas of the house such as desks or school storage spaces.

In these spaces, no one is allowed to touch any of the items unless there is an agreement with the owner. This makes it so that a child has the space to play with his or her most prized items without feeling the need to share.

In the shared space, children should be encouraged to share and praised when they do. You might suggest items that your children each have that would compliment each other.

Or, maybe you begin the sharing by getting out some blocks and building a city that needs people or things to fill it. Think of this like the Stone Soup story. The more your child sees that generosity is beneficial and actually creates more fun, the more he will want to continue.

Teaching generosity to your autistic child

Community Toys

As an extension of the shared play spaces, it is a good idea to have community toys. These are items that either your children donate to the box or that you find. Some great places to find community toys include:

  • Garage Sales
  • Thrift Stores such as Goodwill
  • Second-hand Shops such as Once Upon A Child
  • Facebook Buy, Sell and Trade Groups
  • Craigslist
  • Swap with other families

Place all of the community toys into a large bin, and let your children play. The key to keeping the community toy bin exciting is to change out the toys regularly. If the toys in the bin get boring, it will sit idle and forget to be used. You may even want to change out the toys by season or by what your kids are learning at the moment.

children playing in a tube

Praise, Praise, Praise

I cannot stress this enough. Praise your child for even the smallest progress in this area. This can be really tough, and very scary for your child. I know my son is a teen now, and still struggles with this a lot.

Make manners a thing, and if one child brings something to share, make it mandatory for everyone to say, “Thank you.” Also, make sure you have some ground rules about how the toys are used. If your son brings out his new drone to share with this sister, make sure she isn’t using it in a manner that could break it. Remember, shared play spaces should be within ear shot of an adult.

If being generous feels good and is received well, of course it will continue. After awhile, you might just be surprised by what your children will decided to share with each other.

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2 thoughts on “Teaching Your Autistic Child Generosity

  1. Great tips for all children. It is so hard to share for younger children and mix in their autism and we need to be even more helpful for our kids to succeed.

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