Information on Motivation

Autistic individuals tend to have difficulties with their executive functioning.  This can impact on motivation. These functions include:

Task initiation – the ability to start a task
Planning – being able to make a plan and work out what order to do things
Problem solving – the ability to find a solution to a problem
Working memory – short term memory such as forgetting someone’s order if serving them
Attention – ability to direct your focus on something specific, not being distracted by other stimuli
Verbal reasoning – especially when there are implied social meanings behind the instruction
Inhibition – filtering out inappropriate thoughts or interrupting someone
Cognitive flexibility – having to do things the same way each time
Monitoring – knowing where you are in a project or task

Stephanie Bethany Talks about Difficulties with the Executive Function of Task Initiation

Reasons executive functioning can make doing tasks difficult:

Not knowing where to start
Not having clear goals
Not knowing when to start
Busing doing other things
Not as important as other things
Seems too big and too difficult
Not knowing what to do if something goes wrong
Unable to adapt to change if it doesn’t work
Worried someone will make you do it a different way
Worried about failure and not being good enough


Things that can help to improve executive functioning include:

Getting someone else to initiate a task by telling you what to do
Setting an alarm to alert you to when to do something
Deadlines can help
Having someone tell you how you are doing or where you are in a project
Being able to do a project in the way you need to do it – without someone trying to get you to do it a different way
Writing things down so it’s there if you forget
Breaking down a task with someone else before starting it
Having written down plan to follow

Click on the links below to see some interesting articles on motivation and autism: