How to motivate a 16yr old to study

Hi all,

Our son is 16, he was diagnosed with Autism 4 years ago after a long fight. We have had constant battles over the years with school and him. He is predicted to Fail all his GCSES despite qualifying for extra time and having extended days at school. We have tried to motivate him with study by saying we will buy him a "top" of the range PC if he passes his exams not with high marks but just passing them. His favourite past time is gaming so this was something he said he wanted. But still he will not revise at home or put any effort in on his homework.  He wanted to go visit the local college for further education, we went and he liked the sound of a computer gaming programming course, so we encouraged it and told him what grades he would need this inspired him so we bought an online programming course for him to try and help encourage him as this interested him. He looked at it for one day and then lost interest again.

We cannot seem to motivate him to care about school or grades, his future and having a job / having a life outside of the house / friends etc.

Does anyone have any hints or tips of anything we could try ? or anyone we could contact to try and help him and us to try and get into his mind 



  • Hi Sam,

    Hopefully, the community will jump in with suggestions but, in the meantime, it may be helpful to get in touch with other parents who have been in a similar situation?

    You may like to contact our Parent to Parent Service who offer emotional support to parents and carers of children or adults with autism. This service is confidential and run by trained parent volunteers who are all parents themselves of a child or adult with autism .

    You contact the team on 0808 800 4106. Please leave a message and the team will call you back as soon as possible at a time that suits you, including evenings and weekends. Alternatively you can use contact the team via web form:

    Our helpline may also be able to offer some advice?

    You may like to contact our Autism Helpline team who can provide you with information and advice . You can contact the team via telephone on 0808 800 4104 (Monday to Thursday 10am to 4pm, Friday 9am to 3pm). Please note that the Helpline is experiencing a high volume of calls and it may take a couple of attempts before you get through to speak to an advisor. Alternatively, should you prefer to send a message, you can do so via their webform:

    Hope this helps,


  • A lot of people with autism don't have intrinsic motivation meaning there need to be outside factors to keep them motivated. For some people wanting to do well, get on a college course etc is enough. For others unfortunately it takes a bit more. The idea of a reward at the end is good but I wonder whether a more immediate reward would help. For example he does half an hours homework or revision and he gets something he would like straight away (obviously it would need to be a smaller reward than something like a pc).

    I personally found motivation through school very difficult especially with revision but I did get there with sweets and money as a carrot (this probably just sounds like bribery but it did work). I also couldn't revise left to my own devices, I needed to work with someone, and it usually involved me getting very stressed and annoyed but I did get GCSEs out of it.

    How often does he spend gaming? Could there be a rule/deal that he has to do so much school work to access the gaming?

    A schedule may also help. I still find this helpful to this day. I have to schedule my own housework or it does NOT get done.

    Are school supportive? Are there any staff that he gets on with that could help out from their end?