Teaching a child with autism takes time. Lots of time.
With Tom, the issue isn't compliance. And it isn't behavior. To some degree I could say that it's about comprehension. But most importantly, it's about motivation.
Tom's happy to go out... or stay in. He's perfectly willing to do a project if we sit next to him and give him direction and support. But almost inevitably, when we step away, he's off in his own head - or back on the couch, flipping through picture books and waiting for his next instructions.
The reality is, there's no good reason for him to actively want to complete a project, read a whole book, or think of and execute something on his own. There are no peers he wants to share things with, and the idea of excelling in something for its own sake hasn't really caught on. Competition doesn't interest him. And as soon as he shows himself capable of doing something on his own (making lunch, taking a shower, and so forth), we immediately expect him to do it every time.
From time to time, we offer bribes for independent work (sometimes called "reinforcers," or "motivators."). But we've found that then the process becomes all about the prize. When we withdraw the prize reward, he's still willing to do the work - but only because we insist, support, and nudge.
I keep hearing how people with HFA and Asperger syndrome are passionately involved in their areas of interest. I see kids on the spectrum who fit this mold. But I'm still working on just how best to help my own child discover his own sense of purpose and direction.
And, meanwhile, I'm working on a skill that's eluded me for a lot of years: patience.