Many teens in middle school and high school with high functioning autism/Asperger Syndrome who are in the general education setting struggle to see the importance of doing homework. I have had many students that will attend class, pay attention and then produce A's and B's on the test without doing the homework or taking the notes. The child ultimately ends up with a D- in the class. Is this because of a lack of ability to cognitively/emotionally handle the demands of the class due to the child's autism? NO, it's because he has not been taught the importance of homework and how it relates to his adult life and so he has not turned in one assignment the entire semester bringing his grade down to almost failing! For some who are not trained and do not have a good understanding of how a child with autism thinks and views the world often view this as a 'behavior issue' and write the child off as 'lazy' or 'doesn't care', which we know is not the case at all.
So what can you do to help your child?
--As their parent, you have to show them the relationship between teacher and boss. Give them examples from your job that look similar to their homework tasks:
Share with them a time where your boss has given you similar directives and if you did not complete them within the time frame given you would have been reprimanded which could have lead to getting fired. Or, when you are in a meeting at work, whether that is a quick conversation with a colleague or a large staff meeting, you take notes so you know what you will be required to do or what is coming up.
These are not skills we just walk into our first job as an adult and just 'do'. We know how to do them because of the skills we have learned through our educational schooling experiences.
--You have to show your teen with autism what it means to be fired from a job as an adult? They need to see and hear the ramifications of an adult losing their job. It's not as simple as getting a detention, getting a D-, or even having to retake a class over the summer when you are an adult. If you lose your job you jeopardize not only your only safety and security but your family's as well.
An example of how I have shown relevance in the classroom setting with my high school students with autism:
When I have a student complaining about having to write a paper in an English class I take out their IEP file and flip through the paperwork and all the notes I have taken over the year/s with them to show them the amount of writing that I have to do that is required or I would lose my job. I am honest and tell them I sometimes feel I am wasting time filling out all this paperwork when I would much rather be focused on teaching, which is my passion. Then I tell them if I don't complete the paperwork, in the right way, within the given time frame not only will I get complaints from parents but I could be fired which means I would not be here to teach him the next day. Now this usually works for me because my students, I feel, actually want me to come back the next day! ;-) But the bottom line is, I have made what they are doing in English class more relevant. I have given them a visual and shown them that what they are doing in high school is getting them conditioned for adulthood; not necessarily about the themes of the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.
Other tricks that you can use at home:
- When your child is doing math homework, sit next to them and balance your checking account.
- When your child is doing English homework, sit next to them and write out your holiday cards or send out emails to family/work.
- Give your child the chance to plan their evening and when they will do their homework. You will need to help them recognize what other responsibilities they have to complete and allow them free time to add into their schedule but let them try to schedule it out themselves.
- Have them figure out what homework is the hardest and the easiest. Get them to start with the hardest when they are more attentive and emotionally able to handle the work; then when they are tired they can breeze through the easy stuff.
We will be sharing many more strategies at our seminar this Thursday in downtown Milford. Go to our Educational ASD Seminar page or click the link below to get more details and to register! Free childcare available, just request when you register that you need childcare and we will make it available.