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Homework help autism

Homework help autism

Research has shown that children perform better in school when parents take an interest in homework. It’s important parental behavior because it shows kids that homework is important and that it should be a priority. It is especially important for children with cognitive disorders such as anxiety, autism, and ADHD, as parental involvement is one of the best ways to help children succeed in school.

But taking an interest does not mean nagging without helping, doing your kids’ homework for them, or hovering over assignments together for hours every evening. Homework should be a process that begins with preparation and concludes with kids who are prepared to do well on tests, learn the material, and succeed in their academic career. Time spent on homework should help further the coping skills your children have developed to manage their disadvantages.

Here are some strategies to help your children get maximum benefit from the work.

Get to know their teachers

Take the time to meet with your kids’ teachers. Have a conversation about homework schedules, turn-in policies, and how you as a parent can help make it a positive experience. Discuss your child’s disability and make them aware of issues that may trigger undesirable behavior, such as an emotional outburst. The more prepared your child’s teacher is, the better chance they will have making a meaningful connection with your learning-different student.

Establish “homework central”

One way to get your children accustomed to doing homework each night is to set aside a dedicated area, a “homework central,” which is free of distractions. This space should have enough room for all the books and materials they need. There should be plenty of light and a comfortable chair. The kitchen table or the family room floor are highly trafficked parts of the house and won’t be conducive to effective studying. Your child workspace should also include items that help them concentrate and feel comfortable based on their specific personality. For instance, a student with autism may be able to focus more if they have access to a stress ball, fidget spinner, or some other small items to channel energy. If you’re short on space, look into getting a corner desk, which fits better in small spaces, yet still provides a specific study area for your child.

Establish “homework time”

Now that you’ve identified homework central, you’ll need to work out “homework time.” This is the daily schedule, which will be a set-in-stone routine. This is important for students with learning disabilities and cognitive disorders as they learn what to expect and will have less trouble adapting to each new school year if a routine is in place. Stick to whatever time you establish, and work in at least one 15-minute break, which should be observed every night. It’s tough for kids to concentrate if they have to go to the bathroom or need a moment to clear their head after studying advanced physics.

Be an encourager and a motivator

Students with learning disabilities need encouragement more than anything when they’re having trouble grasping material. While you can’t do the work for them, be there to answer questions and to help explain concepts they’ve covered in class. It’s okay if your children ask you to quiz them on something. Just don’t help with the answers too much. As a parent, it’s also your job to motivate your kids, but not with threats or disdainful comments. Don’t be afraid to offer a small reward when you notice your child has self-regulated or overcome an obstacle without intervention. For instance, if your dyslexic student completes a chapter of a book or your ASD child makes a connection to materials away from class, reward them with a hug (or icecream, which is always welcome!).

Reach out for help

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you’re unable to help your child with a tough assignment. And don’t be ashamed if you don’t understand the material. The teachers are there to be a resource, so take full advantage of their knowledge when necessary.

The more you can do to set homework as an expectation, the less painful it’ll be. It’s all part of introducing good work and study habits into a child’s routine. Children benefit when they learn these habits early on.

Homework strategies for kids with ADHD, autism

Kids don’t want to do homework. Can you blame them? They just sat in school for 6+ hours, now we want them to sit down and do more school work during the little free time they have for themselves in the evenings. And struggling learners have been pushing so hard all day to listen and do what they’re asked. They’re spent, making them even more adamant that they not do any homework. And thus, the homework battles commence.

Homework is a parenting struggle for the majority of us raising kids with ADHD and/or high-functioning autism. It’s personally the most dreaded time of the day. There are some rules and strategies to implement to make it a bit better .

Homework Ground Rules

There are some general ground rules that should always be followed for homework time:

  • TV and other distractions must be turned off (music in the background actually helps some children drown out their surroundings and focus — it is a distraction for me and my son, but my daughter does homework better with music on).
  • Have a dedicated spot for homework and work there each day — routine and consistency are key.
  • Praise and reward often (typically more often than you are comfortable with).

Homework Timing

We’ve played around with time of day my son does homework over the years. I first tried homework right after school thinking medication would still be working . That was a disaster. Kids need time to unwind and do whatever their hearts desire after being in school 6+ hours on someone else’s time.

We also tried after dinner, when school was a distant memory. That wasn’t as big a battle to get him to agree to do homework, like immediately after school was. However, his medication is no longer helping him slow down by that time, and it was a monumental chore to actually get anything accomplished.

4 pm turned out to be our “magic” homework hour. Now, I use the term “magic” very, very loosely. Our children with ADHD will never be willing to do homework, nor will they be efficient at it. It’s finding what works best under their circumstances that will be “magic” for your family. It may not be “magic” for a typically-abled child, but it’s magic for us. Remember, even the best laid plan will not cure the resistance to homework.

Be sure you offer lots of breaks. Physical movement helps with mental alertness, but also gives your child the opportunity to destress and regroup.

Homework Location

At 4 pm we turn off all electronics and sit down at the dining room table or kitchen counter. It could be on the floor, hanging upside down on the sofa, or under the bed for that matter — anywhere your child is comfortable, focused, and can write. Don’t be rigid about your idea of the way homework should be done (at a desk, for instance). The key is to figure out where and how your child can do their best on this task. It may be unconventional, but whatever works for them is totally acceptable, and best.

The HowdaHug chair was a miracle tool for us for many years.

Homework Toolkit

Continuous preparation is a common procrastination technique, conscious or not. To prevent this, create a homework toolkit. The toolkit should be some sort of box or desktop organizer (this desktop organizer is perfect for your toolkit!), even an actual toolbox, with every single thing necessary to complete homework, prepped and ready to go:

pencils (sharpened — sharpening pencils is a favorite procrastination technique of children),
pencil sharpener,
pencil grips (if used),
colored pencils (sharpened),
age-appropriate scissors,
notebook paper,
construction paper and/or blank copy paper,
index cards,
glue stick,
post-it notes,
clip board (if not working at a table or desktop),
anything else your child may use for homework.

A timer (there are many specifically for ADHD and special needs) is a great tool for completing a task, too. ADHDers often struggle with the concept of time. My son constantly asks me “how much longer?” when doing something he’d rather not be doing. He often overestimates the amount of time something will take, as well. A timer helps with both. If he is given a math worksheet and he has 15 minutes to complete it, the timer is set for 15 minutes. At any given moment, he can look at the timer and know how much time he has left to finish. The Time Timer is my favorite.

Get Creative with Homework

Get creative and make homework visual when you can. When my son was young, we got really creative. We used macaroni for math (in middle school, we’ve used candy corn to solve math problems, then eat them as the reward — I don’t like a lot of candy, but sometimes desperation wins). He liked to spell words with uncooked spaghetti mixed with elbow macaroni for curves (when the spelling words were 3 or 4 letters). Does your child love to paint? Let them paint their spelling words or their illustration for their writing assignments. Painting letters is actually a common therapy tool for children that struggle with hand writing. What about play-dough? I purchased a box of 101 alphabet and number cookie cutters for $10, and sometimes we used that for spelling and math.

Homework Accommodations

I can’t begin to count how many parents have told me their child is spending hours on homework every night just to get it done. We’re talking 2-4 hours for kids in elementary school. That’s not okay, folks!

Kids with developmental delays (ADHD and autism) and learning disabilities should not have to work on homework any longer than their neurotypical peers. To have a child work on a math assignment for two hours that took their peers 15 minutes to complete is punishing that child for having a disability. That’s not acceptable. That’s very, very unacceptable!

The rule of thumb for the maximum daily time spent on homework is supposed to be 10 minutes for every year of grade. That’s 10 minutes for a first grader, 20 minutes for a second grader, 60 minutes for a sixth grader, etc… Ask your child’s teacher how much time they expect their students to spend on homework each night. If your child is doing substantially more, ask for modified assignments, so your child is only working that length of time, whether the assignment is finished or not. We did this all through elementary school, and it helped a great deal.


School can be a challenging place for those who have autism given the difficulties they may encounter with their executive functioning, social skills and sensory demands. Teaching children the virtue of organisation, asking for help and a measure of independence by taking responsibility for their belongings (such as books, PE Kit and homework) from an early age will stand them in good stead as they progress through school towards the world of work. It is also helpful to gradually encourage involvement with other children when completing pair and group work tasks whether in the classroom or outside. As with teaching of household chores bear the top tips in mind.

1. Following a timetable

Given the inclination towards anxiety when routines are disrupted or when they are unsure what is happening having a visual timetable/ schedule available from an early age can be reassuring for children/ young people with autism.

The timetable can be a hard copy or for older children viewed on an electronic device. My Study Life provide an interactive planner for schedules/ timetables, submission deadlines for homework/ assignments and revision.

2. Organising books and materials for different school subjects

Keeping school books and materials in an organised system will ensure that they are much easier found and also aid with packing the schoolbag and completing homework’s.

The style of organisation selected should be based upon the cognitive and ability and preference of the child or young person.

All books and materials required for each subject should be labelled in the same way for ease of organisation. It may also be helpful to have an individual folder or tuff bag for each subject area.

Different methods of organisation:

3. Organising homework and meeting deadlines:

Use of a homework diary or planner on a mobile device can help reduce the anxiety of missing a deadline.

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A timer can be useful to help maintain focus for a certain length of time. Timers can be conventional sand timers or electronic timers, for example:

4. Packing schoolbag

A checklist can be used for younger children to teach them the skills of packing the correct equipment. Remembering to pack the correct books, to take a PE kit or Home Economics ingredients can be a challenge for those at secondary school. Referring to their timetable and colour coding books can help.

For young children, there are activities which prompt the consideration of what you might need to take to school:

5. Working as part of a group

A social skills deficit is seen as one of the greatest challenges for young people with autism and Asperger’s syndrome. For example, they may have a limited understanding of the give – and – take nature of conversation, the feelings of others and lack understanding of the unspoken rules of social interaction (Painter, 2006, pp. 13, 15). Krasny et al., (2003) have identified ten “essential ingredients” which are required when devising a social skills programme for young people with autism/ Asperger’s:

  • Teach concrete skills
  • Keep the group highly structured and predictable.
  • Structured transitions from one activity to the next.
  • Take the cognitive and language abilities of the young people into consideration.
  • Use a range of teaching strategies for different learning styles.
  • Use pair and group work as much as possible to encourage interest in others.
  • Be aware of and address any self – esteem issues.
  • Focus on social skills which are most relevant to those with ASD.
  • Start with basic skills and build up to more complex skills.
  • Promote generalisation of skills learnt to the home environment and other arenas.

Group work is a major component of education in order to prepare students for the work place. Many opportunities for group work will be offered within the classroom but it is necessary to scaffold the learning for those with autism to make the task more beneficial and less daunting.

6. Problem – Solving and Decision – Making Skills

These skills are a key component of the thinking skills and personal capabilities framework (CCEA). Not only is it important that young people with autism learn how to complete a range of skills and tasks but also what steps should be taken if they encounter a problem. This is particularly pertinent as individuals with autism often lack problem solving skills, therefore it is important to start teaching the necessary skills as early as possible so that they can be generalised (Cote, D.L., Jones, V.L., Barnett, C., Pavelek, K., Nguyen, H. and Sparks, S.L., (2014). Teaching Problem Solving Skills to Elementary Age Students with Autism. Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 49 (2), pp. 189 – 199.

Teaching can be conducted in a number of different ways whether as a role play or when an activity is sabotaged to prompt the individual to ask for help or to solve the problem if they have encountered it before.