How to Determine Homework Needs of Students on the Autism Spectrum
Homework is an issue that needs careful consideration for the student with AS. Hopefully this article will help both parents and teachers focus your thinking about homework and make good decisions for your student. Decisions about homework should be addressed by the whole educational team, including parents and, if possible, the student (especially the older student). If the team determines that the student with AS can handle homework, then thoughtful planning, collaboration between home and school, and appropriate modifications will ultimately lead to a successful experience with homework—and greatly reduce the tears and homework battles many families experience.
Homework: Education? or just “work”?
Ask any parent, teacher, or student—there are many benefits and challenges to homework! Homework is a standard part of all children’s school experience and usually the amount of homework assigned increases dramatically as the student matures through the grades. It is an unwritten rule: teachers, students, and parents just assume that all students will do homework as part of their school experience. Homework expectations are often stated in the student handbook. Homework performance affects grading, along with attendance, class participation, tests/quizzes, effort, etc. Teachers have various reasons for assigning homework: fostering independence and organization, enhancing study skills, reviewing material from the day, demonstrating understanding of class material, etc.
Homework is not many students’ first choice for an after-school or evening activity. Many other things take precedence—and that sets up the homework battles for students, parents, and ultimately for teachers as well. For students, homework becomes a dreaded burden and a chore. For their parents, daily “homework battles” become exhausting! Teachers get caught up in this battle, and have to impose negative consequences (such as lower grades or detention) when a student does not complete all assigned work. And assigning/modifying, monitoring, correcting and providing feedback on a students’ homework adds to a teacher’s already full plate. For all concerned, homework is just that—work!
Especially for students with AS, it’s time to think outside the box. We need to re-evaluate the idea that homework is essential for all students. Let’s examine what are our goals are when we assign homework. Are we stuck doing something just because it has always been done?
Homework requirements, and the whole process of managing homework, need to be evaluated on an individual basis for students with AS. Many students with AS exert tremendous energy during the school day to “hold it together” and to do their daily schoolwork; homework is the last thing these students should be required to do. There are also students with AS who can handle the additional demands of homework: the key is to know the student you are dealing with and make appropriate accommodations if necessary.
Questions the team needs to answer are listed below. We’ll address these questions in detail in the rest of the article.
- What goals do we hope to meet by assigning homework to this student?
- Should the student with AS be assigned homework at all? What factors will be used in determining this answer?
- Should homework be assigned in some classes and not others?
- Should the amount, subjects, or type of homework assignments be modified for this student?
- If homework is modified or removed from the student’s requirements, then how do we adjust the grading rubric?
- How should homework managed at home? What role should the parent play?
- How is homework assigned/organized at school?
- How is homework returned to school?
What are the goals of homework for this student?
Homework goals for students with AS may be the same as for a typical student—or they may have a different focus. For instance, you might set goals in the social, communicative, or organizational areas. Helping students develop “executive functioning” skills (organizing, planning, goal-directed behavior, etc.) may be the best homework any student with AS could have. Homework can be used to preview upcoming work, chapters, reading, or vocabulary. You can assign the student self-exploration related to a topic, let the student pick/design his/her own homework assignments, etc. Other goals might be: estimating time needed for completion of assignments and then completing assignments in a timely fashion, prioritizing assignments and organizing work, developing routines or strategies, practicing asking for help from adults or classmates (or consulting a homework web page) when confused or frustrated, etc.
Should the student with AS be assigned homework? What factors will be used in determining this answer?
In answering this question, the team needs to take into account the student’s daily performance at school. Is the student able to make it through a school day relatively intact and with reserve energy—or does the student’s energy peter out as the day progresses? Can you see a decline in the student’s performance, sensory integration, and quality of communication from the morning classes to classes at the end of the day? If the student is managing the school day without undue stress, the first criterion has been passed favorably in regards to assigning homework.
The second criterion is how the student fares when s/he arrives at home. If the student “crashes and burns” at home (even though it wasn’t visible during the school day), that means that s/he used up a lot of his/her available energy during the day and has very little reserve for homework. Including parents and the student in this discussion/decision (especially as the student gets older) is essential to gathering this information.
A third consideration is how orderly or chaotic the home environment is, and is an adult free to support the student in completing his/her homework assignments?
All of these questions/criteria need to be answered before proceeding on to whether homework needs to be adapted or how to adapt it. Thus, both the human and non-human environment need to be assessed when determining whether to assign homework to the student with AS. The human environment includes the student and family members. Basically, stress levels, anxiety, and levels of exhaustion need to be taken into account when deciding whether or not homework should be assigned. Another human factor that needs to be taken into account is parents’ availability to support and assist the student. If parent support is not available, and the particular student will need adult guidance, then homework should not be done at home. The team can discuss whether the student can handle and benefit from doing some additional assignments in a study hall, resource center, or afterschool homework center.
If any red flags are present—signs of stress at school or at home, lack of available adult support—then the homework load should be reduced or eliminated, so that the student can focus on “re-grouping” for the next day at school.
If the student with AS resists doing homework there may be underlying reasons that have nothing or everything to do with the assignment—or with the concrete thinking characteristic of AS. For example, students with AS may be confused about why they should do “school work” at home. They are not typically motivated to do homework to please a teacher or parent or because they are “supposed to” do it to meet class requirements. They may choose not to do an assignment because they are not interested in the assignment or don’t see the relevance. Trying to find the underlying cause of resistance may be tricky but is worth the effort. As students with AS gets older, just ask them; they may provide you with the answer. For instance, a high school student I was consulting on stopped doing his class work and homework and when asked why he stated, “I’ve been told it’s ‘my job’ (as a student) to do this stuff—and nobody is paying me!”
Should homework be assigned in some classes and not others? Should the amount, subjects, or type of homework assignments be modified for this student?
If the team decides that it is all right to assign homework, there are some guidelines that should be adhered to, to make the life of the student, parents and teacher(s) bearable. Students with AS often times have trouble organizing their work: getting started, staying focused, multi-tasking, etc. Carefully consider the student’s specific issues when assigning homework, and modify assignments accordingly. Especially as the student gets older, homework assignments from multiple teachers need to be coordinated or the student may become overwhelmed. In general, homework assignments may need to be modified in terms of learning style, language, type, amount, format, due dates, time expectations, performance criteria, etc. The more clarity a teacher can bring to an assignment, by providing specific, detailed directions and expectations, stated in clear language, the better it will be for the student and parent.
- Before the student leaves school each day, ask the student to state in his/her own words what the assignment is and what the expectations are. This way the teacher knows whether the student understands or not, and can correct misunderstandings.
- Simplifying expectations or modifying how a student fulfills an assignment can go a long way to ensuring success. Some students with AS enjoy and excel at writing, but others experience difficulty. Instead of assigning an essay, you might want to ask a student with AS to make a poster, report orally, or create a PowerPoint presentation. Or, you can assign an essay of reduced length (3-5 page essay or no minimum number of pages).
- You may need to extend due dates, or change dates for tests or long term assignments so that they do not all fall on the same day.
- If a student has difficulty with handwriting, then having access to a computer is imperative.
- Time limits: Specifying the maximum amount of time to be spent on each assignment, and the total amount of time to be spent on all homework each evening. Grade students on work accomplished. Modify future assignments to based on feedback about where the student got bogged down.
- A student with a disability should be graded on how well s/he meets expectations that are appropriate to the student. Therefore, if homework expectations are altered, justice dictates that educators adjust the grading rubric accordingly, especially in middle school and high school. That is, one must change the way the grade is calculated (different percentages contributed by homework, attendance, tests, class participation, term paper, etc.)
Managing homework at home; what’s the parent’s role?
At school, students with AS like routine; life at home is no different. The student and parents and should create a schedule for life after school hours that includes downtime, some movement/sensory activity, food/drink, and homework—along with any afterschool therapies, sports, or social groups in which the student participates. If the parents and student are having difficulty creating this schedule, then an educator should help facilitate the process.
Because students with AS are often not the best communicators, a home-school communication system should be in place to coordinate efforts at school and at home. The team should decide which educator will maintain contact with the parent, and what communication media and frequency will work. a daily communication book that travels between home and school in the student’s backpack, weekly phone calls or e-mails, or some combination of these means. Some dedicated aides or teachers even give out home phone numbers for emergency consultations! You can also utilize a homework buddy, a homework webpage, or assignments can be faxed or emailed home to assist with clarifying homework and understanding the assignments. Include models of what the homework should look like, or the student’s “best work.”
Through this system, parents can immediately communicate vital information and concerns to teachers; teachers can communicate clear expectations and information directly to parents. As they get older, some students may also be able to add their own comments and concerns. If there is a communication book or agenda book then the parents have a reference point to check the accuracy of their son’s/daughter’s version of homework requirements. Having parents and teachers initial the agenda book assures that everyone is on the same page.
While the student is doing homework, an adult should be available to assist if needed. An adult may need to sit near the younger student to facilitate homework completion. Identify a specific place to do homework: a room or area, set up with a comfortable table or desk, chair (or the student’s preferred furnishings) and homework supplies. The supplies could be kept in a box for younger students. Allow the student breaks as needed, based on their sensory and attentional needs. Specify the amount of time to be spent on homework; use a timer so the student can monitor his or her progress. Parents should get information from school staff about average times of completion for specific assignments. Parents should then communicate to teachers the length of time a student spends on each subject/type of task. Know the student’s learning style and allow it to be used. For instance, if the student likes to lie on the floor while working, then let him lie on the floor; don’t force him to sit at a table/desk. If s/he likes to vocalize/self-monitor while working, listen to music or have absolute quiet, let her/him. Especially as the student gets older, help her/him identify study skills that work best for her/him.
How is homework assigned/organized at school?
During the school day, many older students benefit from a daily learning center period, or better still, one in the morning and another at the end of the school day. During these periods, learning center staff can help students organize, review/preview, begin or complete homework.
- At the end of the day, verify that all homework assignments are written clearly in the student’s agenda book, that students are able to explain in their own words what is required, and that the student has in his or her backpack all materials necessary to do the work.
- In some districts, homework is posted on the school website. If your district uses this tool, make sure the student knows how to access the right page on the internet and check his/her homework assignments.
- Assign a student homework buddy from each class for the student with AS to call with any questions.
- Help the student set up an organized binder. Include sections for papers to be returned to school, papers for parents, class notes, etc.
- Color-coding supplies (folders, books, notebooks, etc.) for each subject also facilitates organization.
- Some students may also need an additional set of books to keep at home.
- Thoroughly organize any long terms projects (research papers, science projects, group presentations) at school, before the student starts to work on them at home.
- Break the long assignment up into shorter steps.
- Create a calendar with check-in dates and specific outcomes for each step.
- Add each of these check-in dates to the agenda notebook.
- An educator should checked progress daily or at an appropriate interval, to make sure the student successfully completes each step and does not fall behind.
How is homework returned to school?
Many students with AS who are assigned homework, and can manage it, still have difficulty getting the finished work to school. They leave it at home, misfile it in their binders, or lose it in their backpacks or lockers. For the student with AS, successfully returning completed assignments can be an excellent homework goal! To meet the goal, students with AS will need additional support from parents, teachers, and teaching assistants. Successful organizational strategies may include establishing routines, motor patterns, and checklists. Providing cue cards on the binders with question cues to remind them to turn their homework in, put it in the right folder, etc., may also prove useful. Helpful strategies may include: having teachers and parents sign the agenda book, establishing classroom routines regarding homework, creating a specific place in which to put completed homework, establishing verbal prompts and structured routines with the whole class, providing a backpack with multiple compartments and identifying what each one is for, utilizing trapper/keepers or multiple binders etc.
There are many ways to help a student with AS get organized around homework—but know that it is almost always a necessary ingredient to ensuring a successful school experience. Pick a system and a set of tools, monitor the system consistently, and fine tune it if necessary. Then enjoy seeing your student grow!
Dot Lucci, C.A.G.S. has worked as an educational consultant with schools and families all over the U.S. She is currently the Program Director of MGH Aspire. She has served on the AANE board and written classic articles about working effectively with students with Asperger profiles.
My ASD Child
Defiant young people with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism are under the mistaken belief that they are in charge. Their defiance has worked for them in the past, and they have learned to use it to their advantage. Luckily, there are several steps moms and dads can take to get a resistant youngster to do homework. Since no two kids are alike, there is no one-cure-fixes-all method. Mothers and fathers must use what they know about their youngster to determine which course of action works best. Very often, more than one method must be tried before a solution is found.
Whichever steps are taken to get a defiant “Aspie” to do homework, there are some things all moms and dads must keep in mind when managing these difficult homework situations:
1. Be available for help— You don’t need to sit with your Aspergers youngster, but you need to be close enough that they don’t have to search for you if they require help. If the youngster has to get up from their work to find you it will disrupt their focus and they may become distracted by someone else in the house. You don’t want to waste time refocusing them. If the youngster fusses ignore their complaints. You know they have to get this work done and so do they. Keep redirecting their attention to the work at hand. Use statements like, “Show me how you do this.” and read the question out loud. Reading the question to your youngster while they sit in front of the page gets them to focus. Use your finger to point to each word; this motion will draw the youngster’s eyes to the page. Be interested in what they are doing. Your interest will show the youngster that their home work is important to you.
2. Be calm— Often the frustrations of moms and dads come through to the defiant Aspergers youngster and make the situation worse. It is always best to be calm and if a mother/father feels upset with the youngster it is better to step away and ask the other parent to step in for a while. Another good idea is to decide that one parent will work on English and Social Studies while the other parent works on Science and Math. As a result is varies who is the person enforcing the homework. Also if there is such a push for perfection on the assignments that the youngster feels he or she can’t be perfect, it can lead to defiance. It is acceptable for the youngster to get a problem wrong once in awhile. Don’t push for perfection.
3. Be flexible— When the Aspergers youngster comes home from school don’t pounce on them to get their homework done. Give them several minutes to shake off that school smell, get a snack and relax. Try to keep the time that home work is done standard. If you choose after dinner, then make sure that every night after dinner there is time to complete homework. If there is a disruption in routine, make sure that the youngster is well aware of the change and the reasons for the change.
4. Be steadfast— Under the pressure of defiance, moms and dads sometimes lose their will to enforce good homework practices. There is a temptation to be worn down. Keep in mind if the youngster wins and just doesn’t do the homework, it is a long term loss. Will the fact that one assignment doesn’t get completed on one night affect a youngster’s education? No, but over time the youngster will have missed out on many learning opportunities and eventually it can cause a student to be behind other classmates academically. As the youngster becomes older, there will no doubt be situations that will have more at stake than simply a grade and yet the defiant youngster will have had defiance rewarded in the past. It may lead to more defiant behavior in the future.
5. Clarify— Sit down with your Aspergers youngster to ensure that they know what is expected of them by their teacher and that they have the skills they need to complete the work. Homework is a time for practicing skills they have been taught in the classroom. Many kids who are struggling in the classroom become defiant at home when they are unable to perform the tasks set out in the homework assignment. If your youngster cannot explain the task to you, chances are high that they do not understand it for themselves. At this point, it is crucial that you be able to re-teach the skill, or contact the youngster’s teacher right away for an explanation.
6. Do not argue or threaten— If you argue with a youngster, you have already lost. Threats do not work. Kids are pre-programmed to push the envelope and to call our bluff.
7. Establish a routine— Schedule a time for homework. Start homework at the same time as often as possible. Many dedicated moms and dads feel that kids should start homework the minute they enter the house. However, some kids may need time to play, relax or regroup after a stressful school day. Choose a time that will fit into your schedule and be productive for your youngster. Establishing a stopping time is also important. Add a timer to your homework materials kit and let your youngster know that when the timer goes off, homework is finished. Very few kids can endure more than an hour of homework, but less than thirty minutes will probably not be enough to accomplish much. Consider your youngster’s age, needs and frustration level. At first, this structure may seem ineffective. However, your youngster may begin to see defiance as wasted effort once homework becomes an inevitable part of the nightly routine.
8. Establish time and place— Routine is important to Aspergers kids. Homework should become a routine just as bedtime, bath time and brushing teeth. Usually it is best to start the homework as early as possible. Once the youngster is tired, there is a greater likelihood that the youngster will become defiant. If homework is a consistent part of the daily routine then the youngster knows that there is no wiggle room for defiance.
9. Go with a reward system— If the youngster has several sheets of homework or one sheet of a particular subject that causes your youngster stress then break up the homework session. Have the youngster complete some of the homework and then let them take a break by engaging in an activity that relaxes them. Set a timer and make sure the youngster knows how much free time they will have.
10. Hold fast— Do not give up. If the youngster must miss out on something they want because they have not yet finished their homework, then this is what they need to experience.
11. Low traffic area— Make sure the room they do their homework in isn’t a major traffic area. If you have to use a high traffic area then make sure everyone in the house is aware that this particular block of time is homework quiet time. Tell any other kids that may not have homework that for a particular period of time you will be off limits, unless there is an emergency. Let the other kids know they will have to be somewhere else until their sibling is finished working.
12. Make it visual— Consider a visual way for the Aspergers youngster to see accomplishment on homework. For younger kids it may mean taking a link off of a paper chain or putting jelly beans in a container. It can be a marker board or calendar to mark off the items completed. When the tasks are made visible to the student, the student develops a stronger sense of accomplishment. For older kids, it can be as simple as having an in-box and an out-box. Don’t put everything in the in-box at first.
13. New person of authority— Sometimes a great tool is to bring in a new person to be the authority for awhile. Many students improve by having a relative or a tutor come in to work with them on homework for awhile. Kids tend to think that moms and dads don’t know anything, but when someone else tells them the exact same thing, the student begins to respond. Another factor in this is when kids see the negative attention from a mother/father as attention. Bringing in someone that does not have that emotional tie can help with a change in behavior.
14. No rewards before completion— A common mistake is to allow students to watch a little television or play a few video games before tackling homework. It must be established early on that completion of the homework comes before pleasure. If it is the other way around, a defiant youngster will continue to be defiant because of the desire to continue the pleasurable activity.
15. Offer win-win options— Offer options that get everything done, such as allowing the youngster which thing they do first, math or writing.
16. Praise— Once the youngster has completed their homework praise them for doing their work. Acknowledge that they completed it nicely. If you make the youngster aware that you noticed their good work habits, they are likely to repeat them.
17. Proper working conditions— For some Aspergers kids, an improper working environment can cause them to be defiant. Students are hungry and thirsty when they come home from school. A few minutes for a snack are certainly appropriate. Consider having the youngster sit at the counter while preparing meals so the mother/father is available for supervision and questions and yet it is not overbearingly looking over the youngster’s shoulder. Make sure that the student has appropriate supplies and that the study area is clean and neat. Cluttered desks, tables or other study areas are not conducive to studying for many students. Do consider playing music lightly in the background or allow an MP3 player as it can help some students to focus and then the homework is a little more pleasurable. Finding the proper working conditions may require a little experimentation.
18. Provide reinforcement— Show your youngster that refusing to do homework has negative consequences while making a true effort has rewards. Choose two or three behavioral goals for your youngster and write them on a chart that your youngster can understand. For example, if your youngster’s screaming is the worst part of homework time, you could include “Speak in a calm voice” on your chart. Other goals may relate to staying seated, following directions, or reading aloud. Try to phrase them positively; most students will not respond well to a list of items that all begin with “Do not __________”. At the end of each homework session, discuss your youngster’s behavior. If the youngster has met the goal, record that under the date. You can use stickers, stars or a certain color. If the youngster has not met the goal, record that with a different mark, such a minus sign or a frown.
19. Ground rules— Set down ground rules, such as no television, computer games, friends, or other entertainments until their homework is done.
20. Show interest in their work— Homework does not need to be painful or a power struggle. Stay positive, use rewards and read the work over with our youngster. Showing an interest in your youngster’s’ work helps to create a positive feeling in your youngster and home work will not seem like such a chore.
21. Small successes— It may be necessary to begin with small steps with rewards. The defiant youngster can rebel because homework seems daunting and overwhelming. Break the assignments down and then take a small break or have a snack. Often times when the student knows that a break is coming after one task, it will be tackled with more gusto. Eventually the student may indicate the desire to do a little more before taking a break. To start the goal may be finish five math problems or read one page in the book. The small goals make kids feel like it is a surmountable task.
22. State your expectations— Habits take time to develop and are difficult to break. This is as true for good habits as it is for bad habits. Good study habits take time to develop and bad study habits are difficult to overcome. By remaining firm and calm, and providing clear explanations when they are needed, your defiant youngster will learn that some battles simply are not worth the effort. In surprisingly little time, your defiant youngster will learn better study habits, if only so that they can have more time to do the fun things that they want to do.
23. Stay calm— Getting angry simply tells the youngster that they have won; they control you when you lose control of your emotions.
24. Stay positive— Your positive approach will help your youngster maintain their good mood when completing their tasks.
25. Work with the School— Talking to and enlisting suggestions from the youngster’s teachers is a valuable step. Do not keep the youngster out of the discussions. The teacher, administrators and counselors can be there to reinforce the expectations. It helps to make it clear to the student that everyone is united. Do not see the professionals as enemies. They are able to look at the youngster objectively and not emotionally.
- Be available for help.
- Be consistent about what time of day the work will be done.
- Be patient when they make the same mistakes over and over again. Maybe they need to be taught using a different approach.
- Be realistic in your expectations on how much time it will take. Remember this is all new for your youngster and they are just beginning to build their logic and knowledge base.
- Have everything the youngster will need ready before they start.
- If the youngster has lots of work, ask them what they would like to start with. This small gesture helps the youngster gain some control over an activity they don’t like.
- Keep the work time as quiet as you can.
- Use a rewards system.
With these tools in mind, parents can help the strong-willed Aspergers youngster to take ownership of his/her homework.
• Anonymous said… Don’t punish him twice, he’s already been punished at school. Eventually he’ll get anxious about going home knowing he’ll be punished again. A lot of parents in the USA are getting medical cards for cannabis and their children are doing really wel. Hope that helps x
• Anonymous said… Give the boy a break. He is struggling to cope with the workload. He is only 8. He has loads of time to find his way in the world. X
• Anonymous said… He may have low muscle tone and if he does, it hurts to write. If that is the case, no wonder he is having behavioural issues.. Less stress, less melt downs. Less expectations on these kids. Does he alway have sensory processing disorder too? As if so, school is enough. Just play and relax once home. He would be in total sensory overload. Good luck.
• Anonymous said… He needs less work and more positivity and praise. His self esteem will be at an all time low as he’s constantly being punished as he can’t do his school work. He will feel he can’t achieve anything. Give lots more positive attention, fun times, praise each tiny achievement he does and his behaviour will improve along with his self esteem. Plus your relationship with him will massively improve. Since we did this with our son his behaviour, self esteem and our relationship has improved. He’s opening up to us more. We still have a lot of bad behaviour etc but it’s much better generally. Hope it helps.
• Anonymous said… He probably can’t control the yelling in class. He should not be disciplined for behavior he can’t control. Positive reinforcement Always wins out over negative reinforcement! I would definitely meet with school, discuss classwork and homework at meeting to reduce the amount and frequency. Don’t take away fun activities at home, because he may be looking forward to that safety and security at home, if he feels out of place at school. Also, therapy and medicine for anxiety can help if you aren’t already doing that. These things have helped my three sons, that are all on the Autism Spectrum.
• Anonymous said… Heartbreaking! Something needs to changed at school. Homework should be no more than an hour. He seems to be stuck in a negative downward spiral. I pray this is all turned around.
• Anonymous said… He’s not gonna want to do better if everyone is constantly negative with him.Its like being thrown in a snake pit day in and day out.Should be focusing on the positive building him up instead of tearing him down with long homework that is to much and too long and punishment.Id talk to school about nipping that.And be extra positive and fun to build him up and help him decompress his anxieties and anger.He shouldn’t be punished twice.
• Anonymous said… I am a teacher.. though I teach highschool, we are taught the same with homework. Children should not be given homework, only sent home with work that was unfinished at school. There are many sites and scientific studies to back this belief. Do a little research and write that teacher a note. No child should have that amount of homework!
• Anonymous said… I don’t think the school is doing him any favors. Having a HFA child on the write repetitive sentences is ridiculous, and to him probably seems pointless and causes more stress. You on the other hand seem to be trying different positive strategies to manage the situations, I believe negative reinforcement/attention is not good for any child, but especially not for HFA. Although I didn’t have the same situation as you, home schooling my daughter is a good option.. Good luck to you and stay strong
• Anonymous said… I hate homework for this reason. it seems so pointless. There are so many studies that show homework is unnecessary for young children. and I have to admit, we have made a family decision to skip it. We do so many learning activities with our son and he is showing us ways he enjoys learning and we try and capitalize on that, but it is NOT worth the struggle to get him to do a couple poxy worksheets a night. 🙁 However, I am worried we are doing him a disservice for when he gets to middle school. he is 8 as well.
• Anonymous said… I would completely refuse to do homework at home. Home is safe and family is first. I would also call an iep meeting asap. He is overwhelmed by their regular work and then they pile a ton of useless activity on top of that? Who wouldn’t throw a fit? It sounds like he needs regular sensory breaks and a new approach to what they expect. Sadly, having said all that, none of it worked for my son and he’s much more successful homeschooling. However, the tantrums were much less when he wasn’t overwhelmed by the school piling it all on and trying to send it home. I also had it written into his iep that he could not have recess taken away as he needed the sensory input.
• Anonymous said… I would have been a nervous wreck as an 8 year old in this day an age. to then learn differently in addition to the already high demands we place on our children now. I’ve had to release the reigns with my son at home, also HFA, it’s made a world of difference. We have more play time than most! Do teachers understand and agree, some (not all), but that’s okay, his mental health is more important.
• Anonymous said… I would refuse the homework. My daughter has Aspergers and as far as she concerned school is school and home is home, she used to freak out if homework was mentioned. I had a word with the school and she’s now coming along great as all her homework is done in school time.
• Anonymous said… If this kiddo is anything like mine, the small amount of “homework” sent home should take ten minutes but because of adhd and meltdowns it takes 4 hours. my 1st grader had 20 spelling words to study each evening and it is quick some days and some days take all evening. Depends on how her day is going. I want her to do well but my cut off is one hour after school and 30 minutes before bed if we don’t finish beyond that. well i tried but I’m not making my child miserable after all day away from me at school.
• Anonymous said… Insist on an IEP team review meeting as soon as you can. Having him write that much and the punitive nature of writing repetitive sentences is not meeting his needs. Get a sped advocate involved if the school won’t listen to you. As a teacher and parent of a specially wired child, this breaks my heart. Listen to your child, advocate for them, listen to your parental gut, and educate the educators about the need of your child. Any decent education team will listen to and respect that, but I know it isn’t always easy.
• Anonymous said… Keep everything positive, build him up, tell him that he’ll get more attention/fun if he does the “steps” required. break assignments into short segments, use questions about his assignment/look to different learning styles. my son likes to talk/learn while moving so we do assignments while walking or in the car where there are not so many distractions. my son also loves the history channel. find his focus area and try to use this in his learning Good Luck! We are now working on college credits
• Anonymous said… Keep school punishment and home punishment separate. Tell the teachers that they are to let him finish at school his work. What is left should be given the next day. At home do positive things with him. He is being bombarded by school and home. He deserves a safe place. A place of love, peace and joy. Let that always be his home. Writing sentences for a child on the spectrum is not beneficial. I’m not sure they should disciple him but use a reward for him for good behavior.
• Anonymous said… Look at his diet. We are trying to eat additive and preservative free (or mininals) which means a bit more baking and cooking from scratch and learning what to buy at the supermarket that has ‘no nasties’ as my kids call them. When we are onto our sons diet (we aren’t always) it takes the edge off the anger and the length of his tantrums/meltdowns.
I thought we add pretty well until I did a course that made me look at the numbers and names of ingredients in products and the findings are scary, known carcinogenic ingredients, mood disrupters, causes aggregation and confusion. All in our food, very scary. I did a course through sistermixin they have fb page and I have the chemical maze app and book. Worth a look into.
• Anonymous said… Many of these kids don’t like to write so that’s crazy to think that’s going to make him get his work done any better. Reward, don’t punish. Punishment doesn’t work with these kids! You need to call a parent/ teacher conference and together figure out how to motivate him or it’s just going to get worse. I’d also put in his IEP no homework.
• Anonymous said… Maybe traditional school that is meant for those that can sit still for 6 hours at a time is not for him. Look for alternatives within the community, like a half day program. No child should have to do 4 hours of homework a night, no matter what the circumstance. I went through this with my son who graduated this year. We ultimately used an online program for his core classes, and then public school for electives. Freshman and Sophomore years were horrible in high school, but when he tested into the running start program to enter college early, things turned around for him. He took 2 honor music classes at the high school, and two college classes. He made friends in college, FRIENDS!! It was the best decision we ever made. He just graduated with honors in the arts. • Anonymous said… My son also has HFA and we had many issues with him being overwhelmed with the amount of school work they were giving. We had accommodations added to his IEP where he has reduced work, extra time on testing as well as only work sent home if they have to. He went from having meltdowns everyday at school to finally last school year he had less than 20 for the entire year. He is also taking meds for anxiety which hep tremendously. Good luck but definitely take it up with the school administration if talking to the teacher doesn’t work
• Anonymous said… My son hasn’t had homework for ages and his school makes him too anxious. Currently moving schools
• Anonymous said… My son went through similar behaviour. I moved him to a special needs class. they get NO homework and I noticed Less stress in a very short period of time. They can’t handle that kind of stress. The school should know better. Like a lady mentioned above. home is a safe Zone. Now they send the stress home. Poor child can’t cope with it all and that’s why he’s acting the way he is. He must be able to escape school pressure and stress. and that’s being taken away from him. Good luck to you, never easy. ❤
• Anonymous said… Need to have a 504 or IEP instituted at school immediately. Have Dr. write a note to school. When all else fails..cyber school willing to work with above accomadations. We have with our son..PA Cyber, best thing we ever all did.
• Anonymous said… No . If he has homework (and he shouldn’t have it every night at 8 years old!) have a set period to do it – 20 minutes probably at his age. Do whatever he gets done in this period and leave the rest and write a note to the teacher saying this is how much was done. Lines saying “I will not yell in class”? Disgusting! That is his personality and he finds it hard to suppress! He is more likely an anxious child than a naughty one. Rewards are better – maybe get the teacher to do a record card and write a smiley face every time he gets through a lesson without “noises”. If he gets a full day of “smiley faces”, spend an allocated time with him (maybe half an hour?) doing an activity of his choice. Get the teacher to use “visial cues” in class to try to tell him to “lower the volume” (eg, thumbs down against the chest) – discreetly so as not to embarrass him in front of the other children! Making him write lines is going to make him feel like he is naughty or stupid! Sounds like the teacher needs some training or, better still, a new vocation! He is probably making noises because he is anxious! Need to try to ignore attention seeking “bad” behaviour and reward good behaviour.
• Anonymous said… No one should be expected to do 4 hours homework a night. I had a word with the s.e.n person at my Son’s school, as we were having a similar issue. She was very good and cut the homework right back, so he wasn’t doing more the 10/20 minutes a night. They also reduced the pressure on him in the classroom, as he cannot work as fast as the other kids. Since these two changes, he has been much happier at school and has been performing better. I think this is a much better approach than what you have described.
• Anonymous said… oh my goodness, feeling for you all. Trust in yourself, put yourself in his shoes. My girl (13 yrs) is in a class of 6 for kids on the spectrum, she cannot bear to do anything that is pointless and writing the same sentence 20 times would be unbearable for her. she can just about handle 15 mins concentrating on one thing at a time unless it interests her personally anything after that is time wasted so we take lots of breaks which makes it v time intensive on me. I think she would get on much better if I could home ed her but we are in germany at the moment and its not an option. sounds like he needs a different school. good luck xxx
• Anonymous said… Our son is going through the same. Writing is very challenging and he just doesn’t want to do it. I’m blessed I have an awesome team of teachers at his school. My son is also 8years old. They just added this in his IEP. He writes his thoughts down for his paper (brain storming) then he writes his rough draft. Then he gets to use voice to text for his final draft. I’m excited for him to try this out next year. Just remember you are his advocate speak to what you need!! I do all the time.
• Anonymous said… Please consider home school or “virtual” schooling. I’m not sure what state you are in but I used Florida Virtual school which was free and all the curriculum is there. You simply log on and do the work on pace for that day. I discovered my child food best when working on one subject per day (Monday = Math for example) then he was able to focus . Also he could take many breaks. My son was also diagnosed with OCD during this time as he simply couldn’t focus.
• Anonymous said… Sounds like he is overwhelmed, stressed, and melting down. I’m with Donna Beetham. he probably needs less work, not more. I remember melting down every night in 3rd and 4th grade over homework. I wish I had been diagnosed then and someone realize that what I needed was accommodations allowing more time to process those difficult things.
• Anonymous said… Sounds like he needs more fun and happy times , surely life is too short to put all this stress and anxiety on an 8 year old with special needs home should be his safe place where theres love and kindness and his sense of worth .
• Anonymous said… Still learning about this but I know what your school is doing with your boy would not work with ours. his mind doesn’t work that way and making him do 20 sentences would never discipline him just aggravate the heck out of him. he is too smart to do repetitive things like that. he needs a challenge to keep him interested.
• Anonymous said… Thank your child is about to explode tell the school to stick there homework . Think of him take away the pressure of school and home school your have a diffrent child. 4 hours homework disgu6
• Anonymous said… That’s not right it isn’t even homework ffs! School obviously cant b arsed and don’t really know what they are doing!! Id definitely say this to them! Dont stand for it!!
• Anonymous said… The more the school focused on my son’s behavior, the worse he got. He developed tics and stimming increased. [He didn’t have tantrums he would go into shut down mode instead]. I stopped the criticism and all the primary focus on performance, and the mental stress of always being observed and judged, while trying to ‘be good’, went away [along with the adverse behavior]. Rewards did not work because he knew it was patronizing and also meant he only got rewarded for changing who he was so others would like him better. He eventually settled into his schoolwork after the behavioral program got axed, because the only thing we didn’t change and what he realized is that it had to be done to get recess, justified [which was a big thing to him] by telling him it wasn’t fair to the students who did their work that he be allowed to play if he wasn’t working as hard as they were. He had to do the same as them, because he was the same as them. Presto. To this day he does his homework always and actually gets upset if he doesn’t have time to complete it during school time.
• Anonymous said… The most valuable lesson we learned from my daughter’s speech/ABA therapist was to IGNORE the undesirable behaviour and REWARD the desirable behaviour (notice I didn’t say good/bad). Kids always have a reason for their actions and your boy sounds utterly overwhelmed. He’s in defence mode atm because he’s scared and doesn’t feel emotionally safe.
Late last year my then-7yo daughter was the same. She was like a feral cat, scared, nasty, refusing anything we asked of her. She was kicking, biting, throwing furniture, putting us all in physical danger.. it was horrible!After seeing a LOT of therapists, we found a good one who taught us to start picking our battles. We issued positive reinforcement when she did the slightest thing “right” and she had gradually come around. Also you need to model the bahaviour you want to see in him. STOP shouting (I know it’s sooo hard!), only speak politely and he will EVENTUALLY see that as the norm and follow suit. Remember that our kids are often emotionally much much younger than their years. Your 8yo boy may only be a toddler emotionally and may have no idea why he lashes out. He just knows that he’s unhappy and is trying to protect himself the only way he knows how. Good luck Mumma! This is such a hard gig but we all get it xxxx
• Anonymous said… Time to homeschool and let the child go at his pace and not at a “collective” classroom pace. Each child is an individual and should be seen as such.
• Anonymous said… We decided in one of my son’s IEP that we would no longer be doing homework at home. We want our house to be a home of refuge and peace for him at night. You know your child’s abilities more than anyone. And you have to determine what’s best for you and your home. For us. we wanted peace. Plus we have so many other things to teach him. like chores. Hence my above photo.
• Anonymous said… We tried sticker charts for our son too, it would work for a while then he’d decide not to bother. The homework thing is the same for us but, we no longer battle for him to do it, rather encourage any he wants to do leave him to sort at school. We’ve also emailed his teacher to let her know too, so she can either set him less, or he can do it with a teacher aide’s help
• Anonymous said… You are wasting time and causing unnecessary stress trying to make him do that much homework at his age. And traditional discipline won’t work. Sounds like he needs to be in a different school also. Good luck!