Aspergers and HFA Students: Completing School Assignments On Time

Question

My Aspergers (high functioning) child’s teachers complain about the fact that it takes him longer to finish an assignment. How can I help him work faster so he does not fall behind in his assignments?

Answer

Teachers often complain about the slow work pace of students with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism (HFA). The lack of language skills plays a part, as well as the student’s physical limitations due to the lack of fine motor skills. The student’s handwriting skills are probably awkward and clumsy, thus slowing him down.

Poor organizational skills interfere with the student’s ability to produce timely assignments. In addition, many children on the autism spectrum are perfectionists bordering on obsessive behaviors. This causes control issues.

The slow pace problem is often addressed in the student’s education plan. The student is offered reduced workload, additional time for most assignments, reading assistance during testing, and occupational therapy exercises to improve fine motor skills such as handwriting. The first thing you can do is to make sure your child has these special accommodations in place to help him become a successful student.

Here are some additional ideas for you:

• Take steps to control obsessive behaviors. Unfortunately, these behaviors are common in children with Aspergers and HFA. They can take control and cause many problems. Learn and perform behavior modification techniques for obsessive and/or compulsive issues.

• Remember the importance of routine. Your child performs best when he has a set and regular routine. Work to make his home time a seamless, structured continuation of his school day. It may seem like too much to you, but children on the spectrum attain great comfort, thus becoming more productive, when the routine is rigid.

• Practice fine motor skills exercises and handwriting regularly. Practice will help increase his handwriting speed. With added speed, he can finish assignments faster. Taking notes during class will become easier for him.

• Organizational skills are necessary for independence. Learning time management techniques, thought process control, as well as basic organizational skills like keeping a daily calendar, creating written lists, and using other visual aids will help our child become more productive.

Complaining teachers can increase your child’s anxiety levels. Since children with Aspergers and HFA are likely to suffer from anxiety, this negative input is sure to have an effect on your child. Behavior modification, therapy, or medication may be needed to control anxiety due to academic pressure.

Taking steps to deal with your child’s weaknesses will improve the situation. In addition, it would not hurt to schedule a meeting to remind your child’s complaining teachers about his educational limitations.

More resources for parents of children and teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism:

Raising Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Parents' Grief and Guilt

Some parents grieve for the loss of the youngster they   imagined  they had. Moms and dads have their own particular way of dealing with the...