Helping Aspergers and HFA Children with Homework

Aspergers and High-Functioning Autistic (HFA) children may have a hard time staying focused on their assignments long enough to complete them.

They are highly intelligent and very creative individuals; however, they may have coexisting conditions such as ADHD or NVLD (Non-Verbal Learning Disability) that affect their ability to process information. As a result, moms and dads may need to assist with homework tasks to ensure they are completed on time.

Here are some tips for parents who want to help their child with homework:

1. As he advances through school, the homework will become more complex with projects that cannot be finished in one night. Help him break these projects into steps and write out a schedule for completion. Post the schedule where he can read it and check off each step as it is completed.

2. Create a space free from the distractions of television, toys and siblings.

3. Enforce a regular schedule for finishing homework to create a sense of structure.

4. Help him organize his schoolwork by using colored folders and notebooks. Encourage him to choose a color he associates with a specific subject, such as green for science or red for reading.

5. If homework involves assignments from more than one subject, consider taking a short break in between each subject. Use a timer with a loud ringer to indicate when the break is finished.

6. Maintain a presence in the area when he is working in order to be available to answer questions or gently remind him to stay on task.

7. Make sure all of the items needed for assignments are available in one spot. When supplies are centralized and organized, he will not need to get up to look for things.

8. Provide a planner to record assignments each day. Communicate with his teacher to ensure that assignments are recorded accurately in the planner and work is being turned in.

9. Teach him to pack his backpack the night before so everything is ready before the morning rush to school and no homework is left at home.

Preventing Homework-related Meltdowns—

There are some basic strategies that moms and dads can employ to help prevent those dreaded evening meltdowns. The first step is to observe the youngster and see what hinders him from completing his work. This is paramount to planning homework sessions. During these observations, jot down answers to the following about your son/daughter:

1. Does he fatigue quickly?
2. Is he easily distracted by noise or activity?
3. What frustrates or upsets him?
4. What is his best time of day?

• Break Down Large Assignments— Some homework assignments can be overwhelming for children on the autism spectrum. Moms and dads will sometimes need to work closely with their child to help him get started. Providing one or two examples may be all that is required in some instances. For more complicated work, parents may want to demonstrate how to break it down into smaller steps. This added attention may be needed for each unfamiliar assignment.

• Eliminate Vagueness— Sometimes assignments may be unclear, even to moms and dads. If this happens often, it would be best for parents to communicate with the teacher about their kid’s needs. Receiving more detailed instructions for upcoming assignments will go a long way to ensuring that homework gets done correctly and without tantrums. The key is to get the information ahead of time so that the youngster can be prepared, not surprised with an unknown.

• Establish Consistent Time and Place— After observing the youngster for a few days, establish a consistent time for homework, preferably when he is well fed and at his best. The amount of time he spends on homework nightly will vary by grade level. When homework length begins to increase, he may stay more focused with short breaks. Incorporate these into the schedule and make sure he has enough time to complete assignments without rushing. It is beneficial to have a special homework location away from the TV, radio, or other distractions. Aspergers and HFA kids can also be frustrated by clutter, so make sure that the workspace is organized and that all necessary materials for homework are available and easy to find.

• Incorporate Interests— A unique quality of kids on the spectrum is that they can develop abnormally intense interests in one or two subjects. Common ones may include weather, sports statistics, or computers. Using a little ingenuity, moms and dads can persuade the youngster to do seemingly unrelated work by integrating his interests. Kids fascinated by computers may be encouraged to complete writing assignments using an online dictionary, for instance. Kids who have nightly reading requirements could be allowed to choose books that are related to weather, dinosaurs, or other science topics of interest. If the youngster seems to dislike math, create word problems for practicing addition, subtraction, and multiplication using subjects such as baseball or cars.

Homework can be much easier for "special needs" children when they are offered structured and daily routines. Moms and dads can also work with teachers to clarify new or complex assignments.

Aspergers and HFA kids possess unique skills and can grow to be highly productive, thriving members of society. But, like everyone, they face their own set of challenges along the way. Homework may be one of those challenges. With careful planning however, moms and dads can make this necessary and important chore less worrisome and help to pave their youngster’s way to success.

==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Home and School

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