Home-Schooling Your Aspergers Child

Question

From a mother who home-schools:

"My son has Aspergers and is highly intelligent but very easily distracted and not motivated for doing schoolwork most of the time, esp math which he used to love. Sometimes it takes hours to do 1 page of 1st grade math, because he is not interested and I have to literally sit there and remind him every second what he was doing! It makes me crazy! He hates writing, but he can do it motor skill wise.

Is there a way to make this less painful, do you know any techniques I can use or a curriculum that would be better suited for him? I don't think computer ones are appropriate right now as he is just learning to write and reads at a beginner’s level (as he should be in 1st grade,). I have thought about Mozart to help.

He takes probiotics daily and that helps a lot and avoid red food dye, otherwise he is HYPER. We avoid MSG too which very negatively affects all my children's brain functions at school time.

Also, he is very whiny and cries all the time, and I read an article about that being very common, but it's still driving me crazy even when I use those techniques- at least I think I used them- maybe I didn't understand? They weren't giving a lot of examples. Help!"


Answer

Consider trying Math Drill apps for an iPhone. Some cost money and some are free. The ones that cost money are usually less than $3.00. Examples include:

• Cute Math
• Flash Cards
• Math Cards
• Math Drill Lite and Math Drill
• Math Magic
• Mental Maths
• Mighty Math Lite
• Number Rumble
• Pop Math Lite

As a home-schooler, there are other considerations that should be factored in as well:

1. A daily routine is critical. 

2. Bear in mind that positive reinforcement works well for Aspergers (high functioning autistic) students. 

3. Do not allow the Aspergers student to keep asking questions or discussing an obsessive topic endlessly. 

4. Ensure the environment is safe and as predictable as possible. 

5. Ensure the student understands what is being said to him/her. It is common for a child to simply repeat what is being taught without understanding the concept. 

6. Incorporate visual rewards for the Aspergers student. Working toward a goal is a great motivator, and any area in need of attention can be addressed, including time-on-task, sharing, following directions, behavior charts, and academic objective and goals. 

7. Keep special activities or changes to the schedule at a minimal. 

8. Keep transitions the same for as many activities as possible. 

9. Know that Aspergers students are highly sensitive to their environments and rituals. When these are thrown off, they can become very anxious and they worry obsessively about changes in routine.

10. Limit obsessive behavior about topics by setting a specific time in which the Aspergers student can ask the focused questions. 

11. Realize that many Aspergers students do not understand some of the common social interactions and social contacts. 

12. Recognize that the Aspergers student may not understand some jokes and may be unable to interpret body language.

13. Remember that Aspergers students are overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes. 

14. Simplified lessons may be required. 

15. Since concentration is often a problem, develop a system of nonverbally reminding the Aspergers student to pay attention (e.g., a pat on the shoulder). 

16. Spend time preparing Aspergers children for any special activities (e.g., create a schedule using pictures that includes a "special activity" segment). 

17. Teach the Aspergers student about social cues and help them to make friends. 

18. Use a variety of behavioral  strategies, including: assigned duties, clear expectations, consistent consequences for behaviors, cooperative learning, modeling behavior, organization, routine, and visual schedules. 

19. When Aspergers students accomplish a desired behavior, compliment and praise them – even simple social interactions should be praised. 

20. Teach social skills - be patient.

21. Chunk information presented. The child won't retain a lot of information at once.

22. You may have to limit their 'special interest' time as they can become quite self absorbed with it.

23. Instructional strategies should focus on teaching concretely.

24. Complex tasks should be broken down.

25. Find an area of interest for the Aspergers student (e.g., trains), and then incorporate this area of interest into the subject matter of little interest (e.g., math). In this example, you can have the Aspergers child learn subtraction (using pictures): “If you had 12 trains at the station and 6 of them departed, how many trains would still be at the station?”

The Complete Guide to Teaching Students with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

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