Children on the Autism Spectrum and Tips for Completing Assignments


"Can you offer tips for completing assignments?"


Children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) have the same motivational needs as other kids. Sometimes less, and other times, a lot more motivation is needed to accomplish the same assignment. However, children on the autism spectrum will always have the need for a little extra help due to the challenges associated by the disorder.

Because HFA affects functional skills in socialization and communication, teachers and parents will need to get creative in order to find ways to help these kids succeed.

Here are a few tips to help with school assignments:
1. Children on the spectrum crave order, structure and routine. These desires can be utilized to help with assignment completion. Classroom time for the "special needs" child must be an organized and structured environment. Consistent structure will provide comfort, allowing the child to make progress on his assignments.

2. Use visual schedules. These young people need a balanced schedule that will alternate core subjects with chances to de-stress, usually with structured down time. For example, the student may be scheduled for an hour of math, thirty minutes for lunch, and then an hour of music. Assuming that music is a class he thoroughly enjoys, that hour would be his time to de-stress.

3. Allowing further breakdown of assignments into mini-assignments will also help ensure successful completion. This breakdown will appeal to the child’s sense of order as he sees each step is simply written and manageable.

4. The breakdown of assignments into steps leads to another suggestion. Additional time is useful when assigning work to the student. Children with HFA may find additional time helpful to complete their assignments. Meeting a deadline on an assignment can create stress that causes the child to become completely overwhelmed, wiping out any chance of completing the assignment.

5. Teachers of children with the disorder should also keep in mind the need to use straightforward instructions stated simply and clearly. Language is difficult for kids on the spectrum. Sarcasm and slang go right over their heads. Remember that they need to know what, when, and how. Basic instruction goes a long way.

6. Some homework assignments will be of no interest to the youngster. In this case, there may not be any clever tricks to get him or her to complete the assignment. Thus, when possible, it will be helpful if the teacher tailors the "boring" assignment to the individual needs of the HFA student.

Most teachers welcome feedback and want to assign homework that children can complete successfully. Most teachers try to structure assignments so that a wide range of children will find them interesting (e.g., they may offer options for different approaches to the same topic, give extra assignments to those who want more of a challenge, or give specialized assignments to those who are having trouble with a particular subject).

7. Finally, praise the student for the work that is completed. Praise from his teacher will motivate the child with HFA - and the typical child alike. Teachers should always praise their students if possible. Children with the disorder may have weaknesses to battle, but praise is a weapon that can be used successfully in the classroom.

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

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