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Teenage Son with ASD has Stopped Going to School

Question

We are desperately trying to motivate our teenager [with autism spectrum disorder] to graduate from high school. He is a senior who needs 20 more credits to graduate. He has stopped going to school. Any advice? HELP!!!

Answer 

Every teen with ASD is unique, but when you face a challenge like teenage dropouts, you are never alone. Countless individuals have faced the exact same situation and have survived and thrived. Teenage dropouts are all too common - and occur for a variety of reasons, including over-indulgent and over-protective parenting, mental illness, gangs, drugs, indifferent teachers, and just generally bad choices. 
 
Dropping out of school seems like a good option for teens on the spectrum who are bored in school and feel rejected by their peer group. But they often have a rude awakening once they drop out and have no place to turn.

How you can help:
  • Make the curriculum more interesting.
  • Offer advice on other teenage dropouts.

What to say:
  • Tell them how much you care about them.
  • "What’s your plan?”
  • "How can I help?”

What not to say:
  • "Yeah, that’s a good idea."
  • "Don't do it."
  • "Don’t worry."

In many states, once a teen turns sixteen years old, he or she can drop out of school. Some school systems are now reporting an alarming increase in the amount of drop outs that occur yearly. What can moms and dads and educators do to keep these teens in school? 

By the time a teen reaches the age of sixteen, half of the battle may already be lost. Moms and dads need to instill a love of learning when their kids are small. Moms and dads should begin reading to their kids when they are babies. As kids grow, moms and dads should encourage their kids to excel in school. High expectations should become evident even when kids are in preschool.

As kids move from elementary school into middle school, many kids are left behind academically. If a youngster falls behind in one subject, a parent should take action immediately. Both moms and dads and teachers should communicate in order to plan a successful course of action. A youngster may need extra tutoring, or if there are problems at home, counseling may be in order. 
 
If a parent questions their youngster’s ability, testing may need to be conducted to determine if that youngster has a learning disability. A learning disability, such as dyslexia, can inhibit a youngster’s progress in school, and this will leave the youngster feeling discouraged and inept, prompting even poorer academic performance.

It is also important to encourage your son with ASD to be involved in school related activities as much as possible. The more active your youngster becomes, the less time he’ll have to think about failure. Encourage him to go out for sports and academic teams, band or chorus, and drama. 
 
If he is not really the academic type, help him to find a niche that he really loves, such as welding, auto mechanics, carpentry, drafting, and graphic arts. The key to instilling a need and desire for success in your youngster is to help him find what he is successful at doing. 
 

Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances which can lead to a drop in a youngster’s grades. These circumstances may include a youngster’s illness, a recent move, problems at home, such as a divorce or death, or unexplained emotional problems. It is extremely important that these problems be addressed promptly. If left unattended, the problems could escalate, and when a teen reaches the age that he can legally withdraw from school, he may simply give up.

If you are struggling with a teen that seems apathetic to his academic career, you need to discern what the root problem might be. If the youngster is struggling with a particular subject or subjects, he may need extra tutoring. As a parent, you can encourage your youngster by spending time working with him in the evening. If you don’t feel knowledgeable enough to tutor your youngster, you can arrange for help from someone else.

Many schools now have afternoon tutoring available to help students who are falling behind. Some schools also have “last chance” programs. These programs are typically given at night or on the weekends. They offer students a chance to take a subject or subjects that they have failed, so that they might still be able to graduate on time.

As a parent, you should realize that there may be more serious causes behind your teen’s lack of ambition. Drug abuse is a real problem among teens in today’s society. If you feel that your youngster is exhibiting signs of drug abuse, you should have him tested immediately. If he tests positive, you will need to decide on a direct course of action. 
 
It is also important to remember that even if you succeed in helping your youngster get off drugs, he will still be inundated with temptation if he is hanging with his same crowd of friends. You and your youngster may need to make some serious decisions regarding his every day environment.

Finally, never give up on your son. There may be times when both he and you are discouraged about his academic success. Try to hide your discouragement as much as possible, and, instead, let him see that you believe in him and have high expectations that he will succeed.

==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… A senior who still has 20 credits to earn (half of the required number to graduate with a diploma, not a certificate) isn't interested in graduating high school. Home schooling won't change this. Alternate schooling won't change this. Only the Aspie's mindset will change this. If he cannot be motivated and he cannot motivate himself to buckle down to business and earn the outstanding credits, he will not graduate high school in the time allotted by the department or ministry of education in his state or province.
•    Anonymous said… Can't you look at things another way? What are his hopes and aspirations for his future. What work does he want to do? If it's something he needs exams and qualifications for (sorry, english so don't get your system) then point out that these boring credits he must earn are a step he must take to get there. If otherwise, investigate work experience and apprenticeships, things to look good on a CV and give hands on experience of employment. Ultimately we want our children supporting themselves independantly, and conventional routes may not always work, so find others. Good luck!
•    Anonymous said… Homeschool instead! Either with an online program through the school system or with something completely different of your/his choosing.
•    Anonymous said… I would love to homeschool my daughter but I am afraid she will use that online time for computer games or unrelated school things.
•    Anonymous said… No it's not. It's just a different way that they see the world. All they may hear is 'you're a failure' rather than 'you need to do xy and z to succeed' and that will just push them in a downward spiral.
•    Anonymous said… Same boat. My son is very close to high school exam and he does not have motivation to study. I am thinking of a new environment for him however Vietnam does not yet have homeschooling or online learning for high school. I dont know what to do. Pls advise! Thanks.
•    Anonymous said… Sometimes it's a matter of giving him the environment he needs. Does your state have online school? If he can do his studies in the comfort of his own home where you can easily review his progress , that might be a better way.
•    Anonymous said… That's justification for poor choices on the part of the Aspie.

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