written by: Debbie Roome
• edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom
• updated: 5/29/2011
It can be difficult to get a child with Asperger’s to concentrate and get their homework done. Read on to find out why this is a problem and how to overcome it.
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Why Getting Aspies to Do Homework Can Be Difficult
Asperger’s syndrome is a complex condition that is characterized by weak social skills, speech and language problems and repetitive behavior patterns. Although a child may be exceptionally bright academically, they may still struggle at school and with homework. Here are some of the difficulties they may experience:
A child may be advanced in some academic areas and weak in others. They will have a tendency to work at what they enjoy and are good at and neglect the subjects they struggle with. This will affect the effort put into their homework.
Children with Asperger’s are often more comfortable around adults and because of their social issues, do not recognize authority. This can cause problems when a teacher demands that homework be done.
Communication difficulties can mean a child does not understand what they are supposed to do for homework. If the teacher uses figures of speech and does not explain things in plain English, an Aspie can become confused and is often reluctant to ask for help for fear of appearing stupid.
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Homework Tips and Advice
Getting Aspies to do homework is not impossible, however. There are a number of ways that parents and caregivers can encourage and help Asperger’s children to complete homework. Each situation is unique and a combination of several of the following suggestions may be beneficial. Try introducing one change at a time to avoid a meltdown and discard those that seem to have no effect. It may be a process of weeks or months to bring about the desired changes:
Aspies work well with routine so choose a suitable time of day to set aside as homework time. This should be a couple of hours after school finishes to allow the child to unwind but a few hours before bed time so they are not overtired.
Don’t make homework an extended period, especially if the child is young. If they are spending two or three hours doing homework something is wrong and their teacher should be consulted.
Set aside a designated area for homework. This should be a quiet area of the home without any distractions such as computer screens or televisions playing in the background. Aspies do not function well with noise and too many people around.
Offer the child a healthy snack and drink before homework time so they are not distracted by feelings of hunger and thirst.
Many children with Asperger’s have a special interest or hobby. Promising an hour of undisturbed time to focus on this interest can be a good trade off for an hour of concentration on homework.
Sort out any misunderstandings and ensure the child knows and understands what is required of them.
Be available to help an Asperger’s child if they have a problem or question. This means being accessible so that the child doesn’t have to get up and go to another room or outside to ask for assistance.
It is important to be firm. Don’t allow the child to whine or manipulate their way out of doing homework. It is for their long term benefit and also helps teach them self control and perseverance.
In some cases, parents can apply to the school for concessions with the homework. This may include being allowed to type assignments instead of writing them by hand, to present oral instead of written reports and multiple choice questions instead of time consuming essays.
Getting Aspies to do homework is important and parents should persevere until it becomes part of daily life. The benefits will extend into the child’s adult life and can lay the foundation for future employment and the ability to work unsupervised.