Aspergers School Homework Problems
I apologize. This article won’t get rid of Aspergers school homework problems once and for all.
However, if you apply the parenting homework strategies I’ve outlined in this post, there’s a great chance that your child’s homework problems will become less frequent over time.
Sure, you can love your child when he or she has just brought home a report card with straight “A’s.” It’s a lot harder, though, to show the same love when teachers call you from school to tell you that your child hasn’t handed in any homework since the beginning of the term.
(The Lions Clubs International and the Quest Nation. The Surprising Years, II, ch.3 (1985).)
Sometimes the above ingredients combine beautifully.
But other times, aspergers, school, homework, and kids equal a recipe for disaster!
Don’t get me wrong: many Aspie kids are superstars when it comes to school and homework. And many NT kids have World War III with their parents when it comes to getting homework done.
However, this blog is for kids with Aspergers and their parents.
I hope to share some strategies for parents who want to help their children cope with the Homework Monster.
Homework Strategy for Parents: Open Your Eyes
We live frenetic lives. We’re off to work, off to the next meeting, always pressed for time.
So, when we get that call from school, or the report card in the mail, it’s just another problem in our life.
Let me urge you to take a deep breath, and take time to look at the big picture.
I once saw a great illustration for kids and their school problems.
Have you ever seen an iceberg?
I don’t know the percentage, but only about 20% of the iceberg is visible from outside of the water. You would have to be a deep-sea diver to see that 80% of that massive block of ice lies beneath the surface!
So, in your case, your child’s academic struggles are the tip of the iceberg.
And underneath the surface may lie many other hidden issues.
Here are just a few of the hidden issues that could be lurking:
- depression and anxiety related to social thinking challenges
- a learning disability
- difficulty understanding what a teacher or teachers is/are expecting
- difficulty knowing how to plan projects
- difficulty knowing how to organize all the paperwork from school
- family stress at home
I know: the last thing you want is a lot of other challenges. You want it fixed. Now!
But the best thing you can do is to patiently back up and understand the big picture. You may want to take time to speak directly to your son or daughter. Write down that list I provided. Ask your son or daughter if any of those causes ring true for them.
Be calm. Be non-defensive. You’ll be surprised at some of the answers your child tells you.
Homework Strategy For Parents: We Must Watch Our Emotions
As I said above, our tendency is to React, and not Respond. There’s so much wrapped up in our kids’ academic performance. But we can often jump to catastrophic conclusions, leaping way ahead into the future and predicting Doom and Disaster.
Ask yourself, “Will I make things better or worse by getting angry, anxious, and upset? Will I make things better or worse by lecturing or yelling at my child?”
Believe me. I’m human. I’m a parent. I’ve “lost it” many times with my own kids. But things are definitely better when I work on talking myself down from an emotional outburst, breathe deeply, talk to a friend or my spouse, and then deal with the Problem as calmly as possible. Solutions come a lot more quickly when I am Calm.
Homework Strategy For Parents: Take Appropriate Action—Continuously
You could be a Dictator, ground your child for a year, and sit in self-imposed detention with him until he finishes all his homework.
Or you could be your child’s Best Friend, and not require her to do anything. After all, she has Aspergers, and she can’t deal with all the difficulties going on in her life.
I’m describing myself at different times in my parenting life. But the best stance is the Authoritative stance. We expect our children to work to the best of their abilities, and we expect them to learn from their mistakes.
This will take a Decision on our parts as parents. We must decide that it’s worth Short Term Pain of enforcing rules, talking to teachers, learning how to navigate Homework War territory until things get better. We must Decide that we will have the Vision, Character, and Perseverance to stand by our children while they learn to struggle through their difficulties and come out victorious in the end.
Homework Strategy For Parents: Partner With The School
Get To Know Your Child’s IEP
Your child’s individualized education plan is a set of specific goals targeting different academic areas your child may be struggling with.
More specifically, according to About.Com:
The Individual Education Program Plan (IEP) is a written plan/program developed by the schools special education team with input from the parents and specifies the students academic goals and the method to obtain these goals.
Unfortunately, over the course of a school year, parents and staff get overwhelmed. Make sure you stay on top of the IEP goals. The school staff is responsible to give the supports and to make sure that your child is making progress toward those goals.
Set Up A Parent Teacher Meeting
Actually, it’s a good idea to get to know the school staff involved with your child at the beginning of the school year. But take time to work together with the school social worker, school counselor, and teachers. Work with them, not against them. You both have the same goal: to see your child succeed!
a) Check with teachers to make sure that your child is accurately recording the homework for each class.
Since your child may be a visual learner, talk to the teachers about possibly writing the homework on the board, or even providing a typed copy of what the assignments are.
b) You may want to consider seeing if there is another kid in the class who won’t mind being a study buddy for your child.
Maybe there is another child struggling with remembering to write things down. Study buddies can help each other pack their backpacks and make sure their assignment books are filled out correctly.
c) Create a “completed work” folder.
Each day, before your child goes to school, sign off on each assignment completed and packed in the backpack.
Homework Strategy For Parents: Routines, Pacing, and Environment
a) Allow Some Wind-Down Time
School can be a confusing place filled with sensory overload during the day. Give your child time to relax and do his own thing after a day of maxing out his resources. But after a certain amount of down time, it will be time to start on homework.
b) Design A Specific Place
It may be a desk in her own room. Or it may be the dining room table. Make sure all the Screens are off: TV, Video Games, and any other distractions. Remain nearby so that you can offer help if needed.
c) Build In Some Rest Breaks In Between Stretches of Work
You may want to consider the E.ggtimer Pomodoro online clock. It sets the timer for 25 minutes, then beeps loudly after 25 minutes and allows for a 5 minute break. This set time may help your Aspergers child focus more effectively.
Homework Strategy For Parents: Parenting Homework Resources
GoalForIt is a free online behavioral based chart that will encourage your child 11 years of age or younger design his own goals and rewards. I can’t go into detail here, but I’ve found it helpful for parents I’ve worked with, and kids respond very well to the positive approach.
If your child is more of a teenager, discuss positive rewards to work toward and not using a strict behavioral chart. We all need positive rewards to work for, whether it’s homework or our own personal goals such as completing a half marathon or losing a certain amount of weight.
The H2O Planner is not just an ordinary planner you will buy at your local stationery store. A veteran school psychologist put together a planner that will teach your child how to plan and organize time, tasks, and projects.
Here’s a brief description:
As an acclaimed organizational planner, the H2O / Homework Organizer is the only assignment notebook that provides an organizational system to “step” students through the homework process to completion. Expertly designed by a veteran school psychologist, the H2O / Homework Organizer is engineered for success!
Books and Articles for Your Own Reading Pleasure 🙂
How To Do Homework Without Throwing Up (Laugh and Learn), by Trevor Romain. ( A humorous and effective way for your child to learn about homework strategies)
Here’s a series of articles under the group, Homework and Test Help, from ADDitude Magazine online.
Little Known Ways to Conquer Homework (an article I wrote for my Psychology Today Blog)
- Look at the big picture. There may be a lot of possible causes for your child’s homework difficulties.
- Stay Calm. Respond versus reacting, yelling, lecturing, punishing.
- Reach Out. Reach out to your child, to the school staff, and to a trusted professional if needed.
- Commit to Take Action. Ignoring problems won’t make them go away.
- Partner with the School.
- Set Up Home Rules, Routines, Environment, and Pacing for Homework Success
- Utilize the Parent Resources I’ve shared with you.
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photo credit: Kristina Bant Jenkins
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