Turning Homework From Stressful to Successful For an Autistic Child
By Harsha Goel
An autistic child presents unique challenges to schools, teachers, and homework; therefore, they face difficulties to achieve what they want.
A survey reveals that about 1 in 68 children suffer autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is a developmental disorder that causes social communication and behavioral challenges. Simply, it’s a disability in which a person is not able to behave properly.
Autism is a common disorder amongst young children. These types of children usually have a hard time to cope up with after-school homework requirements. Parents try to embed homework skills in their children so that they become self-sufficient, responsible, and dedicated. Despite putting a lot of effort, parents usually end up dealing with the apathy and disinterest of their children.
Being the parent of an autistic child, you need to understand the characteristics of autism.
Difficulty completing assignments
Difficulty functioning in unfamiliar environments
Delayed communication skills
According to research on 934 parents, 77% of them had children on the spectrum studying in mainstream schools.
Unfortunately, teachers enrolled in teaching them are not confident in supporting students with autism. Moreover, parents were not aware of fundamentals of the education of their autistic children.
From parents to teachers, everyone has to understand the study requirements of autistic children, which can further reduce the level of frustration while dealing with their tantrums effectively.
You cannot force your child to show interest or become capable of doing homework on own at a young age, especially when he/she has had autism.
Though you need to be patient, you can also follow the tips mentioned below to help your autistic child work in the right way when it comes to studying in schools or doing after school homework.
Assigning homework is a regular practice in schools, but make sure there should be a specific purpose for assigning it. Homework contains assignments that give students an opportunity to practice more and come up with queries to be solved by teachers in schools.
Lengthy assignments with complex instructions become boredom for autistic children and as a result, they refrain from doing their homework. The purpose is not to make students sit for hours to study, but the idea is to go through each concept they have studied in schools. Ask teachers to give leveled homework to your autistic child, depending on his/her abilities and capacity to study.
Moreover, parents can create two folders with two headings- To do and Done. Teachers will mark on to the “do folder” after checking the presence of homework assignment in it. Parents will put all assignments in the “done folder” when their children complete them.
This will make easy for an autistic child to remain stress-free as he/ she will no longer bother about the assignments to be completed.
Positive Reinforcement is key
Positive reinforcement can work wonders for autistic children. It’s a practice of rewarding autistic children for a particular behavior you expect them to show. When teachers reward in classrooms, children are likely to respond well and carry forward that particular behavior while motivating their peers to behave like them. This will not only ease the process of study in schools but also at homes when they do their homework. A reward for good behavior could be a class party or any fun activity.
As autistic children are fussy; therefore, a reward suitable for the one may not go well with others. To keep up the continuity of positive reinforcement, parents and teachers should focus on the likes and dislikes of children in order to select a suitable reward for them.
Some of the great ideas for positive reinforcement are:
Verbal praise “Good job!” or “I appreciate your writing skills!” can fill them up with enthusiasm.
You must have seen children spending hours on homework to get it done. A fear of punishment or lure of reward probably keeps them awake in the night. I am talking about kids in elementary school. That’s bad!
If your child suffers developmental delays and learning disabilities, he/she should not work on homework for longer as compared to neurotypical peers. Don’t force your child to complete an assignment of 15 minutes as they may take two hours to complete it. This would be like punishing an autistic child for his/her disability.
The solution is to maintain the balance between study hours and playing hours. Give your child enough time for playing as this will keep them mentally and physically fit while reducing the level of distraction.
To turn homework time being stressful into successful, the parents of autistic children should consult and interact with teachers regularly to keep the track of performance and eliminate the weak points. If you are really concerned for study, you can even look for a level tuition to ensure the continuity of syllabus of each subject. Foster a stress-free environment where a child can explain his/her requirements better. Keep your focus on reinforcing the skills rather than teaching if you want to deal with autistic children successfully.