Homework.

My son does not like homework.  He does not actively protest the idea of doing his homework.  Instead, he plays a game with his eyes.

This is how it goes.  First, I will follow the ABA model of asking him to come sit down at the table.  He says nothing but obediently comes and sits down with me.  If that was the end of the exercise, that would be great.  Of course, we all know, it’s just the beginning.

Homework inevitably involves drawing and writing.  These are his most hated tasks.  If, instead, he was asked to type and use a mouse or trackpad to draw, I’m confident the results would be vastly improved.

Here’s an example of homework:

The assignment was to draw three things that “we” use at school and write the word for them.  When I asked, the first response I got was “playground” and I thought, well, yes, that is technically correct.  We’ll draw a picture of a swing.

I could not get two other things out of him despite repeated requests, so I asked questions to solicit the ideas of glue and crayon.  Yeah, basically, I gave him those answers.  Then, I drew a sample of each and he copied them onto this paper.

As you can see, I’ve drawn reasonable rectangles to simulate the original paper on which the homework was contained.  This is because the original homework paper received a huge scribbled line across the entirety of it.  Hmmm… just a little lack of motivation.

Next, I drew a swing-set for him and asked him to copy it.  That’s the first rectangle.  The thing is that when he copies a drawing, he does not look at his own drawing.  He glances at what he is supposed to copy and then, like Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles, he does not use his eyes and feels his way through the drawing.  Lest you think this photo is the actual result, paper number 2 was destroyed.

Third try?  Yes, it was a charm, or as close to it as we were going to get.  That third try is what you are looking at.  Spelling the word, not bad at all compared to drawing or coloring as long as I sat with him, monitored his every move and prompted him through.

A rare photo in which he is looking at the paper while writing. The kid is destined to work in the medical profession with writing like this...

Next, we practiced some letters.  Often, he looks in another direction.  He continues to make the letter while looking away.  When I try to explain how he should make the letter within the lines, he does not look at what I am showing him unless I repeat it about ten times.  It is near impossible for him to focus and this is just a tad bit frustrating for me.

First, I need advice on how much help is too much.  Should I be prompting him with “glue” and “crayon” and giving him an example to copy draw as he does?  I think so.  After all, isn’t this just another way to learn?  If I let him do as he wished, he’d have something resembling what we might call “abstract”.

Second, how much patience do I need here?  Because I’m quickly running out.  Does anyone know where I can find some?

On the bright side, who could ever read their doctor’s handwriting?  Clearly, he prepping for that day he writes me a prescription for that de-aging, skin smoothing, fat dissolving medication he is going to invent!  With handwriting like that, how can we miss?  (uh- don’t answer that…)

Future Doctor....

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About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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10 Responses to Homework.

  1. C... says:

    You are funny. I have many times wanted to slam my head into a brick wall with frustration over my son being so difficult just starting his homework let alone make some progress on it. Sometimes it takes him hours if I don’t set a timer or use some other type of motivator. The time is good though because it’s an auditory cue that he is needing to hurry or makes him accountable for how far he got or how long to read. It’s the best resource and he likes to set it himself. That might help.

    • solodialogue says:

      Timers are in place right now through ABA to get him to stay with an activity for 5 minutes at a time – but that’s for stuff he mostly likes to do… I don’t know if he’d like it or not – he does love setting the timer. It’s worth a try! Thanks, Claudia!

  2. Teresa says:

    Homework is often not meant for the child to learn x,y, or z. More likely it is helping children get into the desk work program. Your help may be very much like what the teacher is doing…get child to focus, put something on paper, and stay on task for a lengthening period of time.
    A lot of kids, not just special needs, need to learn how to follow directions and how to think about possible answers. When you start writing your son’s report, then you’ll be helping too much 🙂
    Remember, Kindergarten is an opportunity to get all the class working at a similar level. Your son will be fine!

    • solodialogue says:

      I know I need to lengthen the time he spends at the table to do homework. Focus is always difficult no matter what the task (unless it’s the latest obsession!) I wondered about whether the idea was simply to get him used to the routines associated with homework or the actual work itself. I do think there is value in the work itself – my little anti-writer needs as much help as possible with those letters! I try to refrain from completing his PhD thesis for a couple months…. 😛

  3. Brian says:

    I have no help. I hated homework. I don’t know how to get kids to do homework. If you want help with Madden 12, I’m your guy.

  4. ElizOF says:

    I had to chuckle at the doctor reference.. Yes, one day he’d scribble the med on a small sheet and the pharmacist will read it like a charm… H is still so charming. 🙂
    I’m finally catching up on everyone’s blog. Thank you for your patience! 🙂

  5. Broot says:

    Well, see, I dunno. If Tootles were an NT child, I’ve have the answer for you right away – yes, you can provide an example but don’t draw it yourself – put the pot of glue or the crayon in front of them and let them use that to decide how to draw it (it inevitably is drawn from a different perspective than you expect). But honestly, that likely wouldn’t work for Tootles, so I don’t know. 🙂

  6. Aspie Mom says:

    My biggest regret over grade school is the hours we spent in tension and anxiety trying to get our son to do all his homework. He understood all the material, but in our day, HW was not questioned.
    Looking back on those thousands of wasted hours, I’m so sorry we didn’t read even more, play turn taking games and anything else the therapists suggested, do science projects, and get him as accelerated in math as he was in reading. He could have memorized the math tables by 6 (the schools never taught him.) We could have tried even harder to get him interested in sports.
    So he still hasn’t learned to study. His hand-writing is still crap and he only communicates effectively by keyboard, never by hand.
    But he is brilliant and plays in a band and does professional level CG and is in Civil Air Patrol.
    I’m so so sorry for introducing all that tension and angst into autistic lives already filled with anxiety. Our relationships would have been even stronger without the homework. ASD would have done much less damage in our lives.
    Letting the schools “require” his homework allowed ASD to control our lives for many hours of the day, a control we should never have let it have.

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