How to get a teenage boy with Aspergers to do his homework without the usual rollercoaster of emotions?

Many students receive increased amounts of homework as they get older. For a student with Asperger’s Syndrome, homework creates significant challenges. These include paying attention, staying motivated long enough to complete a task, using appropriate study skills, and avoiding whining and complaining.

Handwriting might be an area of difficulty too, because fine motor and writing skills may be weak. If your son has not learned to keyboard, purchase a fun keyboarding program for him to learn how. Then, the physical act of writing may become easier for him.

Here are some recommended homework adaptations that may help your son.

* Provide one-on-one assistance daily at a regularly scheduled homework time. Show him how to use a planning calendar to list assignments and due dates.

* Monitor homework closely and use a regular location for homework, one that includes materials he will need, such as pens, paper, a dictionary, etc. Check his finished assignments for completion. Adding a top sheet can be helpful for parents and teachers to write assignment notes or comments about difficulties, etc.

* Ask teachers to allow alternative responses. (E.g., audiotape rather than write an assignment or dictate information to someone who writes it down for the student)

* Ask teachers to adjust the length of assignments. You should break each down into smaller steps that can be checked off a list.

* Provide learning tools (e.g., calculators).

* Ask for fewer assignments or modified assignments if your son is unable to handle the homework he is given. Allow your son to do something he enjoys after he finishes each task. Build up to doing more tasks as he becomes more confident.

Parent involvement in homework is very important. Maintain constant, two-way communication with your son’s teachers. Be sure you understand homework policies, required assignments and details, completion dates, and so forth. It helps to have email and/or phone numbers for each of his teachers and they should have yours. A frequent evaluation of his homework should be sent home – mailed if necessary. And, a face-to-face meeting with teachers is always a good idea, as often as necessary to discuss appropriate modifications for your son.

Your son should also take responsibility for his homework by writing down his assignments in an assignment book and bringing home needed books and materials. Depending on your son’s level of development, his teachers may need to give him pre-copied instructions (or, as you mentioned, email assignments) and monitor the materials he brings home.

As your son completes assignments and becomes more responsible, praise and reward him with activities he enjoys. Rewards for Asperger’s students should be frequent.

Thanks for reading,

Dave Angel

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