Homework, assignments and deadlines can cause great anxiety for some people. Others will not register their significance. The following strategies may help some teenagers with autism:
- Communication between home and school – it is important that parents understand and indeed learn of the homework assigned to their child. However, we may also need to remember that within the law, when the student reaches the age of school leaving, the parents can only be involved if the school secures the permission from the student. Equally, it is important that school understand and learn of any issues or incidents that may affect the completion of homework. Emails and journals can help keep communication going between home and school. The Home school links are important, we have to make it easy for everyone to communicate – use of text messages, or email to text, can make it easier for all to communicate effectively.
- Helping the teenager with autism stay organised will help with homework completion and meeting deadlines. Processing of instructions can be difficult, so it may be useful to use communication books, homework diaries, emails and Dictaphones, Livescribe or Smart pens to reduce the pressure on the teenager with autism of trying to remember what they are supposed to be doing.
- Encourage regular meetings between the teenager with autism and support staff to ensure homework and assignments are up to date. Encourage adherence to the ‘responsibilities of the student’ which should be listed in the school profile
- Some teenagers with autism may need help in understanding the end goal or relevance of what to them may seem continuous work and deadlines. Social storiesTM may help with this.
- Why do I have to? A book for children who find themselves frustrated by everyday rules, by Laurie Leventhal – Belfer, 2008, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London, UK.
- Providing students with a copy of the syllabus or marking scheme, where they can see exactly why they are carrying out certain activities and how one aspect builds onto already attained knowledge can help.
- Using files and colour to identify and clarify the importance and deadlines for particular pieces of work.
- Along with assignments and homework, all students could be given graphic organisers such as spider diagrams or organisational apps such as:
- This will give the same level of support to all students whilst meeting the needs of students experiencing difficulty with executive functioning.
- Making a clear to do list and striking off work which has been completed.
- Using the calendar as a reminder for meetings or deadlines.