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Son Stressed Over Homework
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Son Stressed Over Homework

My son with Aspergers is 10 and has just started fourth grade about five weeks ago. The homework in fourth grade has increased significantly from third grade in both time and difficulty. My son can't really seem to handle the homework too well. Often when I say "Kids! It's time for homework!" he has a tantrum that he doesn't want to do the homework and how long it will take. While he does his homework he often whines and cries. He wants to get good grades (he usually does), but he will not do his homework so studying is a nightmare almost. The school staff at his school will not accept reducing the amount of homework, though his school doesn't give homework for the weekend. Also, if I say that it will just take 45 minutes, he will say yes but if it takes longer than that he will scream about how it was supposed to take shorter. He will also get upset if he answers a math problem wrong on his paper because he will have to do it again. One day he had something like 7 pages of homework. When he got off the bus he started crying that lasted an hour about how he had 'too much homework'. He is completley fine during school, though he will be upset at home. All the other kids in his grade just sit calmly and do it and get it over with. I am extremley concerned about this because as he gets older there will be much more homework and even weekend homework. Please Help!
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I cannot believe the school are not taking into account his diagnosis!  There are things you can do to help reduce the anxiety/stress, but over and above that he needs allowances to be made.  If he had a leg missing they wouldn't insist he ran the 100m with the rest of the other kids.
You probably already know that they like predictable structure and routine.  So homework will be for a set amount of time.  Anything unfinished gets left for the next day.  So 45 minutes is 45 minutes.
Alot of children/adults on the spectrum have problems with organisation and planning.  Do you think he has difficulties in these areas that will cross over into his academic work?  For example if he had to do a project would he be able to organise what he needed to do and sequence the tasks?  Would he be able to manage his time so that he handed the project in on time?  If not these are all difficulties that an Educational Psychologist needs to look at and allowances need to be made for him.  He may need an adult to help him organise and structure his work so that he can get on with it independently.
As you say, he probably is doing relatively well in school.  But those on the spectrum find it very hard to cope with not doing things well, or not being able to finish things, or anything out of the agreed rule eg. 45 minutes work.
Can you use something like 'Social Stories' to explain to him what you do when you get a homework question wrong.  If you don't know what that is ask his Educational Psychologist.
You are right to be concerned that his ability to cope with what is expected of him will get worse as he progresses through school.  But that is not his fault.  That is part of his diagnosis.  If I were you I would ask for an immediate meeting with the school Educational Psychologist and I would get some advice from the National Autistic Society in your country.
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Avatar_m_tn
Unfortunateoly concentration is not an atribute to those with Aspergers. It may help to place in a rewards programme. Additionally breaking the homework time into blocks where there is regular work and a rest periods may be a good idea. It varies from person to person and no one has exactly the same way of learning.
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Avatar_m_tn
Sorry for the double post, but another thought came to mind. ADD maybe a possibility, I would look into getting an evaluation done by a clinical psychologist.
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45 minutes sure seems lot ALOT of homework for a 4th grader, especially one on the spectrum!  I would fight the school tooth & nail on this.  That is just WAY TOO MUCH.
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I totally agree.
Go with your son's behaviours.
He is getting anxious, stressed and frustrated.
That is not going to encourage 'learning', it is going to put him off it.
My son is 7.5 years and gets very little homework and 'if' he completes it that is great, but we don't push him.
It is hard for them to just get through the day in an environment that is very stressful for them.  
You also need it built into his IEP that he has extra time for tests and exams.  
As previously mentioned he may need adult help and supports for projects etc.
Don't be afraid to ask for the Educational Psychologist to be involved and don't be afraid to tell the school NO.  You know if they are asking too much of your son.
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Avatar_f_tn
I know what you are going through, my son is in the fourth grade and we just started to homeschool
there is a homeschool association for parents of aspergers kids
i found a good bit of support there, and they were there for me while my son was still in school
i found them through Child Developement Center, its a place where parents with newly diagnosed children and paired up with families who have been living with this condition for a long time, they assign you a "sponsor family" i enjoyed that level of care
maybe you can google CDC in your area, not to be mistaken for center for disease control
once you find a parent support group in your area, ask them where you can turn for help
i will get back with you on homework tips
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Avatar_f_tn
First of all, my "normal" kids don't sit down and always calmly do their homework.  My kids get about 2 hours a night.  Check out Kumon on You Yube and you have children happily burning their homework packs.  My son, who goes to a special ed school and does Kumon, likes to lock himself in the bathroom and read for two hours when he gets home in order to avoid it.  And yes it is mean, but it is far crueler to let a child with Asperger's fall behind academically.  And yes, there are screaming matches.  And we do having the screaming fights - but they are far less frequent than they used to be.

1)  Sit him down in a chair.  Tell him that is all he can do until he complies.  Come back every 15 minutes and ask him if he is willing to comply.  The first couple of times we did this for two or three hours at a time - now he complies but he gets a lot of breaks.

2)  we got rid of tv

3)  No computers, play dates, etc. until the weekend and that is if ony all his work is done. The cancelling of play dates was the hardest because kids with asperger's don;'t have too many friends.

4)  we use his obsession (thank G-d for those) - your child's psychologist should be able  to help you turn your kid into a behavioral junkie in order to fufilll the obsessive need.  We live in a Bionicle economy - which goes the gamut from toys to him watching other so afflicted posting their own on You Tube.  

5)  It took us three years to get him compliant and he is always testing us.  Good Luck.
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Avatar_f_tn
learning should be fun, my child enjoys hands on projects, doing his work outside, and taking walks in between subjects, we have a community center in our neighborhood, pool, tennis, club house, playgroud, basketbal court
all the kids show up there around 4, so my kids do their homework and then go play with their friends
i agree with maryannes mom, 45. min of homework is too much for a kid on the spectrum
and fyi, not all kids with aspergers are low on friends, but if they are maybe sign they up for scouts our a sport, get them involved in a childrens program at the library, the more children they are around the better their chances are of meeting kids to play with, if they are not around any children ourside of school then they have lost the opportunity for friendships, my children are surrounded by kids in and out of school, but they are not allowed to communicate with their friends during school, no talking allowed so they may have a spend the night buddy every friday, we rotate that one, i have 3 children and i cannot keep up with 3 extra kids, so they have to pick a weekend they will have friends spend the night.
I hate it that your son has that much homework, my 16 yr old brought home 4 pages of algebra last weekend, my husband and i actually helped her a good bit, it was over wheming, kids goto school for 7 to 9 hours a day, which is the same as working a full time job, then they have an hour plus homework a night, why?? why do our kids have to work over time? when can they have fun and be kids?
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Avatar_f_tn
Well, the teachers DO know he has Asperger Syndrome, but they just wont allow reducing homework. But if he finishes his schoolwork, the teachers will let him do some of his homework at school. And if it takes longer than 45 minutes at home, I will make up his free time he lost by letting him stay up later (e.g. if homework takes 15 minutes longer, he can stay up 15 minutes later). Also from now on, as soon as my kids get home, they have to start their homework, and no TV until they do so. But sometimes when he had a hard school day, I will let him watch TV and delay homework to 3:30.
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Avatar_f_tn
thats good you let him have a break, i remember in grammar school my mom would make me do homework right when i walked in the door (my aspergers was not recognized at that age) she would push and push and finally i just shut down anytime someone approached me with school work, when i was in boarding school i was taking sino/russia history, advanced algebra, chemistry, and i had an english teacher who thought that diagraming sentences was the most important skill. I actually majored in english before i went into emergency medicine, we spent little time on that skill in my eng.lit classes, but to that teacher it was a much needed skill, and to tell you the truth, my family is in the newspaper bussiness, and as a jr. publisher i never had to diagram a sentence, each of my teachers were so forceful in their approach, all but one, and i learned more in her class, i do not do well with force, i had a terrible time with the sino russia history class, good bit of independant reading, my parents got me a horse my freshman year, the school had a barn and i would sneak down to the barn at night and cry over the fact that i was unable to keep up with my classes,,,i saw all this because i hate that your sons teacher is placing so much stress on getting homework done, its mostly busy work, repetitive, an spectrum people do better with short lessons, its like we get what you are saying, please dont beat it into our heads!! i have been through this with my sons teacher, but they actually reduced his homework, there is a law in our state that allocates the time elementary students spend on homework, but if you fight, they will place your son in self contained special ed., for now maybe you can write half the answers for him, as long as he provides the actual answers, writting is terrible difficult for us at an early age, sometimes we know the answer and see little value in writting it down just to convince someone else we know it, i always hated math sheets that said show your work, because more often than not i would not need to go through steps a to d to get to e. I hope my experience helps your situation, i risk alot speaking freely hear about the aspergers, but i never know who it may help.
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Avatar_f_tn
I think the homework issue can be handled with alot of breaks.  That is what we do.  I just think it is sad that alot of parents let their kids fall behind in school because it takes so much effort.  Sam has incredible organizational issues.  I think that is why he gets frustrated at certain assignments.  Math is certainly one of them.  We have been able to do it not through fun but practice - over and over again.  I have a feeling my son is worse off than most of the other kids - he was kicked out of public school for his inflexible behaviors.  But no way or were did we let his disabilities affect his schoolwork.  Is he having much fun - no.  But we tell him again and again that one needs to acquire certain life skills - like mathematics in order to eventually get a good job and have a good life.      

There is a partner at my husband's firm that almost everyone in the firm thinks has Asperger's.  He has little client contact but he does his speciality extremely well because of his personality.  People with Asperger's can be highly productive and can have full and rewarding careers.  They still have to acquire the basic skills to do so.  My son loves to read and because of that particular obsession   My son loves to read (a bit too obsessively) and because of that his doctors think he has cured the inability to make inferences a big of the disorder - he isn't so literal anymore and he understands nuance and sarcasm now.  He reprogrammed that part of his brain.  He will never be neurotypical but he is getting good at pretending to be normal.    
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you for your informative posts!  It confirms that how I think my daughter feels is correct.  She does not need to learn the 5 steps to get to the answer, because she already knows the answer! She doesn't even understand when asked to show her work.  She's thinking "what work?  This is the answer!"   And once she does it, she gets it.  It seems that Aspie's minds compulsively need "new" information, or it is extremely bored and aggitated.  So once she understands something, to make her sit there & do it over & over again is pure torture in her mind.  I used to write the answers for my daugther, too, as handwriting is an issue.  We now let her type her answers on the computer, and her teachers usually do, too.

gfever10:  I would continue to fight the school on the homework issue.  They can do whatever they want and they know how to get around the so called "rules"--they do not HAVE to assign your child 45 minutes of homework a night!!!
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This is Maryanne's Mom posting as Just Turned 40.  Sorry about the name change.
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Avatar_f_tn
Have you written letters to the school?  Have the teacher in writing (and always ask for it in writing) explain the school's policy and why it applies to your child considering their IEP or your informing them of your child's condition.  

My son is pretty good with math and he is actually on the junior high level (even though he is 10) so I am trying to explain where somethings fall apart.  We did fine through long division and with fractions (though we had a bit of trouble with calculating the LCM's of big numbers) - but now that we are moving onto pre-algebra we are having more and more problems in keeping the problems straight.  He wants to take shortcuts -so we rely on repetition to make sure that he totally gets the steps.  Conceptually, he is pretty good at math but he does make careless errors.  It also doesn't help that he tends to solve problems in his head - so when we need to check the work it is difficult to see where he made a mistake.   He also hates when another variable is thrown into the problem - like decimals - even though noting else has changed.  This is where we get our meltdowns. I think it is the anxiety of organizing the work steps in his head that causes the meltdowns.
    
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Avatar_f_tn
i know very few parents of learning disabled children who "let" their kids fall behind in school
most of the time it is out of their power, expecially in a public school setting
they have no control what their kids learn, our district was had moved my son to fourth grade but was testing him on a 3rd grade level, i did not understand this, and when i voiced my concerns to the school they were very passive in their explanation, at this time i realized that it was up to me and me alone to get my son up to grade level
but some parents do not have the time, energy or eduaction to homeschool, so they are left at the mercy of the school, i understand that sometimes we see others parent in a way that we ourselves consider irresponsible, but it is better to sympathize than to pass judgement
i am also guilty of this, my son was in a class with 12 other special needs stundents and these student are recognized as "high risk children", , i was room mom for self-contained for 2 yrs, i meet only a few parents in that time, most of them were unable to attend school funtions, because they were adults with special needs, our children after all are mirrors of ourselves, not saying that all special needs children have parents with special needs, Asperger's Syndrome is probably hereditary in nature as many families report having an "odd" relative or two. It is often reported in those also with depression and bipolar disorders
i know some may argue this fact, but here is the science to back this statement, also a good read for those new to this diesease
http://www.pickbrains.com/articles/aspergers
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Avatar_f_tn
I totally accept that there are genetics involved.  I look at both our families - and I have joked that NASA families should not be allowed to reproduce.  We both brought the academic ability.  But it is never that simple, I brought the ADHD and my husband brought the obsessive interests genes.  The man spent his early childhood becoming a nationally ranked chess master in the adult division by the age of 12 - that alone was a warning sign.  We are a family packed with mathematicians and engineers - we are totally neurotic and odd - but we work very hard with our kids. Even though one has a visual perception problem, another has ADHD and Tourette's, and Sam has Aspie (light), severe ADHD, and a tic disorder - we still make sure that all of them are working well above grade level.  Last year, the school told us that our daughter with the visual perception issues was probably going to fail the state exams, she got a 4 on both of them.  Why - because we spent 2 hours a day making sure that she understood what they wanted.  She has trouble remembering what she read because it takes her so long to decode - so we taught her how to read the questions first.  We spent hours on sequencing, inference, cause & effect....  the second assessment she was at 75% - and then she blew away the test.  Of the 120 kids in her school only 17 received 4's on the ELA's.  Few of her friends that were having these problems put that much time and effort into it.  She ended up with a Wii for her reward.  We do not rely on what the Department of Ed thinks is appropriate.  In fact, we barely pay attention to it.  What I mean by fall behind is that alot of kids on the spectrum are pretty tough and inflexible - and it is probably easier to let things slid because it is too much work.  But homework fights occur for any child with a learning disability.   I pull teeth with my daughter who has the visual perception issues - reading is hard for her.  It is not dyslexia - but they are usually late academic bloomers.   It makes it difficult for her to read when words are small and handwriting is a nightmare (she also inherited Ehler's-Danlos from me).   Unlike Sam, she will do more socially acceptable ways to avoid work like try to engage her siblings in silly conversation or she will even provoke a fight.  She doesn't have ADHD - she doesn't want to do the work.

Sam got kicked out of public school because he wouldn't comply - he would refuse to do the simplest tasks set before him.  The district basically told us to go find a private school and they would pay for it.   Most of the children at Sam's Asperger's school are the non-compliant type.  We were warned by his doctors early on that if we did not get him to do the work then he would eventually fall behind and he almost did in third grade.  Somewhere along the line, we didn't care about the screaming fights anymore and we brought him back up to speed.  I wonder how many other children with Asperger's this has happened to.  They go from being bright, quirky kids in the early grades but when the demands of school grow they break down.  Their ability and intelligence become hindered because of the inflexibility issues.  You wonder how many parents just throw their hands up in the air and want to give up - there were nights when I did.   I am not judgmental, I know how hard it can be.  I am just saying that there is a zero tolerance policy in our house for not completing homework.
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