For educators and parents working with students with autism and students with special needs, here are some strategies to implement when assisting them with homework

7 ways to make homework easier for students with autism


For educators and parents working with neurodivergent children, here are some strategies to implement when assisting them with homework

Homework can be challenging for all children, but for students with autism, it can be challenging. It is common for children with autism to have difficulties with executive functioning abilities, including planning, organization, and prioritization.

In addition, they may have issues with focus, language, and social skills, all of which can make homework time challenging for both the youngster and their parents. For those of you who are raising a neurodivergent child, here are some strategies to implement when assisting them with homework:

Create a Routine

As children on the autism spectrum tend to flourish in structured environments, establishing a regular homework routine might make the process less stressful for them. Set aside dedicated study time, designate a quiet space, and make a visual schedule for completing assignments.

The plan might be as straightforward as a list of things to complete or as elaborate as a flowchart with icons representing each step. At the start of homework time, review the plan with your child and cross off items as they are finished. Seeing their growth and knowing what is coming may keep your child’s attention and enthusiasm high.

Incorporate Interests

Many students with autism have very specialized areas of interest. Making homework time more fun for your child might be as simple as including some of their favorite activities.

If your kid likes dinosaurs, you might make a math worksheet where they count and add little plastic dinosaurs. Adding some coloring or sketching to a writing project is a great way to engage an artistic kid.

You may motivate your child to do their homework by offering them a reward relevant to their interests, such as extra time spent on a favorite activity or reading a book about a fascinating topic.

Break Tasks into Smaller Chunks

Students with autism may become overwhelmed with large tasks, such as lengthy homework assignments or projects. Tasks may be broken down into smaller segments to make them more doable and encourage your youngster to complete them.

If your child is having trouble completing an entire math assignment, try dividing it into manageable chunks and giving them breaks between work periods. A timer may help them stay on track by dividing the work time; for example, you might devote 10 minutes to reading or complete ten math problems and then take a 5-minute break.

Incorporate Sensory Activities

Many children on the autism spectrum struggle with sensory processing issues that make it difficult for them to concentrate and remain calm while doing homework. Including sensory exercises during homework time can help with sensory regulation and increase concentration.

You can give your child something to fidget with, like a toy, sit on a yoga ball, or allow them to chew gum or suck on hard candy while they study. Dance parties or trampoline time might be used as movement breaks during homework time.

Provide Visual Supports

Children with autism can benefit significantly from visual supports because they give a tangible depiction of their task. Use visual aids to clarify expectations and keep your youngster on track. Each activity could be represented by a graphic or symbol and placed on a visual schedule or job list. A labeled box or container is a great visual aid for staying organized.

Make it a Game

Children with autism often enjoy games and may respond well to turning homework time into a game. To motivate your child to finish their schoolwork, you could use a deck of cards with different assignments on each card, make a board game, or try to beat a time limit.

Each completed task could earn your child a point, and they could compete with themselves or a family member. Another option is to turn homework into a treasure hunt by hiding tasks throughout the house and having them find the next clue after finishing each job.

Communicate with Your Child’s Teacher

Your child’s teacher can be a valuable resource for making homework easier for your child with autism. Discuss the positive and negative aspects of your child’s school experience with their teacher and work together to develop a strategy for homework. Your child’s teacher may be able to give additional support, such as a visual schedule or a quiet area to work during recess. In some instances, they may even be able to adjust your child’s homework to make it more achievable.

Homework can be a challenging time for children with autism and their parents. Finding the best strategies for your child may take some trial and error, but with patience and persistence, homework time can become a positive and productive experience for both you and your child.

Related:
3 ways telepractice helps combat burnout in special education
How we built a whole-child, wraparound approach to special education

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