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Asperger Syndrome/High Functioning Autism Checklist Homework

Tips for Teaching High-Functioning People with Autism

Written by Susan Moreno and Carol O'Neal
Maap Services, Incorporated

  1. People with autism have trouble with organizational skills, regardless of their intelligence and/or age. Even a "straight A" student with autism who has a photographic memory can be incapable of remembering to bring a pencil to class or of remembering a deadline for an assignment. In such cases, aid should be provided in the least restrictive way possible. Strategies could include having the student put a picture of a pencil on the cover of his notebook or maintaining a list of assignments to be completed at home. Always praise the student when he remembers something he has previously forgotten. Never denigrate or "harp" at him when he fails. A lecture on the subject will not only NOT help, it will often make the problem worse. He may begin to believe he can not remember to do or bring these things.

    These students seem to have either the neatest or the messiest desks or lockers in the school. The one with the messiest desk will need your help in frequent cleanups of the desk or locker so that he can find things. Simply remember that he is probably not making a conscious choice to be messy. He is most likely incapable of this organizational task without specific training. Attempt to train him in organizational skills using small, specific steps.
  2. People with autism have problems with abstract and conceptual thinking. Some may eventually acquire abstract skills, but others never will. When abstract concepts must be used, use visual cues, such as drawings or written words, to augment the abstract idea. Be as concrete as possible in all your interactions with these students. Avoid asking vague questions such as, "Why did you do that?" Instead, say, "I did not like it when you slammed your book down when I said it was time for gym. Next time put the book down gently and tell me you are angry. Were you showing me that you did not want to go to gym, or that you did not want to stop reading?" Avoid asking essay-type questions. Be as concrete as possible in all your interactions with these students.
  3. An increase in unusual or difficult behaviors probably indicates an increase in stress. Sometimes stress is caused by feeling a loss of control. Many times the stress will only be alleviated when the student physically removes himself from the stressful event or situation. If this occurs, a program should be set up to assist the student in re-entering and/or staying in the stressful situation. When this occurs, a "safe place" or "safe person" may come in handy.
  4. Do not take misbehavior personally. The high-functioning person with autism is not a manipulative, scheming person who is trying to make life difficult. They are seldom, if ever, capable of being manipulative. Usually misbehavior is the result of efforts to survive experiences which may be confusing, disorienting, or frightening. People with autism are, by virtue of their disability, egocentric. Most have extreme difficulty reading the reactions of others.
  5. Most high-functioning people with autism use and interpret speech literally. Until you know the capabilities of the individual, you should avoid:
    • idioms (e.g., save your breath, jump the gun, second thoughts);
    • double meanings (most jokes have double meanings);
    • sarcasm (e.g., saying, "Great!" after he has just spilled a bottle of ketchup on the table);
    • nicknames; and
    • "cute" names (e.g., Pal, Buddy, Wise Guy).
  6. Remember that facial expressions and other social cues may not work. Most individuals with autism have difficulty reading facial expressions and interpreting "body language."
  7. If the student does not seem to be learning a task, break it down into smaller steps or present the task in several ways (e.g., visually, verbally, physically).
  8. Avoid verbal overload. Be clear. Use shorter sentences if you perceive that the student is not fully understanding you. Although he probably has no hearing problem and may be paying attention, he may have difficulty understanding your main point and identifying important information.
  9. Prepare the student for all environmental and/or changes in routine, such as assembly, substitute teacher, and rescheduling. Use a written or visual schedule to prepare him for change.
  10. Behavior management works, but if incorrectly used, it can encourage robot-like behavior, provide only a short term behavior change, or result in some form of aggression. Use positive and chronologically age- appropriate behavior procedures.
  11. Consistent treatment and expectations from everyone is vital.
  12. Be aware that normal levels of auditory and visual input can be perceived by the student as too much or too little. For example, the hum of fluorescent lighting is extremely distracting for some people with autism. Consider environmental changes such as removing "visual clutter" from the room or seating changes if the student seems distracted or upset by his classroom environment.
  13. If your high-functioning student with autism uses repetitive verbal arguments and/or repetitive verbal questions, you need to interrupt what can become a continuing, repetitive litany. Continually responding in a logical manner or arguing back seldom stops this behavior. The subject of the argument or question is not always the subject which has upset him. More often the individual is communicating a feeling of loss of control or uncertainty about someone or something in the environment.

    Try requesting that he write down the question or argumentative statement. Then write down your reply. This usually begins to calm him down and stops the repetitive activity. If that does not work, write down his repetitive question or argument and ask him to write down a logical reply (perhaps one he thinks you would make). This distracts from the escalating verbal aspect of the situation and may give him a more socially acceptable way of expressing his frustration or anxiety. Another alternative is role- playing the repetitive argument or question with you taking his part and having him answer you as he thinks you might.
  14. Since these individuals experience various communication difficulties, do not rely on students with autism to relay important messages to their parents about school events, assignments, school rules, etc. unless you try it on an experimental basis with follow-up, or unless you are already certain that the student has mastered this skill. Even sending home a note for his parent may not work. The student may not remember to deliver the note or may lose it before reaching home. Phone calls to parents work best until the skill can be developed. Frequent and accurate communication between the teacher and parent (or primary care-giver) is very important.
  15. If your class involves pairing off or choosing partners, either draw numbers or use some other arbitrary means of pairing. Or ask an especially kind student if he or she would agree to choose the individual with autism as a partner before the pairing takes place. The student with autism is most often the individual left with no partner. This is unfortunate since these students could benefit most from having a partner.
  16. Assume nothing when assessing skills. For example, the individual with autism may be a "math whiz" in Algebra, but not be able to make simple change at a cash register. Or, he may have an incredible memory about books he has read, speeches he has heard, or sports statistics, but still may not be able to remember to bring a pencil to class. Uneven skills development is a hallmark of autism.

For more information, contact: MAAP Services, Inc., C/O Susan J. Moreno, P.O. Box , Crown Point, IN ; woaknb.wz.sk

Moreno, S. J. & O&#;Neal, C. (). Tips for teaching high functioning people with autism. Crown Point, IN: MAAP Services, Inc.

IRCA | North Range Rd. | Bloomington, IN | | irca@woaknb.wz.sk

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Asperger's Teens and Homework-Related Meltdowns: Tips for Frustrated Parents

&#;My 14 yr. old daughter with Asperger Syndrome basically refuses to do her homework. It&#;s a daily struggle that results in meltdown. Desperate please help! Any advice will be greatly appreciated.&#;

As most parents already know, Asperger&#;s (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) disrupts the youngster&#;s academic abilities in multiple areas (e.g., a lowered tolerance for new situations or sudden transitions, lack of organizational skills, inconsistent energy levels, high distractibility, excessive interest in only one or two subjects to the exclusion of all others, etc.). All of these can present challenges when attempting to complete homework. Fortunately, there are some basic strategies that moms and dads can undertake to help prevent those dreaded evening meltdowns related to homework.

Let&#;s look at some specific strategies to help your AS/HFA teenager follow through with completing homework&#;

1. Break-Down Large Assignments&#; Since some homework assignments can be overwhelming for kids with AS and HFA, parents may need to work closely with their youngster to help her get started. Providing one or two examples may be all that is required in some cases. For more complicated work, moms and dads may want to demonstrate how to break it down into smaller steps. This added attention may be needed for each unfamiliar assignment.

2. Eliminate Vagueness&#; Some assignments may be unclear to the child (and even to parents). If this happens often, it would be best for you to communicate with the teacher about your youngster&#;s needs. Receiving more detailed instructions for upcoming assignments will go a long way to ensuring that homework gets done correctly and without meltdowns. The key is to get the information ahead of time so that your youngster can be prepared for &#; not surprised with &#; an unknown.

3.  Establish Consistent Time and Place&#; Observe your youngster and see what hinders her from completing her work. This is paramount to planning homework sessions. During these observations, jot down answers to the following questions about your youngster: Does she fatigue quickly? Is she easily distracted by noise or activity? What frustrates or upsets her? What is her best time of day?

After observing your youngster for a few days, establish a consistent time for homework, preferably when she is well fed, rested and at her best. The amount of time she spends on homework nightly will vary by grade level. When homework length begins to increase, she may stay more focused with short breaks. Incorporate these into the schedule and make sure she has enough time to complete assignments without rushing. It&#;s also helpful to have a special homework location away from the TV, radio, or other distractions. In addition, kids with AS and HFA can be frustrated by clutter, so make sure that the workspace is organized and that all necessary materials for homework are available and easy to find.

4. Incorporate Interests&#; A unique quality of high functioning kids on the autism spectrum is that they can develop abnormally intense interests in one or two subjects (e.g., weather, sports statistics, computers, etc.). Using a little ingenuity, moms and dads can persuade the youngster to do seemingly unrelated work by integrating her interests. For example, kids fascinated by computers may be encouraged to complete writing assignments using an online dictionary. Kids who have nightly reading requirements could be allowed to choose books that are related to weather, dinosaurs, or other science topics of interest. If the youngster seems to dislike math, create word problems for practicing addition, subtraction, and multiplication using subjects such as baseball or cars.

5. Provide Daily Routine in Other Areas of the Child&#;s Life&#; Homework can be easier for kids on the spectrum when they are already used to a lot of structured, daily routines. A child who has developed the habit of feeding the dog every day immediately after school, for example, will be more likely to do homework every day immediately after dinner. Getting started with a highly-structured daily routine when the child is young goes a long way in avoiding "homework battles" during adolescence.

Kids with AS and HFA possess unique skills and can grow to be highly productive, thriving members of society. But, like everyone, they face their own set of challenges along the way. Homework may be one of those challenges. With careful planning however, moms and dads can make this necessary and important chore less problematic and help to pave their youngster&#;s way to academic success.
Discipline for Defiant Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


&#;    Anonymous said&#; Does she have an IEP or ? Does she really need the homework to keep up on grades? You could request shortened or no homework, or time for her to do it in school.
&#;    Anonymous said&#; Hi, my Son doesn't like Monday's finds it hard and often spikes his anxiety. I have now told him that we have 'no homework Monday's' which has elieviated Meltdowns from school. Monday evenings are more for arts and crafts and leggo. But he knows Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are homework days for Math, Eng and Reading. It seems to be working. I think it's about placing a compromise and balance which will engage and help your child. Hope this helps
&#;    Anonymous said&#; I arranged with the school to only have maximum 30 min of homework a nightthen put a visual timer on so she knows how long she has to do her homework! Helps a lot!
&#;    Anonymous said&#; I don't know how we got to the point where he goes and get it done other than living through the tantrums. He would be grounded from his tablet and electrons. We tried to focus him on goals, cillege, what he wants to be and that it has to get done. It's okay to not like it but it has to get done. It's been a very rough 2 years but seeing an improvement this year most daysnot all
&#;    Anonymous said&#; I have Asperger's myself and I have specific interests like certain kinds of music. If I were your daughter and I refused to do my homework, you could forbid me to listen to any music and I would do my homework then. It's the motivation that you'll get things you desire if the important work gets done first. Hope that helps!
&#;    Anonymous said&#; I think exemptions should only be used as a last resort. They have to learn that you have to do things you don't like. It's a part of life. Believe me I have lived the tantrums the screaming the crying the throwing things the hitting the I hate you your ruining my life. It's he'll but they have to learn and grow and hw is part of it
&#;    Anonymous said&#; School is 6 hours a day 5 days a week. Each to their own. My son is doing really well at school therefore we don't need to go through unnecessary meltdowns etc. We pick our battles and at this point we are happy he goes to school.
&#;    Anonymous said&#; Thanks for the article, very interesting.

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