Aspies and homework

Submitted by McKinnon on Mon, 31/8/2009 - 10:47

My year 9, 14 year old son works reasonably well at school but when it comes to homework and assignments well forget it. The let down or cooling off that happens when he gets home simply does not allow him to get back into learning mode. He doesn't know how to start, gets upset when he gets stuck in Math, spends way too long on something that only needs a few minutes and mental blocks almost always end up in tears for all us. He works well with his tutors, English and Math but thats only 2 hours a week. He is now expected to do 1-1 1/2 hours per day. As the expectations and demands  rise at school, the marks are starting to slide down rapidly. What happened to my A grade student of Primary school? No school in their right mind is going to exempt him from homework. Is there anyone out there that can help him with issues like time perception, executive function etc ?

Would he sit down for 60-90 minutes (with a clock) to attempt his homework ... perhaps using a priority list of what he needs to do (and maybe how long to spend on each item)? He may need to build up to that amount of time. Will his school, via his year teacher, give him (or help him develop) a daily homework schedule? Will they let you sign off in a diary that he made the effort that was expected? (If not, then perhaps you could help him with this).

If he will just try it, then the process may give you solid data that you can use in further discussions about the effort he is making and the reasonableness of the school's expectations of your son. And it may help him develop skills that will help him in a workplace later in his life.

If this does not work, you may need to talk to a special needs co-ordinator in the school, a school counsellor or the principlal. Ask them to provide a solution ... after all it is their job.

Also, have you tried the Positive Partnerships workshops and website (see They may have some suggestions. Their Key Local Facilitator might have suggestions on where to get help in your area.

You might get help from a psychologist, behaviour specialist or counsellor if there is a good one in your area. Is there a parent group in your area? Maybe some of them have ideas and suggestion that you could try.

These are my quick suggestions. I hope there are people in our community with more experience of this situation than me who have better suggestions.

I know this is not orthadox, but at the age of 14 your son must have an idea as to which subjects he has the greater interest, you do not have to pass all subjects to achieve your school qualifications, perhaps concentrate on those subject he may need for the future,may be research is his thing.

Do you know the feeling of being centred ?  That is what he is striving for when he comes home from school, being at school to him would be like being on stage for six hours acting out a role combined with adolesence this is really difficult. You have to remember he is stepping out of himself to be part of the class, he needs to connect with the real 'him' when he gets home, some days that would mean a difficulty in just brushing his teeth other days he would be able to complete his homework without a problem, Unfortunately he cannot decide the way it will be for him on any given day.

Perhaps he could read my reply and decide if he agrees with what I am saying


Sun, 8/11/2009 - 23:16

Executive function is always worse with stress. He sounds really stressed. I got away with no homework til year 11, then failed 3 units (which doesn't actually matter) and got a counsellor to help me with a schedule in year 12- big, very detailed, lots of rest breaks included. Did quite well. Visual scheduling is better for aspies. The week long meditation course probably helped heaps too. It's the anxiety, stress stuff he mainly needs help with, which any psychologist can do. meditation and yoga are proven to work too. He can probably get away with low grades til year 11 anyway, he sounds smart. he'll catch up.

He needs written instructions on when to give up on a maths problem. it is always better to come back to later. Also what's the environment like where he studies? he needs space, quiet, and maybe an alarm to let him know he needs a break.

Antonia Canaris

Sun, 6/12/2009 - 14:46

I send my 14 yr old Aspie to a homework free school. I think school can be tiring for our children. They need more "veg" time. See if you can get a psychologist or somebody else to write a sympathetic letter to the school. Then gradually ask your child to do Mathletics oin-line. Try and get him to follow up researching his favourite interests. My advice is to devise your own educational direction since you know your own child. "Accidentally" leave books around on his interests etc.Some people find it hard to work at home as they compartmentalise their life. May-be there is a homework club he can join- if he can't escape the drudgery. Adults also find it hard to work at home that is why they invented offices. If your son is less stressed from his homework fights he might be fresher to start learning at school.