For many parents, getting kids to do their homework can be a challenge; and when a child has autism, parents can find additional challenges including attention deficits, tantrums or difficulties with organization.
- Environment – Let your son/daughter make the choice of where they prefer to work, as long as it is conducive to learning. A quiet area, free from distractions with appropriate supplies nearby is the best option. Letting a student use their bedroom where they are unsupervised may not be the best choice – many children need you around where they work as it will keep them from being distracted. However, a desk or table is not absolutely necessary; if they ask to lay on the floor, sit on a couch or even stand at a counter it can work well, as long as they will be able to focus on the task at hand.
- Use of a timer – Adding a timer can help the process. You can use it to help visualize a window of time for working, or to dictate when to take a break. Depending on the amount of work and the student’s tolerance for sitting and focusing, you may find that your son/daughter needs to take multiple breaks during a homework session.
- Be available for help – You may not need to sit with your child, but stay close so they don’t have to search for you if they need help.
- Be a role model – While your son/daughter is doing homework, you can help your child see that the skills they’re practicing are related to things you do as an adult (such as writing a grocery list, paying bills, reading the newspaper).
Provide positive reinforcement – Choose two or three behavioral goals for your son/daughter and write them on a chart (i.e. if yelling is the worst part of homework time, you could include: “Speak in a calm voice” or “finish all homework with a positive attitude”.) At the end of each homework session, discuss progress and reward for a positive experience. There are many positive reinforcement reward ideas, from allowing extra computer time to a favorite family outing.