Stephen Borgman

Stephen Borgman

Spectrum Solutions

Little Known Ways to Conquer Homework

Teacher, the Dog Ate My Homework: Again!!

Posted May 11, 2010

If you or someone you love on the autism spectrum is tired of feeding their homework to the dog, I've got some tips I've researched, which I hope will be helfpul to you, no matter what age you are.  These tips can also carry over into getting organized in the rest of your life, even if you are not in school.

Without further ado, I'm going to share some of these strategies.

Give Yourself A WHY.   In other words, without knowing the benefits or the point of doing homework, it's going to be hard to motivate yourself or a loved one to work on their homework.  It may help to draw a flowchart showing what the specific benefits of doing homework will involve: a sense of pride, a feeling of competence, moving ahead with the rest of one's peers, being able to go to college, being able to earn money in a job you want to have once you finish high school. 

If you are an adult on the autism spectrum, you may just not have the natural propensity toward organization.  Often, adults on the autism spectrum may also struggle with ADD or ADHD, resulting in the need to learn how to organize. 

You cannot change until you can absorb the pain of your disorganization, the frustration of failing grades, or working below your potential.  So write it out, draw it out, or cut out some pictures representing the success you or your loved one will feel as a result of getting a handle on that homework.

Break It Down With Teamwork!

So many of us lose perspective with projects, whether it's homework or a large task that we've committed to at work.  Grab a parent, or a friend, or a teacher, and work together to break the situation into smaller components.  Instead of 'trying to do better in school', start working on the lowest grade first.  Maybe it's that social studies class, or the math class that you need to focus on first.

Remember that there are resources at your school.  It's okay to ask for help!  If your child is younger, as a parent talk to your child, draw a picture of the school, and draw spokes out to identify resource teachers, the school counselor, the assistant principal, and anyone else you know (friends, family) who can be helpful in getting back on track.  If you are a teen or adult in school, you can do the same thing with a friend or on your own.

Design a Special Study Place.  Make this a fun project.  Take a day to design your space.  Stock it with the study materials you need.  And only study in this place.  In this way, your brain will come to associate that area with getting things done.

Use a Timer.  Set the timer for 15 minutes, or 20 minutes.  Give yourself a break after the timer goes off.  Just don't forget to go back to work after your break!  For younger kids, you may want to limit the amount of time that they study.  More than 30 mintues overall may be more than certain children can handle.

If you are older, mix things up!  Be flexible.  Maybe you can walk around your room, reading your notes into a recording device, then listening to it later.  Or you can use mind maps and graphs to draw out key concepts in the homework.  Spend 15 minutes working on one subject, then 15 minutes working on another subject.  By breaking things up, you'll give yourself the mental variety you need.  Consider starting your own blog around a subject area.  By writing about your subject, you'll be internalizing the concepts you need to learn.  If you are an older student, consider listening to your recorded notes on your iPod while commuting to a job or to school.  Be creative, and make it as fun as possible.

If you are a high school or college student, learn to work backwards from the final product.  For example, if you have a research paper due in 6 weeks: make a list of 6 things that you need to do in order to finish that paper.  Then spend one week on each item.  That way, you will be ready to go in week 6!

I hope this gives you some keys and tips to succeed in academics, and that you can also use these organizing ideas to organize yourself for success in the workplace as well.

Now you can give your dog regular food, instead of letting him eat your homework! ;-)

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