Tips for Making Homework Easier

The school year is now in full swing. The once-new backpacks may already be showing signs of distress from their daily haul …and perhaps your kids are too. Homework is a task that few (if any!) kids enjoy, and children with autism can especially have trouble with such assignments. Some children, for example, can appear to understand what they’re doing while in the classroom but might not grasp what’s expected from home assignments. And many students on the spectrum don’t ask their teachers for help. Fortunately there are several strategies to help your child stay focused.

NEGOTIATE APPROPRIATE ASSIGNMENTS
Regular communication with teachers is important when it comes to homework: it helps clarify the level and amount the child can handle. Keep in touch so teachers can create individually appropriate assignments.  Also, make sure you know which assignments are due when and that your child is turning in their completed assignments.  Children with autism may have difficulty organizing and tracking homework assignments and due dates.

KEEP IT CONSISTENT
If homework always occurs at the same time and becomes routine, your child will eventually accept it. Initially it may be hard to hold the line, but persistence pays off. This works for almost all chores children prefer to avoid, from taking baths to brushing teeth.  You may also want to use a visual schedule and even a timer so that your child knows what to expect when.

SET YOUR CHILD UP FOR SUCCESS
Set a tone that homework time is important and a priority. Give your child an important place to sit, and ask siblings to stay quiet or have them work on their homework too! Ask how it’s going, and be sure to offer praise to help build your child’s confidence. Show that you care and want them to be successful.

MOTIVATE AND ENCOURAGE
Be firm but encouraging, being careful not to nag too much. This can be difficult when you’re frustrated so be conscious of your tone. Set solid standards for what the homework routine looks like, but be encouraging and motivating. Remind your child that you are proud of their efforts and that they are learning. Consider giving a reward for good effort (or even just sitting and attending initially) even if not everything is correct. As improvement is made over time, you can shift rewards to more academic goals. Rewards don’t have to be candy or toys, just ask the child what they might like to do with you once homework is done—it’s an opportunity for positive quality time you can both enjoy.  If your child has difficulty waiting until the end of homework to receive the reward, give them tokens (stickers, stars, etc.) throughout the homework routine, and when they reach a certain number of tokens, give them the reward.

OFFER CHOICES
Giving choices has been proven to increase motivation. You want homework time to become routine, but you can still offer choices such as where to sit, what writing materials to use, which task to start with and definitely the type of reward given for successful completion. Empower them by offering at least three options; they’ll like the (limited) control!

PICK YOUR BATTLES
Your child’s homework does not have to be perfect.  Maybe they misspelled a word.  Will the teacher be able to figure it out? Then let it slide.  Perhaps their handwriting is a little sloppy.  If it’s still legible, don’t spend a lot of time making them re-write something they already did.  The less you correct your child (and make them re-do their work), the less frustrating homework will be for both of you! Try to praise twice as much as you critique!

BREAK UP DIFFICULT TASKS
Seeing a full worksheet of 30+ math problems can be overwhelming for any child! Try covering the bottom of the page with a blank sheet of paper and working on one row at a time.  You can even switch to other assignments between rows if necessary. Ask your child to help you come up with a pattern (e.g., 5 math problems, 2 spelling words, 5 math problems, 2 spelling words, etc.).  If there’s a longer assignment due at the end of the week, work on a little bit each day to make it less overwhelming.

This post was written by Kelly Namanja, MA, BCBA,  Autism Spectrum Therapies’ (AST) Clinical Director for Chicagoland. AST and Trellis are part of the Learn It Family of Companies.

Creating a Great Halloween

Halloween is just a few short weeks away. As we prepare for the decorations and fun activities to come, now is the time to consider some ways you can help your child to have a happy and fun Halloween experience.

PRACTICE
Know the route you plan to take on Halloween and practice the walk with your child before Halloween. Consider taking about 3 practice walks beginning 1 week before and leading up to the big day.

ROLE PLAY
Let your child play out the scenario of trick or treating by walking up to a door, ringing the doorbell. Enlist a friendly neighbor to help you act it out, or practice at your own front door. Give candy! If you give them an actual piece of candy they will be way more excited about what is in store.

CHOOSE CAREFULLY
There are so many fun and creative costumes to choose from but be cautious about getting anything that may irritate your child, particularly sensitive areas around the ears, eyes or throat.

HAVE A BACK UP PLAN
Stay flexible on the day. If your child is not up for the outing, have a back-up plan that includes fun indoor activities.

Click here for more great resources from our friends at Pathfinders for Autism.

Welcome Back To School Trellis

 

-Submitted By Allison Barnes, Trellis Lead Instructor

The new school year is underway and the Trellis staff is so excited to see our leaner’s smiling faces once again. Jumping back into a routine after vacation is hard for any child, and can be especially difficult for a child with autism. Adjusting back to school after a summer break can feel frustrating and overwhelming for anyone. Fortunately, our learners have remained motivated to learn and are happy to be back.

Exciting changes have happened inside Trellis, making it more fun than ever to be back at school. Our NET space has been revamped with newer and more functional toys, allowing our learners to increase manding and pretend-play more appropriately and functionally.

“I love the new NET space. My learners need to use more communication to get what they want and it’s exciting to see them more motivated by functional play.” -Allison Killion, Early Intervention Instructor.

Additions to the NET include a play grill set, pretend laundry station, a brand new Dora The Explorer kitchen, improved train sets, and many more new toys. New items keep our learners MO high and promote functional play with peers. The staff is just as excited as the learners for these new additions and the opportunities they bring to teach new skills.

Inside the classroom, learners are adjusting enthusiastically to new curriculum and working hard with their teachers and instructors.

“We’re integrating the Baltimore County curriculum to incorporate ELA components of the Common Core. It’s exciting that I’ll be teaching the same concepts and using some of the same materials that a typical peer uses in public school,” explains preschool teacher Jessica Volz.

Guided by the Baltimore County curriculum, our learners get the opportunity to learn and interact with peers in groups of 3-4, in addition to our usual 1:1 instructor-to-child ratio.

Setting up the stage for success in social engagement is Julia Miller-Iarossi. Julia worked in the Love 2 Learn program from 2010-2014, and has recently rejoined the Trellis team as Social Skills Specialist this school year. We are so excited to have her back!

“I’m looking forward to meeting all the new students and getting to know them. I am excited to make our learners motivated by peer interaction, and to make social interaction as meaningful as possible so that they are still motivated in their homes and communities.”

Social groups at Trellis incorporate sensory strategies, gross motor movement, and academic skills to motivate each learner and fit their individual needs. Interactive peer play is essential to our students’ progress and independence, both in school and in the community. Our learners have happily jumped back into their social groups, focusing on skills such as greetings, sharing with friends, asking questions, high-fives, and other appropriate attention skills.

We’re off to a great start of the new school year. Our learners have had a successful transition back and we can’t wait to see the progress to follow. We hope everyone had a fantastic break, and that everyone is just excited for the fall as we are!