Homework Versus Autism

I lied to my cousin this afternoon.
She asked me, via text message, how we were.
I told her we were good, thanks.
And that wasn’t true.
I was at screaming pitch and The Boy Child was crying.
The cause?

We have discovered that there is a huge jump between Year 1 and Year 2.
And the jump in to Year 2 with Autism tagging along side has been enormous.
We are two weeks in to the new school year and obviously still finding our way.
On tonight’s agenda was the following: reading, ten times tables, ten spelling words and four spelling sentences (which is where The Boy Child is supposed to write a sentence that has a spelling word in it).
There are ten spelling words each week and he has four nights to write out ten sentences.  For example: spelling word is joke.  Sentence is Mummy can’t tell a joke.
Where to draw the line?
Do we want the teacher to make allowances for The Boy Child and set less homework?
The Boy Child is capable.  Just look at how far he has come since starting school.
We fought hard to get The Boy Child in to his school and we fought hard to have him granted a Statement of Educational Needs.
Is it a case of wait and see?
Do we voice our concerns and worries now?
I can’t face the idea of every school day ending with raised voices and tears.

I’ve written this post purely as a means to giving some semblance of a voice to all that I am feeling right now.  I know that Autism doesn’t come with a quick-fix.  We’re in this for the long haul.
In a little over an hour The Boy Child will be in bed.
The Brainy One and I will watch Who Do You Think You Are? and drink tea and eat chocolate.
Tomorrow will be another day.
And we’ll start again.

15 thoughts on “Homework Versus Autism

  1. Ruth, my heart goes out to you. How about if you can agree to reduce the homework a little for a while and then slowly build it up. It can't be good for any of you to be so upset every day.


  2. I think it would be worth talking to his teacher. SEN stands for Special Education Needs and teachers are taught to differentiate for students in their class.


  3. Oh, Ruth, that sounds tough … Homework should be differentiated according to ability, so I am wondering if a word with his teacher soon might be useful? Better not to get to the 'don't want to go to school' stage after all your and his hard work so far. You are all doing your bit – school needs to be doing theirs!


  4. Three very wise comments so far – homework is by no means the indicator of his ability .. if it causes stress it causes more harm than good at his age. All children need to decompress after school and I can imagine he would have spent all day using energy and focus to stay on task and manage his emotions and complete activities and play with friends – it is exhausting!

    I would definitely talk to the class teacher, the teacher needs to know what goes on at home and how to adapt to his needs and requirements so that he thrives at school.

    I know what it is like to have after school homework issues, it is very draining on the whole family.
    Hang in there!


  5. Hello. I just start to fallow your blog. It's like my life.
    I have little boy, and he have autism. He's 4 yrs old. We just going in reception class in this year. but I really worried about him, his not like every one. I know, they different, but his still do not speak properly.
    Did you know about Gluten Free & Dairy Free diet for children's with autism? It's help my son.. he's have little changes every day, but slowly changes.


  6. Oh I do NOT miss the homework days! I am amazed at the amount of homework that kids have today – seems really excessive sometimes. Anyway, homework can be stressful with a child that isn't autistic, so I really feel for you Ruth. Hang in there! Give your boy a squeeze from me. xo


  7. Poor little fella. 😦

    Sometimes my boys can't get into homework for homework's sake. They don't CARE that practicing XYZ will help them with reading and math or whatever…they just don't want to do it. So, sometimes I add some extra incentive. So they AREN'T doing homework for homework's sake. They are earning TV time or video game time or ahem, candy! 🙂 So, you might want to try to spell out a rewards system for him. 5 video game minutes for math, 2 minutes each for spelling sentences…etc. It might really help him to have something to work towards.

    Best of luck, Ruth!!


  8. Wise advice so far. I found it useful to look at why the homework was being set – what did the sentence writing hope to achieve. Proof of comprehension of the spelling words for vocab or just copying/writing practice. Talk to the teachers see if you can find ways to help TBC achieve to his ability and not feel stressed – so that you both end up in tears. That's the whole point of that SEN you fought so hard for after all.


  9. Everyone else has said what I was going to say except this. Step back and breathe. The word Homework is putting you into the tense frame of mind that you are trying to avoid. Talk to the teacher and ask what will be the consequences of not finishing all ten sentences – I don't think they are allowed to chop their heads off any more so use Robyn's reward system and remember to step back and breathe you are doing fine, and will not be considered a terrible mother if he doesn't manage ten bl**dy sentences every week. I promise!


  10. That's a tear your hair out homework, no doubt about it and I think you should go in for a chat. The other one we had in P2 was “draw a picture of and write about your favourite part of the story” for his reading books. And eventually I did go in about that one because it was driving him to tears. He draws like I do..

    Go in, chat, let the teacher get to know you at the beginning of the year. Good luck!


  11. Homework should be banned until at least Yr 4. I mean it. And I'm a teacher. The results versus the stress are just not worth it. Maybe you should spend exactly how much time the school recommends (30mins?) and just achieve what u can in that time. From what experience I have of autism, the routine will take some time to settle into and then will be reassuring. hang in there. I actually came here to thank you for the PL cards – so many of them


  12. So much advice from so many wise people. From Mum being a teacher and working in a school I would say go in and speak to his teacher and be honest about what you have voiced here. With SEN there is a fine line because he is capable so you don't necessarily need different work but the teacher will need to know what is going on at home. I guess my advice would be that open communication is always the best policy in these situations.

    You never know as well what may be happening in the classroom. Your stories from home and the teachers insight in the class could create a really good story and picture of his developing needs and abilities.

    Thinking of you both.


  13. Speaking as a mum, and someone who works in a school, I think I would give it one more week and if things are still as tense, you can honestly say you have given it a fair try. If you go in too early the school may say you need to give it longer and see how it goes. However, as a mum, I too remember the 'homework years' and how my husband would come home to an angry wife and tearful child!
    With my son, I had to find a bit of 'silly' to add to the mix.
    So if he was learning words, we would write them on slips of paper and over dinner we would pick them up one at a time would come up with silly sentences. Then when he was relaxed he would have to come up with proper ones. But- it isn't so easy to reason with an autistic child.
    Maybe he could be allowed 8 instead of ten as a compromise?


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