12 Comments

  1. Tabitha
    October 19, 2015 @ 12:19 pm

    Oh, Carrie, I so understand. We battled the homework monster for years. And then we pulled him out of school and homeschooled. Only, it didn’t look like traditional school. In fact, most days it didn’t look like ANY school. The screaming and tearing of paper and punching of walls and people was just too much. It wasn’t worth all the hurt to force him to sit at the table and repeat the same processes over and over. But, when he was 18, after going to public school through November of 5th grade, doing a year of 6th grade and a combined 7-9th grade several years later, he took and passed the GED. Without traditional education! He had some tutoring in Math in the weeks prior to the test. Math was his weakest area. Everything else he learned from reading what interested him and watching PBS or the History Channel. (I am not an advocate of TV learning, but in his case it was way better when the alternative was physical violence.) Even if Jack snubs traditional schooling, he will still learn. Learning will become easier as he grows and matures. And he will grow and mature – just at a slower rate than his typical peers.

    We are still homeschooling my younger Aspie. He’s 15 and just started high school. He has always been much more compliant, but I am seeing the deficits more as the work becomes more demanding. He’ll need more than 4 years to complete high school, and I’m forcing myself to accept that fact and slow down to meet his pace. We skipped cursive writing. He can barely print legibly, and last school year we finally recognized his dysgraphia. When he needs to write his signature, I write it on a scrap of paper and he copies it. He simply cannot retain that information. He can copy written work very neatly most of the time. He is “drawing” the letters. He cannot write neatly from his own mind. Too much to concentrate on at the same time. Too many skills required to coincide.

    Be encouraged. You already know life will be different for Jack than for your others. You are doing the best you can. Focus on developing his strengths. Think about the things he needs to survive. Let the rest go.

    (And your picture of Jack in the basement playing video games with dirty dishes stacked all around him made me smile. That scenario is exactly the reason my oldest still lives at home. I fear he’d get salmonella and die if left to himself. 🙂 We make the best of it.)

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  2. Jacquie McTaggart
    October 19, 2015 @ 1:04 pm

    As a longtime classroom teacher (currently teaching in-service teachers) and grandmother of two boys on the spectrum – one on each end – I have a question for you and the school. What purpose is homework serving for JACK? Does it enhance his comprehension? Does it improve his memory? Does it contribute to his joy of learning? Does it motivate him? I suspect the answer is a big fat “NO” to all of these questions. So…why force him (or you) to do something that has no value? Research says homework (other than reading-to-self) has few if any positive benefits for ANY student, let alone a kid like Jack. Will the school balk if you suggest Jack not be required to do homework? Probably. But, if they want to do what’s in the best interest of every child (and I’m sure they do), they will forego the one-size-fits-all homework requirement. I urge the school and you to give it a try. You’ll all be happier and there will be NO LESS LEARNING. I promise.

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  3. Mike Rock
    October 19, 2015 @ 1:45 pm

    Excellent post. Absolutely superb. Your writing should be required reading for every Teacher Ed program. (Full disclosure: still gotta read your book.)

    One chapter book. I’m on the hunt. Might take me some time. And I’m bound to send you some that go straight under the bed (but maybe his bros/sis will like them.)

    Oreos and music – I’ll start there.

    Hang in there. Just look ahead to the next hurdle – not the end of the race.

    Gotta remind myself ALL the time.

    Mike

    >

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  4. SleepyMom
    October 19, 2015 @ 8:21 pm

    Homework is the devil! I agree with Jacquie, what purpose is it serving? If none, then axe it if you can. I was about to the point of demanding that for our daughter after years of hour long meltdowns over homework (generalized anxiety). It was all so pointless and ruining our home life. We switched her out of the highly academically gifted school and now she can cope with the homework okay since it is way below her intellectual level and there is less of it. It’s a shame though that the primary thing keeping her from that environment is the homework. You can’t expect a kid to use enormous amounts of energy keeping their anxiety under control all day and acting “normal” and then still go home and do stacks of really challenging homework. Now we are having the fun of coaxing our 1st grade son to do homework but I refuse to let it become a “basket A” issue (read Ross Greene’s work). The homework is not benefiting him in any major way and while I will encourage him, be his cheerleader, sit and help him focus, reward, etc., I will not endure a melt down, panic attack, violence, etc over homework. If it is ramping up to that, I let it go. I figure worse case scenario they’ll make him do it at school during one of the “fun” activities which he usually hates anyway (recess = swarm of children behaving chaotically = scary; free time = I’m anxious I’ll do the wrong thing/I can’t think of anything to do). Mostly, I wish the schools would just give up on all homework and just strongly suggest that kids read to themselves or with their parents every night. That covers the readers and the struggling readers and gets rid of all the boring, stressful, busy work that is too much for a kid who has worked so hard all day being attentive, managing anxiety, navigating a social structure that is confusing and overwhelming, and coping with repetead sensory overload. Let kids be done when they come home!

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  5. Deb
    October 19, 2015 @ 10:25 pm

    I think I would skip the homework. Your aspirations for Jack are realistic and attainable. What’s wrong with that? Except you have to give up dreams and that’s the hard part. I was talking to a patient this morning about my daughter and told her about how long I grieved for the daughter I never had. It was years. I was always hoping and praying that Katie would do more, do better, when all the time she was who she was. She did best at the school that let her be herself. They gave her space and respected that space. Literally, she had her own space and she felt safe there. Jack has a great mom. He’s lucky.

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  6. oshrivastava
    October 20, 2015 @ 4:49 am

    Reblogged this on oshriradhekrishnabole.

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  7. Kimybeee
    October 20, 2015 @ 3:38 pm

    You have reached a point that “mainstreaming” jack is pointless from an academic standpoint. Jack needs life skills and common sense knowledge. Hands on activity versus book work.

    And as I type that sounding like an expert on autism, I am not! I have volunteered in schools since the day my daughter started kindergarten and she is a senior in college. I have watched literally hundreds of kids struggle with the same things jack hates. My husband is 47 and will tell you he has never diagramed a sentence since he left school. And I had to teach my husband and daughter both how to read a tape measure. My mom taught my son. I am just glad my kids got out of school before common core math hit.

    I was just talking to my elementary principal friend about “best guess spelling” my kids were taught in first grade. Then they un-teach and re-teach the proper way in second grade. My daughter had a slight speech problem, she couldn’t say “r” correctly. The school waited till second grade to put her in speech and correct it. By then she was already screwed in spelling. As a college senior, she still isn’t a confident speller and she is going to be a teacher.

    Here in rural West Virginia we have a high teen pregnancy rate and have a day care in the high school. We also have a lot of “career welfare” families. I have said that they need to teach those kids how to live on the system in 9th grade and then let them be done with school. It sounds harsh, but unless they join the military, that is the future they live. One in maybe 15 will succeed.

    I don’t know the solution for the kids that don’t learn the way school is taught, but I know what they are doing isn’t working. Vo-tech, agriculture programs and skills classes help some of the kids. The rest are left sinking without a life raft.

    The best thing is to just keep on doing what you know in your heart is best for jack. I agree with jack on homework!!

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  8. Lelah
    October 21, 2015 @ 9:49 am

    We’ve tossed homework. It’s in his IEP. Each year, teachers express concern and I tell them homework just isn’t going to happen. He is too pushed during the day. He can’t handle more. If I keep pushing, the next day is going to be that much worse, and it will keep snowballing. I tell them no. Just no. I give them 100s of long-term studies that show–prove–homework doesn’t help kids learn and in fact harms them. I remind them, my kid doesn’t care about grades and neither do I. I care if he learns. I care if he has the skills to live life after school. I remind him he has to work 10x as hard to do half as well as his NT peers. I remind them his homework consists of learning self-care, like proper teeth brushing. That he takes social skills classes. That he needs to learn how to eat and cook healthy. And so on and so forth. Homework is too stressful, too hard. I do tell them that if he is falling behind in skills, tell me. We will work on it, but if he is learning, I will not do homework b

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    • Kimybeee
      October 21, 2015 @ 4:51 pm

      Excellent job of advocating for your child!! You should be very proud of yourself!

      Reply

  9. GP
    October 21, 2015 @ 10:55 am

    Thank you so much for writing this blog! Your blog, and the comments it elicits, give me hope and support every week. This week’s blog about homework battles particularly resonated with me. When we realized that my child’s disability and learning style did not fit the mold and did not meet the requirements to succeed in the traditional public school system, we really worried that she may never have a happy and productive future.

    My 11 year-old daughter was diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 5. She went to public school from Kindergarten through the end of fourth grade. During the first couple years, she loved going to school. But as time went by, her challenges became more apparent. Difficulties with cognitive flexibility, executive functioning, and self-control blend in more readily in Kindergarten than even in 1st or 2nd grade.

    My daughter would get frustrated easily when something did not turn out as expected because she simply would not know what to do next. Because of her problems with executive functioning, she had difficulty thinking of a new plan when the first did not work out. Also, she often refused to perform tasks that did not make sense to her (such as repeating a task in order to practice more) or tasks that were “too hard” (like writing to a prompt). She had a hard time writing to a prompt since her brain just could not plan that many steps ahead. She simply would say “no”, and then, no reward or threat of negative reinforcement could make her do that task.
    When she would come home from school, we’d have to do homework and make up the work she did not do in school. Of course, that quickly became a struggle because by afternoon, she’d be very tired. Generally, once I figured out what was preventing her from doing a specific task (sometimes there was a lack of understanding, inability to plan ahead, or sometimes even a sensory issue), I would be able to help her work through the task. That was a very hard and exhausting time for her.

    Because, my daughter had excellent pattern recognition and initially was able to excel in science, math, and reading, refusal of writing or other challenging tasks in school were viewed as behavioral issues that somehow were under her control and could be modified with just the right motivation. First, positive reinforcement plans were initiated, then as she got older, there was more and more negative reinforcement at school. The more pressure she felt to do something that she thought she could not do, the more meltdowns she would have. Eventually, my daughter developed severe anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. She had daily meltdowns at school and eventually at home as well. Our quality of life became very poor. My daughter lost her love of learning and suddenly was afraid that she would have a terrible future. She lost that special spark and enthusiasm that she used to have.

    So, at the end of fourth grade, I began homeschooling her (I quit my work as a physician to become a full-time mom), and gradually, life improved. I was able to tailor my teaching to her learning style and needs. I learned that she sees things in pictures, reads words in her head very fast, but one letter at a time, sees different numbers in different colors (and can calculate things quickly her way, but very slowly the way she was supposed to do it in school). She used to hate to show her work in math because it took her so much longer than just calculating it her way. When she reads something once, she remembers it (most of the time), and any repetition thereafter, frustrates her because it feels unnecessary and “boring”, and as a result, she stops paying attention and acts out.

    Life is getting better, but her anxiety remains and seems to have become associated with learning. So far, her self-esteem remains low (but we are working on improving her self-esteem and she is getting treatment for anxiety/depression).

    We now have control over our schedule and I can take her to therapy and other appointments/enrichment activities without having to come back home later to do hours of homework that is geared for the average learner in school rather than my child.

    For my own education, I took a very traditional path. When it became clear that our daughter could not follow the traditional path of education, we thought we really needed to change our expectations regarding her ability to learn. When we finally saw that homeschooling was a real option, and I started working with her, I realized that I did not have to change my expectations regarding her ability to learn, but rather needed to change my expectations about how she should learn. She learns a lot every day but not the traditional way at school with homework. She learns in a way that suits her needs and the way her brain works. She learns in a way that causes much less anxiety. It is real detective work trying to figure out how she learns, but it does get easier. We are also working extra hard to make sure she gets plenty of socialization. Now, she gets socialization at more optimal “dosages” and can actually learn from the various experiences. I prepare her before an activity and then provide feedback immediately, which really seems to help.

    If your son, does well in school in terms of behavior and is getting through a school day without frequent meltdowns, maybe you could request that the school give you a break regarding homework. Then, maybe you could just sit with him at the end of the day and go over things they covered in school and see if you could figure out where and why he gets stuck. Maybe you can come up with a better way for him to approach math or reading, a way that gets him “unstuck.” – You know your child best and seem to be a wonderful mom to your children. I bet with the homework pressure removed, it would be much easier to figure out how he really learns. His working memory may actually improve as well once the homework anxiety is gone. It could be worth a try.

    As for us, homeschooling is a blessing. We would like for my daughter to return to traditional school for High School if possible, but until then I will work very hard to figure out how she learns and what strategies she could use to succeed in a traditional setting in the future. I wish you and your family all the best and will keep you in our prayers!

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  10. Stephanie
    October 24, 2015 @ 12:43 am

    I remember this. After years of frustration and angst and crying and fighting- I finally had it written in my sons ISP during 7th grade that I did not want HW being sent home anymore. Anything they needed from him they had to make time at school for him to get it done. Honestly his grades weren’t great. But it was worth it. Something happened to him over summer and he decided he wanted to do well in school. So far this year (freshman) he’s maintained all As. He started the year with an eighth grade math class and just moved into a 9th grade class this week. I know that no two kids are the same but I just wanted to share this.. No two kids are the same but the point is that maybe it’ll come in Jacks time..

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  11. James Porter
    March 31, 2017 @ 9:37 am

    By the way homework was invented by Italian Roberto Nevilis, since that for kids do homework is some kind of torture.

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