Finding Ourselves on the Autism Spectrum

Hi, Everyone.

I don’t know if this is considered bad form, but I just wrote such a long response to a question I came across on a Facebook posting for Hartley’s Life with 3 Boys that I want to turn it into a blog post.  I put more time and thought into it than I had initially intended, and I’m adding a few things here.  I mostly feel the need to write things after a comment or question made by someone else starts me thinking.  I really want to post something today, and I  have so much other stuff to get done, too – including reading through all the comments that have showed up since I checked last evening (I promised myself to get the laundry and cleaning out of the way first, and that can be my reward:).  Plus, this is a less angsty, slice of life sort of thing that I want to be able to write about sometimes.  If I get more time later I may move on to something deeper.  Then again, who knows?

On asking for help:

I feel like mentioning first that reason I got on Facebook this morning before venturing here or even to my email is that I decided to ask  for something I want.  Specifically, I was asking friends nearby for help with transporting my youngest home from school certain days so that I can have time to spend on my Aspie son and his homework right when he gets home and can still focus.  That’s a pretty big thing for me – the asking and the sharing of a little Aspie part of our lives .  But since I’ve been asking people here for help with questions and for doing me the great favor of reading my initial posts,  I’m very pleased with how that’s working out, so I’m trying to build on that momentum.  While I was writing this I just got interrupted by a friend letting me know she can help with my request, so that’s worked out, too.   I also asked/informed hubby this morning that he ought to tell me I look skinny today, which I do, because I haven’t yet found a way to eat while doing all this typing.  Since he’s an intelligent man, he responded with appropriate enthusiasm 🙂

And now on to what was supposed to be my post before I digressed.  On the subject of how we approach homework for my three boys:

I don’t know what would work for anyone else, but this year my ASD guy started high school, and we’ve mostly gotten into a groove with the homework after a pretty bumpy start.  Mostly it’s been a matter of insisting that he and I both go through each subject for the day and see what needs done and if he has the needed papers, books, etc., BEFORE we can talk about going off to do anything else. I still have to insist on this every day.  Then I ask him to give me an estimate of how long each item will probably take, and we figure out a total (adding a bit more time in case he’s figured low), and we look at what else is happening that evening and how much time he has to work with.  He has a parapro, and she provides her own list of the homework assignments, in case he missed anything.  I had to ask pretty insistently for that, as a matter of fact, but it’s been a huge help.

At this stage, it’s working much better to then ask my ASD guy to generate a plan himself for how he’s going to get things done and in what order, but I used to do that for him.  He’s finally become invested in doing well after so many years of me thinking he maybe never would, and being a teenager, he feels a great need to be in control of as much of his day as possible.  If time permits, he really seems to need a half an hour of downtime before beginning his homework, so I go along with that, but I keep tabs on the time to make sure that after that he’s at work.  If I don’t, it’s a crapshoot as to whether he’ll get moving on his own when the timer goes off or not.  If there’s a ton of homework, he can alternate his work with timed breaks. Again, I need to help keep track.

For ASD boy, habit is everything, and if we let things slide or I don’t keep track of his time with him, he gets overwhelmed and starts becoming very resistant to working on much of anything.  He has a nice big desk in his room now (mostly he stores stuff there, but it leaves his bed free as a workspace :), so I often have him work there and check on him if his brothers are too much of a distraction.  I do have to keep checking, though, because he’ll lose track of what he’s supposed to be doing.

My middle son is NT, but he’s a procrastinator and very absent-minded, and he has pretty intense anxiety and anger issues.  What’s finally ended up working for him is that we go through much of what I do with my older son, but more quickly and usually just verbally.  If he doesn’t make a plan right when he gets home, it won’t occur to him again that anything needs to be done until late enough in the evening that he ends up having a meltdown.  With him, too, a timed period of free time, then back to work until it’s done.

My youngest is only 7 and ahead of grade level in reading and math, so even if we forget his homework until morning, right now it’s no biggie.  I do try to get him working on the same plan as the others when I can, mainly because I finally have a system worked out, and habit is such a big deal around here, but he has so little homework, and sometimes there’s just not enough of me to go around and keep track of everybody 🙂  Sometimes something’s just gotta give.

Comments on: "Homework on and off the spectrum,and Asking for help" (10)

  1. Sometimes things do have to give, but it sounds like you’re working the plan and the plan is working. 🙂

    Good for you!

    • Thanks. It’s definitely a work in progress. We kind of dropped the ball yesterday, which is why I think I had so much to say when the question came up.

  2. Hi Diane,
    Just try to keep a balance you can’t go wrong then. I use my blog as my me time. I am very behind with my comment replies but when I get around to doing them I will really enjoy answering them. Today I feel like reading and thats good for this dyslexic/aspie so I’m making the most of it.
    I can always babble I have no problem with that, but reading and absorbing is sometimes hard.
    Great post, just enjoy being you and blog when you feel the need or the inspiration.
    Love and hugs.
    Lisa. xx 🙂

    • That’s a great way to look at it. I’m getting it sorted out a little at a time. This is too good for me not to make time for it. I think it would be easier if I didn’t read and write so slowly. I”m not at all dyslexic, but it takes time for words to come together for me in a meaningful way. It’s an effort for me to focus, especially if I’m not well-rested. I’ve even caught myself reading aloud to my youngest son at the end of a long evening and realizing I have no idea what I just said – even though I was saying it out loud 🙂

  3. 🙂 Not bad form at all to share a piece you’ve written elsewhere (especially since it’s an open facebook page) and you didn’t use other people in it).

    Sounds like you have a good system that’s working well for your children. We get the homework the girls have to do out of the way after a short break. Sometimes it’s smooth sailing, sometimes not, but we usually have something they want to watch after supper as a family that I can use as an incentive to get the homework done.

    • Thanks. I hate to waste a good thought when they only come around once in a while 🙂

      I’m glad you mentioned incentives. That’s a big factor in our home, too. For my Aspie son the incentives need to keep changing, or he loses interest. It’s taken me years to stop looking for the perfect all-purpose incentive plan and to just use what works for now and be ready to change when it’s time. My middle son and I had a huge argument this week that wound up on a good note when we settled on an incentive plan that could work for him with a particular issue. I’m usually willing to work with them to find whatever it is that they need in order to function effectively. I hope someday they’ll appreciate that, because it’s taking a lot of time and energy on my part to sort all that out.

  4. This is a fascinating post for me. My son started first grade and this is the first year he has consistently had homework every night. Not usually too difficult, but still. We have had a big learning curve as to how to approach this with him. I learned (the hard way) that he absolutely needs an hour or so after school to play before he’ll even consider being cooperative. After that, typically, he works quite well. I’m sure as he gets older, things will shift and we may have to tweak the whole approach. Should prove to be interesting!

    • Hi. It’s nice to hear from you. I just went over to check out your blog. You write with such warmth and caring. I look forward to reading more.

      It’s been a while since my kids were so young as yours. Reading your latest post was a bit nostalgic for me. It sounds like you are already figuring things out just fine. We’ve had to learn a lot of things the hard way. And it does keep changing, but that keeps things lively and interesting 🙂 All of us get to keep learning all the time.

      Knowing my child better than anyone, helping him through the challenges in his day, and helping others to understand his needs and point of view gives me a sense of purpose even when things don’t always go smoothly. I hope your journey continues to be as fulfilling for you.


  5. It’s actually very common for people to write a blog post based on something they read somewhere else. Often they will leave a comment at the original post letting the person know they posted their response/thoughts at their own blog because it was too long for a comment.

    I got my son’s school to create a checklist for the morning and afternoon routines after keeping track of everything that didn’t come home for the first several weeks of school. It’s a good first step, but I am just learning about this area and how to help him, so I appreciate your sharing your experiences.

    Oh, and good for you for reaching out and asking for help!

    • Thanks for the encouragement. I’m going to store up the memories of all this positive support for the next time I feel tempted to isolate myself 🙂

      The checklist sounds like a helpful idea. I know getting things sorted out between home and school can be a huge challenge, and it’s never really done. Just keep taking those steps in a positive direction. Things will keep changing, so all you can ever really do is take the next step that makes sense to you and see how that goes. In my case, just when I pretty much had everybody on my son’s team on the same page with me (which took a really long time), my kid moved up to high school. All new teachers. All new support staff. Huge campus and student population and separation for him from lots of familiar faces. It’s been work helping everyone to really start to “see” my son, but we’re in a good place right now with a whole new batch of really supportive people.

      My mom has spent many years in Alanon (her life experience, and not anything to do directly with my family growing up), and she gained lots of useful insights that she’s shared with me over the years. The one that comes to mind now is their slogan of Progress, Not Perfection. Just making the effort to move forward and explore what might be helpful will lead you to where you need to be. And if sharing any of my experiences is of help to you or anyone out there trying to sort out something, I’m just happy to pay back in some small way all the help I’ve been receiving.

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