The dreaded “H” word! Why is homework a problem for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and how I solved the problem for my son!

Over and over I hear desperate parents asking for help with getting their Autistic child to do their homework.

Stories of endless battles over homework, meltdowns, ripping it up and missed play times at school!

So why is homework so much of an issue for these children?

There are usually two main reasons. The first is that generally school is difficult for children with ASD, especially if they also have Sensory Processing Difficulties. They spend all day in an overstimulating environment, trying to hold it together. It takes a lot out of them!

Imagine going to work and it being an exhausting day, you have so much to deal with that day that you can’t wait to go home for your tea. You got up early, perhaps didn’t sleep well, traffic was awful on the way there and everything seems to have been going wrong all day. It gets to half an hour left and you start to finish off for the day, eagerly looking forward to taking off those shoes, grabbing something to eat and chilling out for the evening. Five minutes before you leave you get an email from your boss telling you they need you to stay behind for an hour because there is more work that just needs finishing that day. I expect you aren’t overly enthusiastic about the idea, no one would be!

For a child who has struggled through school all day, that hour of homework you are asking them to do feels just like that!

The other reason many children with Autism struggle with homework is that they tend to compartmentalise their day to make sense of it. They go to school to do their school work and then they go home to do home things like play or watch TV. They can not understand the idea of doing school work, at home, after school is over. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to them and that in itself makes it very hard to do.

I went through years of my son ripping up homework, screwing it up and throwing it across the room, scribbling on it. In fact once he simply wrote on it “I hate homework” and burst into tears.

So how did I sort out the homework problem for my son?

I know what I’m about to say may be a little controversial but I realised one day that I was battling every week for no reason. That he actually couldn’t do it, wouldn’t get used to the idea of it and it most definitely wasn’t helping him either academically or emotionally. He needed to rest. He needed down time after a busy day at school. The last thing he needed was homework.

So from then on I told his teachers that he wasn’t doing it. I wasn’t going to make him do it. I wasn’t even going to entertain getting it out of his school bag if they sent it home! If they wanted him to do it they would have to find time for him to do it at school!

Every year we had a bit of a disagreement with the new teacher who thought perhaps he had outgrown his autism and that all of a sudden homework wouldn’t be a problem. That homework was completely necessary to him learning. Every year they tried to give it to him and every year I explained why and politely but firmly refused to make him do it.

He left primary school last year. His SATs results were above average. He managed that without doing homework and I’m glad I didn’t pick that battle with him. School was difficult enough without bringing it home!

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Published by Autism Kids on Tour - Autism without limits

I have two kids and love to show them the world. We dont let autism limit us in our adventures! I write about our adventures and include tips on how suitable activities were for children with autism. I also write more autism specific posts.

7 thoughts on “The dreaded “H” word! Why is homework a problem for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and how I solved the problem for my son!

  1. I actually HATE homework! In my opinion, it’s an outdated notion that making kids do homework is somehow going to make their academics easier and raise their grades. I am fortunate enough that homework being done at school (as much as possible anyway) is in his IEP. However, he does bring it home from time to time and he has a set time to do it: Right before dinner, not right after school. He needs his down time. I’m glad you are able to say no to the school on this. Sometimes we parent just have to say no to our schools for the benefit of our kids:)

      1. Yeah those sheets don’t teach anything at all and for awhile my 5th grader was bringing home the exact same sheet they did in school as his homework and he would get really frustrated because he would tell me, Mom I did this exact one in school today. Why do I have to do it again? Good question!

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this blog post! I was having a moan on Facebook last night about the fact that the school has sent home a whole term’s worth of homework in a grid form with loads of options. My son’s teacher phoned me this morning to have a go at me about it because someone had told her what I was saying! My solution is as above. If he wants to do it, fine, but I’m not going to force him. And similarly every year we seem to have to go over this again with the school (even every term sometimes as teachers keep changing). It becomes very wearing!

  3. My teen was a straight A student but she couldn’t stand homework. She was so good at school she generally didn’t have to do any. Year 11 was the end of her school career though and the second biggest issue was homework.

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