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Elsegundo

ASD - working out learning issues

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Elsegundo

Hi all.

My yr3 kid with ASD is floundering now we are back at home school and have been instructed by teachers not to help them do the work. It's suddenly very clear we need help!

So what kind of professional looks at barriers with processing and learning? He is not a talker and I don't understand why he can't do the work. I need help understanding the issues and getting recommendations for the school.  I'd like to help him become an independent learner. 

What kind of supports are you giving yr 3 kids (8 yrs). We make sure he's on the online classes and make a list of what he needs to do for him to tick off each day. He attends online meetings where they talk through the work and they have a template to fill it in but he has no idea what to do or where to start. He says it's all too boring but was a bit emotional about it too.

Thanks ES

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BusbyWilkes

Has he had an educational psych/neuropsych assessment? I found this really useful for not just identifying IQ, but specific areas of strength or weakness in learning. Great recommendations and schools seem responsive to reports from these psychs IME.

An OT could also be of assistance in looking at organisational strategies. 
 

Does he also have ADHD? Many kids with ASD have ADHD also (not always diagnosed) and this can sometimes have a greater impact on executive functioning than the ASD does. 

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blimkybill

Usually an educational psychologist is the first starting point. Often schools can offer some kind of assessments and their reports will be helpful. Otherwise a private educational psychologist for both assessment and strategy advice.

But also anyone who works with him will also have some useful insights and suggestions, eg if he has an OT or SP they will probably have knowledge about the things he struggles with and some strategies to help. Honestly I am surprised and disappointed his teacher doesn't already know what he struggles with and what works to help him. And absolutely if he can't do the work he needs help! Not necessarily to do the work for him but to present in a way he can understand.

When kids like yours say "it's too boring" that is absolutely code for "I don't understand it and I can't do it". 

Kids with ASD almost always have executive functioning difficulties. Meaning they can't figure out how to break a large task into its parts, make a plan, and work through the plan to an end goal. Sometimes breaking the task into smaller chunks which are clear and concrete will help. Doing tasks which have the same basic format over and over (with different content) helps, as they learn the steps and don't have to work them out anew each time. Language comprehension is often an issue with ASD. The way work is described may be going over his head. He may need it presented visually, he may need a demonstration to copy. He may need templates to guide him rather than more open ended tasks. Sometimes kids with ASD may see all the details but not be able to work out the key part which the teacher is asking them to focus on, ie they get bogged down in irrelevant details. Very commonly kids struggling with school work need shorter tasks broken into small chunks with rewards and breaks built in, ie break the task into 5 steps, a sticker or tick on a chart for each step completed, then a movement/sensory break. Repeat as needed. 

Does he get any additional help either through his school or NDIS? Has he had any educational assessments in the past? How well can he read (both decoding and comprehending)? I'm happy to come up with more ideas especially if you detail some of the tasks he has difficulty with (and some that he can do OK).

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CrankyM

Blinkybill has given a good summary. It’s very dependent on the individual as to what might be going on. An education psychologist can do assessments and look at the different area where they may be weaknesses. The school maybe able to help with that (privately it can be very expensive but often you get more information and you get the results not the school). 
For my child is a combination of factors. Yr 3 is often a step up, its stage 2 in the curriculum so has more expectations. Do they currently use a SP or OT? How is their language? How good are they with executive functioning tasks  Do they struggle with multi-step instructions. What sort of supports to they use in class? How is their decoding and comprehension? All of these are factors that can influence what is going on. The school should also have some idea of this already. 
 

(we currently use a SP to help with audio processing, comprehension and inference. We also use an OT to help with executive functioning and breaking tasks down into smaller steps. School uses templates for tasks, often visually outlines, not written. And we have a psych who is helping work with the anxiety around not understanding and how to effective demonstrate he needs help). 

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Elsegundo

He has an iq assessment as part of his asd diagnosis but he was only 4 and not reading. Another one of those is probably a good start. He sees at OT but previous one left just after lockdown started so he's only seen new one via screen a few times. He won't speak to her but will type in the chat box.  She has said she can help with strategies but  needs to know which areas and what he struggles with. 

His teacher is good and they bonded over Minecraft but he wants ds to ask him for help and me to 'teach him to be an engaged learner'.  Too Many kids and requirements this term to provide one on one support. I'm happy with the school situation. 

So for example today he attended an online teaching session on measuring. Teacher talked about it, gave examples, kids asked questions. They looked at a presentation which was a written version of the task with a template for the answers. He clicked around on the screen while teacher talked and  couldn't tell me what it was about afterwards. We read through the task and did a practice version for him to then go and do the real version. He came back with something kind of resembling the assesment and we submitted it (as they want an accurate picture of what they can  do).  That makes it sound sweet and happy but there was a lot of lying on the ground, moaning, kicking people and things, ignoring me while I tried to explain it to him, getting distracted and walking off etc (Another homeschooler here too and unfortunately can't be in separate spaces as both need support).  That one task took more than an hour when it was estimated 5 minutes by school as is start of bigger project. Eek. 

I'm trying not to be frustrated but also feeling a bit despondent. I had no idea he was this bad. He's always been a grade above in academic areas in his school reports (not social which we expected) but I don't know how he learns anything at all! 

 

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blimkybill

A couple of things I can see in your last post:

The verbal language to explain the task was probably going over his head, he probably couldn't process it, understand it or remember it. this probably got him thinking he couldn't do it and set the stage for negative thoughts. 

You providing a practice model probably helped and that's when he probably actually understood what was being asked. 

The fact that you are in a teacher role with him is also probably quite disconcerting to him and probably part of the current problem. 

Suggestions:

- Explain to him it's OK if he doesn't understand or take in everything when the teacher explains it verbally, because he gets information better through his eyes than his ears

- Let him know he is smart but it's a different kind of smart so we sometimes have to do things slightly differently

- make sure there is some visual way to understand the task, eg written information, dot points, flow chart, model to copy. If the teacher is not providing it maybe you will need to. A step by step list is great because you can tick off each step as you complete it.

- where its appropriate, do a version together first, then let him do his own version (as you did). Or for a worksheet, do the first few together then let him do the rest himself

- plan to only work on the task for 10-15 minutes, then take a break, then go back to the task if needed. Use a timer if he can cope with those. If he gets it done faster than expected, he gets a longer break time or some kind of treat/reward activity

- give lots of praise and positive feedback for every part he actually completes. He is probably doubting his abilities. 

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LionessMum

Elsegundo I'm glad you asked this as we are in the same boat. My grade 3 asd / Dcd boy is struggling in just the same way. He looks at the task and gets totally overwhelmed. 

Blimkybill, your responses are so helpful. I was already thinking to break down each task into steps, but I hadn't considered the language used. And he does much better with a  visual presentation.

 

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Elsegundo
On 25/07/2020 at 3:54 PM, blimkybill said:

A couple of things I can see in your last post:

The verbal language to explain the task was probably going over his head, he probably couldn't process it, understand it or remember it. this probably got him thinking he couldn't do it and set the stage for negative thoughts. 

You providing a practice model probably helped and that's when he probably actually understood what was being asked. 

The fact that you are in a teacher role with him is also probably quite disconcerting to him and probably part of the current problem. 

Suggestions:

- Explain to him it's OK if he doesn't understand or take in everything when the teacher explains it verbally, because he gets information better through his eyes than his ears

- Let him know he is smart but it's a different kind of smart so we sometimes have to do things slightly differently

- make sure there is some visual way to understand the task, eg written information, dot points, flow chart, model to copy. If the teacher is not providing it maybe you will need to. A step by step list is great because you can tick off each step as you complete it.

- where its appropriate, do a version together first, then let him do his own version (as you did). Or for a worksheet, do the first few together then let him do the rest himself

- plan to only work on the task for 10-15 minutes, then take a break, then go back to the task if needed. Use a timer if he can cope with those. If he gets it done faster than expected, he gets a longer break time or some kind of treat/reward activity

- give lots of praise and positive feedback for every part he actually completes. He is probably doubting his abilities. 

Sorry I missed this initially. Thanks so  much, these are great tips. I really appreciate the time you've taken to help us. Cheers. 

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Charli73

My yr3 ASD DS is going through this too.. His teacher though gives all instructions visually and sometimes when she gives the task DS gets overwhelmed and his really bad phonics and spelling stops him from putting ideas on paper. We’re going to get Speech Path to help with this as the ADHD might not help but dysgraphia could be at play too. 
 

DS is helping him with each task and writes it down and he does it at his own pace as sometimes seeing the kids in class completing work makes him anxious and makes it worse. 
 

you've has some great replies, I’m a bit surprised your child’s teacher isn’t making any allowances for your child.. 

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BusbyWilkes

Year 3 is also where tasks change from being quite concrete, to having to apply knowledge, or having to infer from the information provided. Many kids (including those without identified disabilities) struggle with the step-up that is expected. Add in the amount of time out of the classroom this year for many (esp in Vic) and it’s not surprising that kids, including your DS, is finding it difficult. 
 

Was last years teacher better at meeting his needs, or did he just not need as much assistance/modification last year? 

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Elfie34

This sounds just like my DS year 3 ASD kid. I echo everything everyone has already said but add in that if I wasn’t helping my son with the organising and executive functioning type things he wouldn’t submit a single piece of work. The teacher is expecting way too much for him to do it completely alone.

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FeralZombieMum
On 24/07/2020 at 4:09 PM, Elsegundo said:

His teacher is good and they bonded over Minecraft but he wants ds to ask him for help and me to 'teach him to be an engaged learner'. 

What are the teachers qualifications in regards to working with kids with ASD? Have they done any professional development?

Has the teacher given you suggestions on strategies on how to help your DS, or have they just come out with the comment with no support to you?

 

Have you checked out Sue Larkey's website?

https://suelarkey.com.au/tip-sheet/#ts

 

Your DS will need scaffolding, perhaps all the way through to Year 12 and beyond.

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Charli73

I agree I think the teacher even pre Covid should have been helping or an aide? 
my DS wouldn’t do anything without his side or dad helping at home, he really needs direction but ok once he gets started.

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Dianalynch

your ds may probably need more support with the executive functiony bits of school for a while yet, i mean sure it's okay for the teacher to state 'grade 3 it's up to the kids now you cant help them' but really that's a very ableist  statement, some kids (like mine)  need accommodations to be able to do their work and get an education, which is their right to receive. 

in your shoes, i'd just help him with the scaffolds eg helping him break down tasks, ensuring there are written instructions he can refer back to never just verbal that is hell on earth for a lot of kids, and i'd tell the teacher what I was doing and why, and I would ask how they're accommodating his asd so that you can both be doing similar sorts of things for him at home and school 

you know your boy best and what he needs, if he still needs support with planning and organising, then he does and that's perfectly okay 

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Elsegundo

Thanks for all your replies. They make a lot of sense and have provided lots of ideas.

We've started a new plan where we have a few priority things to do. I try and show an example and then leave him to do the answer and submit. seems to be ok at the moment. We only do a few hours and turn screens off. Wish we could skip the meetings but apparently they are 'essential '.

I do need an assessment though to see what to request for future work. I'm still not clear exactly where the blocks are. He's a smart kid and can do complex tasks. I'm confused about where the difficulty lies. 

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