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Any teachers with experience of autism in sixth form?

(5 Posts)
FloatingthroughSpace Thu 29-Nov-18 13:36:29

Hi
My DS is in year 12. He attends a grammar which was very supportive. He has an EHCP. He is academically able but has severe social anxiety and very slow processing. He failed both English gcses (not enough written even with extra time, what he writes is certainly pass quality, and he has excellent reading, and spag skills) but was allowed to stay on as they know he's bright and they know moving settings would be really hard on him.

DS is doing maths, physics, computing.

He is drowning under homework, esp. For maths. He gets a whole booklet that says it should take an hour; it takes ds 3 or 4 hours. He has very rigid views around where and when he can work and it is almost impossible to make him work at home. School has offered him to stay behind to work but he's only done so a couple of times. I have had stern words multiple times but it's v hard with ds as you have to tread a balance between making him face up to things and tipping him into paralysing anxiety which means he withdraws completely (he already spends long periods under his duvet in a darkened room). I feel like he really needs the structure of school - Summer was horrendous - and he understands everything but can not keep up with the homework. He would not be capable of interviewing for a job or apprenticeship as when faced with new people he cannot speak at all and tries to hide.

If you teach in a sixth form, can you make adjustments to homework volume for kids with ehcp? Or is it a case if, if he can't keep up, despite understanding all content, he should do something different instead of A levels?

OP’s posts: |
BarbarianMum Thu 29-Nov-18 14:27:59

Disclaimer: not a teacher.

Homework loads can always be varied but not necessarily without affecting exam performance. In your ds' case I would hope the teachers would work to minimise homework to the bare minimum needed to check understanding/reinforce learning.

Conputer studies might be more difficult if their are coursework elements/projects that need to be worked on independently or researched.

OP one approach might be to do 2 a levels now then a third after that? This slows progress toward the workplace, of course, but it doesnt sound as though that would necessarily be a bad thing for your ds.

cakesandtea Thu 29-Nov-18 16:44:19

I support what Barbarian said. Reduce to 2 subjects now and continue later.

Not a teacher either. But I could have written much of your post, including the job interview bit. The standard advice we often hear about going for an apprenticeship and not being academic etc etc is missing the point about SEN. I would advise not being distracted by it. Changing a setting would be much more damaging than the alternatives. An apprenticeship involves getting and keeping a competitive job and combining it with full time studies. How is that more appropriate? If DS is in grammar school, he is clearly academic and belongs there.

I think not doing homework would compromise his grades, so eliminating it could be a pyrrhic victory, although it is possible. The key is to see what DS is struggling with time. Is he actually working all that time, why is he blocking? How long does he spend on devices? Sleep?

If he is really struggling with workload, I think you need to do something strategic and drastic now, as Barbarian suggests.

My DS, ASD, EHCP, grammar school, started to struggle in 6 form due to change in provisions, more unstructured self study and other factors including devices and romance. In short, his mental health deteriorated, he accumulated a backlog, lower grades than he was used to, low confidence, downwards spiral. We are still picking up the pieces.

The school anticipated he might struggle, so tried to reduce the number of subjects. In hindsight they were right. DS ended up doing A levels over 3 years, two subjects first, another later.

Whatever triggers it, the way children with ASD respond in 6 form in heavily related to SEN, so imo when they start to struggle it is best to limit the losses and consolidate what is solid for now, and deal with other subjects later. I know it sounds unpalatable, but it might be the best if not the only way forward. Alternatives might be illusory.

cakesandtea Thu 29-Nov-18 16:48:35

I would add my experience with DS, who also hates to write and does maths in his head:
maths is like piano playing, it is in the fingers. You can't learn to play by watching a virtuoso pianist. Not doing written questions, but just 'understanding' them result in total implosion in exams. At certain points you lose fluidity and can't keep up anymore.

LadyLance Thu 29-Nov-18 20:07:13

I think there is an expectation/need that sixth formers work outside of lessons.

Does he have frees in school? Is he supervised for these and is study enforced? I know some sixth forms do more than others in terms of this. Sometimes supportive teachers may allow him to work in the back of a classroom during his frees, but this may be dependent on room space etc- do you think this would help him? Do any of his teachers run supervised after school study sessions?

For maths, though, my understanding is that to pass the A-level you do need to do huge amounts of practice, and this cannot all be done in class time. I do think you should discuss with his teacher how long the booklets are taking him, and ask what she feels this means in terms of his ability to a) do well, and b) cope with the course.

Would he take it better if school told him he is a sixth former now, so he must work at home/outside of lessons? Would it help if his head of sixth/ year head laid this out all very clearly for him- maybe even giving him a contract of expectations?

Sorry if some of this is unhelpful/not appropriate- I'm currently a PGCE student, so just suggesting things I have seen done in schools I've visited/my placement school to support Y12s who are struggling with the step up.

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