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Difficulty with starting activities at school

(11 Posts)
Vada Fri 24-Oct-14 15:57:59

Hi, I'm hoping to pick brains. I keep being told by staff at my DS's (AS, 10yo) school that he has real difficulty 'getting started' on any work assigned in class. They've said they've never experienced it before to such a degree with any other child. I'm told that once he gets going, his work is fine, but he always needs extra input to get started. My first thought is that he hasn't fully processed the instructions. But I'm not sure it's just that. I've heard this from a number of adults who work with him, but I'm not sure they're really doing the digging to find out the reason behind it. Just wondered if anyone had experience of this as a key learning issue in school?

Vada Tue 28-Oct-14 18:41:42

Hi, just bumping in case anyone's got any suggestions for strategies to help with this issue?

Ineedmorepumpkins Tue 28-Oct-14 21:29:06

Hi vada I wonder if they need to put more support in place for your Ds at the start of lessons?

If he had a TA with him while he got started he might settle quicker.

Does he have a statement?

Vada Wed 29-Oct-14 06:46:32

Thanks pumpkins. He's just got a statement so a TA isn't yet in place but he is- allegedly- getting 'some' support from class TA. I think I just wondered if this was common and if so if anyone had any strategies up their sleeves. He is under performing at school and pretty much always has been (below nct levels) although a bright boy, and the teachers who work with him seem frustrated that he sits there for ages before starting anything, until they chivvy him. Without being a fly on the wall (oh how I wishsmile!) it's hard to work out if it's confidence, information processing, difficulty collecting/organising his thoughts etc etc or all of the above. He has a lot of sensory stuff going on too.

Ineedmorepumpkins Wed 29-Oct-14 09:33:02

What you need to ask yourself is why they are not giving him support straight away?
If they know he takes ages to get started, instead of standing watching him not doing anything they could step in!!

I find it frustrating that teachers seem to think that our kids will suddenly start to do what they want without them actually helping them confused

I know many children with AS who dont perform well at school because they are not really interested in what they are supposed to be learning and also some teachers just dont deliver the lessons in a way which excites them.

Sensory issues are a massive distraction too, it is too noisy, too smelly, with horrible lighting and humming whiteboards. Add to that a sweaty plastic chair that is probably not the right size and scratchy school uniform and its no wonder they cant concentrate.

I would be pushing for more support and sensory breaks if he would benefit from them.
Dd3 is doing much better since being at secondary and I am certain part of that is because she gets to go for a walk with a heavy bag on every hour (even though she finds the corridors a challenge)

Anomaly Wed 29-Oct-14 13:31:07

I found some stuff on this with some good ideas. She's also written a book.

autismdigest.com/write/

LoupDeLou79 Wed 29-Oct-14 16:06:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Vada Wed 29-Oct-14 21:29:38

Thanks so much for the replies- was out all day and couldn't reply. V interesting point about not focusing on the 'getting started' bit until he is more comfortable academically. I think they believe that helping him 'too much' will make him 'too reliant on adult help' (as they put it). But I think they've got it the wrong way round. More support would hopefully help him to catch up a bit, and enable him to acquire strategies for starting tasks. Because my DS is a good masker of difficulties, no trouble, etc I think the whole invisible disability aspect really prevents teachers from seeing that he is struggling, and are just frustrated by seeing him sitting there 'not doing anything'.

streakybacon Thu 30-Oct-14 08:00:41

Same problem here with ds. Massively underperformed while at school (been home educated now for six years), largely because he wouldn't commit to task. For him, a large part was executive function, not being able to organise his thoughts and put them to paper. It also depended on the task - he really struggled with English work because it's so creative, no right and wrong answers as in Maths or Sciences, and didn't dare risk getting it 'wrong' as he perceived it. But with those factual subjects he'd breeze through. As someone above pointed out, personal interest in a subject makes a big difference to how likely a child is to engage, so worth bearing in mind.

We've had an amazing tutor whilst home educating and she sat alongside him as he worked, giving guidance and prompts when he got stuck and couldn't move to the next steps. It helps that he types all his work now (he is also hypermobile and handwriting is painful) because he can write down thoughts as they occur to him and doesn't have to work in a linear fashion - he can edit and tidy up till he is satisfied with it. In English or History exam questions, he often found it easier to start with the conclusion and work his way backwards, which he wouldn't have been able to do if he'd handwritten. She gradually withdrew her support until he could work alone.

I get what's being suggested about waiting till he's 'comfortable academically', because ds's confidence certainly grew once he'd got a couple of exams under his belt. He copes well under exam pressure and once he saw what he was capable of, he began to feel more at ease with taking risks. However, I think it might work better as a two-pronged attack - working on supporting him now with his current abilities, and helping him to focus and engage, plus being prepared to change strategies as he develops his confidence with maturity and experience.

Which reminds me of another aspect. Ds is very self-conscious of his work and isn't comfortable having other people see it. This includes me and to an extent his tutors. In an exam, he could write freely knowing that neither of us would see his work and the only person who would was an anonymous examiner who he'd never meet. So consider that your son might not want to share his work and that could be holding him back too.

streakybacon Thu 30-Oct-14 08:13:52

Just remembered something else. At school, he would engage in pre-activity discussion and appear to be prepared and ready to start, but in reality he wouldn't have taken much in because he lacked processing ability. He had the capacity to have conversations with people and then not know they'd happened, even immediately afterwards. So he'd give the impression of knowing what was going on when he didn't, and this affected his ability to work on a task - when he came to start on it, he hadn't a clue what he was meant to do and was too embarrassed to ask. PLUS, of course, having a communication disorder meant he didn't know HOW to ask for help, even if he felt the need.

Lots of factors contributed in my son's case, and I suspect it may be similar for your ds.

LoupDeLou79 Thu 30-Oct-14 18:06:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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