Autism - does academic gap widen or narrow

(20 Posts)
OldMcDonald Thu 12-Sep-19 19:39:12

If you have older autistic children who were behind a bit academically in the early years of school, what happened to them in later years? Did they stay behind by about the same amount, did they catch up, did they start excelling once they got their head around writing and reading, or did they fall further behind?

I know you can't tell me what my child will do, but it would help me to hear others' experiences.

OP’s posts: |
openupmyeagereyes Thu 12-Sep-19 20:09:07

I’d be interested to hear too.

How old is your dc?

Alwaysgrey Thu 12-Sep-19 20:11:21

My dc is 9. She’s average in some and behind in other but she’s being compared against neurotypical peers which I don’t think is fair. She’s progressing well against herself. I know it’s hard not to compare but as long as they make progress that’s great. My dd reads well but struggles physically with writing as she’s hypermobile and also has sensory issues. But she works hard.

OldMcDonald Thu 12-Sep-19 20:21:51

Mine's five. Also hypermobile and struggling with writing. In addition he isn't motivated in relation to maths or English.

I find it so hard not to compare him to his classmates. I'm hoping it will come with time. He is a very happy little boy, which is the main thing. I think I just expected him to be academic since his father and I are, and it's taking some adjustment to come to terms with the fact that as well as being autistic he's also won't excel academically. He is fab though when he's in his happy place!

OP’s posts: |
openupmyeagereyes Thu 12-Sep-19 20:28:47

Mine is also 5. I am getting him to do mazes at home as they help develop writing skills. You can buy books such as Kumon which increase in difficulty.

Does he have any occupational therapy input?

OldMcDonald Thu 12-Sep-19 20:36:04

He loves mazes, funnily enough. Laps them up.

We've had limited OT input, there's not much available on the NHS. He would never sit and do Kumon, although I did consider it briefly. He is not exactly compliant if it's something he doesn't like! I've gotten past the needing to do everything to try and make things right. I now want him to have a proper child hood and not be in endless sessions to fix this, that or the other.

OP’s posts: |
openupmyeagereyes Thu 12-Sep-19 20:48:08

He likes mazes but wouldn’t do the Kumon mazes?

It’s good that he enjoys the mazes. I’d keep going with that as it’s going to help his with his writing. Keep reading with him and hopefully it will come in time.

We don’t have NHS OT either. We have a private OT that goes into school fortnightly to work with him and gives the TA’s things to work on with him in between so it’s not exactly endless sessions.

Dh and I are both academic too - university, professional jobs (though I’m not working now) - so I understand how you feel. My ds is definitely bright but he’s behind his peers academically. I accept that but hope that he continues to make progress.

LightTripper Thu 12-Sep-19 22:41:40

There can also be physical things that hold them back (coordination, hypermobility, low muscle tone, etc). Might be worth exploring whether typing might work better for him/be more engaging. Does he like things like Number locks or Teach Your Monster to Spell type ipad games?

OldMcDonald Fri 13-Sep-19 06:35:03

Sorry, thought you meant Kumon stuff generally rather than mazes, Open. Yes, he'd like them!

He hated Teach Your Monster To Read. I am sure there are other things going on, but he is what he is.

OP’s posts: |
Alwaysgrey Fri 13-Sep-19 08:01:20

My youngest is 6 and is very different to my 9 year old. She’s very behind. She can’t read because she has severe expressive language disorder and can’t write (she has hypermobility too and low muscle tone). She’s in a specialist school so they’re doing everything they can.

ShiftHappens Fri 13-Sep-19 09:06:00

we started out with a small gap which became huge over time.

MrsMartinRohde Fri 13-Sep-19 15:49:06

I don't know exactly what the gap was with my DS when he was younger than Year 1, I suspect up to 12 months behind, so noticable, but as an August born boy they never expressed concern, insisted he'd catch up in Y3 or so. He is and has always been in mainstream, and wasn't diagnosed until age 7. When they started tellling me it was in the context of "age-related expectations", which were adjusted for the child's month of birth, and he was judged as 6-12 months behind ARE from Y2. He's now Y6, 10 yrs old, and they've recently claimed he's 9 months behind ARE. So in his case, the gap has remained broadly the same. But this is with him being in maths and English intervention classes since Y1 that were designed to narrow the gap. I suspect he'd be further behind if he'd not had them.

MapLand Fri 13-Sep-19 21:28:10

old McDonald my DS is five too and is 'behind' his peers. Just started Y1. I'm interested to read your DS is hyper mobile, mine is too, as well as ASC (diagnosed) and DCD (likely to be dx according to paed).

Do you know how/why the hypermobility affects their writing and learning?

My main concern is to protect DS's self esteem. He is completely aware of how hard he finds it to grip a pencil, and he gets so down and frustrated by what he produces. Not remotely interested in mazes sadly! But I coax him into practicing by making tick sheets for his games (special interests)

Ironoaks Fri 13-Sep-19 21:40:26

DS was never behind academically but struggled with motor skills, coordination and social skills. He didn't receive the ASD diagnosis until he was 9.

He is now 17. He is still ahead academically and still delayed in motor skills, coordination and social skills. The ASD hasn't gone away, but he has learned to cope better. The sensory issues still exist.

Because of the hypermobility in his hands and wrists, he was allowed to type in his exams in some GCSE subjects (those with extended writing). Thankfully he has chosen A-level subjects which don't involve writing any essays. His writing is still barely legible.

Ironoaks Fri 13-Sep-19 21:42:58

One of the most useful interventions he received in primary school was learning to touch type.

openupmyeagereyes Fri 13-Sep-19 22:02:53

Hypermobility means that they have loose tendons and joints which can mean gross and fine motor control is weaker. Weak core strength can affect fine motor control too.

For writing you need good shoulder strength and stability to aid the fine motor muscles.

BlackeyedGruesome Sat 14-Sep-19 17:40:33

one was not interested in YR/1. bottom group for maths. young in year so behind older classmates. by y3 they were surprising teachers as they did better in tests than classwork. ended up in top group for maths. second highest score in class. (once) near top (and the top kid is really clever)

hypermobility: build core strength to help handwriting.(i have a hypermobile child too) try pencil grips, writing slopes, wobble cushions. ask for physio and ot support.

Ellie56 Mon 16-Sep-19 14:00:17

DS3 was at age appropriate levels up until he was about 7, largely I think because infant education is very "hands on" and visual.

The gap between him and his peers widened as he got older and teaching and learning became much more complex and abstract, and expectations of pupils increased.He was well behind his peers by the time he transferred to secondary school.

DS3 struggled with writing too. I was told this is very common in children with autism, but when he went to secondary school, they allowed him to use a laptop for written work, which he adapted to very well. He is much quicker at typing than he is at writing and it also got rid of the problem of "mistakes". DS could not bear to see a mistake in his book, but an error in typing is easily remedied.

I long ago stopped comparing him to his NT peers and his elder brothers, who both did well at school and ended up going to university. That way madness lies and it is pointless.I just think of what DS3 can do now that he couldn't do last year, or the year before and celebrate those achievements.

Your son is happy. That is the most important thing there is. It means the school must be meeting his needs.

It is well documented that those with autism are at much higher risk of mental health issues than the general population. If they don't have good mental health everything else goes out of the window. Children don't learn at school if they are stressed out by being there in the first place.

There are countless threads on here with parents tearing their hair out over children with anxiety levels through the roof, refusing to go to school, and nightmare schools where they don't understand autism, fail to make reasonable adjustments and regularly illegally exclude children from school.

Four years ago our son was almost broken by a disastrous experience in mainstream FE. Basically they failed him by expecting him to fit in with everyone else. By the end of the year, he had no confidence, his self esteem was at rock bottom and he hid away in his bedroom all the time, a complete nervous wreck.

At one point he was receiving therapy three times a week. It broke my heart the day he told one therapist he was ashamed of being autistic as it caused so many problems for us. (At the time we were fighting an ongoing battle with the LA for an EHCP and an appropriate educational placement.)

DS3 is now 24. He has been at a residential specialist college for students with autism for three years.(We won all three of our battles with the LA.) He has made amazing progress and has finally achieved a level 4 in GCSE English, after 4 attempts. He also gained a level 3 NVQ qualification and successfully engaged in work experience dealing with the public at several tourist attractions.

But he has achieved so much more besides. He has learned independent living skills, and can shop, cook, wash and iron competently and confidently. He is now looking forward to living in a place of his own, when I once thought he'd be living with us for ever.

He has learned to travel independently. When he was 16, I couldn't imagine him ever travelling on a bus by himself. Now, not only does he use the bus regularly, but over the last 2 years he has travelled to and from college, cross country between Staffordshire and Somerset on a regular basis on his own.

Most important of all, he is happy. He will never go to university, but he has regained his self esteem and self confidence and the anxiety that was once so painfully evident, is under control most of the time.

Soumia Mon 16-Sep-19 15:00:18

Hi. Excuse my ignorance but what is maze...i looked it up online...is it this

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maze

My boy is nearly five and can never stay still for a few minutes...

openupmyeagereyes Mon 16-Sep-19 15:41:39

Same principle Soumia it’s a pre-writing activity to improve pencil control and fine motor skills, as well as logic. Here’s some examples:

www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.pinterest.com/amp/pin/89931323784031193/

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