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DS likely ASD - how to manage low work rate?

(25 Posts)
Ithinktomyself Sat 08-Dec-18 12:41:45

Apologies if this is in the wrong place - please feel free to redirect me if appropriate. DS is 6. His Yr1 teacher raised the possibility of some sort of SEN around this time last year. We met with SALT who said it was highly likely that he is on the spectrum. We are waiting for a formal diagnosis but as time goes on it is becoming increasingly clear (or we are more aware of it).

The big problem we are having is with work rate. I have been given his English book and the teacher has written in there how long he has been given for each task and, where he has had an hour, he has often barely written two lines. He is a free reader; his maths is beyond expectations for his age and he can write. Compared to his peers though his work rate is really really low.

I have brought some work home to try to get an understanding of the problem. He has eight boxes to tell the story of the nativity. We have been given pictures to guide him. He needs to copy the pictures and write what is happening underneath. In two sessions (one of an hour, one of twenty minutes) we have succeeded in writing two sentences and drawing one picture.

The time has been taken up with: staring into space; saying "I'm exhausted""; renegotiating the task; telling me I'm bossy; changing the subject; renegotiating the task again... I am exhausted myself but I also do not know what to do. We want to support the school in supporting him but I don't feel like we've really achieved anything. I have promised him a particular pencil case if he starts completing his work in school and we tend to threaten to take away tablet time if he doesn't.

I suppose my question really is twofold. (1) Is this ASD or is my child simply horrendously lazy (he has my genes so the latter is not beyond the realms of possibility) and (2) what can we and the school do to get him completing work in a timely fashion?

zen1 Sat 08-Dec-18 13:02:06

I don’t think your child is horrendously lazy. Lots of children with ASD and associated co-morbid conditions, such as dyspraxia, experience problems with processing information which can have a big impact on their output at school. Two of my DC have problems with processing both visual and auditory information which results in them being unable to keep up in school unless adjustments are made for them.

The problem is, they spend a great deal of energy trying to overcome these difficulties so they are naturally exhausted when it comes to putting pen to paper, hence appearing not to get much done in class.

Has your DC been evaluated by an Occupational Therapist or an Educational Psychologist? They can carry out tests to establish exactly the areas in which your DC is struggling and can make recommendations as to what adjustments would make school work (and other things) easier for them to manage. OTs, particularly, have been very helpful for my children in this regard.

zen1 Sat 08-Dec-18 13:04:27

I would definitely push the school Senco to get opinions from these professionals.

Ithinktomyself Sat 08-Dec-18 13:08:55

Thanks @zen1. We are right at the beginning of this process - we have filled in the questionnaire which goes to the paediatric specialist and are now waiting for an appointment to get his diagnosis. I'm guessing that the OT and EP would come after we get formal confirmation of his condition?

I will make an appointment with the SENCO in the meantime but if you have any techniques or ideas we could try in the short term, I'd be grateful!

shouting Sat 08-Dec-18 13:17:03

We have the same problem here. And it seems to be getting worse as DC gets older. Mine has just started secondary and it's becoming a massive problem.

Ithinktomyself Sat 08-Dec-18 13:19:04

Oh @shouting you have all my sympathy. Have you been given any useful tips or suggestions?

BlankTimes Sat 08-Dec-18 17:58:13

Firstly, you cannot compare his speed of working to his peers, so he needs to be given a lot less high-pressure and complicated things to do.

Secondly, you need to break his tasks down to very simple basic instructions. 'Look at these pictures and write a story about them' isn't an easy thing to do.

Why does he have to copy the pictures into the 8 boxes, why can't they just be photocopied and cut out and glued on, or even better to save all of the time it would take to do that, why can't he be provided with them already on a sheet of paper, in the right order, with room for him to write two lines under each one.

Possibly he "goes blank" when having to write, but if you ask him he can tell you about the picture, possibly missing the whole and focusing on a detail, then this information, (it's what my dc did at that age) alongside the excellent description you wrote about him 'taking up the time' in your penultimate paragraph in your OP, really really needs to be conveyed to his Paed, his SLT, his Ed Psych and his SENCO. These are exactly the types of things they are looking for when they assess kids for SEN.

Trapseverywhere Sat 08-Dec-18 18:01:07

My son could spend hours staring into space and slowly writing out the wrong answers for homework - but if I offer him an immediate reward he becomes very motivated - like he can watch a cartoon after homework or have a yogurt or have 30 minutes to be lazy. He starts paying much more attention and getting more answers correct. This is more effective for him than working towards a more further away reward.

Does your son maybe have issues with motor skills that make it more difficult for him to write. My son had weak motor skills associated with his ASD and the teacher used to request that he answer 3 of the questions instead of 5. As his motor skills have improved he no longer needs to have his work reduced.

zen1 Sat 08-Dec-18 18:12:47

@shouting, things that have helped since my DC started secondary include use of a laptop for all lessons, teachers to provide photocopies of all info used for the lessons, extra time in exams and TAs to help with the organisation of information.

@Ithink, things that helped at primary were having touch typing (provided by school), being given more time to do things, being allowed regular ‘movement breaks’ (where DC was allowed 5 mins time out to take a break from concentrating). These were more important as DC moved further up the school as the demands on them increased and they found it more difficult to keep up. OT input was invaluable.

Agree that pressure makes things worse and school need to understand this.

shouting Sat 08-Dec-18 18:30:44

zen1 She already has a laptop to use in lessons, she has homework slips with instructions broken down, and she has 16 hours TA support in her timetable (in theory, but she refuses to accept any help from them most of the time!). She's also dropped a subject, and uses the free periods to catch up on work or complete homework. These things have helped a bit, but she's still having problems keeping up with the work. I'm a bit surprised at how hard she's finding it actually sad

shouting Sat 08-Dec-18 18:43:13

OP I haven't found anything that works to make DD complete work in a timely manner, and without all the drama. Some pieces of work she can do quickly and without fuss, others she just has a complete mental block about.

I do know that any nagging, bribes, incentives, threats, just makes her worse. I just leave her to get on with it now.

She once took 4 weeks to do a piece of English homework. 4 weeks! When she finally finished it she crawled into bed in the middle of the afternoon and said she was too exhausted to do anything else grin

zen1 Sat 08-Dec-18 18:54:40

Wow shouting, she sounds so similar to my DS, who has also had to drop a subject to catch up (but IMO, it’s still not enough time!). DS also refuses TA help as he finds them ‘patronising’ and doesn’t like people thinking he’s different. However, he really needs people to help him organise himself. I’m dreading him starting his GCSEs next yr as he won’t have that dropped subject time any more. Homework causes major issues for us as he just won’t get down to it at home as he feels home is a place where he can have downtime.

grasspigeons Sat 08-Dec-18 18:59:51

If you look at Freemantles outreach, they have a worksheet on writing in their advice. It has some tips. You might not have tried all of thrm already. They are a school for children with ASD but they go to msinstream schools to give advice.

Ithinktomyself Sat 08-Dec-18 19:34:24

This is all really helpful, thank you. Not least because you've reminded me that he's not BEING difficult, he's FINDING it difficult. There are lots of ways this particular task could be made more accessible for him.

DH and I are struggling with him at the moment. We want to support him of course but we also want to ensure he is being stretched and he is trying his best. Which of course he is.

This is so hard to navigate. Particularly since family think we're making the whole thing up.

BlankTimes Sun 09-Dec-18 19:10:42

Particularly since family think we're making the whole thing up

Take no notice of them.
Do they know what executive function is, or processing speed, proprioception or the vestibular system, spatial awareness and sensory integration?
Are they qualified Paeds, Ed Psychs, Paed Sensory OTs, SLTs?

Then absolutely do not listen to their opinions because they have no knowledge of your son's needs and even less about how to help him.

those above are some of the terms you may encounter during the dx process, so you may want to read up on some.
he's not BEING difficult, he's FINDING it difficult

Brilliant observation, keep those words handy, you will need to use them often, mostly with people who should know better flowers

Lunde Sun 09-Dec-18 19:25:12

Has he had an OT assessment? DD1 had many different types of assessment during her ASD diagnosis process (Paed, psych, SEN pedagogical, physio and OT). One thing that was discovered during the OT assessment was that she has a tendency to grip and press very hard when writing which made writing very, very tiring. The OT devised a 6 week hand training course.

The difference was amazing - from a girl that hated writing - suddenly once it became easier she was off! She had never managed to write more than 5 or 6 lines until the age of 10 but suddenly she was writing for fun and filling notebooks.

Ithinktomyself Sun 09-Dec-18 19:35:22

Thank you. Family is more an added annoyance than a problem really. I'm just having a moan! Had a good "no pressure" chat with DS this afternoon where we established some things which help him that I shall pass on to the teacher.

School and his class teacher are fabulous. She has e-mailed today (bless her heart) and is making an appointment with the SENCO. I will be sending her details of our chat shortly.

We are so clueless with this stuff. I feel like I don't know my son at all and I am swinging between being deeply frustrated with him to being furious with myself for not being more patient/understanding.

Ithinktomyself Sun 09-Dec-18 19:55:16

Ooh sorry x-post. No assessments of any sort yet. We're right at the beginning of this journey but your comment about handwriting is worth investigating.

shouting Sun 09-Dec-18 20:07:17

I am swinging between being deeply frustrated with him to being furious with myself for not being more patient/understanding

This is my life story for the last 11 years!

ouryve Mon 10-Dec-18 13:44:32

Why does he have to copy the pictures? Is there any goal other than busy work, there?

Even if he knows what is happening, he is not necessarily able to get that idea out of his mind, into work form and onto paper. He needs some scaffolding, whether that is in the form of the beginnings of a sentence, words and phrases that he has to include or questions as prompts to break a lengthy task into smaller chunks.

PickAChew Mon 10-Dec-18 13:45:22

Into word form. blush

MummyMilla Mon 10-Dec-18 19:53:13

I just wanted to say my DS (aged 5 in Yr1, awaiting a diagnosis but looking like ADHD) would NOT be able to do that.

We tackle homework sheets in short bursts. So I'll say, "let's see how much we can can do before the clock gets to XX". I try and focus on the notion of him sitting down and trying, vs making him do the whole thing. It sounds like his teacher understands his challenges and so it ought to be about him enjoying his learning vs. box ticking (IMO).

I'm probably a bit laissez faire when they're this little, but I really just want to encourage a positive approach to learning. Especially as we've had a fairly shitty time recently!

Lougle Thu 13-Dec-18 22:08:18

DD2 got writing by being backward-chained with a timer. So her teacher wrote down everything she wanted to say on a white board, and DD2 had 3 minutes to write the last sentence. Then she had to copy the last 2 sentences, then the last 3 sentences, etc. Until eventually, then teacher would still ask DD2 to tell her what she wanted to say, but only write the words she thought DD2 would find hard to spell. Finally, DD2 just had to write.

Ithinktomyself Fri 14-Dec-18 10:59:26

Oooh that's interesting @Lougle - I'm going to suggest that, thanks.

SENCO meeting booked for January. DS is being given a scribe where possible and teacher has written down a temporary plan to go in the front of his book to help TAs support him.

I need to up my game though, I think he's been on a downward slide since I started working most evenings.

Lougle Fri 14-Dec-18 14:48:01

It might help. For DD2, a lot of it was anxiety and mental block over the enormity of the task. She couldn't (and still can't) process a whole task of "write about X", so she needs it to be broken down into manageable "subtasks". So instead of "Write the story of Goldilocks and the three bears", she would need "Write a sentence about Goldilocks going into the woods." "Now write a sentence about Goldilocks finding a house and looking inside." "Now write a sentence about the furniture she sees." "Write a sentence about the porridge she eats." "Now write a sentence about the nice, warm bed she finds." "Write a sentence about the Bears coming home.".... And so on. She might even need some extra instructions like "go back and add some adjectives in your sentences".

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