The Studying Struggle for a Child with Autism
6 mins read

The Studying Struggle for a Child with Autism

When my child was in third grade, we discovered a school issue.

In third grade, my son’s class began to have chapter tests. These tests covered a lot of material…an entire chapter of material. My son needed to study for a week to be ready to take a comprehensive test. This was a big change for him.

Our son has struggled with this issue on and off since third grade.

Why does my son struggle?

First, chapter tests were a new concept for him as was studying for entire week. So was the actual length of the test itself, which was equal to the amount of material.

He adapted better to a science or math test because he likes those subjects, but he struggled with language arts and social studies. We still have to prod him to study for those tests.

What do we do?

The main thing we had to do with to convince our child that studying for large tests was going to be his new status quo in school. He had no choice but to get used to it because it was his school future. It wasn’t our fault, it was the way school worked. We did it, and he was expected to do it.

Was this easy?

No. It is still a work in progress a year and a half later.

What is the biggest problem?

The biggest problem is getting my son to understand that studying is homework.

What does that mean?

I discovered this problem when my child was in his after school program during third grade.

During the homework hour (when all the kids are supposed to work on their homework), our child’s aide would ask our child if he had any homework. Sometimes he would say no, even though in his backpack was his social studies book and in his planner it said, “Social studies test next Wednesday.”

The problem was that my son wasn’t calling studying homework. Therefore, his after school homework hour was being wasted because he was telling his aide he had no homework.

Finally, we had to explain to him that studying was homework and that he was wrongly telling his aide that he had no homework.

Then, there’s the whole problem with the studying itself.

What happens with studying?

The first thing I do to help our child is read the chapter myself so I can know what he’s learning. Why do I do this? Well, I feel I can help him better if made sure I knew material.

On a side note, it’s actually fun for me to go back to school in a lot ways. For example, I didn’t grow up in California, which means I didn’t learn about California history. I learned about the history of my region, the State of New York. Now, I get to learn about California’s history. I also like what he’s learning in science. Math was my subject, and I’m even able to review my math (a lot of which had been long forgotten).

So, I like it and it helps him.

Our child, however, still struggles with the amount of time it takes to study for a large test.

There have been times when he has acted like we are torturing him. It has been hard for him to understand why you need to go over the material a few times, and not just once.

I have even gotten upset with him because of impatient behavior. I have had to tell him that his behavior was making me feel like I was wasting my time because he was acting bored and all he wanted to do was to get back to his computer. He would constantly ask me how much longer he had to study. I had to use a timer with him, and that helped a little bit.

After getting upset with him once or twice, he finally began to understand the importance of studying. He even said to me, “Mommy, I appreciate you helping me.”

How do we help him study?

First, I tell him approximately when is study time.

During the week, study time would always come before computer, DVD, or iPad time. That is a general house rule that he accepted long ago so that wasn’t a problem.

Weekends were harder for him because he was used to having lots of time for his fun stuff. So, we had to convince him that studying had to become a part of some – but not all – of his weekend time whenever he had a test coming up.

As I previously mentioned, I also had to use a timer with him.

Why did we use a timer?

We began to use it because he would get very anxious about losing out on computer time. We put the timer on for 20 or 30 minutes and say, “This is study time.” Then, when the timer went off, he could then “take a study break” on his computer.

In a way, we had to retrain his thinking and his approach regarding homework and studying.

This transition is ongoing but has improved. Fourth grade is an upper grade student, and fourth grade is almost over – then it’s on to fifth grade!

Our child has no choice but to get used to this new status quo. We know he’ll do it in his own way. And, he knows we’re here to help him.

This is just another step in a complicated autistic process.


To Find Kimberly Kaplan: or Amazon Kindle ebook “A Parents’ Guide to Early Autism Intervention”
Twitter: @tipsautismmom

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