Practical Strategies

How can I help my adolescent study?

As your child moves into High School and perhaps Uni he/she is going to need to have some independent study skills. Here are a few ideas to help you.

  • Set up a place where the study will happen
  • Set definite start and finish times for each subject
  • Colour code these times to the school subject timetable
  • Start with the least favourite subject
  • Put in place definite goals (start and finish times) for how much work is going to be done
  • Allow rewards for achieving these goals (allow the child to have some input into the kind of reward)
  • Show the child how to use colour when note taking. He can colour code different ideas and concepts
  • Show him how to organise his work into different subject areas
  • Place notes into subject folders of the Tudour organiser
  • Allow him spare time to indulge his special interest if he becomes overwhelmed
  • Experiment with soothing or favourite music (my son needed to have his music on to do any work)
  • Allow the child a stress ball to play with Get him to draw pictures of concepts to help him remember (draw mind maps)
  • Get the child started and leave him for a while. Check on him regularly to give help

How to ask for help

This is one of the most difficult aspects of school life for a student with ASD. When you read "thoughts from an Asperger adolescent" on the front page of the newsletter it makes you realise how hard it is for them.

Direct modelling is the most appropriate course of action.

We need to help the student recognise:

  • When he needs help
  • That he needs to ask for help
  • How to ask for help
  • That the teacher is the person to ask for help
  • What are the appropriate words to use to ask for help in the classroom

Recognising the need for help is not an easy concept for someone with Asperger Syndrome (see Thoughts from an Asperger Adolescent page 1), and the idea that they need to ask for help is sometimes incomprehensible (remember the Mr. Perfect attitude).

Anna Tullemans AssignmentsPut up your hand to ask a question!

Teaching these skills is easy but patience is required as this skill can take time before it is utilized appropriately.

Watch the student, when he is looking blank, far off into space or acting inappropriately use the following strategies to teach. You can also create situations where the appropriate equipment is not available and the student needs to ask for help.

Start with a visual reminder:

  • Script the words that he needs to use
  • Show the student the script and place it in an appropriate place, inside his folder or desk
  • Show him:Anna Tullemans Assignments
    • how to use it
    • when to use it
  • Refer to it on a regular basis

Include in the script visual prompts such as:

  • When you feel like this ......... you need to ask for help
  • This is how you ask for help
    • Put up your hand
    • Call out the teachers name


Anna Tullemans AssignmentsIn setting assignments what we must remember is that the process is more important than the final product especially when that person has an autism spectrum disorder.

Successful Strategies

As most of our AS students are visual learners it's important to show them examples of successful previous assignments eg: show them examples of "A" grade.

Allow them to:

  • Follow the same format
  • Same amount of pictures on page one and two etc
  • Pictures placed in the same space
  • Same headings
  • Same sub headings

Give them:

  • Specific Headings
  • Specific questions that need to be answered

Some students may need:

  • Beginnings of paragraphs
  • Contents for each paragraph
  • Specific questions to be answered in the:
    • Introduction
    • Body
    • Conclusion
  • Specific number of paragraphs for each of the above
  • Specific number of sentences for each of the above

Anna Tullemans AssignmentsUsing fewer words on an assignment sheet can help to keep the assignment from being so overwhelming. Break the assignment into three pieces, on three sheets of paper. Only one part of the assignment is to be completed by the student to begin with. Once all three parts are complete help the student put the three pieces together into an acceptable format.

  • Reduce the number of assignments
  • Shorten the length of assignment
  • Ensure students have access to information that they understand, for example simplified handouts
  • Outline in simple sentences what steps should be followed
  • Give specific outlines
  • Present the information with fewer words
  • Give introduction only on one piece of paper
  • Follow with body on separate piece
  • Conclusion on separate piece

To view or download a printable PDF assignment breakdown sheet, click on pdfAssignment sheet

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