I heard something so touching from my 20-year old son with ASD as he described his girlfriend yesterday. A family friend had asked him what he liked so much about her, and he said that he loved her because he could always ask her when he felt confused about a situation, and didn’t know what to do. Our kids with autism feel confused in a lot of situations. I read an article from one expert that suggested that the number one cause of their anxiety is uncertainty over what is expected of them in a situation. My son struggles with high levels of anxiety. Some days I can’t get my son to take the garbage out without his girlfriend at his side. He has come to depend on her ability to read social situations to support him.
I know, when you read the first sentence you may have already been thinking how lucky I am to have a son that can manage to have a relationship with a girlfriend, but trust me, I have spent a lot of time educating her on how to live with and love a person with autism successfully. After all, that is the sub-title of my book – How to sustain a Healthy, Functional and Satisfying Relationship with a Person on the Autism Spectrum, so managing these relationships is a topic I know something about! But I digress.
Back to my son and his anxiety over the unknown in many situations. When you can remove that unknown and help your loved one with ASD to feel confident that they know what to do, you can help to reduce their anxiety and make more of their mental bandwidth available for other activities like homework.
Nothing calms our kids on the spectrum like sameness, so routine is a very calming and supportive strategy to use to help your child have success at getting their homework done. Routine is a powerful tool when you want to help a child with autism to develop new habits and skills. Experts say it takes about 28 days to create new habits, but since our children operate on consistency, once the routine is established, it will take on meaningful power of its own, and support your efforts to get homework done.
To create the best routine, make it at the same time every day, with the same activity proceeding and following the time to get homework done. When you are establishing the routine, use the “First/Then” technique. “First you do your homework, then you can play your video games.