Case Study TK (Homework)
TK is an autistic 11 year old boy who attends a mainstream primary school. He also has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
TK has a keen interest in sports and displays strong skills in memory retention of factual information. He enjoys playing football and talking about it with adults and peers. He likes routine and predictability, and can become anxious when plans change.
TK requires support in managing his emotional regulation, anxiety and organisational skills. He strives for perfectionism and can become extremely stressed when participating in difficult homework tasks.
TK was referred to the centre due to concerns in relation to high levels of challenging behaviour and anxiety that were evident across the home and school setting. One concern in particular was related to homework completion, and the daily struggle this created in the home setting. Behaviours of concern which were noted were name calling, throwing items, hitting out at siblings and negative self talk often occurred during this time. Following a period of assessment, the following triggers to behaviours of concern during homework completion were identified:
- Too many books on the table when attempting to complete homework.
- Homework not taken down from the board at school, resulting in not knowing what to complete at home.
- Subjects which were challenging to complete, such as maths.
- Direct eye contact from parents or siblings when trying to complete a challenging task.
- Change in routine which resulted in being unable to start homework immediately after school.
- Making a mistake during homework.
- TK’s teacher and Special Needs Assistant (SNA) were informed of the difficulties being experienced with homework at home. Support was provided in school by the SNA in ensuring homework was taken down correctly at the end of each day.
- Visual strategies were employed in the home setting using physical structure, visual schedules and prompt cards. Physical structure consisted of a Privacy screen, and a to-do and finished tray.
- The privacy screen blocked out distracting visual stimuli including eye-contact which was causing distress.
- The to-do and finished trays visually clarified how much homework needed to be completed and task completion could be monitored as books were transferred between trays. The trays also supported organisation of materials, and ensured the desk area was free of clutter prior to commencing homework.
- The prompt cards supported TK to manage his frustrations during homework time, and provided choices of options that were available to him as alternatives to engaging in behaviours of concern.
- Homework planning
- A visual schedule was provided each day outlining the events of the day. If homework could not be completed immediately after school, this was discussed before-hand, and alternative time arranged. By providing information in advance, it allowed TK time to process the change that was going to happen, and this helped to reduce anxieties.
- TK’s prompt card provided options available should he make a mistake when completing homework. Jed Baker’s ‘Think like a scientist’ strategy was also employed here to teach TK how to counteract his negative thinking pattern around making mistakes. Materials to promote relaxation were provided to TK during homework tasks, and the prompt card reminded TK to use them during this time.
- TK’s teacher provided differentiated homework that incorporated special interests such as sports. This increased TK’s motivation to participate in difficult homework tasks such as maths and allowed opportunities for success at home in this subject area.