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JonAZ
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18 Mar 2014, 10:05 pm

My fifth grade autistic son decided to stop working in school. I have used every possible incentive to get him to work. I have talked to him repeatedly about the importance of learning.

What is your advice?


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Sweetleaf
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18 Mar 2014, 10:21 pm

Has he said why he has decided this?


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NotThatClever13
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18 Mar 2014, 10:26 pm

Not sure if your son has the same reasons but I decided to do the same thing when I was in 3rd grade. The reason was that I was tormented without mercy for appearing "smart". I was unable to tell anyone until many years later for a variety of reasons. One of the main ones being I didn't believe telling anyone would make a difference. Also for me personally I am usually internally motivated. Sometimes no matter how good the external incentive is I just cannot work for it even if I want it. This has been my personal experience anyway. Something to think about.


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auntblabby
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18 Mar 2014, 11:34 pm

in the fifth grade I just refused to go to school after a bit, I was stressed out by the environment and needed a break from it for a few months.



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18 Mar 2014, 11:41 pm

Definitely ask him why--the other posters brought up valid points. If it is related to bullying or just feeling "burned out" by the social expectations, there are other options: homeschooling, online schools, stuff like that.


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18 Mar 2014, 11:42 pm

I SO WISH I coulda been homeschooled.



JonAZ
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19 Mar 2014, 12:17 am

My son is a work of art. God was feeling creative on the day he made my son. My son is well liked, never bullied, and enjoys school.

If I asked why he refuses to work then he would probably say, "I was not in the mood."

School is a game for him. He manipulates teachers and jokes around in school.

He gets along well with his seven year old little brother. He is a good kid at home and reasonably well behaved. He is well behaved kid by any standard when he hangs out with Dad.


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19 Mar 2014, 8:41 am

JonAZ wrote:
He is a good kid at home and reasonably well behaved. He is well behaved kid by any standard when he hangs out with Dad.


I've been 'a good kid' all my life. As I understood it very early on, that was the only way of being that was expected of me. I suffered in silence, didn't realize speaking out was even an option. Not saying it's the same case with your son. I can't know that. You seem like an involved parent. I just find it interesting that parents tend to think they know their kids so well.

BUT if he's doing great at school socially, he's already doing infinitely better than I ever have. Has he always been at the same school?

Looking back, starting not doing work for me was associated with simply being in school becoming increasingly terrifying after a move and losing all joy in (conventional) learning, which got considerably worse with every move.

Didn't help that everybody expected me to keep performing at the same level I used to. "But you can do it! you're so smart!" Comments like that, implying I'm just being lazy/wasting potential only made it worse, and less likely for me to say anything, because as I saw it I had full responsibility of myself.

JonAZ wrote:
If I asked why he refuses to work then he would probably say, "I was not in the mood."


Did you ask him? Are you speculating what his answer would be? or basing it on a previous answer to a similar question? Ask him again? He's the only one that can tell you why.

If he says that, try to figure out why he wasn't in the mood? Sometimes it's not easy to give answers to questions when you yourself aren't sure what's going on. I think.



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19 Mar 2014, 8:49 am

JonAZ wrote:
School is a game for him. He manipulates teachers and jokes around in school.


Could it be that the coursework is not intellectually stimulating enough? If the work is beneath his current level of understanding, he may find it too boring and, thus, not worth his time (I've had a friend tell me that her aunt flunked the first grade because the work was unstimulating--later tests showed that she is intellectually gifted).

If this is the case, it may be possible for the teacher to assign supplementary work or to adjust the work to his skill level. The latter would also be useful is the opposite is true--that the work is becoming too challenging for him and that he feels that there is "no use" in trying because he "doesn't get it, anyways."

Burnout is also a valid hypothesis, as other posters have mentioned.


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ZenDen
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19 Mar 2014, 10:29 am

In the second half of 2nd grade they found my eyesight was so poor that I'd never been able to read the black/chalk board. I was so happy I'd now be like the other kids (I prayed...but doubted?).

But it didn't work out that way. Although I could now see the other kids I still was alone and so soon decided (3rd grade) my life without friends wasn't worth working for and decided I would not. Just that simple. No thoughts of suicide just a "solidifying" of my eternal internal aloneness.

I'm sure what I experienced was simply depression and it was never noticed by school authorities put off by my I.Q. and so I "lingered" throughout my entire educational process, only motivated by internal "whims" and almost never by practicality, or regimented learning.

If I'd had a friend, just some kind of friend, (beside my dog who didn't seem to care if I was uneducated or not) it might have been different.

It's not too late to motivate!

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19 Mar 2014, 12:31 pm

My son sounds similar in that he is pretty cheerful, having an overall good time at home & at school, is well-liked, etc, but he finds the schoolwork to be serious "drag" and getting him to do it is like pulling teeth. Occasionally he will be "in the mood" and he can do it no problem, but other times there is flat-out refusal. It's an ongoing struggle to get him to "buy into" the reality of being a "student".

We have also asked him many times why he doesn't want to do it, if there's anything we can do, if anything would make it easier or more fun or whatever, but I'm not sure even HE can necessarily articulate WHY he doesn't want to do it. He may not even know? I suspect it's a combination of a bunch of different things, like anxiety, a dislike of handwriting, boring material, a sense of urgency to complete tasks, a fear of making mistakes, etc.

One thing I would suggest is not to try to convince him of the "value" of doing the work. I think it's pretty hard for young kids to see the "big picture" as far as the consequences of their hard work (or lack thereof) in school, so those arguments may be meaningless. You may want to keep asking him (in a nonjudgmental way) why HE thinks he's not doing the work. Try to get specifics-- if he says it's boring, WHY is it boring (what about it makes it boring to him)? etc. That may give you more information.

You may need to come up with some juicier incentives for him. Again, "because you need to learn" etc are not very motivating for little kids. He probably needs something with more immediate results, like earned computer time or whatever else is his "currency".



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20 Mar 2014, 2:47 am

JonAZ wrote:

School is a game for him. He manipulates teachers and jokes around in school.


School is too easy for him. Have him tested for a gifted program or something.


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NotThatClever13
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20 Mar 2014, 10:30 am

JonAZ wrote:
My son is a work of art. God was feeling creative on the day he made my son. My son is well liked, never bullied, and enjoys school.

If I asked why he refuses to work then he would probably say, "I was not in the mood."

School is a game for him. He manipulates teachers and jokes around in school.

He gets along well with his seven year old little brother. He is a good kid at home and reasonably well behaved. He is well behaved kid by any standard when he hangs out with Dad.


Lots of good advice and suggestions posted already. One other thing to keep in mind is when something is wrong it may be very difficult to tell in the conventional ways. My parents never knew I was bullied until I told them years later and it surprised even me that they didn't know because in my mind it was obvious to everyone. Just something to keep in mind.


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20 Mar 2014, 12:16 pm

Considering the difficulties in social interaction I find it hard to see an autistic child successfully 'manipulating' the teachers, I can see how they might seem difficult though.


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20 Mar 2014, 1:02 pm

From what you've said, my guess is definitely boredom.


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