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Need help for my child


New Member
My daughter is five years old and was diagnosed with autism. She has started going to kindergarten and seems to never want to follow the teachers assignments in class. For example, the teacher will give them a tracing assignment or something where they have to write letters uppercase and lowercase. However, my daughter disregards the direction and seems to draw pictures on the assignments. This has been really hard for my wife and I, and frankly it’s really upsetting to the point where we feel really down and like failures. We want what is best for our child, but it’s been such a challenge to get her to follow directions or complete school assignments. The only success we’ve had is threatening to take away her iPad if she doesn’t do her work or a task. But we feel like that is a problem too. The iPad. Which she’s hooked on. Above all, we really need help and support. What can we do? Has anyone experienced this? How can we get our child to participate more? Please help and any advise is appreciated.


Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Not a parent, but i have a profession as a teacher Although for older students. I have also worked with a few SEN kids with one who really didn’t want to do the work.

Firstly, I have to ask if the school knows about her diagnosis and if she has access to support from the school? If yes, does she have a support teacher? If not, let them know. It will help her, the school and the SENCO in providing her support as she goes through her academic career with them.

Secondly, with the student who didnt want to work...it was very difficult to persuade the child that they had to do the assignment to meet expectations and often times the student found it difficult. So, I decided with the support of the SENCO to implement a reward system and break down the work for the student in chunks, so that whilst it was not always completed to the standard that was required, it was at least completed. The award system was a star chart that would be agreed with the child on the particular expectations. The reward was house points. You could maybe try this and get the school involved so it’s consistent for her. The award system Could be related to her time spent on the iPad.


Kermit the Frog
I was going to mention implementing a reward system as opposed to punishment but someone already said that, so I just want to highlight that.

Intrinsic reward is the best way to learn new things so I also wonder what the school does in order to make your daughter want to follow direction in the first place. It's not entirely in human behaviour to just do as we're told in the first place, even less so in ND individuals. It might also be worth it to talk with her about it, figure out why she doesn't want to follow the teachers directions and make a way to get her to want to (via reward system such as star chards)


Well-Known Member

(NB: this was written at the same time as the post above. It's not a response to it.)

1. Have you checked for ADHD and/or ADD?

2. Wanting her to participate more etc: this is literally a defining symptom. You may be able to work on it, and it might be a good idea, but you probably cannot remove the underlying traits.

3. I doubt there's a simple explanation for her actions in school, but a thought about your example scenario:
Aspies are inclined to "turn away" from the NT world. It might be a good thing that she draws what she wants to draw rather than write letters as instructed. At least it's the same kind of activity.
Remember that young kids don't perceive letters as adults do. Writing only makes sense when you can already read, rather than just associate pictures (e.g. duck picture with D-shape). She may just see it as drawing.

4. And something I think you seriously need to think about: at a certain point, carrot/stick conditioning for Aspies is considered abuse by some.
I don't mean to say you're doing something bad right now (and it sounds like you're currently reconsidering), but please be very cautious about using important things like the iPad to attempt to control behavior. At least find out what she uses it for - it might be possible to use it in a positive way.

Wikipedia link


oh hamburgers!
V.I.P Member
Don’t have any advice here other than that previous advice by other commenters seem solid. What are your daughter’s special interest/hobbies? Idk if this will work but maybe if the tracing instructions are themed to something she likes she would be more likely to complete the assignment than doodle on it. If she likes to draw, maybe give her a sketchbook (nothing fancy, just a basic sketchbook) that she can doodle in.

I did that a lot on school assignments on and off through kindergarten to sixth grade, and one time I did that at work when I was supposed to be watching a training video (I drew two of my original characters August and Amy on a piece of loose leaf paper that had a password to the training video down and I got reprimanded for it, I think I was 17 or so).

Maybe she will grow to like art. There are several art tutorial videos on youtube geared towards young kids, artforkidshub is a great one I’d recommend checking out!


Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
There's also a chance that she's similar to my sister. She always struggled with the abstraction of writing or doing maths on paper. She was ahead of me in school but I always did all her homework for her. She was fine with doing maths in her head but when she tried to put pen to paper her brain froze up. Even as a teenager she struggled to be able to tell the time on an analog clock and to this day she can't read a map. She says she can if you turn it up the right way for her but as soon as you turn a corner she's lost again.

This didn't stop her from having a very successful life. She started out as an offset printer like me, then she became a mother, once the kids left home she got her license and became a real estate agent. She certainly wasn't dumb.


May also contain missing cakes.
V.I.P Member
I agree with the other posters, a rewards system could work really well. Maybe set it as five points for a correctly completed class assignment. If she builds up 50 she can then choose a reward from a selection of things or save up and try for something better. This could also serve as a backdoor to teaching her to save up rather than spend.


Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Just to add a little more about my sister. She could read but she struggled to write. She wasn't an avid reader like me but she did enjoy the occasional novel. She was always very arty, drawing and painting, when she wrote it was like she was painting each letter one by one, her writing was always very neat but very slow.

Neither of us were diagnosed with anything, we just struggled through and tried to help each other. She used to get upset and cry because everyone always thought she was dumb when she knew she wasn't.


Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
On a more personal level, so not professional here..as a kid my motor skills were very bad and I found it difficult to hold a pencil I always preferred playing with my dinosaurs or coloring the paper with the crayons. So would often times avoid anything to do with writing. What helped was my mom got me these fun pencil holders that held the pencil And I held my fingers over it since it was a lot more comfortable. Made writing more fun as i had animal shaped ones depending on the day. Which was quite motivating to do. :)


You know, that one lady we met that one time.
V.I.P Member
Number one, while she's at school, take away the IPad and never give it back. Don't say you took it. Just make it disappear. "It's somewhere around here". And then stop mentioning it altogether. Children that age forget quite easily.

Number two, she's being naughty in class, and she knows it. Let's just be honest. But it's probably because the classroom environment is overstimulating- loud, bright, so many faces.

Do one of you stay home during the day? Have you considered homeschooling? Aspie kids usually excel at homeschool. They can study what they like, and they enjoy the one to one bonding time with mom or dad.


Random Member
V.I.P Member
If you haven't already read them, I'm going to recommend


While I don't have and don't work with kids, I have read both and think they both provide good ideas and strategies on working with autistic kids.

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