Here's some of the things we do:
1) MAKE GOOD USE OF A PHOTOCOPIER. Some worksheets I set for Bailey have a lot of things happening on the one page. Simply by photocopying a normally brightly coloured sheet to take it back to black and white can make a big difference in the way Bailey looks at the work. I then just highlight any key words that I want to ensure he doesn't miss. I even copy half a page at a time sometimes if I think there's too much work on the one page. It's not enough for me to tell him he only has to complete a portion of the page. The second he lays his eye on the page he instantly sees the quantity of work and goes into mental shutdown mode.
2) SECTIONING OFF WORK. When Bailey is completing worksheets I often ensure I draw a distinct loop around each question or each column of work. To you or I the difference may seem minimal but he doesn't notice the normal small numerical or alphabetical cues attached to each question. If I don't section off work he will draw lines from one side of the page to the other if he thinks the answer fits!
The first picture above is how a child would normally see this page in a typical classroom setting. The second picture is how I section off a page of work for Bailey to make it easier for him to follow and not be so daunted by the amount of work visible as the book is opened. I usually do the first question from each set with him so he understands what is expected for each subsequent question.
I gave this worksheet to Bailey yesterday and I explained that each picture had 2 words in the line alongside that had the same word pattern. He needed to circle those 2. I left him for a moment to come back to tears as he advised that he could not find any of the words. He was looking in the large group of words for the word 'six' and 'pin'. I had thought he could complete the activity without sectioning but I was wrong. We started with a fresh sheet as seen in the second picture and he completed it without an issue. Only a small difference to us but a huge difference to him.
3) GETTING THE ENERGY OUT BEFORE SITTING. This one applies to hyperactive children like Dane. I've found I can get Dane to sit a little longer without as much fidgeting if I allow him some time to run off some energy. In the cooler months I let the boys go outside to ride bikes, jump on the trampoline and run after the dog first thing in the morning. In Summer it's a little harder to use this approach due to the heat outside so we do some dancing or play some instruments instead. Once they have run off some energy I get them to sit on the mat to do some general reading and discussion before sitting down to around 10 mins of work with a 5 minute fun activity in between. I can normally get up to 1 hour out of the boys which is about all I expect from a 5 and 8 year old with concentration issues. Bailey will however also do some reading usually later in the day.
4) DOUBLE SHARPENING PENCILS. Anyone who has a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder will know that one of the biggest struggles with teaching them is their lack of concentration. One thing I found that was constantly distracting my boys was their need to keep sharpening their pencils. I now control the sharpener myself and have taken to sharpening both ends of the pencil so if one side breaks they can continue without interruption just by flipping it over. Seems simple but works a treat!
I think I'll leave this blog here and continue again soon with some more hints and tips ;)