Of course, I was one of those that never needed extra time. I’d heard jokes and resentful comments about ‘extra time’ for years, and had no familiarity at all with why it existed. It just plain didn’t sound fair to me.
And now I was to ask for my son to receive ‘extra time’?
As it turns out, there’s more to this extra time than just leniency. In our case, it’s about turning in the work that’s already finished.
Turning it in? What is so hard about turning the work in?
Well, while many of us may think that the point of writing out the work is to turn it in (and thus receive a grade on it), not everyone thinks that way. Some people are learning by doing (what a concept), and some are doing the work because they are supposed to.
And not everyone places a priority on it. Not everyone thinks about the fact that it will be read and graded by someone, and that it’s important to turn in. And so it sits there, finished, but not turned in.
When I spoke to my CARD (Center for Autism and Related Disorders) representative about my son’s grades, she instantly asked whether it was a problem with showing work or turning the work in.
She’s around autistic children all day long. She knows how they think. And obviously this is a problem with many kids out there.
And that ‘extra time’ clause works wonders for the whole turning-the-work-in problem.
Just why turning it in sits so low in the priority basket I don’t know. Perhaps it’s a matter of distraction. Maybe there’s just so much going on and so many things to cope with during the course of the day that’s it’s hard to hang on to “I must hand in my math assignment”.
I tend to think that this is the case.
Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes these children really do need the extra time to do the work. They need their downtime in the evenings to be able to function the next day, so if too much homework is intruding on that, something needs to give.
I spoke to my child’s teachers. I reminded them that extra time for turning in work was in his IEP. I took the opportunity to thank them for their patience and understanding, and to stay in touch if there were any concerns.
Every single one of them accepted his ‘late’ work.
Of course, I’d rather my son was able to turn in the fruit of his labor by himself, with pride, and on time. But sometimes people are the way they are, and they learn at their own pace. They walk to the beat of their own drummers. They excel in some areas, and struggle with others.
Everyone – everyone – needs a little help sometimes to achieve their potential.