Why Making Mistakes is Frustrating

A key part of increasing participation and engagement is getting students to “have a go” BUT……..have you ever noticed that making mistakes is particularly frustrating for students with ASD?

This is because students with ASD often have
‘cognitive inflexibility,’ in other words they have a ‘one track mind’ and their thinking tends to be rigid. Essentially, students can’t see an alternative option or opinion, or get frustrated when corrected as they believe they are right. Therefore this cognitive inflexibility is a barrier to learning as students are prevented from learning from their mistakes. Hence, it is no surprise when I talk with parents and teachers I often hear the following phrases, “He doesn’t like making mistakes,” or “If he gets it wrong, he stops work.” This highlights that we need to encourage these children to ‘have a go.’

Strategies to encourage ‘having a go’:

  • Break activities into small achievable steps.
  • Use Social Stories to support understanding that everyone makes mistakes (i.e. in Developing Social Skills book “It is okay to make mistakes” page 72).
  • Model making mistakes and how to correct (cross out, rub out, etc.)
  • Use positive phrases rather than negative e.g. put your hand up vs don’t call out.
  • Reward ‘having a go’ and or making mistakes.
  • Instead of putting an “X” for mistakes, try putting a circle around the mistake and call it an ‘opportunity’ for learning.
  • Introduce mindset activities

A Change Starts with a Change in Attitude

Often when students with ASD and ADHD don’t know what to do they use standard phrases such as, “I’m Stupid, “I’m bored” or “I forgot.” They use these phrases instead of asking for help. In my experience this is often due to fear of failure and/or their one track mind.

An effective way to address this is to introduce the concept of “A Change Starts with a Change in Attitude.” It is great to make a visual students can refer back to before they start work or when they are stuck. Use this worksheet to encourage students to consider words they often say and help them find replacements words to change their mindset.

Link to image to print; https://goo.gl/SjezKM

Other Ideas to encourage a change in mindset

  •  Show them how to ask for help and remind themeveryone needs help.
  •  Recognise where they have had a go, praise themfor trying rather than getting it right
  •  Remind them we are all learners -making mistakes ispart of learning.
  •  Discuss “Negative” and “Positive” self talk.
  •  Discuss your thought processes out loud when things aren’t working.
  •  Talk about a Plan B i.e. “I tried this strategy it didn’t work, that’s okay I will try Plan B.”

Top Selling books for practical strategies

The Teacher Assistants Big Red/Blue Book of Ideas

By Sue Larkey and Anna Tullemans

Two fantastic companion guides with no repetition or overlap between the two books. Hundreds of ideas and practical strategies for teachers and teacher assistants to try.
Click here to find out more about BIG RED BOOK | Click here to find out more about BIG BLUE BOOK

The Early Years: The Foundations for ALL Learning

By Sue Larkey and Gay von Ess

Full of practical ideas to give children with ASD and other developmental delays the KEYS to learning. Teaching to play, write, draw, imitate etc. Toileting training, community access, etc. To sit, ask for help, wait, play, attention to task, sign songs, etc. Great easy to photocopy programmes.

Click here to find out more about The Early Years Book

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