When we think of planning a worksheet or a written task, often we write down as much as possible and provide very detailed explanations. We might even make it look attractive to entice the learner to want to complete the assigned task or activity.
For the learner who struggles with information processing and all of those areas of executive functioning that make it difficult with such tasks, they are in fact put at a disadvantage trying to decipher what actually needs to be done – they have absolutely no idea of where to begin!
Just the very thought of attempting the task or activity in addition to the visual overload of information is enough to increase a person’s anxiety to the point of becoming completely overwhelmed.
Tasks or activities presented in a written format would be far better set out in a step by step procedure using ‘simple to understand’ language clearly stating what needs to be done. It is sometimes useful, depending on the learner, to represent instructions visually by using pictures / symbols. Also worth thinking about is whether the learner has to do all of the tasks assigned or is there the opportunity to only have a couple of tasks that need to be completed?
Presenting the tasks one at a time to the learner with a target timeframe for completion might mean that activities are more likely to be attempted rather than a few tasks given to them all at once.
Using the learner’s special interests wherever possible can help to engage the learner to complete those tasks that are necessary. Linking special interests to the task at hand inspires the learner to research and complete the activities moving beyond what is required or even needed. For example, a project assigned to the learner asking them to research ‘the black hole’ and its relevance to the universe would be ideal for the learner who has a fascination with space.
Considering all of the tips above, it would be definitely worth trying and you might just find that the learner is more willing to attempt the activities that are planned!