Wednesday 17 April 2019

SATS preparation for our autistic and ADHD son

It may be the Easter break but that doesn't mean learning stops.  Or more accurately, for our son Anthony, preparation for SATS. 

For kids like Anthony who has autism and ADHD this can be extra hard.  Whatever your thought on SATS, Anthony's school is doing them and it's part of his learning.  In the KS1 SATS Anthony did really poorly - even though we knew he could do lots of things included in them.  Why had he found it so difficult? We asked some questions. 

It turned out he'd never seen a SATS booklet before or been asked to work across areas before - eg completing adding, subtraction and times tables on one learning activity.  It was as much about getting ready for a test - there's also lots involved in just familiarising him with the format of what's going to happen.  We have created maths booklets that look very similar to the SATS papers and have been using these for a little practice on most days. We don't force it, and on days when he has been busy, we let it go. But he now plans it in to most days - which is a delight to see.  But we can help more.

Practice the environment

How is our son going to take his SATS?  Whatever it is for your child, try and replicate this as much as you can.  Anthony will do SATS in a room on his own.  He will use a pencil, rubber and ruler and that's it. He is also allowed to have the questions read to him if he wishes.

So we try to do this as much as possible.  If Anthony can hear the TV in the living room, then he can't concentrate - he's too busy thinking about what's on the TV and it's not replicating how it is going to be. 

Anthony does his practice in the kitchen, at the kitchen table, with a pencil, rubber and ruler.  I'm with him so he can ask me to read questions if he needs it, but I've been trying to help him do it all himself.


This is really tough for us.  Anthony is very motivated by praise.  However, praise too early and he thinks his job is done.  It depends very much on your child and you will know best when they have done well.

We've started to get Anthony to check his answers, but we will also help him correct them once he has found an error.  We also set questions within his ability for most of the time. However, we will also let him know sometimes that there may be questions in this practice that he can't do.  This way he understands and isn't phased by this during his actual SATS.

Lazy reading

There is such a thing as a right and a wrong way to study, and we really try to help our kids to know the difference.   Lazy reading is when someone reads a passage they are studying, but without actually taking it in.  This can be quite easy to do when kids first learn to read.  They are focused so much on reading words that they miss the point of the story.  However, as they grow they need to be learning from what they are reading - not just reading it.

When you have difficulty with paying attention, like Anthony, this can be challenging. Mostly we help by practising reading with comprehension questions.  But we'll also do it at bedtime, we'll ask Anthony a question about the story or even better, asking him to summarise the page to his little sister who is listening to him read.

Honestly, he finds this really difficult. English is going to be very challenging for him.  With his challenges he can have a reader in his SATS so we therefore also practice this.

Above all we talk to Anthony about how, as always it is about him doing his best.  That everyone is different and do somethings well, and some things less well. We are proud of him however he does.

What tips do you have to help your kids prepare for things at school?

Starlight & Stories did a fantastic guest post on helping kids with autism with their homework.  
It's got some great ideas, so have a look. 


  1. Very interesting and helpful post Ann! Best of luck to Anthony, I hope it goes alright for him (and if it doesn't, there's more to life than SATS) xx #KCACOLS

  2. This is a great post full of wonderful information! I love the tip to replicate how it will be on test day. It's a great way to help them be prepared. Thanks for sharing! #KCACOLS

  3. Good luck Anthony! I think this advice would be helpful even to children without any additional needs - SATs are such a stressful time for kids! #KCACOLS

  4. This is a great post for parents who need a bit of help with helping their kids. My son has special needs and was at a special school, so he never had to do SATS.

  5. Good luck Anthony! I am guilty of lazy reading sometimes too. I often read a paragraph, find my mind is wandering, and I have to go back and re-read it. Best of luck to you, you can only try your best! #KCACOLS

  6. I hope he does well! I can't stand standardized testing. I'm impressed with the measures you're taking to prepare Anthony for them. #kcacols

  7. I have mixed feelings about SATs and can only imagine the added pressure you feel - sounds like you're well prepared! #KCACOLS

  8. Lots of Great advice given here for any parent to help kids with problems test taking!


  9. Some great tips and ideas for preparing here, I hope the SATS go well. #SpectrumSunday #KCACOLS

  10. I’m going to refuse J to take SATS when he’s older unless I feel he is mentally and physically able to do it without suffering for it. If he does sit them then you’re blog has given me loads of ideas of how to hope him x


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