I NEED advice: Can I please pick your brain

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Lizze and I are pretty frustrated right now.  Last night we discovered that Gavin had plagiarized almost his entire homework assignment because he didn’t feel like taking the time to do it correctly..

He was basically supposed to be writing sentences (of his own creation) using his vocabulary words.

Copying sentences has been an issue in his classroom before and so his teachers make it very clear that the students are supposed to make each sentence up themselves…

Defying what he knew he was supposed to be doing, looked the words up in the dictionary and copied the example sentences, word for word.  Then he claimed the work as his own…


When we reviewed his homework, we recognized that these weren’t sentences that Gavin created and so we asked him about it..

He denied doing anything wrong at first but then realized that we already knew the truth and so he fessed up and when pressed, told us that he knew he was told not to do this but it was easier then writing his own sentences.

Immediately he wanted to fix them but we decided that a little tough love was in order because he’s not going to learn without natural consequences..

We took the paper so he couldn’t modify it and met with his teacher this morning.

We explained what he did and what he was trying to do before we caught him.  Lizze was very clear that we wanted him graded on the work he chose to do.  We didn’t want him to correct and then get 100% because he cheated and shouldn’t get credit for that. 

His teacher confirmed that Gavin did know he wasn’t allowed to do that… She’s said that was very clear to the entire class because it’s been a problem with other students in the past. 

Having thought we were on the same page, we felt pretty good that he would have to face the consequences for cheating and trying to pass off someone else’s work as his own. 

Unfortunately, he was apparently told it was wrong and instructed to fix the sentences and turn it back in on Thursday morning.

I’ll be completely honest here…  I’m pretty fired up right now because Gavin just got away with cheating.  Sure he had to do it over but that’s not enough.  That’s not how life works and it’s contrary to what we wanted done…..

I need your thoughts on this.  Here’s what I want to see happen.

I feel that because Gavin knew what he was doing was wrong and did it anyway, that removes any possible element of him being the confused over the directions.  This has nothing to do with Autism or anything else.  He simply wanted to take the easy road because he didn’t want to do the work he’s very capable of doing.

That being the case, he should take a zero on the assignment… I think that he should redo the assignment correctly, using his own sentences but his original, plagiarized work should be what’s graded. 

Simply because Gavin has Autism and other special needs, does not give him a free pass to get away with whatever he wants.  Right is right and wrong is wrong…..

As his parents, should we have a say in what happens or should we allow his teacher to let this go and simply make him redo the work, teaching him nothing.

I’ve said this a million times and I’ll say it again..  Gavin has no conscience. He has no moral compass and so he will do whatever he wants because he simply doesn’t feel guilt.  The only way he has a chance of learning anything, is if he pays the price for his actions.  He has to know that cheating is wrong and when you cheat you lose.  If losing means he fails and has to redo the 8th grade, so be it. 

We want to curb this behavior before he gets older and caught up in the legal system…

The only things that stops him from doing something wrong is self preservation. If he thinks he’ll get caught and get in trouble, he will think twice.  That’s how he learns…. That’s why it may appear that we are so hard on him…

If the school can’t follow through, this is a huge disservice to Gavin and we have to seriously weigh our options…

Please let me know your honest thoughts…..

This site is managed almost exclusively from my Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Please forgive any typos as auto-correct HATES me. 😉

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Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
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Tracey Green

I see this from two angles . One is from working professionally with young adults with autism and complex needs that haven’t always been given the right support and got it wrong enough to end up in the legal system. And the other is as a parent of an eight year old with autism and complex needs that is starting to tread this path too. I do think these traits that you describe are part of the autism. The empathy for others is limited or non existent because it simply bears no after effect on them personally. What I have found works is giving the young person a set of rules and make it very clear that by breaking these rules it will have a consequence for them ( this consequence needs to be something that is consistent.) as this starts to work, use their actions to explain why the rule is so important and what it means to others. It can take a long time but helping them to build up a catalogue of experiences to relate to will allow them to build on the same skill as we learn naturally. Hope this makes sense? All the very best.

Lost and Tired

Hey Jude, this is Lizze, Gavin’s mom, for some reason Facebook keeps posting my comments as if I’m Rob. Anyway, I recognize that this a typical “teenager behavior”, however, it is a different ballgame when we, as the parents, have to fight with teachers for there to be a natural consequence such as failing the assignment. I even talked to the teacher before hand about it and they still had him correct it because they “feel bad for him because he has so many health issues”. So when any other kid would have a consequence, Gavin doesn’t. He gets coddled and babied. So really, what does he have to lose by cheating or not doing his homework or any of the other things he does, if he’s only going to get a slap in the wrist, ya know?

Jude Leobold

Sounds like a teenager to me

Kim Kennedy

Here is my take on the situation…what he did was wrong and he is old enough and smart enough to know what he did was wrong. He has been acting out a lot lately. Agreed? Maybe a little alone time with Gavin, you and Lizze is in order? I don’t know if this can be arranged considering the other boys but I think some good quality time with Gavin would go a long way right now. He is struggling and when I see my son struggling my husband and I make sure we spend time with JUST HIM and make him feel more loved than he already does.

Maria Hall

I want to know where the positive behavior support plan is…. Really this is a behavior from what you say so get the data and make the plan.

Peggy Sampson

It’s good to see that you are holding him accountable for his actions. He did wrong. He knows it. There needs to be consequences or he won’t learn how the real world works.

Ladonna Johnson

He should be allowed to do it over but for a lesser grade. Only because he did want to correct his wrong before he turned it in.

Kathy Kohl Buehler

Pick your battles. He doesn’t really care about school grades or consequences, so it seems as if you and Lizzie are way more upset than he is, and you probably can’t get him to think like you do and really care about this

Michelle Petzold

I agree, plagiarism is plagiarism, he should not get a second chance. Now he knows he can do what he wants, get a free ticket, and do it again. Really does not help with life skills..

Adriana Ott

I agree he should get a 0 for the assignment. In most typical classes and especially when you get into taking college classes there is no redoing the assignment. Plagiarism is plagiarism. It would be different if he was confused about the assignment or had something to do with a disability. He knew it was wrong and did it anyways.

Rhyan Soto-Motto

my opinion is he really really needs an executive functioning assessment it could have to do with a lot of the school related issues. hth.


screw the homework. classwork is good enough. he doesnt need anymore. and i beleive he does get a pass. i know you dont want to but i would use the pass of autism, mental stuff, physical stuff. which ever card you have. if you beleive he can do the work, then what is the use of homework. sounds like busy work. he gets in enough trouble for other stuff, pick your battles. it doesnt seem that you are going to win this one. if we talk about winning, let gavin win.


What I’m wondering is, it may not be that she is going to GRADE that work, but she also doesn’t want him to get away with not doing the work either. So now not only does he have to redo the work he didn’t do the first time around, but he doesn’t even get a grade for the trouble. (As a teacher, this is what I would do)


“Unfortunately, he was apparently told it was wrong and instructed to fix the sentences and turn it back in on Thursday morning.”
I am going to play devils advocate on this one because I worked in many classrooms with special needs kids. …
I know you went in and you spoke with the teacher and you were aware of the rules as was Gavin and you caught him at home copying. You also state the teacher said “She’s said that was very clear to the entire class because it’s been a problem with other students in the past. ”  She (teacher) could quite possibly has never had Gavin do this before and may be of the mindset that the first time they do it, they get a warning and they have to redo the assignment. 
Its good youre staying on top of things so many parents dont bother being so involved. 
Pardon the typos, my eyes are super tired. I hope everything works out.


Personally, I would have refused to sign off on the homework and put a note on it asking the teacher to call.  I don’t feel like I can dictate how a teacher runs her classroom, all I can do is support from home what is going on in said classroom.  If she feels that it is best he redo the assignment, that is her call.  That being said, I can completely understand why you are frustrated because you thought there was an agreement and now there does not seem to be.  I would be on the phone with her tomorrow asking why things changed, perhaps she simply wanted him to actually accomplish the assignment and has not told him that he will not be graded on it?
I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt till that person PROVES to me they don’t deserve it.  I know if it was a child in a class I was teaching, I would take everything the parents told me with a grain of salt because I need to see the actions myself to believe them.  Sucks for you because you are trying your best with your kid, but honestly, most of the “bad” kids I have met are actually the parents being unrealistic about their child or having unrealistic expectations.

Lost and Tired

dobby1986  It’s not so much the school as it is the teachers. I spoke with one of them today after school and got the impression that they just aren’t going to accept who Gavin is really is… 

I’m pretty frustrated but at the same time, this isn’t something that’s easy  to understand and accept. 

Thanks for your support.  🙂


I agree with you Rob. He has to learn and I am very worried that you spoke with the school about this and you guys had an arrangement just for them to go back on it. This is only going to make the issue with him putting parents against teachers and vice versa even worse. This is defiantly something I think needs to be addressed. This goes past more than just this one assignment. I think you have every right to be fired up, I would be too.