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Aspergers Syndrome and/or Autism

Compiled By: shapingminds

What do you know about Aspergers Syndrome or Autism? These students are often included in the general education classroom. Here's some information on this disability and tips in working with them in the classroom.

Asperger's Syndrome
Posted by: Mary

Asperger's Syndrome is a type of neurological disorder that have some characteristics of autism. They are not necessarily autistic, yet it falls under the umbrella of autism and pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). Many times children who have Asperger's are extremely bright, but have social difficulties. They don't react to social situations and social cues as most children and adults do, for example, smiling when they shouldn't be smiling. It isn't that they mean to smile, it is just neurologically wired that way into their brain.

It would be beneficial for this student to see a pediatric neurologist who has knowledge of Asperger's Syndrome to be diagnosed. Unfortunately, a psychologist may not pick this condition up when testing. Just to let you know, Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton were thought to have Asperger's Syndrome.

Your student wants to do the right thing and make friends, he just doesn't know how to go about it. Essentially, after being diagnosed, he should qualify for special ed services under the diagnosis of Autism, even thought Asperger's is not necessarily autism. It is just for lack of a better term and falls under the umbrella of autism. He should also qualify for autism resource services which will help him learn how to respond to social situations more appropriately.

Aspergers Syndrome
Posted by: ella

I am definitely not an expert on Aspergers Syndrome, but I will tell you what information I know...Aspergers is a form of Autism. There are different types of autism, but children with asperger's have speech, language and cognitive development within the "normal" range. You may notice that this child has repetitive/ritualistic behaviors (he/she does not like to vary certain daily routines...etc.) Sometimes the term "high functioning autism" has been used to describe this group of children. They may have impairments in social functioning & communication patterns and motor functioning; have isolated special skills and circumscribed interests. Typically, individuals with Asperger's syndrome do not have clinically significant delays in language acquisition, cognitive development or self help skills.

Aspergers' not easy to deal with
Posted by: cdg

You should request a meeting about the child and bring up all of your concerns. In the very least, contact whomever it is that has his IEP (I'm sure he has one) and be sure you read it, especially any areas of "additional information" or "additional requirements" or some such info. It may have a behavioral plan mentioned, which gives you the authority to use that plan in your room. (It may not be YOUR plan, but one set up by his teacher that you continue with while he's with you.) It may also give you some other important information that may be helpful, such as he becomes over stimulated in a loud room or when given mutilple step directions, etc. which may cause him to "strike out". Talk to his regular teacher & see what she does in the room to handle his behavior; seek her/his advise.

From personal experince, school districts often become weak in the knees when a parent starts to "lawyer up" and threatens law suits. Teachers end up with children in their classrooms that really would benefit more from a program aimed towards meeting their specific needs.

Posted by: Joan

While inclusion seems pretty frightening to most of us, it is not always a negative experience. When done properly, many studies show the results to be dramatic. My close friend's child is autistic and was fully included beginning in the fourth grade. He was assigned a full time assistant. He was an ideal candidate as he is not violent and he has promising abilities in some subject areas. My friend was very nervous about taking this step, but the results were amazing. He grew almost three years in math and over a year and a half in reading in only one school year!!! Also, the students in his class learned a lot from having him in there. I am sure that students who have shared a class with Jason are a bit more compassionate, understanding, and informed (and possibly have a better sense of humor).

The word inclusion has a bad ring to it because of some poor choices that have been made. Inclusion candidates should be well-screened to ensure that they will not hinder the learning that takes place in the classroom and that they will benefit from the new learning environment too. In my tenure as a teacher, I have seen more positive (two Downs Syndrome and one Autistic) inclusions than negative (an emotionally disturbed child... yikes!). Great strides have been made in the area of special education, and inclusion, in my opinion, is one of them.

Excellent suggestions on the web
Posted by: Sandra

Routine is very important along with some behaviour modification. Pick out 1 or 2 things that you really want the student to work on at one time. The student I had was not diagnosed until he was in grade 5. He was very good at negotiating and manipulating. We had a frank discussion about what each meant. All I had to do if I didn't approve of his behaviour was to tell him that he was manipulating the situation. I was willing to listen to him if he wanted to "negotiate" with me. This probably solved half of the difficulties he had with school work and the routines.

Gifted with Aspergers
Posted by: D. Mueller

We have several children in our school with Asperger's Syndrome. This child sounds absolutely typical. We have sent teachers to conferences to learn more about this syndrome and they did an inservice training for the rest of the faculty. Based on what I know about this condition, I think you should absolutely not do separate lessons for this child. She needs to be a part of the class. As far as behavior goes, the most successful strategy we have found is to evaluate the child's emotional and social age (probably around age 4) and deal with the behavioral issues the way you would for a child of that age. I'm assuming this is a formally diagnosed student. Does she take medication? An antidepressent is often prescribed and seems to help many children.

It may be something he can not help
Posted by: clarkestep

I say this because it sounds like an Autistic Spectrum disorder called Asperger's Syndrome. These people are EXTREMELY bright but have no or very little social skills. My step son is being tested for it now at age 21. Some of the signs are:

male 5 to 1 ratio
cannot make eye contact when talking
obscessed with certain topics of interest
routine oriented freak out if things change
they speak their mind and have no tact (thus what you said)
no empathy for others
they have normal development as a small child (motor skills, verbal)
they only focus on the present, not future minded at all
they have a hard time reading social clues and facial expressions
they may have nervous tics
can't relate to cause and effect, like natural consequences
they can be oversensitive to smell, touch, light, or sound

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Student with aspergers
Posted by: Ann Broughton

I am an inclusion teacher dealing with a third grade girl who has Asperger Syndrome. I just came back from a conference in which the speaker said that anti-depressents help with the behavior situations. I have problems with mine touching and hitting other students. We have put her on a behavior plan so that she gets to play on the computer if she earns so many points. I think we need to reinforce it so she gets rewarded more frequently. At the moment her toucing others is more of a positive reinforcement to her. The speaker said a good book to get is Asperger Syndrome: A Handbook for Educators by Attwood. The speech and language person needs to be working with your student on social stories, looking at real pictures of faces (sad, happy, etc.)

Strategies I used
Posted by: SPEteacher2

I had a students with aspergers' syndrome this past year in second grade. I was his resource teacher and spent well over half of each day with him. I worked closely with his reg. ed teacher and other specialists he would see almost daily to find out what was working or not working for him and how we could try to solve any problems he seemed to be having. I(as the SPED resource teacher) contacted the mother via e-mail everyday to give her an update on his daily behavior. This was helpful because she was able to give me insight to what was going on at home that might have caused problems at school.
Here are some strategies/ideas that worked for us(no, they didn't work 100% of the time but they all are worth a try and consistency makes them more reliable):
Daily structure-a visual schedule of the days events
A special place in the classroom where the child can go when he/she feels the need to take a "time-out" This helps especially when the student is at a loss for words and needs time to think instead of having a meltdown.
A seat near the front of the classroom with few distractions.
A special place in line or a job to do such as carrying something that will keep his/her hands occupied. Transistions in hallways are usually very difficult, so this area needs special consideration.
Some type of behavior chart that the child can see throughtout the day.
The student may also need to have fidget toys(stress balls) or opportunities to stand up and have sensory break.
Help the student be prepared for any changes to the normal daily schedule: if you know you are having a sub, a fire drill, a speaker, a field trip.
I can't remember all of the things we used at this moment, but I hope some of these are helpful. Please remember, you are not alone in educating this child. I agree with the posting about reading the IEP. I also think you should work closely with everyone this student has contact with which should make your year go more smoothly.

student advice
Posted by: kali

It seems that students with Asperger's Syndrome (or Autism) are all very different and the adaptations vary. A few years ago a child with Aspergers was in my class. I saw my student's challenge was his ability to be social. He had many of the symptoms you read about. For example; he didn't make eye contact, was self centered, was confused by idioms, needed things to be consistant and language to be literal. It was diffucult for him to maintain friendships and he would say cruel things to other kids. The things wouldn't bother him so he thought it wouldn't bother anyone else. He had a very hard time making sense of facial and non verbal langauge. The social piece is such a big part of development, and this really got in the way of his success. There were also some other out of ordinary behavior, examples of this might be..... high tolerance of pain and a need for pressure. My student would put his feet under the chairs and apply pressure to his feet were bruised. Sometimes push his head againts a hard surface. These are some behaviors your student might have. My student was such a great kid, I thought he was funny, intelligent, and worth the extra effort it took running my class. Like the other helpful posts said, consistance is a good thing and routines are important. If you are going to change your room you should tell the student, and also if things are going to change in the schedule, he or she needs advanced warning. Some students really like having a wiggle seat, weighted teddy bear, or squeeze ball. Be real firm and direct like another poster said. Sorry to ramble. Best of luck with everything and remember what a hero you are for doing your best for this student. We are expected to be miracle workers! Oh yeah I just thought of something else that might help with your student. In your guided reading groups, maybe you could pick books that would help your student better understand his social world. I know with my first grader he needed lots of instruction for example, what happy, sad, and funny were. We made home made books with the digital camera to teach these emotions. For happy we showed things like; a kid opening a birthday present with a smile, a boy holding up a trophy in his uniform with the biggest grin.

Asberger's syndrome at school
Posted by: BridgetteZobeck

I have a son who is asberger's, we are also trying to work with him in a classroom enviorment and it is very difficult. It takes quite a bit of direction and one on one time with us, the parents. One thing I would suggest is visual aids for him to understand what you are doing. Often with him doing it helps also maybe a peer helper maybe your outgoing A student in the class or someone who has no problem communicating. That would be less intrusive for him. Sometimes with my son it just takes that outgoing person to help him open up.

Asperger's Syndrome
Posted by: Naomi

Kids on the autism spectrum, which Asperger's is on, all have a lot of trouble with social boundaries--when is it ok to say this? Why do I have to wait when I know the answer? Why do I have to take turns? Although all these strange little social rules are second nature to us, they actually have to be taught to people with AS who do not pick them up naturally.

Sometimes it helps to write down a discrete set of rules, not too general and not too specific. You'll know they are too specific if there are too many for any person to follow, lol. And you'll know they are to general for him if you have to keep explaining, "why did you do this? rule number x says ___"

Sometimes if it is an ongoing habit, it helps to write a social story. A social story is a story about the child that is geared to the verbal level of the child (from picture story all the way to very detailed) that talks about the behavior and what the child will do to try to behave in the correct way.

Having a child with AS in your class is none to easy. But these kids have a insight into learning that is different from yours and mine, and if you let them you can learn a new way of looking at problems. And you will grow tremendously.


Asperger's Syndrome
Posted by: BTDT

Part of the syndrome is not being in tune with social boundries. Be firm, yet polite with "no." And consistent! I had a 3rd grader with Asperger's and it took a while for him to realize that the things he could get away with at home, he could NOT get away with in my classroom. No, touching your chest is NOT appropriate and yes, document, document, document. I have to admit that was a long, frustrating year for me, but it was worth it at the end to see the growth that child made with the help of many other, including the parents. Hang in there!

Asperger's Syndrome
Posted by: Lynne in VA

I had a child with Asperger's Syndrome in my class last year. He was VERY bright and had some definite needs. He could blow up quickly if teased. Many times the teasing and fighting happens because often these children do not read facial expressions the way most of us do. I had him work with our counselor (and mirrors) to learn to understand what people meant when they looked at him in different ways. He also had problems stepping on people and bumping into them because of this syndrome. We worked with the occupational therapist for ideas to help him understand boundaries. Often these children have no concept of where their bodies are in a spatial sense. Sitting in beanbag chairs can help with this sensory deficit because the chair envelops the child giving a sense of boundaries. He also asked me to talk to the class at Morning Meeting without him being in the room so that the other kids would "understand that he wasn't doing these things on purpose". This helped a lot socially and the rest of the class became more tolerant. We wrote a special plan for his education and his teacher this year went into the year knowing about his special needs. He is a loving, sweet child and once many of the problems were circumvented, he had fewer problems with his peers. His mother was also EXTREMELY supportive and worked on strategies with him at home to mesh with what we were doing at school.

verbal behavior
Posted by: AV

I would suggest that you look into a verbal behavior analysis program. What you really want to do is reinforce him when he is quiet and also teach language to him. I would suggest the Sunberg and Partington book, "Teaching language to children with Autism or other developmental disabilities" as a start. Children with autism need intensive teaching instruction.

As far as waiting for the child to respond, I would have to disagree with the previous reply. If we wait for an extended time for our children to respond you begin to build that wait time into their repetoire. If the child does not answer when you say, "What's your name?" You should prompt right away (within 2 seconds) and then ask again to transfer the trial into a independent response or give the next least prompt. Whatever the question or task you ask of the child you need to follow thru right away. We want our students to answer quickly and have fluency as well as generalization of skills.

Finally, all behavior does serve a function as you mentioned, but a functional behavior assessment needs to be conducted to ensure what the function of the behavior really is. He may be babbling just for attention, or maybe just sensory self stimulation in which case you need a higher reinforcing item(candy or something to give him when he is quiet) to compete with his immediate reinforcing behavior of babbling. There are only four functions of behavior: sensory, attention, escape, and tangible.

He may be babbling to escape momentarily from the task at hand....please do a FBA.

High Functioning Autism/Inclusion
Posted by: Nikki

Hi! I'm an ED teacher at the elementary level, and I have a first grader diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (mild form of autism) who is included into the regular ed class. I'm considered a "resource" teacher, and this student visits me quite often, due to behavior difficulties, but academically, he's way above grade level..... He's very intelligent, creative, and picks up new skills immediately..... he does have a one-to-one aide, because his behaviors have been severe (although he's making big improvements) in the beginning of the year he'd bite himself, slam his hands into the desk/door until they would bleed, scream, kick, rip everything up..... he spent the majority of the time in my room in the beginning of the year.... now because he can handle more things, he spends more time int he regular ed class. (with an aide)