Students with Aspergers Syndrome
Caitlin, Sam is a student in your classroom who has Aspergers Syndrome and as a teacher, you will find there is a lot of support available to educate students who are on the Autism Spectrum.
Aspergers Syndrome is a developmental disorder that falls within the Autistic spectrum, it can often be referred to as high functioning Autism (Winter 2003). A person who has Asperger Syndrome will have characteristics that give them difficulties with social interaction, communication, imagination and sensory sensitivities.
Often students who are diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome have dual exceptionalities, meaning that they have more than one condition or syndrome. Common conditions that coincide with Aspergers include but are not limited to:
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Tourette Syndrome.
Asperger Syndrome have strengths and weaknesses, outlined in the table below:
|Excellent factual memory for their chosen topic of interest||Disinterest & avoidance of topics which are not of interest|
|Normal or higher than average intelligence||Impaired social intelligence|
|Extensive expertise in their chosen topic of interest||Unable to adapt to other topics|
|Like to do well with academic work||Need support in many areas to do well|
Caitlin, you have identified that your student Sam as Asperger Syndrome, therefore you need to be able and willing to focus on his strengths to allow him to build his self-esteem and for him to feel like a valued member of your class. To help with his learning, you can create the following items and experiences that can help him cope with his difficulties (Dixon 2010).
Use visual cues
Students with Asperger Syndrome often find it hard to communicate and change their structure. By explaining the process of the day, what happens when and why it’s happening, through heavily focusing on visuals rather than written text, these students are able to build up their own coping techniques and have positive experiences just like the rest of their peers.
Often a student with Asperger Syndrome will show signs that they are going to ‘explode’. Caitlin, by being able to read each individual and identify the signs that show an ‘explosion’ is emanate you will be able to calm the student and aviod the student becoming stressed (Winter 2003).
Teach Social Skills
All students will benefit from being explicitly taught social skills. By exploring what is deemed ‘appropriate’ and ‘inappropriate’ allows for students with Asperger Syndrome to become aware of how they are to act in public situations and with their friends. It also allows for the rest of the class to develop an understanding of Sam’s characteristics, which can decrease the social barriers that may be in place.
Students can often connect better when you adapt your teaching to include their topic of interest. By creating power cards and social stories around their favourite topic or character the students with Asperger Syndrome are able to learn what is acceptable in social contexts (Winter 2003).
Williams, K 2001, 'Understanding the student with Asperger Syndrome: Guidelines for teachers', Intervention in School and Clinic, vol.36, no.5.
Winter, M 2003, Asperger Syndrome: What teachers need to know, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London, UK.