Aspergers Syndrome in the Classroom

Asperger’s syndrome is a developmental disorder. It is one of the many issues that fall under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorder. While there is still much research to be done  the nearest estimate that is available on the number of children affected is two out of every 10,000. Boys are three to four more likely to have Asperger’s than girls.

Signs and symptoms
* becomes obsessive about one particular object or subject
* show little or no interest in developing friendships
* monotone speech that lacks rhythm
* display unusual non verbal communication skills, lack of eye contact, awkward body postures and gestures, very few facial expressions
* craves routine in all things
* does not understand sarcasm, humor
* appears not to understand, empathize with or be sensitive to the feelings of others

There is no cure for Asperger’s syndrome. There is no known cause for Asperger’s. However, there are things a teacher can do to help a child with Asperger’s become more socially aware and develop skills to help him do better in the class room and in life.

A teacher who has a student with Asperger’s has a great opportunity to help a child and a classroom strike a balance of learning and teach tolerance and acceptance. The parents, teacher and other school professionals with develop and Individualized Learning Plan that will ensure the student is benefiting from all possible resources.

The classroom should have a regular routine. The routine should have something visual as well as the auditor clues for a shift in classroom work.  For example, in a preschool class when the children are coming in, putting away their things and finding their places there may be a simple large blue dot on the board. The teacher can remind students, “See the blue dot. That means it is time to find our places and get ready for learning.

The teacher carefully changes the dot when the next major shift of activity takes place. I am putting up the yellow dot. This means we are all going to move back to our sharing circle and do our sharing circle exercises.

The order can be changed, but always use the colored circles. The child with Asperger’s will relate to the circles. He would prefer the order never change, but the circles will help alert changes and give the child coping skills.

Creating a safe place for those in a classroom who need a break is a great idea. If any child in the classroom feels overwhelmed they can take a five minute timer and go to a specific area. They need to be quiet and give themselves down time until the timer vibrates.
Talk about the condition with all the students. “Some people in our classroom have different needs. Some children can not hear as well as others and we have to talk louder. Some people don’t understand all the words we use and we have to repeat and explain things better. In this classroom we work together so everyone can learn.”

Asperger’s syndrome can be managed and there can be progress. Learn teaching and coping skills for the family, student, teacher and school.