How Aspergers Affects Learning

Mainstream Western style education is set up and organised to assist the learning and development of those who are essentially normal. People who have learning disorders, whether they be Asperger’s, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and all the rest, are probably going to have a hard time in mainstream education. Educators are often ignorant about the problems which Asperger’s causes, children may well be accused of being lazy and having a poor attitude. The political landscape is as such that it is unlikely that there will be increased funding towards helping educators develop their knowledge and skills to assist those affected.

A young child may have eccentric behaviour but it is likely to become unnoticed until the child reaches adolescence. This is where things start to go wrong. The unwritten, unstated rules of social interaction are not understood by those with Asperger’s. So much of communication is non-verbal, this can be a nightmare when someone doesn’t know what others know intuitively.

Someone who doesn’t have the intuitive knowledge to adapt to the personalities of other people is likely to end up being isolated. Social interaction is the most difficult aspect for those with Asperger’s, and without it, success in education is very difficult. Those with this syndrome often have an inclination to focus on a narrow range of interests. Their process of thought is pedantic and literal, but logical. This presents challenges to educators because the students want to follow their own interests as opposed to what the rest of a class is learning. In adult life, there is improvement to some degree, because people have learned social mistakes through experience. However, university would still represent major challenges. A person with Asperger’s needs an organised set routine.

Educators need to understand the difference in thought processes compared to others. This enables the person to respond positively to expectations.

Overall outlook

Of course, a good education allows someone with Asperger’s to cope better with later life. Educators need to have more awareness of the condition, and the problems it can lead to. It would be helpful if there were more specialist teachers, although some have performed well in a normal educational setting. A formal diagnosis is very important in order for educational success to be achieved. Without such a diagnosis, educators will look negatively at the person. There needs to be better training for people who work within education at all levels, and more thought needs to go into appropriate teaching strategies for those with specific learning disorders.

References:

http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~alistair/survival/education.html

http://www.mugsy.org/wing2.htm