Teaching Children with Asperger
Teaching children with Asperger can be a real challenge. Their high intelligence can get them into mainstream schools but which classroom interventions are needed so children with Asperger can be successfull? Schools and their staff must understand what implications the diagnosis Asperger Syndrome will bring. It’s important to find a school for your child that is open en willing to get educated on teaching children with Asperger.
Teachers can be very important in the life’s of children with Asperger and it can be a very fulfilling job. It’s vital teachers provide their Asperger pupils with a structured environment and help them get organized. Teachers have to be capable of approaching those children with Asperger with the most flexible, positive and open mind imaginable.
Their willingness to hold communication open between parents or caregivers is a must so both teacher and parents can work together on this. It’s important to take parents seriously. The behavior of the child at home can be completely different from that in class due to the ability some children with Asperger have to adjust. However at home, in their safe environment they are sometimes more likely to vent their frustrations.
Some teachers however will not be able to provide your child with what it needs in class:
When my son was first diagnosed with Asperger his teacher was unable to grasp what he needed in class. One day she came up to me an told my son ( age 8) was not able to do any task independently. I asked his teacher what had happened and she told me she had found a new math book with more complicated assignments for him since he needed a challenge. She gave it to him but he never started a single assignment from this book. This lead her to believe he was not capable of doing so.
I asked her: what instructions have you given him? And she replied: I told him to take a look at his new math book. Since children with Asperger tend to take things literally all the time I knew he did exactly what she told him to do: look at it. I am sure it looked great and I couldn’t help but snuggle.
If she just would have told him to start and finish the first two assignments he would have done so. Since he is unable to read between the lines he never understood she wanted him to make the assignments in the book and being a good boy he looked at the book like she told him.
Schools must be willing to set up an individual program based on the individual needs of the child with Asperger Syndrome.
Giving instructions: most of the time the child with Asperger will not feel part of the group so instructions given to the whole class are not picked up on.
• Give individual instructions only
• Call the pupils name so they knows you talk to him or her
• Repeat your instructions and check if their understood
• Talk straight to the point, using clear language without double meaning
• Avoid irony, sarcasm or humor since the pupil will not understand what you are talking about
• Try various means of presentation: instead of only verbal instruction, use visual as well.
• Make sure your instruction will help him or her get organized.
Environment: its important to provide children with a clear structured daily routine. Make sure it’s visualized on a picture board what is expected: make pictures or pictograms of day activities or tasks that the child has to do. If there is a possibility to take away the picture of a finished task and put it elsewhere this will encourage the child to clear the board!
• Provide a predictable and safe environment all the time
• Avoid transitions as much as possible.
• Avoid surprises such as a change in routine
• Make sure your classroom is organised, structured and well managed
• Visualize the rules and consequences when broken
• Inform the other pupils about Asperger and what they can do to help
• Set up a buddy for the child with Asperger
• Teach them coping skills through role-play on topics such as social interaction, how to make friends or starting conversation
• Make sure the child can go somewhere quiet when he feels overwhelmed
• Avoid the child being bullied
• Use a reward system that encourages the child to finish what he needs to
• Make us of his or her special interests or preoccupations. (Learning how to add, deduct or multiply can also be done by counting passengers getting on or off at every train station).
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