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Aspergers Students: A Guide for Teachers

Listed below are some issues that may become apparent to you as you work with Aspergers students. Many of the behaviors you will see are NOT under his or her control – and they are NOT a result of malice or willful misbehavior. At times your Aspergers student simply does not innately know how to appropriately respond.

General Behaviors—

At times, your Aspergers student may experience "meltdowns" when nothing may help behavior. At times like this, please allow a "safe and quiet spot" where your Aspergers student will be allowed to "cool off". Try to take note of what occurred before the meltdown (was it an unexpected change in routine, for example). It's best to talk "after" the situation has calmed down.

Foster a classroom atmosphere that supports the acceptance of differences and diversity.

Generally speaking, a teacher speaking in a calm voice will reap many benefits.

It is important to remember that just because the student learns something in one situation this doesn't automatically mean that they remember - or are able to generalize the learning to new situations.

Note strengths often. This will give your Aspergers student the courage to keep on plugging.

Your Aspergers student may have vocal outbursts or shriek. Be prepared for them, especially when having a difficult time. Also, please let the other kids know that this is a way of dealing with stress or fear.

Your Aspergers student may need help with problem-solving situations. Please be willing to take the time to help with this.

Your Aspergers student reacts well to positive and patient styles of teaching.

This syndrome is characterized by a sort of "swiss cheese" type of development: that is, some things are learned age-appropriately, while other things may lag behind or be absent. Furthermore, kids may have skills years ahead of normal development (for example, a student may understand complex mathematics principles, yet not be able to remember to bring their homework home).

When dividing up assignments, please ASSIGN teams rather than have the other kids "choose members", because this increases the chances that your Aspergers student will be left out or teased.

When it reaches a point that things in the classroom are going well, it means that we've gotten it RIGHT. It doesn't mean that your Aspergers student is "cured", "never had a problem" or that "it's time to remove support". Increase demands gradually.

When you see anger or other outbursts, your Aspergers student is not being deliberately difficult. Instead, this is in a "fight/fright/flight" reaction. Think of this as an "electrical circuit overload" (prevention can sometimes head off situations if you see the warning signs coming).


Your Aspergers student may repeat the same thing over and over again, and you may find that this increases as stress increases. It is more helpful if you avoid being pulled into this by answering the same thing over and over or raising your voice or pointing out that the question is being repeated. Instead, try to redirect your Aspergers student's attention or find an alternative way so he/she can save face. Allowing your Aspergers student to write down the question or thought and providing a response in writing may break the stresses/cycle.


Your Aspergers student may have a great deal of difficulty with transitions. Having a picture or word schedule may be helpful. Please try to give as much advance notice as possible if there is going to be a change or disruption in the schedule. Giving one or two warnings before a change of activity or schedule may be helpful

Sensory Motor Skills/Auditory Processing—

Your Aspergers student may act in a very clumsy way; she may also react very strongly to certain tastes, textures, smells and sounds.

Your Aspergers student has difficulty understanding a string of directions or too many words at one time. Breaking directions down into simple steps is quite helpful. Using picture cues or directions may also help. Speaking slower and in smaller phrases can help. Directions are more easily understood if they are repeated clearly, simply and in a variety of ways.


Allow the student to "move about" as sitting still for long periods of time can be very difficult (even a 5 minute walk around, with a friend or aide can help a lot). He may get over-stimulated by loud noises, lights, strong tastes or textures, because of the heightened sensitivity to these things. Unstructured times (such as lunch, break and PE) may prove to be the most difficult for him. Please try to help provide some guidance and extra adults help during these more difficult times. With lots of other kids, chaos and noise, please try to help him find a quiet spot to which he can go for some "solace".

Visual Cues—

Some Aspergers kids learn best with visual aids, such as picture schedules, written directions or drawings (other kids may do better with verbal instruction). Hand signals may be helpful, especially to reinforce certain messages, such as "wait your turn", "stop talking" (out of turn), or "speak more slowly or softly".


At times, it may take more than few seconds for the student to respond to questions. He needs to stop what he's thinking, put that somewhere, formulate an answer and then respond. Please wait patiently for the answer and encourage others to do the same. Otherwise, he will have to start over again. When someone tries to help by finishing his sentences or interrupting, he often has to go back and start over to get the train of thought back.

Eye Contact—

At times, it looks as if the student is not listening to you when he really is. Don't assume that because he is not looking at you that he is not hearing you. Unlike most of us, sometimes forcing eye contact BREAKS her concentration. He may actually hear and understand you better if not forced to look directly at your eyes.

Social Skills and Friendships—

Herein lies one of the biggest challenges for Aspergers kids. They may want to make friends very badly, yet not have a clue as to how to go about it. Identifying 1 or 2 empathetic students who can serve as "buddies" will help the student feel as though the world is a friendlier place. Talking with the other members of the class may help, if done in a positive way and with the permission of the family. For example, talking about the fact that many or most of us have challenges and that the Aspergers students challenge is that he cannot read social situations well, just as others may need glasses or hearing aids.

Students with Asperger's Syndrome may be at greater risk for becoming "victims" of bullying behavior by other students. This is caused by a couple of factors:

1. There is a great likelihood that the response or "rise" that the "bully" gets from the Asperger student reinforces this kind of behavior.

2. Asperger kids want to be included and/or liked so badly that they are reluctant to "tell" on the bully, fearing rejection from the perpetrator or other students.


This is very important to most Aspergers kids, but can be very difficult to attain on a regular basis in our world. Please let your Aspergers student know of any anticipated changes as soon as you know them, especially with picture or word schedules. Let him know, if possible, when there will be a substitute teacher or a field trip occurring during regular school hours.


Although his vocabulary and use of language may seem high, Aspergers kids may not know the meaning of what they are saying even though the words sound correct. Sarcasm and some forums of humor are often not understood by the student. Even explanations of what is meant may not clarify, because the perspectives of Aspergers student can be unique and, at times, immovable.

Organizational Skills—

Your Aspergers student lacks the ability of remember a lot of information or how to retrieve that information for its use. It may be helpful to develop schedules (picture or written) for him. Please post schedules and homework assignments on the board and make a copy for him. Please make sure that these assignments get put into his backpack because he can't always be counted on to get everything home without some help. If necessary allow her to copy the notes of other kids or provide her with a copy. Many AS kids are also dysgraphic and they are unable to listen to you talk, read the board and take notes at the same time.

A Final Word—

At times, some of the student's behaviors may be aggravating and annoying to you and to members of his class. Please know that this is normal and expected. Try not to let the difficult days color the fact that YOU are a wonderful teacher with a challenging situation and that nothing works all of the time (and some things don't even work most of the time). You will also be treated to a new and very unique view of the world that will entertain and fascinate you at times. Communication is the key, and by working together as a team, staff can provide the best for your Aspergers student.

The Parenting Aspergers Resource Guide: A Complete
Resource Guide For Parents Who Have Children Diagnosed
With Aspergers Syndrome.


Student Talk said...

Thank you for sharing this information..

Erin Ellis said...

I cannot thank you enough, I have a very difficult time convincing my son's teacher that he may look like every other child in the class but he is not, and she cannnot expect him to act or learn like them either. Thank you again.

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