Should Aspergers children be placed in school based on their chronological or academic level?

Most children with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism are very intelligent. Highly intelligent children on the autism spectrum often developed “asynchronously” (i.e., their minds, cognitive and emotional functions are developed differently and are ahead of their physical growth). Their interests are completely different from those of their peers, and they prefer the company of adults or older children because they can relate to them in a better way.

Many children with Aspergers are not in school to socialize – they are there to learn (one of the things these children hate is other students disrupting class). So, if your Aspergers child is, for example, grade 5 chronologically but grade 7 academically – I would recommend that you place him/her with the 7th graders. 

How can you know if grade-skipping is right for your Aspergers youngster?

1. Assess how your youngster handles an unexpected challenge. If he is a perfectionist, easily frustrated, or easily becomes upset over a failure, advancing could be devastating.

2. Kids must demonstrate a desire to advance, and a commitment to learning and completing tasks.

3. If your youngster is bored at school, or doesn't do his homework because the work is too easy, that could be an indicator that grade skipping is appropriate.

4. Physical health is imperative, but not necessarily a youngster's size, which may be more of a concern for males than females. Some families are deterred by the loss of a high school athletic career.

5. Standardized testing can determine the difference between someone who is well-educated and one who is intellectually gifted. To advance successfully, some teachers indicate that kids should have a measured IQ in at least the 98th+ percentiles (IQ measurements vary depending on the test, but 125-130 is a minimum) and should already work at the average level of the desired grade placement.

6. They need to be well-adjusted emotionally (except for social difficulties that stem from inappropriate school placement), and should not be simultaneously coping with other emotional pressures (e.g., divorce in the family, moving to a different school, etc.).

Grade skipping is not perfect for everyone, and the decision should be carefully weighed in light of the "whole" youngster. But if you feel that your Aspie is a good candidate for acceleration, be assertive with your school in requesting that he or she be evaluated.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

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