Part 10: Teaching Strategies for Students with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism – Poor Motor Coordination

Young people with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA):
  • are often physically clumsy and awkward
  • are often unsuccessful in games involving motor skills
  • experience fine-motor deficits that can cause penmanship problems, slow clerical speed and affect their ability to draw
  • have stiff, awkward gaits

Programming Suggestions for Teachers:

1. Some kids with AS and HFA benefit from guidelines drawn on paper that help them control the size and uniformity of the letters they write. This also forces them to take the time to write carefully.

2. When assigning timed units of work, make sure the youngster's slower writing speed is taken into account.

3. Refer the “special needs” youngster for adaptive physical education program if gross motor problems are severe.

4. Young people with AS and HFA may require a highly individualized cursive program that entails tracing and copying on paper, coupled with motor patterning on the blackboard. The teacher can guide the youngster's hand repeatedly through the formation of letters and letter connections, and can also use a verbal script. Once the youngster commits the script to memory, he can talk himself through letter formations independently.

5. Involve the youngster in a health/fitness curriculum in physical education, rather than in a competitive sports program.

6. Children on the autism spectrum may need more time than their peers to complete exams. Taking exams in the resource room not only offers more time, but would also provide the added structure and teacher redirection these kids need to focus on the task at hand.

7. Do not push the AS or HFA youngster to participate in competitive sports, because her poor motor coordination may only invite frustration and the teasing of team members. She lacks the social understanding of coordinating one's own actions with those of others on a team.

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