Search This Site

HFA Students and Social Problems in the Classroom: Tips for Teachers

“I’m a 5th grade teacher (Baltimore area) with a challenging 10 year old student diagnosed on the high functioning end of autism. My question is what are some of the ‘social areas’ these special needs students struggle in, and how can I tailor my approach to make accommodations for those areas?”

Children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s have several important areas of challenge that can negatively impact their social competence. 

Here are the main ones:
  • usually have a desire to be part of the social world, but lack the skills to do so
  • use monotone or stilted, unnatural tone of voice
  • use inappropriate gaze and body language
  • take expressions literally
  • over-eagerness to answer questions or participate in classroom activities
  • often talk at people instead of to them
  • often avoid eye contact
  • misinterpret social cues
  • may not like physical contact
  • may “appear” egocentric
  • lack of control of facial expression
  • inability to grasp implied meanings
  • have well-developed speech but poor communication
  • exhibit poor ability to initiate and sustain conversation
  • do not understand jokes, irony or metaphors
  • constant reiteration of facts and figures related to subjects that interest them
  • clumsiness
  • can’t judge "social distance"
  • are sometimes labeled "little professor" because speaking style is so adult-like and pedantic
  • are much younger emotionally than their “typical” peers
  • are easily taken advantage of (do not perceive that others sometimes lie or trick them)
  • an inability to understand complex rules of social interaction

Here are a few suggestions to implement that may help your HFA student with some of the social-skills deficits he or she encounters:

1. Perhaps first and foremost, protect the youngster from bullying and teasing. HFA students often benefit from a "buddy system." Thus, you could educate a sensitive classmate about the situation of your HFA student and seat them next to each other. The classmate could look out for the “special needs” student on the bus, during recess, in the hallways, etc., as well as attempt to include him or her in school activities.

2. Most children on the autism spectrum want friends, but simply do not know how to interact. Therefore, they should be taught how to react to social cues and be given repertoires of responses to use in various social situations. Put simply, teach your HFA student what to say and how to say it. Model two-way interactions, and let him or her role-play. The social judgment of these young people improves only after they have been taught rules that others pick up intuitively.

3. Kids on the spectrum tend to be reclusive. Thus, it would be helpful to foster involvement with others. Encourage active socialization and limit time spent in isolated pursuit of interests (e.g., a teacher's aide seated at the lunch table could actively encourage the youngster to participate in the conversation of his or her peers).

4. Praise classmates when they treat your HFA student with compassion (this may prevent scapegoating while promoting empathy and tolerance).

5. Emphasize the proficient academic skills of the HFA youngster by creating cooperative learning situations in which his or her reading skills, vocabulary, memory, etc. will be viewed as an asset by peers, thereby engendering acceptance.

6. Although they lack personal understanding of the emotions of others, kids on the spectrum can learn the correct way to respond. When they have been unintentionally insulting, tactless or insensitive, it must be explained to them why the response was inappropriate and what response would have been correct. Children with HFA must learn social skills intellectually due to the fact that they lack social instinct and intuition.

Many of the traits of HFA can be "masked" by average to above average IQ scores. This can result in the student being misunderstood by teachers. They may presume that he or she is capable of more than is being produced. Lack of understanding of the HFA student in this way can significantly impede the desire of teachers to search for strategies useful in overcoming the hindrances caused by the disorder.

Highly Acclaimed Parenting Programs Offered by Online Parent Support, LLC:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


Do you need the advice of a professional who specializes in parenting children and teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders?  Sign-up for Online Parent Coaching today.

No comments:

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content