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Classroom Challenges for Asperger Students


The characteristics of Aspergers (high functioning autism) translate into challenges to learning, behavior, and socialization for the youngster with the disorder and pose just as significant difficulties for the teacher in terms of teaching, controlling behaviors, and maintaining a classroom environment that is conducive to learning by all students, including the youngster with Aspergers. The list below provides a quick reference guide for some of the common difficulties kids with Aspergers have in the classroom.

Common difficulties in the classroom:

• Academic difficulties
• Appear “normal” to other people
• Difficulties with abstract concepts
• Difficulty with learning in large groups
• Difficulty with reciprocal conversations
• Emotional vulnerability
• Inability to make friends
• Insistence on sameness/difficulty with changes in routine
• Interests limited to specific topics
• Low frustration tolerance
• Motor clumsiness
• Pedantic speech
• Poor concentration
• Poor coping strategies
• Poor organization skills
• Poor writing skills (fine-motor problems)
• Problem-solving abilities tend to be poor
• Restricted range of interests
• Sensory issues
• Socially na├»ve and literal thinkers
• Tend to be reclusive
• Vocabulary usually great; comprehension poor

Because these kids have so many strengths, it is often easy to overlook their weaknesses. Also, some of their behaviors may be misinterpreted as “spoiled” or “manipulative,” resulting in the mistaken impression that kids with Aspergers are being defiant and “troublemakers.”

It is important for teachers to recognize that inappropriate behaviors are usually a function of poor coping skills, low frustration tolerance, and difficulty reading social cues. Most teaching strategies that are effective for students with autism (structure, consistency, etc.) also work for students with Aspergers. However, because these kids are often aware that they are different and can be self-conscious about it, teachers may need to be subtler in their intervention methods.

My Aspergers Child: Highly Praised Program for Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums 

Aspergers Students: Dealing with Tantrums, Rage and Meltdowns in the Classroom


Tantrums, rage, and meltdowns (terms that are used interchangeably) typically occur in three stages that can be of variable length. These stages and associated interventions are described below. The best intervention for these behavioral outbursts is to prevent them through the use of appropriate academic, environmental, social, and sensory supports and modification to environment and expectations.

The Cycle of Tantrums, Rage, and Meltdowns and Related Interventions

 Initial stage

During the initial stage, children with Aspergers (high functioning autism) exhibit specific behavioral changes that may appear to be minor (e.g., nail biting, tensing muscles, indicating discomfort). During this stage, it is imperative that an adult intervene without becoming part of a struggle.

Intervention

Effective interventions during this stage include: antiseptic bouncing, proximity control, support from routine and home base. All of these strategies can be effective in stopping the cycle of tantrums, rage, and meltdowns and can help the youngster regain control with minimal adult support.

Rage

If behavior is not diffused during the initial stage, the child may move to the rage stage. At this point, the youngster is disinhibited and acts impulsively, emotionally, and sometimes explosively. These behaviors may be externalized (e.g., screaming, biting, hitting, kicking, destroying property, self-injury), or internalized (e.g., shutdowns, withdrawal). Meltdowns are not purposeful, and once the rage stage begins, it most often must run its course.

Intervention

Emphasis should be placed on youngster, peer, and adult safety, as well as protection of school, home, or personal property. Of importance here is helping the child with Aspergers regain control and preserve dignity. Adults should have developed plans for (a) obtaining assistance from educators, such as a crisis teacher or principal; (b) removing the student from the area (removing the upset student from the peer group is far less memorable for the peers than is moving the entire peer group away from the upset student); or (c) providing therapeutic restraint, if necessary. Especially in elementary and middle school, every effort should be made to prevent allowing a student to have a meltdown in view of peers as this behavior tends to “define” the student in the peers’ minds in years ahead.

Recovery

Following a meltdown, the youngster with Aspergers often cannot fully remember what occurred during the rage stage. Some may become sullen, withdraw, or deny that inappropriate behavior occurred. Other children are so physically exhausted that they need to sleep.

Intervention

During the recovery stage, kids are often not ready to learn. Thus, it is important that adults work with them to help them to once again become a part of the routine. This is often best accomplished by directing the child to a highly motivating task that can be easily accomplished (e.g., activity related to a special interest). If appropriate, when the student has calmed sufficiently, “process” the incident with him or her. Staff should analyze the incident to identify whether or not the environment, expectations, or staff-behavior played a role in precipitating the incident.

My Aspergers Child: Methods for Preventing Meltdowns at Home and in the Classroom

What is the best way to communicate with my Aspergers child?

Question

What is the best way of effectively communicating things to my child with Aspergers?

Answer

Communicating with a child who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be a delightful experience. It can just as often be a frustrating experience. Children with ASD can have a wide range of communication skills, so it’s important to tailor any communication specifically to your child. Many times, you’ll have to try some communication techniques to see if they’re effective.

Be sensitive when speaking with a child with Asperger’s (high functioning autism). Understand that your child might not be able to maintain eye contact or that he might not want you sitting close to him or touching him. Understand that you will need to teach him how to communicate effectively.

Using a tool such as Interactive Training Cards, created by Joan Green, can help you teach your child about communication. Interactive Training cards were developed by special educators specifically to help facilitate communication with people with communication delays or difficulties. Each set of communication cards comes with 120 2”x2” laminated cards that relate to the topic of the set. The set also includes four sentence and cards containing common words, such as yes, no, thank you, no thank you, and more. Words are printed on the front and back of each picture.

These Interactive Training Cards come in several sets, each set having a different theme. The Food Set includes foods for each meal, snacks, condiments and kitchen materials and utensils. The Home and Health Set include chores, hygiene activities, body parts and physical ailments. Another set contains Elementary and High School Activities.

Understand that communicating with a child with ASD will be repetitive and time consuming. It can often be frustrating. Be patient. Often children with ASD are slower to process things they hear, so expect the pace of conversation to be different than in a standard conversation. Give your child time and space to respond appropriately and to formulate a response.

When working on communication skills with your child, try to engage him in a topic of interest to him. This will help extend the conversation and give him a change to feel confident while talking to you. He will be excited and will be more willing to engage when the topic piques his interest.

Communicating effectively with children with ASD can be a challenge. But the rewards and benefits are tremendous. Your child will reap the benefits of your efforts, as he is able to understand the world a bit better and to learn more effective communication skills.


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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content