Students with Asperger’s Syndrome: Supporting Social Development in Higher Education
Co Presenters: • Kendall Swanson, M.A., LPC • Jan Serrantino, Ed. D.
Learning Objectives • Understand the connections between students with AS and academic and social success • Explain the concept of Social Thinking/Cognition • Learn how to develop a program to promote social thinking opportunities for Aspies and students with social deficits • Understand how to develop and use Social Plans; positive social interaction; Interventions • Identify successful strategies for Faculty collaboration
Challenges for students with Asperger’s Syndrome (Asperger’s, High Functioning Autism (HFA) and individuals with social deficits) • Challenges • Social perception • Social Skills • Narrow Interests • Impulsivity • Emotional Control • Time Management • Organization • Persuasive Solicitors
Asperger's Types • The Learner – strongly engaged, may have problems with un-favored work • The One Track- narrow version of the Learner – may have difficulty with gen. ed. or conforming with professors
Types con’t • The Babysittee – little self motivation, needs to have academic pressures minimized and maximized social expansion • The Social Dependant – has found ‘a place’ in college; sub culture org; activity • Adapted from J. Mayshar, OC Asperger’s Group
Myths Facts Socially withdrawn Often seek contact No eye contact Eye contact varies No preferences for people Show clear preferences Manifest bizarre behavior Most look ‘normal’, converse, but… No facial expression Many use some expressions No sense of humor Most seek humor Physically inept Some physically able MG Winner, 2000 FYI
Overwhelmed by: Campus social demands Who to eat meals with How do I join up with a group going to an activity? Terrorized by: Handling novel situations Negative responses from peers Lack of parental intervention The connection between AS students academic success and social success
Aspies do have feelings Shame, resentment, confusion & frustration from: • Not fitting in, novelty of culture, stress of college life, now responsible for all decisions • These feelings frequently lead to anxiety and often depression • Its easier to stay isolated, engage in video games or TV
Skills that need support in Higher Education • Social Skills • Organizational Skills • Time Management • Stress Management • Identifying Safe Zones
Small Group Scenarios • Break into groups of 3-5 • Review scenario • How can DSS support student? • Skills, tasks, academic & social needs • Group reports
Group Reports • Henry/Learner • Adam/One Track • Jessica/Social Dependant • Charlie/Babysittee
What is Social Thinking/Social Cognition? The innate ability to think through and apply information to succeed in situations that require social knowledge (Winner,2004). How humans attempt to understand how others think, perceive, feel, and react. Developing an understanding of other’s actions, thoughts, and feelings is necessary for effective functioning in the social world (Hala, 1997).
Techniques to teach Social Thinking • Creating unique Social Plans • Implementing Social Plans • Social Skill Training = direct instruction • Tracking Success • Supportive Correction • Encouraging social involvement
Developing an Asperger’s Group • Identify current needs of AS students • Academics – organization, time management, classroom locations • Assistance with classroom situations – with faculty, students, and group work • Facilitate student services – advising, housing, career services, study abroad • Social training opportunities • Consistent parental involvement • Encouragement – praise, clarification, feedback
Next steps • Establish Social Club mission and goals • Explicit Invitation to Aspies • Prepare Aspies • Provide a safe place for group members to talk and express ideas
Next steps cont • Have ‘lesson plans’ for first meetings • Set ground rules for disclosure • Explore common issues • Get input and ideas from students • Student run with DS staff as facilitator of discussion and social exercises • Connect with Aspie organizations • Empower coaches • Step back
General Guidelines for Goals • Identify a small goal, take small steps • Talk to a student in class • Spend an hour in common room • Talk to a teacher instead of by email • Join an organization • Make a Specific Plan
The Social Club @ UCI Name __________________Date _____________ Fall Quarter goal _______________________________________ My progress towards my Winter quarter goal: ____ somewhat accomplished ____ almost accomplished ____ accomplished
General Guidelines cont. • Plan for all possible outcomes including failure • Track goal progress- individually, self report or in group • Use direct instruction • Wean from isolation (TV, Video games)
General Guidelines cont. • Supportive correction-group members can provide support and feedback • Encourage social involvement • Group benefits from seeing others success/failure outcomes
Asperger Group discussion topics • Examples of discussion topics • Academics • Social situations during the week • Parents • Dating • Specific group interests such as: art, music, movies, video games • Exercises, games, charades • Case studies
Social Skills Lesson MAKING GOOD IMPRESSIONS ON OTHERS…. Review: Making Impressions is really just “Thinking about how people think” Thinking about how people think = Perspective taking By how you LOOK By what you SAY By what you DO You make impressions upon others whenever you are around people! By how you LOOK: Clothes & Hygiene By What you SAY 0% _____________________________________________________________________ 100% Communication is based on the words we say and what we do when we are communicating. What we DO 1.___________________________________________________________________ 2. __________________________________________________________________ 3.____________________________________________________________________ 4. ___________________________________________________________________
Recruiting Strategies • Recruiting Aspies • Admissions at St. Edwards • Orientation • Academic Counselors • Majors that attract Aspies • Disability Services • Parents • Faculty referrals • Housing referrals
Recruiting Peer Coaches • DS student assistants • DS students • Psychology & Social Behavior Majors • Graduate students • Campus Staff • Volunteer Center
Training Peer-Coaches • Identify potential peers • 1:1 • Interview • Can they Align with Social Club goals? • Fix, cure?
Mentor Approaches to Intervention • Match the approach with individual learning style and needs • Scripts • Cognitive-behavioral intervention • Social Plans
Collaborating with Faculty • Faculty Notification – letter or 1:1 • Wikipedia • Include information specific to student • Collaborate on solutions • Include the student and parent
Faculty Notification & Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspergers_syndrome
Small Groups • Developing an Action plan-handout • Groups report on personal Action plans • How many Aspies? • S, M, L college/university? • First steps?
Small Groups – Action Plan Things to think about: • How many Aspies do you have at your university? • What size of college/university do you work for – small, medium, large? • What is your biggest concern in supporting students with Asperger’s? • What do you and your students need in a support group?
Resources Aspergers-List@uci.edu –A mailing list for communicating with DS professionals, nationwide, on supporting students with Asperger’s in higher education Autism Society: www.autism-society.org www.aspergerssyndrome.org www.succeedsocially.com (social skills lessons)
Resources, Cont. College Students with Asperger Syndrome: Practical Strategies for Academic and Social Success by Bedrossian & Pennamon, LRP Publications, 2007 Inside Out: What Makes A Person With Social Cognitive Deficits Tick?, Garcia-Winner,www.socialthinking.com
Questions? • Kendall – St Edwards, Austin, TX firstname.lastname@example.org • Jan Serrantino – UC Irvine, Irvine, CA email@example.com