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“A” is for Asperger’s. Understanding and Helping the Student With Asperger’s Disorder. AGENDA. Basic Information-Characteristics Thought Processes Sensory Issues Lens of Interpretation Self-Regulation Social Needs Supports. GOALS FOR TODAY .

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a is for asperger s

“A” is for Asperger’s

Understanding and Helping the Student With Asperger’s Disorder

  • Basic Information-Characteristics
  • Thought Processes
  • Sensory Issues
  • Lens of Interpretation
  • Self-Regulation
  • Social Needs
  • Supports
goals for today
  • Understand the characteristics of students with Asperger’s Disorder
  • Gain ideas for helping students with social skills
  • Gain ideas doe supporting students in work and study skills
history of asperger s


Asperger’s Syndrome (Disorder) was first described by Hans Asperger, a Viennese physician, in 1944, when he published a paper describing the behavior pattern of several young boys, who, despite normal intelligence and language development, displayed autistic-like behaviors and marked deficiencies in social and communication skills. It is a neurobiological disorder that was added to the DSM IV in 1994, but has only recently been recognized by professionals and parents. Asperger’s is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, considered a part of the Autism spectrum. It is mainly distinguished from Autistic Disorder because there are no clinically significant delays in language.

key features social interaction
KEY FEATURESSocial Interaction
  • Average to above average IQ
  • No verbal/performance split
  • Socially isolated
  • Tense with social demands
  • Difficulty reading social cues
  • Lack of friendship strategies
  • Immature and socially inappropriate
key features social communication
KEY FEATURESSocial Communication
  • Language tends to be formal and pedantic or stilted
  • Voice may lack expression and may not read vocal tones of others
  • Difficulty using and interpreting non-verbal communications
  • Often understands things literally
  • May fail to grasp implied meanings
  • May tend to recite dialogue from movies, etc.
key features other social and motor skills
KEY FEATURESOther Social and Motor Skills
  • Often has an all-absorbing interest
  • Rigid-insists on certain routines, etc.
  • May be limited in ability to think and play creatively
  • Often has difficulty generalizing skills
  • Motoric clumsiness-awkward-may walk, run, and move “funny”
  • Organizational problems
  • May find it hard to write or draw neatly
thought processes
  • Think in concrete terms
  • Fails to understand metaphorical or abstract concepts
  • Takes figures of speech literally
  • Have difficulty in “thinking about thinking”-have a form of “mind blindness”-and may have difficulty appreciating that others have intentions, needs, desires,and beliefs that are different from theirs
  • Difficulty with predicting, reading intentions, understanding emotions, explaining behaviors, reading and reacting to other’s interests, understanding social interactions
  • Susie, Johnny, and the tapping pencil
executive function
  • Executive functions are higher order thought processes that allow us to plan, sequence, initiate, and sustain our behavior towards some goal, adjusting along the way by using feedback. People with Asperger’s have difficulty with executive function, especially with pre-planning, sustaining effort, delaying action when necessary, integrating information from various sources, shifting attention from one task to another, starting and stopping, and operating on multiple levels.
sensory issues
  • One or more sensory systems are usually affected such that ordinary sensations are felt as unbearably intense
  • The mere anticipation of a stimulus can lead to anxiety or panic
  • Most common-sound and touch
  • Also can be taste, light intensity, colors and smells
  • Approximately 40% of people with autism spectrum disorders have some abnormality of sensory sensitivity
behavior the lens of interpretation
  • All behavior serves a purpose
  • It is functional or intended to be
  • It is necessary to understand the function of the behavior-from the viewpoint of the child
  • The point of view of a student with Asperger’s will lead them to interpret things differently from the “normal” point of view
  • In order to impact behaviors, we must look at things through an Asperger’s lens and determine the function of the behavior and find another way to meet that need
how to help
  • Identify the signs of overload
  • Identify situations that are problematic
  • Identify current strategies
  • Identify environmental factors and modifications
  • Teach students how to read sensations and behaviors and how to manage
what to do communication and environment
WHAT TO DOCommunication and environment
  • Reduce distractions
  • Give instructions in most efficient sensory channel
  • Provide auditory frames
  • Provide visual frames
  • Use graphic organizers
  • Use “Low and Slow”
  • Use cognitive portfolios to remind students of strategies and behaviors
  • Use timers or visual cuing for changes in activity
what to do activity level and arousal management
WHAT TO DOActivity level and arousal management
  • Slow, rhythmic activities-deep breathing, walking, music,pressure-ask the student what works
  • Tolerate reasonable levels of movement
  • Provide frequent motor breaks
  • Engage everyone in motor breaks-wall push-ups, stretching, deep breathing
  • Walk and talk
  • Allow student to stand while working or talking
  • Teach allowable movement strategies
what to do emotional and social support
WHAT TO DOEmotional and Social Support
  • Teach 5 part approach-remember Low and Slow
  • Help the student to interpret social situations-utilize rehearsals
  • Use SOCCSS
  • Use Social Autopsies
  • Use Social Stories
  • Use cognitive portfolios/social scripts
  • Use Social Skills instruction-be blunt!
social supports
  • Social Scripts and Stories
  • Social Autopsies
  • Cue cards
  • Direct Social Skills Instruction
  • Social “clues”
  • Situation
  • Options
  • Consequences
  • Choices
  • Strategy
  • Simulation
social scripts
  • Helping the child structure the behavior by working with the student to design a script of what to do and say in a specific situation.
  • For example, a child and her teacher may design a script for joining in with a group who is playing at recess.
social stories
  • A social story is a story that describes social situations specific to individuals and situations. A social story is written for a specific child and a specific situation.
a social story


My name is Jane. I go to Cook School. At lunch time, everyone in my class goes to the lunchroom. We go through a line and get a tray, then sit at tables to eat. I do not like the lunchroom-it is noisy and crowded, and my ears hurt. My teacher Mrs. Smith tells me that I have to eat there every day. She helps me find ways to make it easier. First, Mrs. Smith showed me that putting in my earplugs helps with the noise. They are small and no one can see them. Every day, I go to the restroom before lunch and put them in, then take them out after lunch. She also lets me be the line leader or the caboose. That helps me feel less crowded. The best part is, lunch is short! I know by looking at my watch when it will end, and I tell myself that I will be fine until then.

social autopsies
  • Debriefing a social error in order to determine:
      • The cause of the error
      • The damage done by the error
      • How to prevent the error from happening again
social skills instruction
  • Conversational skills-exchanges
  • Cooperative Play Skills
  • Relationship Skills
  • Classroom Skills
  • Maximize by:
      • Instruction and Interpretation
      • Coaching-generalization
positive supports
  • Priming-previews activities where student is likely to have trouble
  • Home base-at end of day or after stressful subjects
  • Safe person/safe place
  • Transitions-routines, warnings,activities,signals, buddies
  • Highlight texts
  • Sample problems worked out as guide
  • Directions individually
  • One direction at a time
  • Cue cards
  • Graphic organizers
  • Cognitive portfolios for steps
more supports
  • Provide information visually-written directions, schedule
  • Preferential seating-near compliant peers, away from bullies, away from high traffic
  • Assistance with organization-picture cues (take a picture of a clean desk, organized locker, etc.)
  • Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Tony Attwood
  • Asperger Syndrome and Adolescence by Teresa Bolick
  • Asperger’s Syndrome and Difficult Moments by Myles and Southwick
  • Asperger Syndrome-Practical Strategies for the Classroom by Leicester City Council and Leicester County Council
  • Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome by Luke Jackson
  • Power Cards by Elisa Gangnon
  • Navigating the Social World by McAfee
  • Pretending to be Normal by LeeAnn Holiday-Wiley
  • The Incredible 5 Point Scale by Buron and Curtis