Best Practices When Dealing with Students Diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome

May 18, 2012 — 1,185 views  

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Asperger syndrome (AS) is a developmental disorder characterized by unusual preoccupation with a particular subject and limited interests in other subjects. It is on the higher end of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) as a person with Asperger syndrome will usually only have a slight degree of language and communication skills impairment.

The source explains most parents will be able to determine something is different with a child who has Asperger syndrome by the time he or she is 3-years-old, and approximately two to six out of 1,000 children will have this disorder. Children and adults with the disorder will often have social and emotional behavior that is abnormal or inappropriate, will be less coordinated and may have issues with non-verbal communication, notes the source.

School teachers and staff who deal with students with Asperger syndrome will need to be prepared for some of the peculiarities associated with the disorder in order to best educate, interact with and offer guidance to the student. The Indiana University Institute on Disability and Community explains there are a variety of published studies that directs educators on the most effective ways to handle students with AS. The source states research has found the most effective support comes from creating highly individualized plans for addressing a student's social interactions, helping him or her manage anxiety and coping with ritualistic behaviors. 

Understanding the Student With Asperger's Syndrome: Guidelines for Teachers is a study published by Karen Williams of the University of Michigan Medical Center Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Hospital. Williams explains in her research that a student diagnosed with Asperger syndrome is frequently considered eccentric by classmates and can therefore become victim of scapegoating. Educators must do their best to prevent this in the classroom and help the student to not become emotionally vulnerable.

Williams provides advice for doing this based on her own teaching experiences and research. She suggests providing a safe and predictable environment for an AS student as he or she can become overwhelmed, stressed and fatigued by minimal change. Daily routine is often the best way to help the student remain comfortable and confident. Protecting a child from bullying may be best manifested by educating fellow students about Asperger syndrome and encouraging students to treat him or her with compassion.

Handling poor concentrating, motor coordination and academic difficulties will be largely determined by the individual case, but providing individualized and routine lessons is likely the best practice for educating students with the disorder.