Teaching Children and Teens with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism
In this post, we will look at (a) the major challenges that Aspergers students face in an educational setting and (b) the appropriate classroom accommodations that teachers can utilize.
Poor Motor Coordination—
Students with Aspergers are physically clumsy and awkward; have stiff, awkward gaits; are unsuccessful in games involving motor skills; and experience fine-motor deficits that can cause penmanship problems, slow clerical speed and affect their ability to draw.
1. Students with Aspergers may require a highly individualized cursive program that entails tracing and copying on paper, coupled with motor patterning on the blackboard. The educator guides the student’s hand repeatedly through the formation of letters and letter connections and also uses a verbal script. Once the student commits the script to memory, he can talk himself or herself through letter formations independently.
2. Do not push the student to participate in competitive sports, as his poor motor coordination may only invite frustration and the teasing of team members. The student with Aspergers lacks the social understanding of coordinating one’s own actions with those of others on a team.
3. Individuals with Aspergers may need more than their peers to complete exams (taking exams in the resource room not only offer more time but would also provide the added structure and educator redirection these students need to focus on the task at hand).
4. Involve the student with Aspergers in a health/fitness curriculum in physical education, rather than in a competitive sports program.
5. Refer the student with Aspergers for adaptive physical education program if gross motor problems are severe.
6. When assigning timed units of work, make sure the student’s slower writing speed is taken into account.
7. Younger students with Aspergers benefit from guidelines drawn on paper that help them control the size and uniformity of the letters they write. This also forces them to take the time to write carefully.