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Considered a high-functioning form of autistism, children with Aspergers generally crave friendships, but lack the appropriate social skills to gain positive social experiences. Perhaps one of the most distinctive features of Asperger's is the person's inability to relate to other people or understand why another person may feel a certain way.

This strategy list will help you to accommodate the special needs that a student with Aspergers will bring to your teaching time.

Behavioral Issues

  • Do not insist on or force eye contact
  • Do not initiate physical contact, such as a pat on the back
  • Do not make hasty judgments about body language because inappropriate body language is part of what defines Asperger's Disorder.
  • Allow the person to engage in repetitive body movements, such as finger flapping, as it may become more pronounced as the person is under stress


Communication Issues

  • Present one idea or set of focused questions at a time
  • Most Asperger's people will not start a conversation or work to keep a conversation going
  • An open-ended question, such as, "Tell me what happened?" may receive up to 1/3 fewer details from someone with Asperger's than other individuals of the same age. People with Asperger's are more likely to leave out social and emotional details, such as how another person reacted in a situation. Direct questions encourage much better recall.
  • Use concrete examples and direct language.
  • Staying on track: Be clear about what you already know and what information you are asking about. People with Asperger's don't do well with predicting where a conversation is headed or what their conversation partner might be thinking about. Because of this, sometimes their comments may seem off-track.
  • Monotone: The lack of emotion in their voice does not necessarily mean disinterest.
  • Echoing: Some individuals will repeat phrases, scenes, or conversations that they just heard or occurred in the past. Why autistic and Asperger's individuals do this is specific to each person and does not always mean the person understands the nuances or meaning of the words they speak.
  • Extreme honesty and bluntness in communication is common in people with Asperger's. It's not an attempt to be rude or disrespectful, even if it is disruptful.


Social Issues

  • Affirm the individual's social acceptance and likeability
  • When certain behaviors appear misguided, try to understand if it is truly an immature and inappropriate attempt at social acceptance, which is typical for a person with Asperger's; it is a lack of empathy, which is a characteristic of people with Aspergers; or if it is a form of manipulation


Environment Issues

  • Minimize visual and noise distractions


Other Issues

  • If you are unsure if the person has Asperger's, you can ask: Do you have any difficulties that I may not be aware of?
  • Be aware if the individual has other psychological issues. For example, a person diagnosed with Asperger's, as well as bipolar disorder who is in a current manic state, may engage in high-risk behaviors, such as impulsive sex. In addition, a manic state bipolar individual may be experiencing increased agitation and distractability that will make interviewing difficult.

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March 29, 2020


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