Supporting and Teaching Children with Aspergers
Author Justin Clark, Aspergers Tutor in Brisbane.
How Aspergers Impacts on Teaching
Socialisation, Communication and Imagination
Aspergers is a developmental disorder and therefore its behavioural manifestations vary with age and ability. Its core features, present in different forms, at all stages of development and ability are impairments in socialisation, communication and imagination.
Students with aspergers are configured to work with single attention. It’s how their brains function in that one thing captures all their attention. Something else can come along and either distract or overwhelm them. They also interpret things literally so if someone says, “I will be just a minute”, as a response to them asking for help, they can become quite frustrated when that minute is over and they haven’t been given the help they requested.
Routines are also important and that’s why when teaching children with aspergers it is important to keep to routines and keep things predictable.
Many students with aspergers are visual learners and think in pictures instead of words. Therefore, visual aids with pictures or cards representing the words are an aid to foster learning engagment and recall. Concrete materials are invaluable in teaching maths concepts. These aids can be further enhanced if they’re tied into what a particular student is interested in.
Students with aspergers can often have a narrow set of interests or be fixated on a particular subject. However, this can be used to facilitate engagement and motivation by using books or constructing maths problems around their favourite subjects. When teaching children with aspergers to read, Comic Strip Conversations are extremely useful for teaching children with Aspergers as they provide support to those who struggle to understand the quick exchange of information in a conversation. They’re based on the belief that visualisation and visual supports can improved the understanding and comprehension of conversation.
These conversations follow a given structure to organise a social exchange and build in predictability. Comic Strip Conversations systemicatically identify what people say and what people many be thinking. In addition, they may provide insight into the student with aspergers and assist int he identification and expression of ideas that may be confusing.
When teaching children with aspergers it is important to remember that they often have difficulty remembering detailed verbal instructions or following sequences, so these need to kept short or instructions can be written down. A useful exercise for this is helping to teach them to ask for help. Consider that the skills needed to ask for assistance from other involves a series of complications decisions and levels of self-awareness. For many students with aspergers, this remains a problem in at least some of the situations they encounter.
To provide intervention in this area the teacher or parent can build in steps and strategies for seeking assistance. One method is to use cue cards as reminders to children with aspergers to ask for help if they need it. These cards can be taped in their notebooks or other prominent places where they will notice them. Another strategy to ask for help is the use of visual signals. Check marks on work at various points to remind students to ask the teacher to have their work checked is one signal that is useful.
Increased independence is the desired outcome for the student.
Reducing Problematic Behaviour
When aiming to reduce or eliminate problematic behaviour when teaching children with aspergers, we need to know what we would like the child to do instead.
It is not enough to identify what we do not want the child to do as it is equally important to specify what the child should be doing. Furthermore, these replacements must make sense from the child’s perspective and not simply be selected to please us. For example, if a child screams to get attention, we must teach him another way to get attention. Although we might like the child to be quiet instead of screaming, being quiet is not likely to get the child what screaming achieved, namely, the reaction of other people.
If the child with aspergers is throwing themselves on the floor then it’s probably giving them a sense of control. This is because they’re probably frustrated and not understanding. If a student with aspergers throws materials across the room because they didn’t want to do that activity, sending them to time out would probably not be effective because it would achieve what the throwing did, which was to avoid the task.
A more useful solution would be to teach them to ask for help or to stop the current activity such as taking a break. Therefore, this teaches them a new skill that meets the same child-oriented goals. This orientation to the long-term modification of problematic behaviour is the heart of Applied Behaviour Analysis.
Hope Tutoring in Brisbane
Justin Clark has both the practical experience as well as formal qualifications (MEd, MLearningInnovation, BEd, BA) that allow him to provide the specialised one-on-one help that children with Aspergers need in order to learn in the ways that facilitate their learning rather than traditional teaching methods.