How to get My Son to Follow the Teacher’s Direction?

How do I get my son with Aspergers to understand that he has to follow the teacher’s directions to work on the subject in front of him rather than “entertaining” the kids around him or doing another subject because he thinks he can do the first subject at home?

It is common for children with Asperger’s Syndrome to have behavioral struggles in the school environment. The characteristics of Asperger’s sometimes interfere with the child’s desire to behave appropriately. These characteristics make the routine school day become an obstacle that is difficult to overcome. Each child with Asperger’s has his own complex condition that may include all of the following characteristics at varying degrees: obsessive preoccupations; sensory issues; poor social skills; the need for routine, sameness, and order; poor motor skills, both fine and gross; auditory processing problems; comprehension struggles; and the tendency to suffer anxiety and depression.

Because of these complex characteristics, there is no single approach for dealing with behavioral issues. Each student must have a personalized plan for behavior to go along with his personalized education plan. In fact, behavioral issues should be a major component of your son’s individual education plan or, IEP. Without behavioral support, your son will continue to struggle through the learning process and it may end finding yourself looking for a place to buy college essay. Here are some suggestions for you to consider.

* IEP changes-It may be time to schedule a meeting with your son’s education team. Request a new behavioral assessment to find the areas of discord in the classroom. The behavioral assessment may show your son’s sensory issues are extreme, for instance. With this information, the team can develop a plan to avoid sensory overload.

* Parent/teacher relationship-Be a strong ally in the quest for your son’s education. His teacher wants his success as much as you do. Work together to form a strong discipline plan, where needed. Clowning should not be tolerated. Talk frequently to keep everyone informed on changes at home that may cause problems at school.

* Rules, schedules, routines-These are all necessary for appropriate behavior. Your son desires the structure these tools provide. Keep written lists of rules, chores, schedules, and expectations for home and for school visible whenever possible. Routines are important. Even a tiny change in routine can lead to behavioral issues. It is difficult for your son to accept and adjust to these changes.

The key to better behavior in the classroom is to prevent the situations that cause problem behavior. With the right support at school and at home, your son can behave appropriately without negative backlash. Better behavior will come, not solely from punishment and learning new behaviors, but by avoiding stressful situations from the start.

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2 New Aspergers Education Videos

Here’s 2 new videos on the topic of Aspergers and Education I really wanted to share…

1. This video is by Fiona Van Lochem and in her words is:

“A story for classroom use to educate students about Asperger’s Syndrome and develop compassion and understanding.
Received a Special Mention in the 2011 KBR’s Unpublished Picture Book Award – Special Mentions for works that were either beautifully-written or featured unique or brilliant story ideas.”

2. This is the second video I have shared on my blog by Ryan McGibbon. His first was aimed at helping teachers understand Aspergers – this second video is to help other children understand Aspergers.

Please share your comments on these videos below…

Thanks,

Dave Angel

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The Big Aspergers Education Debate

Thanks for coming over here to the Big Aspergers Education Debate.

Please let me know your thoughts and experiences of your child’s education; whatever the setting (be it home schooling. main stream school, special educational school, residential school, private school etc.).

I really would love to hear more on things like:

Does it work for your child?

What are the positives?

What are the negatives?

How is the academic side, and how is the social side?

Do you have a particular story to illustrate your point?

You can add your story in the “Leave A Reply” section below this short blog post.

Thanks for participating,

Dave Angel

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All About Aspergers – For Teachers Video

Here’s a great video by a young man with Aspergers, to help teachers better understand Aspergers…

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How Can I Understand The Way That My Child With Aspergers Learns?

Learning Styles

Talk to your child’s special education teacher who can explain to you how your child learns best and techniques to use at home. It may also help to talk to more than one special education teacher for insights on children with Asperger’s Syndrome. Visit classes of young children with Asperger’s. This will help you learn about the children’s abilities and effective ways to teach. Ask permission from school authorities before visiting.

If you get a chance to hear Temple Grandin speak or read her books, please do so! She has terrific ideas on how to understand the learning processes of children with Asperger’s and help them.

Aspies tend to have strengths in visual processing, but weaknesses in auditory processing. So anything you can do to make your child’s learning visual will help (see below). Also, Aspies tend to remember facts about their favourite subjects, but have trouble with other subjects. Whenever possible, teach skills using your child’s favourite interests.

Teaching Tips for Teachers and Parents

• Prepare a quiet environment with few distractions. Avoid florescent lights as they often make a buzzing sound. Carpet the floor. Put a cushion on the child’s chair.

• Keep instructions short and simple. Say the person’s name and try to establish eye contact.

• Provide order and structure to help the Aspie feel less anxious. Establish a consistent routine.

• Make a schedule out of pictures or drawings. Point to each picture (or turn it over) as you go through the schedule

• Use pictures, objects, photos, and videos when teaching. Hands-on learning is ideal.

• Understand that if people with Asperger’s become fixed on an idea or question, they will not disengage until the question is answered. Go with it. Adapt to the needs of the Aspie.

• Learn what the Aspie does well and find ways to harness those skills to help him/her learn.

• Select appropriate activities that include interaction with others. Use these activities to promote making friends and taking turns.

• Consider a “buddy system” where a peer assists the Aspie.

• Regularly teach clear, simple rules that the child can achieve.

• When inappropriate behavior occurs, repeat the rule. Then encourage the student to engage in another activity.

• Praise the specific behavior whenever the person does something well, such as, “Good job writing your name, John.”

• Ignore small disruptions and consistently praise appropriate behavior and improvement.

• Provide frequent activity. It is unrealistic to expect an Aspie to sit for long periods and listen attentively.

• Use patience, repetition, and consistency.

• Do not get discouraged if the child wants to sit and watch and not interact at times.

• There will be good and bad days.

• Asperger’s children may have problems with attention span, lack motivation to learn, and have problems with the rules of reading and grammar.

• Use music and games as tools to teach. They are great in helping with improving attention span and interest levels.

• Focus on materials that are based in reality; Aspies sometimes have problems with creative thinking and imagination. Stories about children like them capture their interest.

• Almost every Aspie has special interests, so use those interests to teach reading, math, and writing.

• Each child is different and will learn at a different pace and in a different manner. Use reading and other programs on the market designed with special education children in mind.

Log on to: http://www.specialed.us/autism/asper/asper11.html for a terrific article on this subject: Children With Asperger’s Syndrome: Characteristics/Learning Styles and Intervention Strategies by Susan Stokes.

Thanks for reading,

Dave Angel

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The Three Major Challenges For Children with Aspergers in School (and How To Overcome Them)

In a recent interview with Dr. Magnusen I asked her what she felt were the three major challenges for children with Aspergers in school. And also what can be done to help the child overcome them. Here’s what she said:

1. Understanding social skills – Children with Aspergers have a significant disadvantage in the school and other social environments; because they aren’t naturally able to read idioms, clichés, social cues and body language. This means that they can’t really “read” the other person that they are interacting with (be that a teacher or fellow class mate). As you can imagine that makes it hugely problematic for children to be able to build and sustain good relationships.

Dr. Magnusen likens the task of building social skills to that of tying a shoe lace. That’s because at a certain age tying a lace can be a very problematic experience, and it is built up of lots of small steps to be actually able to fulfil the task. And so building social skills is a complex task, with many stages to learn. There are a whole host of approaches to help the child learn social skills including visual support, predicting future events, letting the child know ahead of time about activities, scripting, role play and video modelling.

2. Blending social communication skills – In addition to the point above; children with Aspergers have challenges when it comes to putting social skills together in the right order. For example in a conversation there is a turn taking back and forth, periods for listening, non verbal communication and much more too. It is a really challenge for a child with Aspergers to be able to co-ordinate all of this when communicating.

In order to help the child it is useful for parents and teachers to develop pattern and sequences for children to follow in communication, and allow a lot of visuality in communication. For example helping your child to understand the pattern of a basic conversation from starting with an introductory “hello how are you”, on to the natural back and forth of a conversation. He will need to know when to speak, when to ask questions, what body language to use to express interest in the other person etc.

3. Special Interests – This is an area of both strength and challenge for a child with Aspergers. The giftedeness that allows a child to know huge amounts of information for example on a topic such as animals or transport is to be seen as a huge positive skill. However the challenge comes when the child will not engage on other topics or on a particular school work agenda, because of this pre-occupying interest.

Dr. Magnusen feels that due to the very concrete, black and white nature of thinking for children with Aspergers – then this challenge needs to be tackled explicitly. So the teacher, or whomever, needs to be explicit about what the child needs to be concentrating on. For example “yes your knowledge of reptiles is very impressive Bob and we can talk some more about it in project time tomorrow. However for now you need to concentrate on discussing this science experience we are conducting”. This way the child can be helped to re-focus on the task in hand.

I hope that this article has been helpful (and don’t forget that you can hear more from Dr. Magnesen in my new upcoming interview series…)

Dave Angel

P.S. Please add your comments and thoughts on this top 3 list here on the blog…

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How to choose the right high school for my child with Aspergers

For children with Asperger’s, high school can be very overwhelming.  Finding the right high school for your teen can positively influence his attitude towards his future.  Many people have no choice in the matter other than the local public high school due to limited finances and a lack of alternatives.  If you have access to more than one high school option for your child, your teen and your family are very fortunate.

There are several things you must keep in mind when choosing your teen with Asperger’s high school.  You should focus on these key areas:

1. Your teen’s specific needs

2. The school’s credentials

3. The school staff’s credentials

4. The school’s Special Education policies

5. The overall environment

6. Financial concerns

7. Convenience

With notebook in hand, expand each of the above-mentioned areas for each school to determine the fit for your teen with Asperger’s.  High school options you decide to consider should meet your expectations in all areas.  Of course, you can expect to compromise in some areas; no option will meet every need in every area.  Under each of the key areas, list your requirements and any questions you have for each selected school.  Here are some examples.

Does this school offer one-on-one support, daily and weekly therapies, medical support, help with organization (written schedules, time management support, etc.), and peer mentoring for social skills?  Does this school have much experience with Asperger’s students?  Are the therapy staff members available daily?  These questions refer to your teen’s specific needs.

Has this school seen successful graduation of students with Asperger’s?  Do the local or state authorities accredit this school?  Is this school ranked as a passing facility? These questions will reveal the school’s credentials.

Are any of the staff members board certified in specialty areas, special education, or Autism specific teaching methods?  Have any of this school’s staff been recognized by state or federal organizations for outstanding service?  These questions will reveal the credentials of the individual staff members.

How does this school handle new incoming students with existing special education plans?  Does this school work well by collaborating with other schools and the student’s parents to create a smooth transition?  Does this school have adequate special education staff to meet the student’s needs?  These questions will reveal the state of the special education services.

Is there order in the classrooms and common areas?  Are the students and staff members cheerful?  These questions will assess the environment of the school.

Does this school have a statement of the parents’ financial obligation?  Does this school offer a scholarship for special needs students?  Can families make payments over time?  These questions will guide your financial decision.

Does this school offer bus service?  Will transportation issues create a hardship?  This is very important information.

Choosing an appropriate Asperger’s high school will be straightforward if you take the time to ask questions, make observations, and assess the environment.  Weigh all of the pros and cons and make an informed decision that will best benefit your teen with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Thanks for reading,

Dave Angel

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3 Key Reasons Why Children With Aspergers Are Vulnerable To Bullying

In a recent interview with Jeff Deutsch (an adult with Aspergers and a coach to people with Aspergers) revealed 3 key reasons why children with Aspergers can be vulnerable to bullying:

1. Problems in reading danger signals – Children with Aspergers can fail to pick up the social cues or hints that they should avoid a certain person or situation (because it could be dangerous for them).

2. They are less likely to have friends – Jeff feels that bullies are predatory and will “hunt” for the easiest or weakest “prey”. If children are with friends they are less easy to bully. But if a child is alone and struggling with social groups then they are more likely to be seen as a target by the bully.

3. They may provoke others – In an interesting stance Jeff quotes a well known U.S. self defense expert Marc “Animal” McYoung on the subject of “dual culpability”. Which means that in any instance of aggression/conflict then both parties are in some way responsible. Jeff says that in reference to Aspergers this could be an unconscious act – for example standing physically close to someone, refusing eye contact, or having poor personal hygiene. Often such deficits in social skills can be seen to play a role in the bullying of that child.

And as you may imagine from that list above there is a common ground. All of them could be much better handled and hopefully avoided by better social skills. So Jeff feels that the key to helping your child is by improving his/her social skills. Jeff says that such social skills teaching has to be very explicit and clearly set out for the child to be able to learn. Several areas that he mentions are:

1. Eye contact – Children with Aspergers may offer no eye contact or in the other extreme stare for much longer than is socially comfortable for people.

2. Personal space – Many children with Aspergers may physically stand too close to other people and cause them in turn to feel uncomfortable and negative to the child.

3. Voice volume – Children with Aspergers may not differentiate that the voice that you use indoors (in the class room) should generally be quieter than the one you would use outdoors (in the playground).

Obviously there are many different areas of social skills for children to develop over time. But the key is that children with Aspergers can learn these skills if broken down into easy-to-follow basic steps. So equipping your child with relevant social skills maybe the biggest single thing you can do to help them avoid or cope with bullying.

You can hear more from Jeff in my upcoming Aspergers Eduation program…

But if you just can’t wait until then please check out Jeff’s website at www.asplint.com

Thanks for reading,

Dave Angel

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How to get a teenage boy with Aspergers to do his homework without the usual rollercoaster of emotions?

Many students receive increased amounts of homework as they get older. For a student with Asperger’s Syndrome, homework creates significant challenges. These include paying attention, staying motivated long enough to complete a task, using appropriate study skills, and avoiding whining and complaining.

Handwriting might be an area of difficulty too, because fine motor and writing skills may be weak. If your son has not learned to keyboard, purchase a fun keyboarding program for him to learn how. Then, the physical act of writing may become easier for him.

Here are some recommended homework adaptations that may help your son.

* Provide one-on-one assistance daily at a regularly scheduled homework time. Show him how to use a planning calendar to list assignments and due dates.

* Monitor homework closely and use a regular location for homework, one that includes materials he will need, such as pens, paper, a dictionary, etc. Check his finished assignments for completion. Adding a top sheet can be helpful for parents and teachers to write assignment notes or comments about difficulties, etc.

* Ask teachers to allow alternative responses. (E.g., audiotape rather than write an assignment or dictate information to someone who writes it down for the student)

* Ask teachers to adjust the length of assignments. You should break each down into smaller steps that can be checked off a list.

* Provide learning tools (e.g., calculators).

* Ask for fewer assignments or modified assignments if your son is unable to handle the homework he is given. Allow your son to do something he enjoys after he finishes each task. Build up to doing more tasks as he becomes more confident.

Parent involvement in homework is very important. Maintain constant, two-way communication with your son’s teachers. Be sure you understand homework policies, required assignments and details, completion dates, and so forth. It helps to have email and/or phone numbers for each of his teachers and they should have yours. A frequent evaluation of his homework should be sent home – mailed if necessary. And, a face-to-face meeting with teachers is always a good idea, as often as necessary to discuss appropriate modifications for your son.

Your son should also take responsibility for his homework by writing down his assignments in an assignment book and bringing home needed books and materials. Depending on your son’s level of development, his teachers may need to give him pre-copied instructions (or, as you mentioned, email assignments) and monitor the materials he brings home.

As your son completes assignments and becomes more responsible, praise and reward him with activities he enjoys. Rewards for Asperger’s students should be frequent.

Thanks for reading,

Dave Angel

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