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,