Asperger’s Syndrome – A Guide for Parents and Professionals Video
This is a summary that I had to do over a video of a seminar held by Dr. Tony Attwood, one of the leading autism specialists in the world. If you are interested in Autism and have not seen the video, you should. There is a whole lot of the material that I left out of the summary because the video was three hours long, but this is the stuff that kind of relates directly to Damien today. Enjoy!!
Attwood, Tony Dr. (Writer), Future Horizons (Producer). (1999). Asperger’s Syndrome – A Guide for Parents and Professionals Video. [Motion Picture]. United States.
The purpose of this video was to educate parents, educators, and other professionals on the basics of Asperger’s Syndrome. Dr. Attwood gives techniques that can be used to help the child cope in an educational setting as well as other social settings.
Characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome tend to be aloof, passive, or active, but odd. They have poor social skills, communication skills, and eye contact. They cannot easily read faces, and are unusually honest. They lack a sense of humor and do not understand proper voice control. If being picked on, a child with Asperger’s will normally think that the person is serious. They seem to lack imaginative play, however, Attwood notes that it is a lack of imaginative play how we perceive it. They are very imaginative, but normally non-social. These children are visual thinkers and usually have a special interest. They like to stick to routines, which an interruption of will cause a meltdown. Some children with Asperger’s may have tics. They will have problems with fine and gross motor skills and due to this they may hate handwriting.
Behavior Management of those with Asperger’s Syndrome. It is important to remember that children with Asperger’s often fall victim to bullies. Some of these children are often “set up” by other children. They cannot understand the motives of what is going on, which can lead to paranoia. These children often exhibit a lack of self-control. It is important to remember that they are not bad kids; they just may not understand how they should act in certain situations. Often the child will giggle or smile if they are uncomfortable. It is important to remember that, “It is not a perverted sense of humor, they may not be able to cry or show embarrassment” (Attwood, 1999). Allowing a child with Asperger’s time with their key interest can also bring comfort, which will alleviate discomfort.
Techniques for teaching those with Asperger’s Syndrome. Teaching children with Asperger’s starts with social skills. A child with Asperger’s will have to be taught eye contact, how to read faces, appropriate responses in particular social situations, and how to share. If an educator uses a child with Asperger’s key interest as a teaching tool, it can be very beneficial for the student, teacher, and the class. When teaching these children it is important to watch for cues of discomfort. If the child shows signs of discomfort either the child should be given a place he/she can go to cool off and gather themselves, or the stressful stimuli should be removed.
Social skills of those with Asperger’s Syndrome. Children with Asperger’s may exhibit immature social play and be content with their own company. They can be very boss and authoritarian while playing. Many of these children may make their own rules for games. They are often very good with “adult speak.” Therefore, they may prefer older playmates at a young age, or even prefer adult companions. Because of their deficits in socializing, children with Asperger’s Syndrome need to be taught the social curriculum as well as looking for social cues. Children with Asperger’s need to be taught how to welcome friends when they appear, because they often do not acknowledge the presence of a people in the room. These children also need to learn how to be cooperative, social, and friendship skills. When a person is struggling, children with Asperger’s often do not recognize the need for help. Therefore, they need to be taught how to recognize the cues of others in need and how to offer help to others in need. Furthermore. Children with Asperger’s do not understand to that it may be necessary to give compliments to friends. If they do, they often give inappropriate compliments to peers. Therefore, these children need to be taught how to properly compliment others. Children with Asperger’s often do not realize that it may be necessary to tell someone good-bye when they are done socializing with them. They may just walk away with no notice. Many people feel that it is rude to just ‘walk out’ on someone. Therefore, children with Asperger’s must be taught to always give the appropriate signals when they are ready to leave. It may be helpful to have the child with Asperger’s maintain a friendship diary to remember what kind of social behavior is appropriate.
Transition of those with Asperger’s Syndrome into secondary academic setting. Because there is a significant difference in the elementary and secondary academic setting, children with Asperger’s Syndrome will have a tough time transitioning. These children are always under stress. Therefore, secondary school is a “minefield in a jungle” (Attwood). These children are often the targets of bullies. Children with Asperger’s normally have high anxiety levels, which can and usually does lead to panic attacks. They often will retreat into solitude or become consumed with their key interest. This functions as an escape from stress. If children with Asperger’s exhibit high stress levels, it may be necessary to implement break time into their IEP. They can be given areas where they can gather themselves so they can continue with the activities of the day. It may be necessary for the child with Asperger’s to have a secret cod for the teachers to eliminate embarrassment as well as disruption to the rest of the class. These breaks are often referred to as “mental health breaks.” If the child with Asperger’s is not given these breaks they can be headed for a mental breakdown. It is important for educators to recognize the fact that an unhappy child may be incapable of learning.
Application of the Essential Points
I had not realized that mental health breaks might be necessary for the child with Asperger’s to learn. For a matter of fact, it seems reasonable to me that mental health breaks may be necessary for children who do not have Asperger’s Syndrome to learn. I feel that I could use this knowledge to improve the learning environment for children in my classroom. If I recognize that a child is being disruptive, I should not automatically assume that the child is a “bad child.” I should try to find out the source of the negative behavior the child is exhibiting and eliminate the stress in the classroom. Furthermore, when I have a child with Asperger’s in the classroom, I should try to find a way to work his/her key interest into the material we are studying in the classroom. This means that I should have an open line of communication with the parents of the child. This can help me to make sure the child is receiving a quality education from my classroom. Also, I need to make sure to never make assumptions about the child with Asperger’s. For instance, because Autism Spectrum Disorders are on such a broad spectrum, some of the characteristics with one child with an ASD may not be the same as the characteristics of another.
I found this video very educational. I liked that Dr. Attwood answered one of the questions I have been asking for years, “Why dinosaurs?” Every since Damien was first diagnosed, he has been interested in dinosaurs. It was dinosaur everything. Damien would not touch a toy that did not have anything to do with dinosaurs. Damien describes people as specific types of dinosaurs. He is still interested in them, but he has other interests now. However, we always come back to the dinosaurs. Now it makes perfect sense to me. Dr. Attwood said, “Because it is a time with no people.”