Learning with a dash of Autism

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Research in this paper includes information on Asperger's Syndrome Disorder and the areas of difficulties, which include social communication, social interaction, and social imagination. How the areas relate to one another and the important role they play in the person's life. It explains Asperger's Syndrome and how it was discovered; the signs and symptoms associated with this disorder, and the number of people diagnosed each year. The proper way to diagnose Asperger's Syndrome and the various treatment options available. It will discuss the importance of early intervention and other practices used by parents and teachers. Challenges teachers and parents face with a full inclusion and the effective approach to ensure success. Asperger's is a lifelong disability; children grow up to be adults with this disorder.

Keywords: Asperger's Syndrome Disorder, areas of difficulties, early intervention.

Along the spectrum of Autism, there is a disorder called Asperger's Syndrome. It was discovered in 1944, by Dr. Hans Asperger, after observing several boys who displayed normal language development and intelligence, but struggled with social and communication skills. He called this condition "autistic psychopathy" ("Discovery of Autistic," n.d.). Asperger's Syndrome is on the milder end of pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) or autistic spectrum disorders. Although many considered Asperser's to be a highly functional form of Autism. The disorder was added to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) in 1994 as a separate disorder from autism ("History," n.d.).

Research is still being conducted to determine what causes Asperger's Syndrome. The factors causing a change in brain development are genetic and environmental. There is no cure for Asperger's Syndrome it is a lifelong disorder. It is important to know the various treatments to help improve quality of life. Therapy and early interventions seem to be the most effective. Every circumstance is different depending on the individual.

It is crucial to get diagnosed by a medical professional who has experience with Autism. The symptoms of Asperger and Autism are similar. Children with normal language development and normal intelligence do not met the criteria for Autism. The number of children diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome is on the rise. It is diagnosed in all nationalities and cultural background. Every 1 in 110 children are diagnosed, with boys out numbering the girls 4:1 ("Resources for Families," n.d.). Early diagnosis can help families manage this disorder; get the support they need to help their child. Every case is different depending on the individual, but there are three areas of difficulty.

The three areas of difficulty for children with Asperger's Syndrome include; social communication, social interaction, and social imagination. Imagine wanting to be social, but the skills to do it are missing. The simplest gestures given by the other person in a conversation are ignored, because they are not understood. Conversations consist of looking away from the person and not having eye contact. Talking tends to be really loud or high pitched at times. It is difficult following a conversation involving sarcasm, humor or irony. Social communication plays a huge role in social interaction. Without these important communication skills it is difficult to have social relationships with others, such as maintaining friendships. When social imagination is missing or lacking; it is hard to understand how others are feeling, because subtle body message cannot be predicted. When there are limited imagination skills things become repetitive and routines develop. Routines become necessary to keep life in order. Children with Asperger's Syndrome will have difficulties in one or more of the five senses. Sense might be intense or underdeveloped. Noises, touching, smells, have been known to cause anxiety. Rocking or spinning is a coping mechanism used to help with stress ("Education," n.d.).

Early intervention will help the child succeed in school and later on in life. Applied Behavior Analysis is a type of intervention that uses sensory integration therapy, social skills training, alternative therapies to help with coordination and mobility. Some anti-depressant medications might be used. There is also parent education and trainings to help families with early intervention. In order for the child to succeed, families need to play a huge role in this process. The inter-disciplinary approach, consist of a team of professional who work on the development of the child. Educational intervention includes skills, concepts, and cognitive strategies.

One goal of early educational intervention is to transition the child into a regular education classroom. In order to have a full inclusion programs need to be unique to the individual. All of the areas of difficulty, such as social communication, sensory difficulty, and love of routines need to be addressed. Children with Asperger's never give eye contact and do not understand common gestures. Accommodate students by using visual techniques to teach, use pictures to explain the lesson. Associating pictures with a lesson, students are more likely to remember the information. Use the student's special interests in the classroom to motivate them. Special interests can be used in any subject. Motor skills are not always developed and handwriting can be unclear and difficult for many students. Allow them the use of a keyboard to write out answers. Many children with Apserger's are sensitive to sound be aware of the sounds in your classroom and reduce them. Routine is an important to a child with Asperger's, let the student know the routine and try to keeping it the same. When routine is changed anxiety levels rise.

Full inclusion might require the help from others in the classroom. If the student is having difficult time learning, try grouping them with another peer. Peer grouping will allow them to learn from someone their age and helps build strong friendship bonds. It ridges the gap between students and helps them realize they are alike. Teaching and one-on-one assistants are a great addition to the classroom. They can sit down with the student and help them when needed and still allows the flow of the classroom to continue and still includes students in the general curriculum ("Inclusion: Spending Time," 2010).

Always find creative ways to include student's participation. If a student has a hard time sitting down during a group project, have them pass out the assignment and collect the assignment. Giving them a special task keeps them involved and doesn't disrupt the rest of the class. Students should never be punished because they have a hard time staying focused or have behavioral problems out of their control.

Teacher need to be aware of the challenges they will face. Part of being a successful teacher is overcoming challenges and designing lesson plans to accommodate all types of learners. It will take the effort from all parties involved to ensure the student is capable of learning in a regular classroom.

"Exceptional human beings must be given exceptional educational treatment, treatment which takes into account their special difficulties. Further, we can show that despite abnormality, human beings can fulfill their social role within the community, especially if they find understanding, love and guidance."-Dr. Hans Asperger

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