Each group will be given a set of “emotion” cards which will be acted out by volunteers in your group. It is not necessary for every group member to act out one of the emotions – just those who want to.
Important – You are not allowed to talk.
Your group members will have to guess your emotion by your actions and facial expressions.
Try and see it through the eyes of a student with AS who struggles with reading emotions.
What is it like to have Asperger Syndrome? From the child’s perspective
Why do we need to understand?
Asperger Syndrome is not a physical disability, so the condition can be invisible to the rest of the world. It is easy to tell that a person in a wheelchair has a physical disability that may require support and understanding, whereas people with an autism spectrum disorder look just like anybody without a disability. This means it can be extremely difficult to raise awareness and foster an understanding of the condition.
Try to Imagine
You wake up in a foreign country where you do not speak the language and have no way of effectively communicating with the people around you. On top of this, the people around you have a different set of social rules (such as the way they greet one another when meeting). You try your best but cannot figure out what they are doing and why.
Take a moment now and discuss these questions with your table:
How would you feel?
How would you react?
How would you cope?
LIFE WITH AS
To varying degrees, this is how people with AS experience their surroundings every day and their initial responses are often to find unique ways of understanding and coping with the situations in which they find themselves. This is why they may behave and act in ways that may appear odd or even mischievous, and these reactions may effectively isolate the individual from the world even more.
LIFE WITH AS “ My teacher says I’m rude. I think I’m honest. I don’t understand why I can’t tell someone that they have bad breath, ugly hair, or to go away because I’m busy.”
How “I” See the World
"I have difficulty picking up social cues, and difficulty in knowing what to do when I get things wrong.”
“ I always knew something was different about me, but I did not know what it was.”
“ I speak extremely formally, and, as a result, am often referred to by my peers as ‘the human dictionary.’"
“ I am having problems making friends at my school.”
“ My attempts to join in were met with ridicule and exclusion.”
“ I feel different. Other children at school are not what I am like.”
“ What I experience is often ignored by others who keep telling me that I am like them and that I just need to try harder.”
“ Teachers often reprimand me for speaking in a ‘disrespectful tone of voice’ when I do not understand how tone of voice can express emotion.”
“ Anything new can upset me.”
Helping or Hurting? Report Card Comments of Undiagnosed Student with AS
Socially she is a problem.
She is apt to revert to some sort of very immature behaviour if she is left alone or with other children.
Poor Work Habits
Makes Poor Use of Time
Does not Show an Interest in Outside Reading, Does not Get Work in on Time
Poor Reasoning Ability
If she did not day-dream, she could participate more knowingly.
Usually does not listen the first time.
She has not yet learned self-discipline in applying herself to the job at hand.
Inclination to do a job fast--and often quite carelessly
IN YOUR CLASSROOM, A STUDENT WITH AS WILL TYPICALLY:
Have impairment in social situations: show an inability to understand complex rules of social interaction, cannot read social cues, body language (i.e., A frustrated, or angry look)
Have a restricted range of interests: they can have eccentric preoccupations or odd, intense fixations (sometimes obsessively collecting unusual things). They may ask incessant questions on one particular topic and “lecture” on their area of interest, not noticing that others may not be interested.
Take things very literally. Social nuances are lost on them.
Have poor concentration: are often off task, disorganized, cannot figure out what is relevant to focus on so may get fixated on something other than present classroom activity
IN YOUR CLASSROOM (CONTINUED)
Have poor motor coordination: are physically clumsy and awkward
Have difficulty with Academic Activities: usually have average to above-average intelligence (especially in the verbal sphere) but lack high level thinking and comprehension skills
Suffer from emotional vulnerability: can compete intellectually in regular classroom but often do not have the emotional coping skills to deal with the demands of the classroom (due to inability to be flexible)
Here’s a video clip of living with AS from a child’s perspective
This video should help you get a sense of how these children think and feel
We ask that one member from each group please come to the front and pick up a “Classroom Instructions” chart.
NOW YOUR TURN!
With your group, use the “Classroom Instructions” chart to brainstorm the way in which the instruction given by the teacher may be interpreted by a “typical” student in your class (most likely the way you intended the instruction would be carried out) and then how that same instruction might be interpreted by a student with AS.
(Prepare to share with the large group in ten minutes.)
Classroom Instructions “ There has been a change in where we line up today at recess. Please line up at Door A instead of Door C today.” “ Put your thinking cap on” “ Do this worksheet” Student with AS Interpretation Typical Student Interpretation Instruction
Classroom Instructions Today at the end of recess I need you to line up with the rest of the class at Door C. This change is only for today. Where is Door C? When do you line up there? When do I line up? Do I line up there now? We’re supposed to line up at Door A. “ There has been a change in where we line up today at recess. Please line up at Door A instead of Door C today.” Do you remember the process to solve problems? What do we do first? I don’t own one I don’t wear hats No hats are allowed at school “ Put your thinking cap on” Here’s a math sheet. I expect you to finish some but you don’t have to do it all right now. What do I do with it? When do I do it? Do I have to complete it now? “ Do this worksheet” Suggested Change Student with AS Interpretation Instruction
How do we support these students in our class?
What can we do?
Accommodating the Environment for Students with AS
establish clear expectations
use visual supports (lists, calendars)
supervise unstructured time
develop “circle of friends”
work collaboratively with parents
Sample Visual Calendar
For younger AS students
Difficulties with Language
teach conversational skills in small group settings
explain metaphors and words with double meanings
pause between instructions and check for understanding
watch videos to identify nonverbal expressions and their
Insistence on Sameness
prepare student for potential change wherever possible
use pictures, schedules, written/drawn notifications, and
social stories to indicate impending changes
Sample Schedule Indicating Impending Changes
Sample Written Notification of Change
Remember that today I will be picking you up early from school at 2:30 for your dentist appointment. See you later!
Impairment in Social Interaction
explicitly teach rules of social conduct
teach student how to interact through social stories, comic
book conversations, modelling, role-playing, and “social
use buddy system to assist student during non-structured
structure social skills groups to provide opportunities for
direct instruction on specific skills and to practise actual
teach relaxation techniques and designate a quiet place for
help describe social situations to enhance social understanding
geared to particular problem/issue
playing during recess
appropriate behaviours when in the community
Social Stories: An Example
Problem: A child with AS who ‘melts down’ when his classroom schedule changes
Goal: Help this child label his emotions when things change and give him a larger repertoire of behaviours to deal with them
Comic Book Conversations
graphical means of analyzing social situations
helps individual with AS grasp thoughts/feelings of conversational partner
colours can be used to show emotion (e.g., green = happy, red = sad, purple = proud)
Sample Social Autopsies Worksheet
Restricted Range of Interests
limit perseverative discussions and questions
set firm expectations for classroom but provide
opportunities for student to pursue own interests
incorporate and expand on personal interests in activities
provide frequent teacher feedback and redirection
use visual organizers, semantic mapping, and outlining
provide timed work sessions
seat student at front of classroom
use nonverbal cues to get attention
Sample Classroom Layout
Poor Motor Coordination
actively involve student in fitness activities
take slower writing speed into account when giving
provide extra time for tests
consider use of computers for written assignments
break tasks down into smaller steps
be as concrete as possible in presenting new concepts
use activity-based learning where possible
avoid verbal overload
capitalize on strengths (e.g., memory)
Breaking a Task into Smaller Steps
be aware that normal levels of auditory and visual input
can be perceived by student as too much or too little
minimize background noise
teach and model relaxation strategies (e.g., deep breaths)
provide opportunities and space for quiet time
arrange for independent work space free of sensory stimuli
that bother student
Identifying the three stages of rage:
Rumbling Stage (e.g., fidgeting, swearing, making noises,
ripping paper, grimacing, refusing to cooperate, rapid
2. Rage Stage (e.g., uninhibited, acts impulsively, emotional, explosive, destroying property, self-injury, screaming, biting, hitting, kicking, internalized behaviour – harms self) 3. Recovery Stage (e.g., sleeping, often cannot fully remember what occurred during rage stage, may deny rage behaviour, withdrawal into fantasy, apologetic, fragile, sullen)
Appropriate Adult Interventions During the Rumbling Stage:
Key: Intervene without becoming a part of the struggle! Remain calm and use a quiet voice.
Use strategies that limit adult verbalization, have student choice options, and can be used flexibly to meet student needs.
Antiseptic Bouncing: remove student, in nonpunitive fashion, from environment in which he or she is experiencing difficulty (e.g., send child on an errand)
Proximity Control: teacher simply moves near student who is engaged in target behaviour (e.g., circulate through classroom regularly during lesson)
Appropriate Adult Interventions During the Rumbling Stage (continued):
Signal Interference: when child with AS begins to exhibit behaviour that occurs just prior to tantrum, teacher can use nonverbal signal to let student know that teacher is aware of situation (e.g., an agreed-upon “secret signal” to alert child that he or she is under stress)
Support from Routine: displaying chart or visual schedule can provide security to children with AS who typically need predictability (e.g., student signalling frustration may be directed to schedule to remind student that after he or she completes two more problems, he or she gets to work on topic of special interest with peer)
Appropriate Adult Interventions During the Rumbling Stage (continued):
Acknowledging Student Difficulties: effective when student working on difficult task and teacher thinks student can complete activity with support (e.g., “Yes, the problem is difficult. Let’s start with number one.”)
Just Walk and Don’t Talk: adult merely walks with student without talking (since child with AS in rumbling stage will likely react emotively to any statement); during walk, child can say whatever he or she wishes without fear of discipline or logical argument; adult should be calm, show as little reaction as possible, and never be confrontational
Appropriate Adult Interventions During the Rage Stage:
Once this stage begins, it most often must run its course.
Key: Focus on child, peer, and adult safety as well as protection of school or personal property. Remain calm and quiet, and project that appearance.
Try getting child to “home base” (i.e., designated place to escape stress) only if it can be achieved without using physical restraint
Important to help individual with AS regain control and preserve dignity
Appropriate Adult Interventions During the Rage Stage (continued):
Adults should have plans ready for:
a) obtaining assistance from other teachers or principal, or
b) removing other students from area, or
c) providing therapeutic restraint if necessary (generally, should be used only if child harming him- or herself
Do not take any student rage behaviour personally.
Disengage emotionally (so that you do not escalate your behaviour)
Appropriate Adult Interventions During the Recovery Stage:
Work with student to help him or her once again become part of routine
Direct student to highly motivating task that can be easily completed (e.g., activity related to special interest)
Some students with AS may need to engage in self-relaxation techniques
Appropriate Adult Interventions During the Recovery Stage (continued):
Once child has been redirected to structured activity, important for teacher to take time to regroup (e.g., leave classroom briefly if possible, take deep breaths, engage in filing or another brief activity that is calming)
Do not refer to rage behaviours at this time as student is not ready to process or learn new skills that can prevent future meltdowns.
Sample Stress Tracking Chart
Let’s bring it all together!
With your group, look over the things you wrote on your chart paper at the beginning of the workshop.
Would you change or add anything at this point? Discuss with your group.
Each group will share with the larger group one change or addition that they would make to their original brainstorming list and briefly explain why.
Ok let’s recap!!
Asperger Syndrome is a high-functioning form of autism.
One of the most notable characteristics of AS is a
problem with communication. Although people with AS
can speak and may have a very extensive vocabulary, they
have difficulty understanding the subtle nuances of
communication . Nonverbal communication can be
particularly difficult for some of them; therefore, forming
lasting friendships is a huge task .
Understanding things from an AS point of view!
Life can be difficult for these students so we often need to step back and empathize what they are going through.
We need to be supportive and remember that they are not broken. They are not abnormal. They just learn a little differently than others.
Teaching Strategies for Students with AS
By establishing consistent routines and expectations, students with AS will feel confident that they can learn in a classroom environment that is supportive and predictable.
Visual aids can help to alleviate stress, provide more opportunities to develop a circle of friends, and avoid potential problems with transitions/changes in routines for students with AS.
The Stress Tracking Chart can be used to record the teacher’s observations on a student with AS so that the teacher gets to know the student better and can more readily identify patterns in behaviour.
Throughout all three stages of rage, it is extremely important for the adult to remain calm and to project a calm appearance!
Help! Napoleon Dynamite is in my Classroom - power point by Kiwalski, Timothy
Users/teacher/Desktop/asperger's%20info/Asperger%20Syndrome:%20Understanding%20the%20Student%20with%20Asperger's%20Syndrome:%20Guidelines%20for%20Teachers.webarchive - teaching tips for students with Asperger’s (O.A.S.I.S)
Prior, Margot (editor). Learning and Behavior Problems in Asperger Syndrome . New York: The Guilford Press, 2003.
BOOKS TO SHARE These are some books you can share with your whole class or suggest as positive reading material for a family with a child with AS
All these books can be purchased from Amazon Books.
This book is a memoir of a couple who fall in love and learn to cope with the challenges of Asperger Syndrome together. Title: Mozart and the Whale Authors: Jerry and Mary Newport This book takes the perspective of an eleven year old boy who has Asperger Syndrome. It gives a positive approach to families who are personally affected. Title: Asperger’s Huh: Author: John Strachan This is written in a fun way to help a student with AS learn positive ways to deal with issues that may arise in school. Title: Adam’s Alternate Sports Day Author: Jude Welton
We extend a thank you to each of you for being a part of our workshop today! We hope that you have learned something new about Asperger Syndrome!
Before you leave, please take a moment to complete the feedback sheets being distributed. You may leave the completed sheets at your table. Thank you.