Asperger's Help


#1

I have a student with the classic symptoms of Aspergers. I have known many adults with AS since they often find themselves in higher education. However, I have not dealt with children having AS.

We’ve had more good days than bad in our classroom (junior high); however, today he had an outburst which I found very inappropriate and I’m wondering what do to about it in the future. There was only one chair left in the classroom when the student walked in. He said, “I’m not sitting there. I hate that boy.”

We are a Catholic school and I’m not about to tolerate my students using this kind of language. I said, “Excuse me?” very sternly and he was quiet. Another boy automatically switched seats.

After that things were all downhill. He couldn’t deal with the tables being arranged differently and lagged very far behind on his class work.

I don’t mind taking the extra time to be patient; however, I don’t feel it’s fair to the other boys if he takes up all my attention.

So I’m looking for advice on this situation and kids with AS in general.

Thanks.


#2

mizznicole I hate to read and run but I just want you to know I’ll try to respond later…my 11 yr old DD has Aspergers and I can probably offer some help…these outbursts are pretty typical… I’ll try to get back to the thread later.


#3

hi mizznicole -

I am in education and work with teachers who have students with special needs in their classrooms every day - the situation you described is very typical. Students with asperger syndrome are so special - they are usually bright and may even excel at school so expectations for their behavioral independence are high as well, and therein lies the problem.

Students with asperger syndrome, or any type of autism, have social-communication weaknesses; they **do not know **how to interact with others without being taught directly. It is easier for them to blend in during their younger years, but when the peer pressure of middle school sets in, the non-verbal communication becomes so important and students with asperger syndrome simply miss the cues. Again they need to be directly taught skills for appropriate socialization - not doing so is like not giving insulin to a person with diabetes who needs it.

I have no doubt that your student has a reason for not liking the other student - it may be that he just doesn’t understand that student’s behavior and needs for an adult to help him understand it as well as his own reaction to it and how to respond in a socially acceptable way. Students with asperger syndrome know they are different and can become increasingly frustrated by their inability to solve their social problems themselves.

Here is a website for further info: www.aspergers.com (contains a suggested book list)

I wish I could talk to you - I just joined this site today and don’t know all the rules.

I’ll leave you with this; some of the most loving children I have ever worked with have autism. As I said before it’s complex, but it’s worth the time to reach into their world so they can reach back into ours. God bless you both, and this student’s family.

annie


#4

Hi

I think Annie has given a really good reply to your problem.

My 11 year old cousin has aspergers and has just started secondary school (I live in UK so its probably a similar age to junior high?) anyways whenever you ask her a question that is followed by a yes or no reply she ALWAYS replies with “I don’t know” or “dunno” it is very hard to understand what she wants sometimes but we are all learning the differences in tone of voice when she says “I don’t know” and then we sometimes have to nudge her into doing/taking/whatever the thing she does or doesn’t want.
I am not fully sure what her condition (or others with the same/similar condition) means but I do know that social activity is hard for them. They do not understand the social rules of a “normal” setting so something like saying “I hate that person I don’t want to sit there” might seem rude and out of place for a “normal” child but for someone with aspergers it is to be expected. Infact saying he “hates” the boy might actually mean that he likes the boy but doesn’t know how to be friends with him?

I think you should maybe see what your school has to offer in terms of children with learning difficulties because I understand by giving him more attention you could be accidently ignoring the others in the class.
Because she is my cousin I don’t 100% know what she is like at school or what support they have in place for her but I do know that the teachers and staff often have to explain things to her several times and even write things down for her (like her homework or school rules) incase she fully doesn’t understand. Then she will study the instructions and adapt her behaviour so maybe you just need to explain to the boy several times what is and isn’t acceptable and then maybe he will realise.

I hope this has helped.

God bless
x


#5

Thanks for your replies. I still am bothered that he said “I hate this boy” in front of the boy, because the boy does not deserve to be hated. It is still objectively wrong to say this. It’s hurtful to the other person. Is it wrong to point out that this is inappropriate behavior, or even encourage him to apologize? Wouldn’t it help the child to learn social interactions that he doesn’t understand intuitively? I know the other child. He has his own issues. But these kids are all great children of faith. Not a bully among them. We are a tiny group - less than a dozen.

Again, I have known adults with AS and they are fascinating. I want to help my student but the universe can’t revolve around him.

Thanks for helping me process.


#6

Yes explain to the boy that telling anyone they “hate” them is wrong and encourage him apologise but explain clearly why it is wrong.

A young boy without aspergers would maybe lash out saying he “hates” someone/thing and would know it is wrong, however someone with aspergers might know “hate” is wrong but doesn’t fully understand why and doesn’t know how to express their true feelings so they are more likely to use words that are inapropriate.

Just try to be patient. I will pray for you.

God bless.


#7

Good day, my son is ADD, ADHD borderline and none of his teacher’s were happy with him nor ever treated him fairly…Many of them told me that they couldn’t lag the classroom for one child! He has been failed all ready in school because of this…because he couldn’t keep up with the other kids and no one wanted to help him…

I don’t think it’s fair! The pressure falls on the parent completely when there is no one willing to help and the parent can’t do everything including making sure he keeps up with teacher’s and classroom work at school. I have to work, and have 2 other children…I try to be there for him, get him the help he needs and explained to my other 2 children why he gets a little more attention then they might feel they are getting…I have even involved the other 2 children with their brother to work together and learn from each other…

I finallly got the doctor’s involved and then the school was worried about him and wanting to help him after they were threatened by a doctor… Which I didn’t think should have been necessary…There’s a “no child left behind” policy and if they are unable to keep it they shouldn’t have it…

After the school was notified by a doctor about my son’s “issue” they actually had the teacher’s aids helping him more… now this year he’s doing a little better…Has a teacher whom is patient with him, she doesn’t yell at him, nor mistreat him because of his problem, and she doesn’t point him out as different to the other 19 students in that class…they have even incorporated a lot of visual items and projects for all children to help all children learn better including my son…And there is an assistant available on certain days for him to help him when things get overwhelming…

They have even tried to change things up, for other children such as my son, like every other day the assistant comes in and helps them individually and as a group, getting more interaction between classmates and as well as independence for him alone…and then leave him without assistance every other day, to see his progress and other children’s progress…That has been helping him a lot at home as well…

It’s a great feeling to hear him say “I like my teacher!” Instead of hearing him cry every morning because his teacher screamed at him all day long!

I feel that if there is a problem with a child, consult with the parents, find out what’s going on and try to help the child as much as possible. The next thing to do is have a meeting with parents and principal to hear what the options are in order for this child to get the best education possible without causing the teacher so much stress…

As long as everyone learns to communicate with each other things shouldn’t be so difficult for the other students, teacher, parents nor child with the condition!

Good luck and GOD bless…


#8

mizznicole what is in the boys educational plan to deal with these things? What do his parents say? How have past teachers dealt with it? Are the other boys aware of his difference? If they have known him before this year they might be familiar with this happening and not be too rattled by it. It sounds like there were other issues with him going on that day if he was generally agitated, have you and other teacher and the parents talked about what his ‘triggers’ are and how to avoid them? Are there clear expectations of behavior and consequences? By clear I mean he may need a visual reminder. Was he made to apologize to the other boy or make amends somehow? There has to be follow through. You will only minimize these kids of outbursts so much, son when they do happen it’s important that he knows it hurts someone else and he has to apologize. Is there anything going on outside of your class with this other boy?

I think it’s important for everyone, you and the students included to get familiar with aspergers and while of course having high expectations of this boy, the same as for the others, to realize that he does struggle in some areas, socially etc. I think it might be a bit of a stretch to say that it’s objectively wrong for him to say he hates someone, it’s likely he doesn’t actually hate him but with aspergers sometimes emotions are very black and white; you either love or hate, not too much middle ground. He has to learn to control himself but like the other poster said I think even typical kids this age might have an outburst like that. He’s not thinking the world revolves around him, he lives in a world that doesn’t understand him, and that’s essential to remember. People with aspergers often perceive what can only be described as ‘pain’ by having to deal with certain sensory stimuli, like being next to someone with a particular smell, or voice, or someone who moves and fidgets a lot. These little things can really be hard for a person for AS to just ignore. Maybe there truly is something that bothers him about sitting by the other boy, and ‘hate’ is just the way it came out. Maybe talk to him about what exactly is the problem with this other boy?

That is a long ramble but basically I’d suggest you getting informed more, definitely talking to the parents (I can’t imagine sending my autistic kids to a classroom without talking in depth with the teacher first???), talking to the other boys in the class and maybe having the AS student himself help talk to the class about his unique challenges. This is a great opportunity for the other kids to understand people that don’t fit the mold and there are a LOT of people with AS out there, more than you realize. I’d make sure that the boy has clear and defined expectations and consequences for behavior, and give him an alternative of what he CAN say that is appropriate.

I have a DD with AS and my husband had AS as well, and I have a son with severe autism. It’s a very interesting and sometimes difficult world to navigate, and can definitely test one’s patience, but I have to remember I’m the one who has it easy. I think compassion for this boy, including having great expectations of him, from everyone around him is essential.


#9

Thanks, those are good things to think about. We are a teeny tiny Catholic school that’s not really set up to handle special needs, but we’ve ended up with a handful of special needs kids anyhow. I was sort of raw yesterday because my other special needs girl sassed me on the same day - ARG!

I did not make the student apologize. He knew immediately that I was displeased and quieted up. Plus, as a new teacher I’m still shocked by what comes out of these kids sometimes. :slight_smile: But I want to be better prepared for the next time something like this happens.


#10

I work with students who have severe learning disabilities to moderate mental retardation. One thing that seems to help them is “interventions” so to speak. Sit the Aspie down and say “this is what you did wrong. this is what I’d like you to do in the future. now what would you say if Boy annoyed you or teased you? (reinforcement). Ok ____ since we can’t undo what you did, the next best thing is apologise.”

Then set aside a quite moment (before/after lunch/peroid change) for Aspie to apologie to Boy, and definatly visa versa. (eg, the boy had teased him) On the Aspie’s end this helps concrete the behavior you want to see. For the classmate, it helps them work towards helping their classmate instead of resenting them.


#11

Mizzinicole,

I really commend you for asking for advice on this and keeping an open mind to your special needs children’s differences.

I get the sense, from the way you talk about this incident, that you are reading way too much into the words that were spoken. When you hear the words, “I hate you”, it means something to you that it does not mean to this boy. Rather than say, “I am really shocked at what comes out of these kids”, which implies a moral judgement about what’s happening, I would encourage you to say, “How do I help this child manage his strong reaction to this boy in a socially acceptable manner?”.

First, it’s difficult for kids with Asperger’s to express themselves, and difficult to properly explain how they are reacting to people. They often have strong visceral reactions to people that are based on one of two things. A) the boy may have excluded him at recess or done something else that he didn’t like, and he doesn’t know how to react to it, or B) the boy may have something about him that is setting off a sensory sensitivity. For example, the tone of his voice might be unbearable to him, or the color of shirt might cause a headache. It might be hard for you to imagine how another person could possibly not be able to bear something as innocuous as another person’s voice, but that is what the world is like for *some people *with Asperger’s.

A good way for you to handle something like this in the future is to calmly and clearly enforce the classroom rules for respecting others. You might say, kindly, softly, and calmly, “John, what you said to Billy was disrespectful and hurtful. Do you understand that?” Let John answer. You want him to practice the ability to reflect upon and gain insight into how he is perceived by other kids when he says certain things.

However he responds to your request for him to reflect on how his words made Billy feel, whether positively or negatively, say, “I need you to apologize or there will be a consequence.”

Later, sit down with him (with a parent, maybe, or a classroom aide, or whoever is assigned to assist) and talk to him about what is causing his reaction and how to manage it socially. Problem=solution. That’s the format you want to use, and you want to do it an entirely genuine and non-judgemental way, without sitting back and imagining what a terrible child this is. It truly is a difference in the way he’s perceiving his environment, and he has to be taught, directly, how to interact with people because of his condition. It has nothing to do with him being “bad”.


#12

No Aspergers info, just want to say I understand about being at a small school that’s not equipped to deal w/ special needs kids.

We now have a bunch of kids w/ IEPs and it’s getting challenging.


#13

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