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Access and Disability Resources

Asperger's (Autism Spectrum Level 1)

Asperger's Disorder is a mild variant of Autistic Disorder. Both are subgroups of a broader diagnostic category called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a neurobiological condition affecting 2-3 individuals per 1,000.

Individuals affected by Asperger's Disorder are known to have difficulty with social relationships specifically when it comes to reading body language/facial expressions and understanding social rules and conventions. At an early age their inability to understand another person's perspective limits their capacity for emotional reciprocity and empathy. Typically, they speak fluently by age 5, but are socially awkward such as standing too close to someone while talking, talking too much or too loud or staring. They have trouble understanding multiple meanings and show unusual speech rhythm and pitch. Additionally, they have narrow interests limiting their ability to converse about other subjects. It is then that they often appear "egocentric" and "eccentric" whereas they are neurologically unable to see things from another person's point of view and inherit all the problems that come along with this socialization deficit. This has been called “mind blindness.”

In addition to these core challenges, it is not unusual for individuals with Asperger's to experience anxiety, distractibility and sensory issues (unusual sensitivity to lighting, sounds). They are often confounded by change in routine and figurative language i.e. sarcasm, irony. Interestingly, rules, structure and literal meaning are reassuring within the “complex” social world. Many Individuals with Asperger’s want friendship but their poor understanding of the “intricacies of social relationships” can be exhausting so they find relief in solitude. Unfortunately, depression is not an uncommon occurrence.

Interestingly, many individuals with this disorder have average to above average intelligence, have excellent rote memory; a good mind for details and many succeed in the work place. The essential characteristic of Asperger’s Disorder manifests very uniquely within affected individuals. Building academic and life skills upon their strengths is the optimal approach in supporting these students.

General Suggestions:

  1. Ensure student is knowledgeable about availability of DS services.
  2. If needed provide additional clarification regarding classroom protocol and instructor expectations
  3. Student may need to take occasional breaks to self-manage stress and anxiety.
  4. Ideas to promote social inclusivity in the classroom:
  1. Should student ask excessive questions in class, privately tell him you'll answer two (or any # you decide upon), and that they can ask the rest after class.
  2. If group collaboration exercises appear overwhelming, assign student a role within the group such being a recorder.
  3. Pair student with a peer that is friendly and helpful.
  4. Provide opportunities for student to give a presentation about a subject he/she is knowledgeable about.

Contact Access and Disability Resources should you have any further questions.