Tools for Interacting with Students with Asperger’s Disorder
In 2000-2001, 78,749 students were diagnosed with disorders on the Autism spectrum. There are no clear statistics on the number of people attending college who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder.
~ Evidence suggests that the number of students with Asperger’s Disorder continues to grow rapidly in the college setting.
Superior knowledge in specific areas
Supportive of others
Follow rules/guidelines when set
Pays attention to detail
Understanding non-verbal forms of communication
- facial expressions, body language, etc.
Poor eye contact/conversation skills
Understanding unstated rules or expectations
Concrete style of thinking
Unawareness of how their behavior affects those around them
- loud noises, large groups, etc.
Tips for Personal Interactions:Establish trust to decrease conflict between you and the student
- Establishing trust can be done through being kind, setting
appropriate boundaries and getting to know the individual-
take an interest in their interests.
- Explain expectations and boundaries in a warm, concrete manner.
Provide predictability to help them feel more comfortable.
Be clear about times and reasons for office visits
- It would be helpful to set up regular appointments if needed.
Be willing to re-explain information as concrete as possible
- It is helpful if you explain justification/reason when the student get
“stuck” on a topic.
Signs students may need support:
- Resistance to change
- Difficulty expressing needs
- Repetitive verbal behavior
- Preference for being alone
- Does not like to interact with others
- Little or no eye contact
- Obsessive attachment to others
- Hypersensitivity to sounds
- Literal thinking style- inability to reason
- Obsessing on specific topics
Faculty: Tips for Class Room Interactions:
- May need to set limits on participation
Example: Only allowing student to answer 3 questions per class period
- May need to limit use of metaphors
Example: Billy had an economics professor who liked to use metaphors. While discussing capitalism, the professor said, “Life is a game and whoever ends with the most toys wins.” Billy was confused by the use of this metaphor and didn’t understand what games and toys had to do with capitalism, but did not say anything. While trying to make the connection, Billy missed the next few minutes of lecture.
- If able to do group work, the student may need to be monitored by professor in order to avoid being off task or taking over group activity.
- Avoid having students self-select into group Instead try to place the student with others who you believe will be understanding and tolerant.
- Whenever possible, it may be helpful to offer an alternative approach where the student can select to work on an individual basis.
- If a conflict arises:
Explain to the student what effect they had on others, why the conflict arose, and how to behave appropriately in a group setting
- To decrease anxiety or confusion if alarm sounds, discuss evacuation procedures ahead of time.
- Students may be distracted by others making noises or they may be disruptive to others unintentionally.
- Don’t take it personally if the student engages in unusual classroom behavior that you find disruptive. It is most likely unintentional and can be resolved by discussing it with the student and advising them on how to behave.