Asperger’s and School Accommodations

I was reading another of Kristyn’s blogs the other day. This blog’s topic was why one mother chose to homeschool her son who happened to have Asperger’s. You can read it here if you would like.

One thing that specifically stood out in my mind as I was reading this blog was that one of the reasons this mom chose to homeschool her son was because even after a diagnosis of Asperger’s, several teachers in his school didn’t believe that he actually had it. This floored me! As a former special-education teacher who has taught children with Asperger’s, I would never even think to negate a diagnosis from a doctor for something such as Asperger’s. Instead, I gave appropriate accommodations that were needed for my Asperger’s students to be successful in the public school setting.

What are some accommodations the student with Asperger’s should have included in his IEP? What accommodations should teachers and staff implement to help the Asperger’s student have more success in school? Here are several that are typical and often are included for children diagnosed with Asperger’s:

*Have a clearly scheduled day, one that the student knows. If there are any changes in the routine, the student must know and be prepared for it far in advance. Changes in routine can cause much disruption in the life of a child with Asperger’s. Therefore, it is best that a teacher prepare students for any upcoming changes.

*Transition before or after class for a set period of time. For example, a student with Asperger’s may be allowed to pass through the hallways five minutes before or five minutes after the bell. This helps deal with crowds in the hallway that may be overwhelming and allows for more time to prepare for the next class, or organize materials from the previous class.

*Designated and marked area for books, folders that are organized and labeled for classes, a school planner that is filled out and organized with assistance.

*If a student shows signs of over-stimulation in classes, allow for things that may drown out the stimulating factors. For example, I often let my students with Asperger’s wear headphones that drowned out any noise that may cause over-stimulation.

*Student may need to have a seating area in class either away from other students, close to the teacher, next to an empty desk, in the front of the class, or near students who are helpful and may show strengths in the area the student with Asperger’s has a weakness.

*Directions, lessons, instructions, and any type of discussions should be concrete rather than abstract.

*Schedules for the student displayed throughout the classroom.

*Teacher prompts to continue working.

*Learning new concepts and practicing learned concepts using manipulatives.

*Key words highlighted in texts, limit note taking, instead use pre-typed notes that the student may just fill in the blanks.

*Shortened test periods, breaks for sensory overload, tests read to them, assignments and tests may be taken in a separate setting with few distractions.

*Copies of notes, if possible.

*If working in groups, assign students to a group and clearly write expectations and instructions for the student to follow while in the group.

*Social skills instruction

These are obviously, while quite a lengthy list, just the start of accommodations that should be provided by the school for a child with Asperger’s. Schools should work with parents and the student to find appropriate accommodations that will provide the student with what will hopefully be a successful educational experience.