Education Placement is Key for Children with Asperger’s Tricia Hunter ENG 106 January 2011 Many children struggle daily with challenges from living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The families of these unique children also struggle, not only in their personal lives but also in trying to find some sort of quality of life for the child in an educational setting. This raises the question of whether some children in this spectrum, specifically those with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), be allowed to remain in the general education population of schools?
The alternative may be to place them in what is known as self-contained classrooms or classrooms for children with behavioral disorders. When evaluating this question, one must have an understanding of the disorder known as Asperger’s Syndrome as well as some of the misconceptions. There are benefits to having a child like this in the class, both for the child and for others involved including students and faculty. Strategies exist that can help facilitate learning and growth which will assist in preparing all of the children for their futures.
An understanding of Asperger’s Syndrome is necessary when evaluating a diagnosed child’s educational plan. Asperger’s is not a behavioral disorder it is a form of autism. Symptoms of children with AS include impairment in social interaction and communication, along with restricted and/or repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). The children can be very capable of learning and typically have normal to above average intellect as well as a normal physical appearance. Frequently underlying the social difficulties in AS is a misinterpretation of social intent, leading to social misunderstandings and subsequent withdrawl particularly in novel and unexpected social interactions” (as cited in Semrud-Clikeman, 2010). AS children can be perceived as awkward or overly-sensitive and can become easily upset by changes in routine, unclear understanding of what is expected, or sensatory stimulation such as bright lights and loud noise. These types of situations can cause anxiety, fear, and frustration which can lead to inappropriate behavior, such as tantrums and outbursts.
They also can have difficulty expressing themselves and struggle to find proper words to describe how they are feeling and why. When not properly oriented on the subject, diffusing this type of situation can be a hard task to achieve. It really takes patience, empathy, open-mindedness and detective-like skills to root out the cause. The cause may be simply that the child became anxious because of the way someone was staring at him or her. These situations can make them feel very uncomfortable. Again, their reactions are based on their perceptions and interpretation of the other person.
The anxiety may then rise to physical expression of frustration, causing a snowball effect until someone takes the time and effort to first calm the child and then walk the child through the experience and help them explain what is causing their discomfort. Once acquainted with the child, this process can be very quick with resolution in a few short minutes. AS children are very honest and are sometimes described as not being able to tell lies. The root of their issue is usually very legitimate even though the reaction seems to be out of proportion to situation at hand.
Some parents reported they felt certain misconceptions by school staff that their children were “poorly behaved, obnoxious” and that the behavior was attributed to “bad parenting” (Brewin, 2008). There are benefits for both the Asperger child and for a typically functioning child when the children are engaged in interaction with one another. These interactions afford opportunities for learning social skills to both groups of children. “Most kids are uncomfortable… find it difficult to interact with a child with disabilities” (Brewin, 2008).
Facilitated interaction between children can assist typical children with valuable social skills for dealing with all types of individuals as well a being a positive model of skills for the Asperger child. Keep in mind that due to the impact of the disorder, Asperger’s children need to learn social skills at a different pace than typical children. Appropriate social skills are best learned from repetitive modeling of others. “Parents reported that their child’s quality of life is also affected by the quality of their social interactions” (Brewin, 2008).
There is also some “concern that assigning untrained or unskilled paraprofessionals to help children with disabilities, including children with ASD, was unlikely to be an effective practice for promoting the children’s social interaction” (as cited in Kishida, 2009). Although it can be a challenge to have enough properly trained staff to be able to facilitate these interactions, the benefits for all children is an experience that will help prepare any child for a future in the real world where they encounter many individuals in society.
Many times children with AS can be described to have interests that are more intense or narrow compared to that of others. They may not always show interest in others’ likes and dislikes and tend to have a hard time making friendships and socializing due to difficulty interpreting the feelings and expressions of others, also in taking things too literally. They can show inflexibility, rigidity, and not be comfortable with changes in their routine. So, there needs to be strategies for including these children in social interactions, expressing themselves, and in providing warning for any upcoming changes in routine.
These strategies should be targeted specifically to the weakness or areas of challenge for the specific child. “Interviews with children with these disorders as well as behavioral observations may be the most appropriate method for evaluating their areas of strength and weakness in social functioning” (Semrud-Clikeman, 2010). It is necessary to gather information from all involved in the child’s life including the perspective of the child, parents, educators, and health providers.
One study shows that parents felt that although “AS-specific strategies were helpful, it was the fact that their child was treated as an individual that was most helpful… a product of his environment and [when] people create the nice proper type of environment for him, he excels… understanding what his limitations are and then helping him to cope… AS requires empathy, understanding, and a willingness to be flexible rather than an expectation that the child must change to meet rigid classroom expectations” (Brewin, 2008).
Follow up monitoring of any plans implemented should occur on a regular basis so that any adjustments can be made. A child with Asperger’s Syndrome is first and foremost a child, a human being with the same basic needs as that of any other. The hierarchy of needs is intended to be applied to all humans. Love, compassion, and understanding is a need that we all share, this includes a child with a disability. These children are an inspiration to many as they continue to move forward in life despite obstacles and adversity.
Singling out a child or labeling them could be detrimental to their well being and social growth, which is exactly what an Asperger’s child struggles with inherently. Social interactions are beneficial to all people involved with AS children from peers to educators. If applied appropriately, strategies can be incorporated to facilitate a positive educational environment for AS children. Academically these children are able to succeed, and what better way to provide them with exposure to real life situations than by having them in a normal classroom.
When a child with impairment in social skills needs to learn some of these skills from scratch, whom would be a better model for him or her; a child suffering from behavioral difficulties or a typical child that represents the most socially acceptable traits and skills? References American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-IV-TR (fourth edition, text revision). Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000. Semrud-Clikeman, M. , Walkowiak, J. , Wilkinson, A. , & Minne, E.. (2010).
Direct and Indirect Measures of Social Perception, Behavior, and Emotional Functioning in Children with Asperger’s Disorder, Nonverbal Learning Disability, or ADHD. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38(4), 509-19. Retrieved October 28, 2010, from ProQuest Psychology Journals. (Document ID: 2000997421). Brewin, B. , Renwick, R. , & Schormans, A.. (2008). Parental Perspectives of the Quality of Life in School Environments for Children With Asperger Syndrome. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 23(4), 242-252. Retrieved October 29, 2010, from ProQuest Psychology Journals. Document ID: 1606797121). Kishida, Y. , & Kemp, C.. (2009). The Engagement and Interaction of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder in Segregated and Inclusive Early Childhood Center-Based Settings. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education: Systematic Instruction in Early Childhood Special Education, 29(2), 105-118. Retrieved October 28, 2010, from ProQuest Psychology Journals. (Document ID: 1863808051). I really did not find anything wrong with the essay I think that it was well written and the author got right to the point good essay.