In the 1940’s
Asperger’s Syndrome was first described by a Viennese paediatrician Hans
Asperger (Autism Society, 2016). He observed behaviours
associated with autism in a boy who had normal language and intelligence. It
was first believed by many professionals that Asperger’s Syndrome was a weaker
version of Autism (Autism Society, 2016). They referred to these individuals as
having ‘high-functioning autism’. It was then in 2013 that the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSMV-5) placed Autistic Disorder,
Asperger’s Syndrome and other extensive developmental disorder under the name
of Autism Spectrum Disorder (Autism Society, 2016).
OF KEY TERMS
Autism/ Autism Spectrum
a term used to refer to a span of conditions usually characterised by
difficulty with social skills, speech and non-verbal communication, repetitive
behaviours and extraordinary strengths and differences (Autism Speaks, 2012).
the vast diversity in challenges and strengths owned by each person with autism
can best describe the term ‘spectrum’ in the context of Autism (Autism Speaks,
Aspergers Syndrome –
This term is used to refer to the neurobiological disorder that is on the
higher-functioning end of the autism spectrum (ASPEN, 2017).
The exact causes of the
Autism Spectrum Disorders has not been identified, however, many believe that
there is some genetic factor involved. This inference is made due to the fact
that Asperger’s syndrome has been noticed running in families. Autistic
disorders could be linked to toxic exposures, problems with birth or pregnancy,
teratogens and prenatal infections in some cases (Stöppler).
Asperger’s is said to
be five times more likely to be found in boys than girls. An increase in the U.
S. of Autism Spectrum disorders has been recognised in recent years. There is
no precise reason to indicate this increase. However, there are some who
believe that the increase may be accredited to the improvements and adjustments
in the diagnostic process, therefore causing more children to be identified.
One out of every 110 children in the U.S. has an autism spectrum disorder
according to the most recent studies conducted.
The characteristic of Asperger’s
differs from person to person; however, the characteristics between the Autism
Spectrum Disorders are similar. Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome (or any
Autism Spectrum Disorder) have huge difficulties in social interactions and
“restricted patterns of interest” (Wing, 1981). Different to Autism, individuals with
Asperger’s Syndrome do not have language delays. Individuals with Asperger’s
Syndrome usually want to have friendships and interact with other people but
are unable to do so because of their lack of understanding when it comes to
social cues. They also tend disregard people’s emotions and feelings and lack
empathy. One other characteristic or identification of Asperger’s Syndrome is
their tendency to obsess over their individualistic interests. When it comes to
knowledge on basically any topic, individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome are able
to retain it well, however when it comes to abstract concepts they are not as
skilled. Though individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome do not have speech or
language delays, their speech at times may not have inflection. Their speech
may also have a rhythmic nature. Sometimes it may be formal but too loud or
high –pitched. One final characteristic is their average to above average
intelligence, which is why Asperger’s is sometimes referred to as
As mentioned earlier,
children with Asperger’s Syndrome have major deficits in their social skills.
According to May (2013) the relationship between the curriculum and social
education must be take into consideration for all students but more so
student’s with Aspergers because of their social impairment. Researchers such
as Strosnider, et al., (1997) observed the overlap between social education and
curriculum (May, 2013). They proposed that when teachers are seeking to modify
content to be taught, they must consider all the elements present in public
education. Stronsnider et al., (1997) suggested that there are three areas
which affect education (May, 2013). Academic, physical and interpersonal are
the areas they have identified. These areas are all difficult areas for
students with Asperger’s. Therefore,
Stronsnider et al., (1997) created The Academic, Physical and Interpersonal
Inclusion Plan (API Inclusion plan) (may, 2013). The plan assists regular
education teachers to come up with strategies for each of the three areas
TEACCH (Treatment and
Education of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped Children program)
has four main elements as identified by Cumine et al., (2002). These elements
are: “the physical structure of the
classroom, a visual schedule of the day’s activities, an explanation of the
type and length of the work expected, and instructions presented visually in
addition to verbally” (May, 2013). These
strategies help to provide ‘scaffolding’, according to the researches, for the
student with AS. The visual instructions and schedules are acclaimed as being helpful
for these students, according to Ozonoff, et al., (2002).
Though writing and
reading are essential for each child in school, students with Asperger’s have
grave difficulty doing such. It is suggested that teachers give them the
opportunity to present their information in a non-traditional way (may, 2013).
For example, the students could create a model to demonstrate the research they
have conducted on a particular topic instead of writing a research paper. This
way, students are not frustrated and they will gain encouragement and
motivation to participate in other activities.
If not taught how to affectively
socialise with their peers, students with Aspergers can become depressed and
act out because they may feel left out and frustrated.
Student’s with Asperger’s can also
become frustrated when they are given tasks they are unable to complete. As
mentioned earlier, they have issues with writing and reading. If they are then
given a task to write for their assessment, they may become frustrated.
Although they are brilliant individuals, they might feel less than when this
occurs which will not help them.
Therefore, the teacher MUST differentiate instruction and some
teachers may find this task as a tedious one.
When being included in the regular
classroom, students can gain some level of understanding when it comes to
interacting with those who are not like themselves which can in turn help them
when they are grown and have to work for themselves.
Main stream children would also learn
how to value and appreciate those who are not like themselves.
classroom is structured around meeting everyone’s needs therefore students with
Asperger’s as well as those without have an opportunity to receive
differentiated instruction tailored to meet their needs.