Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is a type of autism spectrum disorder. Doctors don’t fully understand what causes this syndrome, a neurological disorder that involves communication and social impairments. Children with AS struggle with understanding nonverbal cues and body language, and they are often fixated on one area of interest. AS sufferers may have high IQs and no learning impairments, creating a challenge for a suitable learning environment. Check out these key things to know about living with Asperger’s Syndrome to better understand how to teach a child or student that suffers from AS.
Understand Sensory Overload
Children with AS have sensitive sensory systems. Anything can trigger a sensory overload, from loud noises to bright lights or simply too many people talking in a room. Children with AS may shut down in these situations or self-stimulate to soothe themselves. Self-stimulation, commonly known as “stimming,” can range from rocking to hand flapping. The AS sufferer feels relief when stimming, which can help him/her manage the stress and anxiety from sensory overload.
Use Structure to Your Advantage
All children benefit from structure and routine in their lives, and children with AS are no exception. The stress from change or an unexpected event can cause anxiety for many children with AS and trigger a meltdown. Adhering to a schedule allows them to understand what is coming. Structure can allow the parent to work during downtimes, which allows their child with AS an opportunity to recover after periods of sensory overload.
Provide the Best Learning Environment
Given the challenges of having a child with AS, providing the right learning environment is crucial to their success. Children with AS need more breaks, better-structured days, more one-to-one attention, and a different learning pace. Online schools can offer individually paced learning that is customizable to your child’s needs. This allows children with AS to learn in the safety and comfort of their own home and can improve learning success.
Recognize that No Two Children with Asperger’s Syndrome are Alike
While there are general characteristics of children with AS, not every child with AS is the same. Because the symptoms can vary, many people have their own misconceptions about what AS looks like. Take the time to educate yourself about the differences in symptoms.
Take Care of Yourself
If you live with a child who has AS, you understand that challenging times are inevitable. It is crucial to take care of yourself so that you are mentally and emotionally prepared to handle those challenging times. Join a support group so that you have an outlet for sharing frustrations and brainstorming solutions. Have as much patience with yourself as you do with your child; and remember that stressful interactions with AS sufferers are a valid reason to give yourself some downtime too.
Living with or teaching a child with AS can present its own challenges, but don’t forget to enjoy the reward of seeing your child or student grow and develop. The issues with sensory overload, lack of sufficient structure, and misunderstanding about AS make finding the right classroom environment difficult. Fortunately, the resources at K12.com can help you create a learning environment catered to your child’s needs and help him or her succeed.