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How Does a Child with Asperger's Syndrome Learn

Guest mrstreasures

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Guest mrstreasures

My children have ADHD, ADD diagnosis. We found out that their cousins have Asperger's and mild autism.


I would like to understand how they learn. They are very intelligent and very talented. Yet, it confuses me that their learning process is very inconsistent.


Does anyone have experiences in what works as a good motivator for them?


I also want to know how they see the world and learning through their eyes.


Joy in SC

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They would typically see everything as pictures or movies in their mind. Everything has to be concrete. The idea of love, air, God, etc., need to be put into pictures for them. They will struggle with empathy: their mind is wired to be self-focused. Rewards and reinforcers will go a long way to teach social skills. Social stories can be made up for any situation and are simple enough for anyone to make. Use simple sentences in the stories, and tell them how they ought to do something. For example: "Today we're going to the dentist. I will sit quietly and wait my turn. When it is my turn, I will sit in a big chair and open my mouth wide. The dentist will tickle my teeth. When it is done, I will get a new toothbrush and a surprise toy! I like going to the dentist." One or two sentences per page with an illustration are good, and go over the book many times. In this way, kids with mild autism/aspergers can learn to function in this overwhelming world of social cues. Scripts can be written to help functional play. For example, take 10 index cards and write on them each person's line. "Can I play with you?" "Yes! You can have the red car." "Thank you! I like to play cars." "Let's race them." "Ok! Brrrooom brrroooom goes the car." "oh oh!" "CRASH!!!" And laugh about the crash. Stick to this script and then start messing with it a bit. It is important to show these kids that things don't always go their way. Because they are so self-focused, they typically only want to play what THEY want to play, so turn taking and not getting one's way should be gently introduced. Also, visual schedules are a BOON to anyone on the spectrum. Look into them and really encourage the family to use them. Knowing what comes next relieves a LOT of frustration.


I hope that helps somewhat. Above all, know that these kids will grow to be pretty bright individuals. It just takes a lot of patience and some tricks up the sleeve. There are a lot of great books out there to peruse. :001_smile:

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Old Sesame Street episodes were very helpful. I wouldn't put too much stock in the new ones. Barney was awful. Books in the style of Goodnight Moon are great. Same for the "Frances" books. Anything, like specialmama says, that is logical, simple, illustrative, and to the point.


There HAS to be a point. Aspies are pattern searchers. What tends to confound neurotypicals is that Aspies tend not to go a,b,c,d. They go a,c,d,b - yet come to the same conclusion. This "different wiring" can be very frustrating to an NT who is accustomed to doing something in a certain way (say, teaching math in particular steps).




Amidst this differently patterned "pattern", there is a need, a craving if you will, for order. Monday's classes are Monday's classes. And they are always Monday's classes. And they are always. the. same. And if you deviate from what are Monday's classes, Monday's classes are OVER. Might as well watch movies.


This is not to say there can be no field trips, no doctor's appointments, no side trips to the store. Just that they have to be planned out, accounted for. And if they cannot be, then one must get creative in one's approach, and learn to engage in interesting conversations on the fly (so... tell me what you've read about peaches and what you know about canning...).


The Aspie motto: Change. Is. Bad.


Theater classes are a very good thing. And not for "socialization". For watching. How does one learn how to behave, how to perform, how to act in myriad situations? For an NT, one just lives. For an Aspie, one watches and memorizes. Life is a series of permutations of permutations of permutations of situations: if he does/says this, then I say/do that. If this happens, I react in that manner. People smile when they are doing this, they put on a "concerned" face when doing that.


Sound complicated? Exhausting? It is.


Second motto: Fake it 'til you make it.


Add in "face blindness" (not being able to pick people out of crowds until they talk, or unless they have a distinctive mannerism because the part of your brain that recognizes facial features is also rewired), and "normal" social interaction is downright painful. Looking into the eyes of a stranger? GAH! It's much easier to look at an invisible dot between their eyes or at their nose.


So are these really *learning* tips? Perhaps not. But, in becoming more comfortable in one's environment, book learning is not as difficult. Even if said book learning may be easier with non-scritchy sounding pencils, pale colored (not white) paper, a decent set of ear plugs or muffs, and a soft (non-fluorescent) light. And books with underlining and highlighting? Oh no...




Edited by asta
too, not to
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Ditto everything those girls have said! They hit the nails on the heads with those, particularly with the "Change. Is. Bad." statement. That is the truth, 100%.


The inconsistent learning can come in a couple of situations, from what I know:

1. When the thought process being taught doesn't match the way they think. I have had to teach and reteach and reteach yet again concepts that, once my son understands, he masters in less than 5 minutes. As Asta said, math is a big offender in this area. Grammar, math, and spelling can all be horribly confusing initially. They can become overwhelmed with details but miss the big picture - my son can pick out a golden eagle flying over the pasture three doors down but will totally pass over the six birds chasing it away from their nests, for example. The same thing can happen in school. They'll be quite sure that the word 'school' is a common noun and become quite upset when they see the word capitalized in a "Wayside School" book. Brightly-colored books or books with 'info boxes' everywhere are overwhelming; black-and-white plain print is easier to understand. Patience is key as well as giving limited but detailed information at a time. Review may not have to be stringent as it is with other children, as Asperger's kids are little sponges and will retain much of what they learn very easily.

2. They will also be much, MUCH farther ahead in some areas than in others. My son personally is highly advanced in science but is just now catching up to grade level in handwriting and still hates it with a passion. This inconsistency here comes as a result of having a great interest in certain subjects as opposed to others. Asperger's children will learn everything about certain subjects as diligently as those taking a doctorate course and may recite entire book passages to you about it, sometimes almost word for word. Science-related subjects are popular choices for these interests since they typically aren't (I say typically because of course all kids are different) very athletically inclined, though some may have a profiency at music.


Keep things in order (though they may require you to follow THEIR order rather than yours - I once tried to label my son's toy bins in order to keep things more organized and to help him have less anxiety about cleaning up, and he promptly relabeled every bin to fit his own organizational system), remember that their mind is indeed self-centered and works differently than yours, and read those other ladies' comments. They are sweet kids but man, is it a whole new world!

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Brightly-colored books or books with 'info boxes' everywhere are overwhelming; black-and-white plain print is easier to understand. Patience is key as well as giving limited but detailed information at a time. Review may not have to be stringent as it is with other children, as Asperger's kids are little sponges and will retain much of what they learn very easily.



Yes! Resist DK "Eyewitness Guides", Barnes and Noble "Discoveries", and Usborne books at all costs (no matter how "neat", "convenient" or "concise" they may seem - ask me how I know...). There is simply too much scattered info on a page. And it is too concise. Aspies want INFO, not precis.


I have found that seeking out OLD textbooks is a good method. They don't have fancy graphics, they have "soft" paper (not the glossy, squeaky kind), and are often done in browns, tans, and oranges or blacks and soft reds. The author Gombrich "speaks" to children as if they are thinking beings, capable of intelligent, independent thought. Aspies like that. So does VanLoon. Believe it or not, many of the "Idiot's Guides" are very well written, and do not have too much extraneous fluff.


The OLD versions of Teaching Company programs (the ones that get attacked for not having "fancy graphics") are favorites for their simplicity; they aren't distracting.


Lots of individual notebooks/folders. We do history/lit/writing all together, so I make a folder for each period we're studying. The front of the folder has a checklist of everything that needs to be done (readings, essays to be written, maps, quizzes, etc.), and the interior has all of the accompanying paperwork. I've tried doing it differently, and it just didn't work. Something always got "dropped".




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