Ways To Ensure the Successful Inclusion of Asperger Child in the
General Education Classroom
by Holly R. Bullard, EdD, Intervention in School and
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Asperger syndrome (AS) have a variety of issues that must be
addressed on a daily basis. Because these children tend to be
high-functioning, many are placed in general education
classrooms in order to receive the best education possible.
Teachers working with children with AS may not be aware of how
to provide the best inclusive environment. The following are
strategies and tips that can be incorporated to help these
children adjust and become successful in the general education
1. Establish a schedule early on, and be consistent with it.
Children with AS find comfort in knowing exactly what will
happen next. By providing these students with a very consistent
schedule that has little variance, you increase their sense of
security, making them better able to function appropriately in
the classroom and feel successful about their work (Attwood,
1998; Brownell, 2001; Myles & Simpson, 1998).
2. Provide a visual representation of the daily schedule.
Posting a chart in the classroom that displays the schedule and
routines for the day only adds to this security by allowing the
child to determine what will occur next so that she has a better
transition to the next activity.
3. Write notes in advance for the child if the schedule is going
to change for a special event. Let the child know what the
change will be and when it will occur because variation in the
routine can lead to stress and anxiety, which can cause
outbursts and tantrums. As stated previously, providing advanced
notice of alterations in the schedule allows the child time to
transition and prepare himself for the change in schedule. In
addition, because many children with AS tend to process auditory
information less efficiently, written notes allow the child
another avenue to obtain and understand the message (Attwood,
1998; Barnhill, 2001a; Council for Exceptional Children [CEC],
2002; Myles & Simpson, 1998).
4. Provide visual cue cards to use during instruction and
teaching. Due to the difficulty children with AS have in
processing auditory input, visual cues of what is being taught
could help them be more successful in taking in the new
information and remembering it. They may still require more time
to process all the information; however, by providing
instruction both verbally and visually, you offer students with
AS a better opportunity to learn the material (Barnhill, 2001a;
Myles & Simpson, 1998).
5. Set clear expectations and boundaries, and post them on the
wall. Once again, providing a visual representation of what is
expected so that the child can refer to it as needed provides
security and increased opportunities for comprehension of the
material, both of which will increase productivity in the
classroom (Attwood, 1998; Barnhill, 2001a; Myles & Simpson,
6. Provide verbal and written instructions for the child. When
giving the class instructions or directions for an assignment or
activity, provide written instructions that coincide with your
verbal instructions for the child with AS. The instructions can
be in picture form as well as in words to further aid in
comprehension and success (Barnhill, 2001a).
7. Ask questions to check the child's understanding of the
instructions you have just given, or ask him to verbalize the
instructions back to you to Clarify understanding. Many times,
children with AS appear as though they fully comprehend what is
being asked of them or what they have read because of their
"professor-like" responses to questions; however, these may mask
the fact that their comprehension is truly lacking. By probing
further, you can ask more pointed questions or have the child
verbalize in her own words, not repeating your exact phrases,
what is expected (Barnhill, 2001a; Myles & Simpson, 1998).
8. Use a timer to limit perseveration/ echolalia/singing.
Establish the routine that as soon as the timer goes off, the
child returns to the previous activity. Some children with AS
will begin to perseverate on objects or ideas or participate in
other behaviors that can hinder academic development during the
school day. Providing a time limit will help curb such behaviors
so that academic progress can be made. You must establish the
routine that as soon as the child begins to exhibit a certain
inappropriate behavior, the timer is set for a certain amount of
time. The child must then be taught that as soon as the timer
rings, she must rejoin the rest of the class in the current
activity. As time progresses, the time limit should be reduced
so that less and less time is actually being spent on such
behaviors (Grandin, 2001).
9. Allow the child to earn "free time" in the child's chosen
area of interest, such as art or computers, for completing work.
Children with AS tend to have an area of intense interest that
can consume their conversations and activities. Using this
interest to motivate the child can help him learn to be
productive in his work while still having time to concentrate on
his area of interest (Brownell, 2001; CEC, 2002; Grandin, 2001).
10. Teach the other children how to interact appropriately with
the child with Asperger syndrome in both academic and social
settings. Children can be very supportive and accepting of
people with disabilities and differences when they are taught to
have such compassion and are shown how to work and play with
those individuals. In order for the child with AS to be fully
accepted in the classroom, the other children in the classroom
have to be taught how to interact and accept her. Through
role-playing, modeling, and discussions, successful friendships
and interactions can take place and even add to the
successfulness of inclusion.
11. Model and role-play social situations incorporating
appropriate behaviors. Continually working on general socially
accepted behavior helps children with AS begin to internalize
the behaviors that are expected of them in society. By watching
both good and bad examples of behaviors that occur in various
social situations, these children can learn to make better
choices in their behavior (Barnhill, 2001b).
12. Teach specific socially appropriate phrases to use in
certain situations. By providing a written script that the child
can use in various situations and allowing her to practice her
reactions in role-playing activities, you make it more likely
for the child to be successful socially. During such social
events where the child is expected to act as taught, prompting
may be necessary to remind her how to act until she has had
ample opportunities to practice the skill in a real-life
situation (CEC, 2002).
13. Provide social skills practice and role-playing for any
upcoming social events. Students with AS need to have
opportunities to act out certain situations so they can prepare
for them socially. Because children with AS have poor social
judgment, repetitive practice prior to the event will provide
them with the knowledge they need to respond appropriately.
However, because transfer to different situations may be
difficult to achieve, these children must have several
opportunities to practice these socially appropriate behaviors
in a variety of contexts (Barnhill, 2001b).
14. Provide a social skills notebook with stories of correct and
incorrect social behaviors that the child can use as a guide and
reference. This notebook can be used to prompt the child as to
what behaviors are considered appropriate or not appropriate in
various social situations. Providing weekly opportunities to
read through the stories in a notebook, continuing to stress
socially appropriate behaviors, and practicing how to use them
in real-life situations will enhance the student's social
successfulness (CEC, 2002).
15. Provide visual cue cards of expected social behaviors, and
place them in areas where those behaviors are expected. Visual
cue cards can be used as prompts of expected behaviors of the
child in various settings. Through role-playing and modeling,
students are first introduced to the behaviors. By including
visual cue cards in this role-playing, you help the child with
AS learn to use those visual cues to help him remember what
behavior he should exhibit in the classroom and school
environments. However, children must be taught how to use these
cards. They cannot simply be posted in the room in hopes that
the child will understand what their purpose is. They must be
shown how to use them and be allowed time to practice using them
16. Write down what behavior the child is exhibiting and what
behavior he or she should be exhibiting. For example, "You are
drawing on your paper. A better choice would be to work on
writing your story." Once again, providing written responses
instead of verbal ones may help the child with AS better
understand what is being asked of her. Connecting these messages
to visual pictures may also be beneficial (Grandin, 2001).
17. Have the child complete this same activity with his own
behavior. After the child has been exposed to the method
previously described, he can then begin doing it himself with or
without prompting. Writing the message to himself and posting it
in his notebook or on his desk may help him internalize and
remember the expected behavior.
18. Begin discussing with the child how others view his acting
out. Children with AS have difficulty understanding how to
initiate or maintain soc\ial interactions. They do not realize
what effect their acting out has on those around them. You
should therefore begin discussing these issues with the children
early in order to facilitate a better understanding of the
social consequences of their behaviors (CEC, 2002).
19. Provide a safe place in which the child can retreat when she
becomes overstimulated or has difficulty adjusting to a new
activity or environment. This base could occupy a corner of the
classroom where the child can be in a dark, quiet place with
little or no stimulation in order to calm down. Once the child
feels secure and in control of her body, she can join the class
again (CEC, 2002; Grandin, 2001).
20. Be very patient and ready to teach both academic and social
skills over and over again. Children with AS need a teacher who
will remain calm when the situation escalates. When the teacher
begins to get frustrated and tense, the same feelings will tend
to heighten in the child. However, dealing calmly with the
situation will allow the child to calm down more quickly. In
addition, being aware that the child with AS will need a great
deal of practice and repetition of newly taught skills in order
to be successful will help you better prepare for what you will
need to do to help that child be successful.
Attwood, T. (1998). Asperger's syndrome: A guide for parents
and professionals. London: Kingsley.
Barnhill, G. (2001a). What is Asperger syndrome? Intervention in
School and Clinic, 36(5), 259-265.
Barnhill, G. (2001b). What's new in AS research: A synthesis of
research conducted by the Asperger Syndrome Project.
Intervention in School and Clinic, 36(5), 300-305.
Brownell, M. (2001). Steven Shore: Understanding the autism
spectrum-What teachers need to know. Intervention in School and
Clinic, 36(5), 293-299.
Council for Exceptional Children, (2002). Strategies to help
students with autism [Electronic version]. CEC Today, 8(8), 1,
Grandin, T. (2001). Teaching tips for children and adults with
Online Asperger's Syndrome Information and Support (OASIS).
http://www.udel.edu/bkirby/asperger Myles, B., & Simpson, R.
Asperger syndrome: A guide for educators and practitioners.
About The Author
Holly R. Bullard, EdD, is an assistant professor of
elementary education at Lubbock Christian University. Her
current interests include examining the process of learning to
read for children with autism and the successful inclusion of
autistic children in the general education setting. Holly R.
Bullard, College of Education, Eubbock Christian University,
5601 W. 19th St., Lubbock, TX 79407.
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