If you are an elementary school teacher, you may teach children who have already been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. In your classroom, you might also have children who haven't been diagnosed yet but display some of the symptoms. Here's some information to help you.
Children with Asperger Syndrome often have difficulty with social situations. In a classroom of peers, these Asperger Syndrome symptoms might look like this:
- Children may have difficulty making friends in the classroom because they often have one-sided conversations. Children with Asperger Syndrome know in-depth a particular subject such as trains or city development or space. They want to tell everything they know about a subject, and this may go beyond the understanding of a peer's knowledge.
- Another one of the Asperger Syndrome symptoms is that these students may not pick up on sarcasm or understand jokes. They often speak in a flat tone; and in turn, they easily misunderstand their peers. Children with Asperger Syndrome might take a sarcastic comment literally, which could lead to hurt feelings or conflict.
- Children with Asperger Syndrome often say their internal thoughts out loud. They do not have a filter, and sometimes, they will not raise their hands before they shout out an answer or a comment in the classroom. In a conversation with another student, this can be hurtful to the peer if the comment is brutally honest.
- Eye contact can sometimes be a problem for these students. They may stare at their classmates too long; or in the other extreme, they avoid eye contact all together.
Some Asperger Syndrome symptoms fall into the category of developmental delays. In the classroom, students with this disorder may have difficulty with:
- Handwriting -- Students with Asperger Syndrome may have poor handwriting. As they get older and are supposed to write smaller, this is often hard for them. They may also have trouble making the transition to cursive writing in second or third grade.
- PE -- Physical education and recess can be a difficult time for children with this disorder. They may have trouble catching a ball, running, and using any equipment such as a bat or hockey stick.
- Lunch -- In some extreme cases, one of the Asperger Syndrome symptoms is that children have trouble using their silverware properly to eat. They may not be able to hold a fork properly or use a knife to cut their food. This may be particularly true for younger primary students.
Routine and Sensory
Children with Asperger Syndrome symptoms often have difficulty when routines are changed. In an elementary classroom, they sometimes thrive because elementary school teachers are experts at sticking to a schedule. However, if there's an assembly or shortened day because of professional development meetings or inclement weather, these children may become very upset due to a change in the normal routine of their day.
Other symptoms of Asperger Syndrome may appear when students experience a sensory overload. Some students with Asperger Syndrome have a sensitivity to certain things such as bright lights, loud music or announcements, or strong smells such as air fresheners. These can cause a sensory overload for the student, and they can become extremely upset or even shut down completely.
One or two Asperger Syndrome symptoms does not mean the child has the disorder, but you should always talk with your administrator and the parents if you have any concerns.
Asperger Syndrome Symptoms
This series contains articles that discuss Asperger Syndrome symptoms in children. These articles are geared toward teachers in a classroom setting.
- Asperger Syndrome Symptoms in Children Under Twelve
- Symptoms of Aspergers in Toddlers