My grandson was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. Life, for those around him, became
We already knew he had issues, as we called them. Among them: he only ate a limited variety of food, walk on his tip-toes and he refrained from touching certain surfaces. He also could not stand to have certain things touch him. Any kind of change in his routine would result in a “meltdown”. Toys had to be arranged in order. If you should put them in disarray, then he would pick them up and quit playing.
His social skills left him wanting. He could not understand children not wanting to play “his way”. In his mind, “his way” was the only way to play. He is very “me” oriented.
When he entered school, a whole new set of problems emerged. His attention span was nil,so quite naturally a Ritalin medication was prescribed. He had no concern for heeding instruction and he allowed no time to do things properly when he did understand how to do a certain project.
As a Nana, I was concerned, so I wanted to help. When he had to repeat a grade, I made him my project. I obtained material on Asperger’s and read all I could on the subject. I learned what worked and what would not work when dealing with him and his school work. He just could not understand that once in a while there was a thing called “homework”.
When my grandson came to my house, I told him we were going to have “Nana School”. He wasn’t happy about this at all. The key was to prepare him for what was going to take place, change the instructional method every few minutes, and above all, make it fun. Learning is fun! Make it fun, and they will love it. I love to play the hidden object games on my computer and he also loves to play on the computer. I let him play these games, but we had two rules: He had to read each item he was looking for and he could not just click, click, click randomly. Most games will not let you do this anyway. He would need my help naturally, sounding out some words but for the most part, he did it all by himself.
There is a happy ending to this story. Because of having to repeat the first grade, he was in the “ Child at Risk Program”. Last week at school was Award Day and my grandson won three awards, one of them for Reading! His mother was told at a parent-teacher conference that he was no longer considered “at risk”. Woohoo! I am one proud NANA!
In light of this story I thought it necessary to add a few tips to those teachers who may have a child with Asperger Syndrome in their class:
1. Keep the child informed about every upcoming activity. You may think this un-necessary since you are the teacher but the child needs routine and cannot understand when things are not as they normally are.
2. Do not be a furniture mover. If you have decided to move his desk, and he does not know it, a “meltdown” is imminent.
3. Offer a prize, sticker, etc., for good behavior. This motivates him, because he loves pleasing you and being recognized when he has done well.
4. Keep in mind, they think literally. They do not understand clichés and will be lost if you use them. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
5. They are loners. They play better alone or one on one. They do not understand group play.
6. When it comes to reading, there is usually always something they regard as highly interesting: dragons, dinosaurs, angels, etc. I realize you want them to read and find interest in different genres but reading anything ought to be the first priority. If the child is interested in it, he will read it.