Doctors used to think of Asperger‘s as a separate condition. Today, Asperger‘s syndrome is technically no longer a diagnosis on its own. It is part of a broader category called autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Even so, lots of people still use the term Asperger‘s.
The DSM-5 also includes a diagnosis, called social pragmatic communication disorder, which has some symptoms that overlap with Asperger‘s. Doctors use it to describe people who have trouble talking and writing, but have normal intelligence.
What does Asperger look like in a child?
People with Asperger Syndrome may display characteristics like:
- repetitive routines or rituals
- peculiarities in speech and language, such as speaking in an overly formal manner or in a monotone, or taking figures of speech literally
- socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior and the inability to interact successfully with peers
- problems with non-verbal communication, including the restricted use of gestures, limited or inappropriate facial expressions, or a peculiar, stiff gaze
- clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements
Other signs and symptoms of Asperger Syndrome are a consuming focus on a specific area of interest.
- There is no one standardized tool for diagnosing Asperger Syndrome but behavioral observation is very important.
What about school?
A parent can request an evaluation for special education services if they think the disability is interfering with their child’s education. In Michigan, students qualify for services under one of 13 eligibility labels. The Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education include an ASD eligibility category that may apply to children with Asperger Syndrome.
What do I need to think about for my child’s IEP?
The educational plan for each student should be individualized and address the student’s needs in all areas: academic, social and adaptive, communication, as well as gross motor and fine motor development.
All students have strengths and these should be built upon as well. Asperger Syndrome is sometimes called “high functioning Autism” because of strengths especially in expressive language. There are some programming suggestions that can serve as a guide to making the learning environment best for the student with Asperger Syndrome.
Success for the student with Asperger Syndrome can be enhanced by having appropriate accommodations and modifications made to the instruction and other classroom activities. These are changes that can be made in equipment used, where the student sits, or how the material is presented. Identifying the Supplementary Aids and Services your child needs to be successful in school are a part of the IEP process.
- More information on the IEP process.
- Accommodations and Modifications Resources
- Temple Grandin Teaching Tips
- START Statewide Autism Resources and Training
Is there some technology that can help my student learn?
Assistive technology is a related service listed in IDEA. Technology is a key to leveling the playing field for individuals with disabilities. Check out the TechMatrix for suggestions for finding educational and assistive technology products for students with disabilities. Learn more on our Assistive Technology webpage.