Asperger Syndrome / Autism Spectrum Disorders
Observing Asperger Syndrome / Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Classroom
Faculty might observe the following characteristics in students with Asperger's Syndrome:
- Difficulty in expressing agreement or disagreement appropriately
- May have difficulty transitioning from one task to another
- May make socially inappropriate or abrupt statements
- May exhibit shyness or reluctance for group work
- May have difficulty in maintaining communication
- May not make eye contact
- May be easily distracted by auditory or visual stimuli
- May have sensitivity to light or sound
- May be clumsy with fine motor activities
- May have difficulty multi-tasking
- May have difficulty with abstract concepts
- American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th Ed. Washington, D.C. : APA.
- Bedrossian, L.E. & Pennamon, R. E. (2007) College Students with Asperger Syndrom: Practical Strategies for Academic and Social Success. Horsham, PA: LRP.
- Wolf, L.E., Brown, J. T., & Bork, G. R. K. (2009). Students with Asperger Syndrom: A guide of College Personnel. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger publishing Company
- Kennedy-Krieger Institute
- National Institute of Mental Health: Autism Spectrum Disorders
Related Functional Characteristics
Anxiety : Students with AS/ASD may exhibit anxiety as a result of their difficulty with sensory overload and their inability to interpret social situations or comprehend abstract concepts.
Attentional Overfocus : Students with AS/ASD may have difficulty transitioning attention from one task to another because of a tendency to look for structure and patterns and to become extremely detail oriented.
Distracting Behavior : Students with AS/ASD may exhibit stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms as well as apparently inflexible adherence to specific, and sometimes nonfunctional routines or rituals. These behaviors may impact their social interactions and may be seen as distracting by others.
Fatigue (Cognitive) : Students with AS/ASD experience cognitive fatigue as a result of the effort required to interact with others, focus on information, and screen out distractions.
Inability to Comprehend Social Cues : Students with AS/ASD have deficits that can manifest as awkward social interactions, inappropriate personal space, or misunderstood communications. They may demonstrate seemingly flat affect, make minimal eye contact, or look mainly at the mouth of the speaker, or may become agitated or overly animated when they don't comprehend a situation.
Information Processing Speed : Sensory processing difficulties can impact the identification and processing of incoming information and retrieval of information from memory.
Obsessive Behavior : Students with AS/ASD often engage in obsessive behavior in response to anxiety or excitement, although the exact reason for repetitive, ritualistic behavior is not yet known.
Perseveration : Perseveration in students with AS/ASD most often manifests as a narrow range of interests and rigid thinking about routines and a tendency to not move past an issue.
Processing Deficit (Auditory) : Students with AS/ASD have difficulties with sensory processing of all kinds and are especially sensitive to loud noises or auditory information that is coming too quickly or is loud.
Processing Deficit (Language) : Students with AS/ASD focus on the order of words and their literal definitions causing them difficulty comprehending irony, jokes, and abstract concepts.
Processing Deficit (Visual) : Students with Asperger's Syndrome/Autism Spectrum Disorders tend to process the parts of a complex object rather than attending to the object as a whole.
Production (Verbal) : Students with AS/ASD may have difficulty expressing themselves in ways that are understandable to others. They will often use archaic language or use strange word choices and are unaware of the impact they have on others when they are blunt or use unusual language.
Sensory Distractibility : Students with AS/ASD can be hypersensitive to sensory stimuli and as a result be unable to tune out irrelevant distractions.
Sequencing Deficit : Students with AS/ASD may have difficulty with sequencing as a result of their tendency to misinterpret incoming sensory stimuli.
Time Management : Students with AS/ASD often struggle with time management because they are preoccupied with narrow topics of interest to the exclusion of all other tasks or assignments.
Touch Oversensitivity : Students with AS/ASD are sensitive to sensory stimuli; this can manifest as touch oversensitivity for some students, making them extremely reactive to certain fabrics or any touching.
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