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Teachers should be educated in how to handle Asperger students

Updated on August 17, 2010

maybe if you just TALK to him about it....

   Okay, let's make this perfectly clear.  If I could just TALK my asperger son out of his obsessive behavior, I would be touring the world, making millions of dollars talking other kids out of their syndrome.    What don't educated people realize about this?  He is NOT like the other students in their class.  It is back to why he is so misunderstood.  He may look like the other children, in fact, he is quite handsome.  He gets very good grades and can compete academically.  He is behind socially, but so are many neurotypical children.  I was VERY shy for most of my academic life.

    So when I get these endless telephone calls or have conferences from a person who has many years of education and usually a great deal of experience working with children asking me to have a talk with my son and expecting that to work, I throw my hands up in exasperation.

     We have tried behavior charts. reward systems,  chore sticks, coupons and punishments (taking away video games, television, his favorite books, whatever we think might cause him to want to do his work).  These plans work for a short time and then we are back to the drawing board as he figures out a way to get around them or he just doesn't care.

    Our son doesn't really care if he gets 100 on a test.  He does care if he answers something incorrectly, but the number grade doesn't seem to affect him.  It is what happens in the now that concerns him, not on the regents exam in two years or on his report card in a month.  If  teacher assigns homework that is due on Friday, but assigns it on Monday, even though he is at the age where he should understand that he needs to work on it daily and not wait until Thursay, all he sees is the word Friday and thinks he does not have to work until the day before.  Talking to him about it, doesn't work, believe me I have tried.  I suggested to the teachers that they make his schedule somewhat different.  The counselor finally decided to put him on his own special calendar where his assignments have different due dates than the other students (earlier) and are written on this calendar.  This way it is concrete.

   I am totally aware that I cannot do it all.  I am running myself ragged going to soccer, religion, therapies, basketball, scouts, and being a wife and mother taking care of a home, which suffers trust me, but it is better the home suffers than the children, it will get done eventually after the family is cared for.  I need these professionals to understand that I can do the best I am able at home, but once he gets to school, it is in their hands.   I cannot go into the building and hand in his assignments for him.  He has done them, they are in his schoolbag or on his flashdrive so it is up to them to get him to give it to them.  If he doesn't, then he take the zero like any other student would.  He has to learn by experience.

    What troubles me is that autism, autism related disorders like aspergers, pdd and ADHD fill our school buildings these days.  Why do our professionals have to educate themselves?  Why are they being provided assistance and  offered strategies to help them manage a classroom when they are presented with students who have these issues?  Where is our government?  Don't they recognize the statistics?  1 out of 91 children is the current number.  That is how many will be affected with autistic spectrum disorders.  Not all of these children will be placed in special classroom.  Many, such asperger children will be mainstreamed, even honors students, like my child.  Why not help out teacher understand?  Why not provide them with the tools they need to run their classroom more proficiently?

   I must admit, we have been repeatedly blessed with eduators who study and learn on their own time how to handle our son.  They have been fantastic with him and I credit them with much of his progress.  In our 11 years of dealing with his diagnosis, we have encountered less than 5 teachers who refused to learn and grow.  Those are amazing numbers.  However, we have had to guide and educate many of them ourselves or encourage them to read books to help themselves.  They should not have to do this on their own time.  The education should be provided.  It is in the best interest of ALL of the students.  The children on the spectrum as well as the neurotypical children. 


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    • Anne Pettit profile image

      Anne Pettit 5 years ago from North Carolina

      What works for some children with Aspergers does not neccessarily work for others with Aspergers. The child with Aspergers is legally entitled to accomodation in school that is not a special ed class. My son went to a room that was quiet and staffed when he and his teacher agreed that he could not conform to neccessary classroom behaviors in the classroom at certain times. It was not a consequence. It was an accommodation. There should be a protocol and everyone should agree to it.

    • Dr.Ope profile image

      Olive Ellis 6 years ago

      Thank you for sharing about your son his Asperger disorder. I think that every teacher should be trained as special educators so that they will have the requisite knowlege on all childhood disoders and know how to effectively help students with these disorders. I will be following you. Keep sharing.

    • profile image

      susbo 8 years ago

      Joann, yet another insight into aspergers, everything you have written is true and to the point. We go thru the same thing here in Australia. I am beginning to feel that things will never change.... Last month I was up at the school 4 out of the five days, with this one and that one trying to tell me how to raise my child!!!! Joann, you really should write a book, your writings are inspirational, thanks so much.

    • bizymomof3 profile image

      Joann Marotta Nellis 8 years ago from New York City

      Lori, I so agree with you because besides being a parent of an asperger child, I have been a teacher for 20 years. I have taught special education children with absolutely not assistance and had to rely on my own brain. I am so frustrated that the department of education does not recognize this growing problem and help our educators and our children. Thank you for your insight.

    • Lori J Mitchell profile image

      Lori J Mitchell 8 years ago from California

      I can totally sense your frustration, and as you noted more teachers are willing to go above and beyond than those who aren't, it is important to realize that as frustrated as you are and as worn out as you are with trying to do it all that chances are that the teacher who has 30ish students per class most likely has two or three Asperger's kids or PPD kids, and several ADHD kids, so rather than just dealing with the one child the situation is compounded several fold. It is in the best interest of the teacher to learn all they can to help your child and others like him, but unfortunately sometimes that knowledge is not enough, when the teacher is being told that their class test scores must be above average, and if it isn't tested it isn't taught and the kids who aren't going to do well no matter what can't take up your attention because you HAVE to get those scores up! I taught the very special population for years, and with test scores being the end all of be all of education now and teachers being held personally responsible for their student's test scores, the focus of education has caused teachers to do a disservice to our students because, unfortunately, the teacher needs his/her job and if that job is tied directly to high scores of "The Test" then sadly, students like your son get pushed aside. No wonder I burned out and quit teaching. I told the mother of one of my Asperger's students the week before I quit teaching that I didn't go into to teaching to be a teacher, I went into the profession to be a good teacher, and if I couldn't be a good teacher any longer then it was time for me to get out, and unfortunately, with the focus of education these days, teachers are no longer allowed to be good teachers.