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The Asperger Memory

Updated on March 23, 2011

Told them so

My phone was ringing earlier this morning. I noted the telephone number and inwardly winced knowing that it was my son's school. Over the past two weeks, we have been treated to several conversations, I will admit, they were pleasant, however, it is tiresome to keep educating educated people on a subject they should be well versed in. The subject of our conversations have been about our asperger son's English class.

First of all, anyone familiar with Asperger's Syndrome will know that it is a disorder of communication. Yes, he has an excellent grasp of the english language and is fortunate enough to be able to speak, unlike autistic children. But it doesn't mean he can communicate properly. He can read and comprehend a book, but if you ask him to write a creative essay about it, he will go into anxiety mode.

My son thinks in black and white. It must be written and it must be true. He has trouble with fantasy, although, he DOES love science fiction and sunday morning cartoons. But when it comes to schoolwork and reading books, he prefer reference books over fiction. When others his age were flocking to read the latest mystery book, he waited for the movie. Following the intense fantasy world created by the latest best selling author was wonderful for the rest of our household, but a chore for him. It was too deep and wordy. He needs to have times, date, and places right in front of him with nothing fancy, just the facts.

That said, he does not like English class. I can sympathize with him. I love English class. I enjoy literature, fiction and non fiction. I, unlike him, love to get lost in a fantasty world. He like Social Studies and Math. I can go along with him on the Social Studies, but I despise Math class, always have, always will. Mathematics is concrete and he loves that. He can look at a complicated problem and know the answer immediately. I would be figuring for hours and still get it wrong. But I can write and essay about any idea that is given to me, even if I do not have extensive knowledge of the subject matter. He can do that, but will not because he is terrified of getting something wrong. It sends him into panic mode. So he avoids doing his work in English, even if it means getting a zero for the day.

Anyway, of course, as usual, I have been treated to several September phone calls from the counselor letting me know how worried the English teacher was about my son keeping up in this honors class. She was particularly worried about the fact that he did not take notes while she was reading passages aloud. He told her that he had a good memory. She did not take that answer well and truly thought he would not be able to pass any tests that she gave him on the subject matter. I must admit, I was concerned because he tends to have a photographic memory so he usually does better if he SEES the passage. It is amazing, his mind, takes a pictures of so to speak, he can repeat it word for word.

So I did what I do, I worked with him, read him passages, asked what they were about. I did not stress over it, this is a weak spot in his education, he does not fail, in fact he scores rather well. But, as teachers who teach honors programs do, they will worry about a child falling behind, especially a child with an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and a diagnosis.

Was I surprised today when the counselor called today to tell me that he had aced the English test and that the teacher was amazed that he was able to recall every passage that she read without missing a word. He had taken minimal notes, so she was worried, but will not anymore because she now sees what I assured her, that his memory is like that of a computer.

Now, if he could just remember where he put his glasses.

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