Asperger's syndrome is a developmental disorder located on the high-functioning end of the autistic spectrum. It is characterised by an impairment in communication and language skills as well as thoughts and behaviours that are repetitive or have restrictive patterning. Children with Asperger's are often highly active in childhood and develop anxiety or depression in young adulthood. They usually learn best with the aid of visual and auditory information and prompts; visual aids being especially helpful for these children.
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Social Stories With Illustrations
Often students with Asperger's will display socially and emotionally inappropriate behaviour and have difficulty interacting successfully with peers. Examples of socially inappropriate behaviour include the inability to show sympathy, demonstrating inappropriate responses to peers and not responding to facial expressions or body language. Using social stories with illustrations will help the child visualise what is appropriate when interacting with peers. In addition stories with social situations being helpful to the child, the whole class will benefit from learning from the situations. Social stories can be used to introduce a new social skill or reinforce a skill already taught.
Visual Aids for Self-Care Skills
Children with Asperger's usually encounter delays in learning life skills. Examples include dressing themselves and brushing their teeth. Using simple drawings of stick figures to show the child how to do something step by step, such as getting dressed or brushing their teeth, will help them remember what to do. These step-by-step illustrations can be taped on the wall where the child gets dressed or brushes his teeth. The parent or responsible adult can point to specific areas of the picture as the child moves along in the process. Prompting the child to look at and follow each picture will help the child in the process of learning to take care of himself.
Visual Timetable for School
A visual timetable at school will help the child with Asperger's respond to what is expected and when. For younger children, the timetable can be made of pictures that are drawn by hand or are actual photographs of the activity. Words can be made to match the picture for older students. A timetable at school can be displayed in the front of the class with a smaller version placed on the child's desk or work area. The classroom timetable will have the pictures or words attached to the appropriate times. For ease of use, Velcro should be placed on the timetable, pictures and words so that they can be attached to the appropriate place on the timetable.The school timetable can be colour coded for the time of day and include subjects and activities, and should have "To Do" and "Done" areas for the child to move the pictures or words into the appropriate area. Since children with Asperger's are visual learners, this will give them a visual sense of achievement and of knowing what still needs to be done.
Visual Timetable at Home
A timetable used at home may include chores and activities going on for that day since children with Asperger's don't respond well to changes or unexpected surprises. Including activities that aren't a part of the everyday routine, such as a trip to the dentist, will help the child to cope with changes in routine. The activity or words and the timetable should have Velcro attached for ease of movement of the activity pictures or words. The home timetable should have "To Do" and "Done" areas for the child to move the pictures or words into the appropriate areas.
Visual Behavior Chart for School
Attaching a behaviour chart to the desk or work area of the child with Asperger's with expected behaviour pictures for the classroom will help the child in following classroom rules and procedures. Visual pictures or illustrations of behaviours such as raising your hand, and keeping your hands to yourself will serve as a visual reminder of appropriate behaviours in the classroom.
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