In the 1940’sAsperger’s Syndrome was first described by a Viennese paediatrician HansAsperger (Autism Society, 2016). He observed behavioursassociated with autism in a boy who had normal language and intelligence. Itwas first believed by many professionals that Asperger’s Syndrome was a weakerversion of Autism (Autism Society, 2016). They referred to these individuals ashaving ‘high-functioning autism’.
It was then in 2013 that the Diagnostic andStatistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSMV-5) placed Autistic Disorder,Asperger’s Syndrome and other extensive developmental disorder under the nameof Autism Spectrum Disorder (Autism Society, 2016).DEFINITIONOF KEY TERMSAutism/ Autism SpectrumDisorder isa term used to refer to a span of conditions usually characterised bydifficulty with social skills, speech and non-verbal communication, repetitivebehaviours and extraordinary strengths and differences (Autism Speaks, 2012).Spectrum –the vast diversity in challenges and strengths owned by each person with autismcan best describe the term ‘spectrum’ in the context of Autism (Autism Speaks,2012).Aspergers Syndrome –This term is used to refer to the neurobiological disorder that is on thehigher-functioning end of the autism spectrum (ASPEN, 2017).ETIOLOGYAND PREVELANCEThe exact causes of theAutism Spectrum Disorders has not been identified, however, many believe thatthere is some genetic factor involved. This inference is made due to the factthat Asperger’s syndrome has been noticed running in families. Autisticdisorders could be linked to toxic exposures, problems with birth or pregnancy,teratogens and prenatal infections in some cases (Stöppler).Asperger’s is said tobe five times more likely to be found in boys than girls.
An increase in the U.S. of Autism Spectrum disorders has been recognised in recent years. There isno precise reason to indicate this increase. However, there are some whobelieve that the increase may be accredited to the improvements and adjustmentsin the diagnostic process, therefore causing more children to be identified.
One out of every 110 children in the U.S. has an autism spectrum disorderaccording to the most recent studies conducted.CHARACTERISTICSThe characteristic of Asperger’sdiffers from person to person; however, the characteristics between the AutismSpectrum Disorders are similar. Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome (or anyAutism Spectrum Disorder) have huge difficulties in social interactions and”restricted patterns of interest” (Wing, 1981). Different to Autism, individuals withAsperger’s Syndrome do not have language delays.
Individuals with Asperger’sSyndrome usually want to have friendships and interact with other people butare unable to do so because of their lack of understanding when it comes tosocial cues. They also tend disregard people’s emotions and feelings and lackempathy. One other characteristic or identification of Asperger’s Syndrome istheir tendency to obsess over their individualistic interests. When it comes toknowledge on basically any topic, individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome are ableto retain it well, however when it comes to abstract concepts they are not asskilled. Though individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome do not have speech orlanguage delays, their speech at times may not have inflection. Their speechmay also have a rhythmic nature. Sometimes it may be formal but too loud orhigh –pitched.
One final characteristic is their average to above averageintelligence, which is why Asperger’s is sometimes referred to ashigh-functioning Autism.IMPLICATIONS& STRATEGIESAs mentioned earlier,children with Asperger’s Syndrome have major deficits in their social skills.According to May (2013) the relationship between the curriculum and socialeducation must be take into consideration for all students but more sostudent’s with Aspergers because of their social impairment. Researchers suchas Strosnider, et al., (1997) observed the overlap between social education andcurriculum (May, 2013). They proposed that when teachers are seeking to modifycontent to be taught, they must consider all the elements present in publiceducation. Stronsnider et al., (1997) suggested that there are three areaswhich affect education (May, 2013).
Academic, physical and interpersonal arethe areas they have identified. These areas are all difficult areas forstudents with Asperger’s. Therefore,Stronsnider et al., (1997) created The Academic, Physical and InterpersonalInclusion Plan (API Inclusion plan) (may, 2013). The plan assists regulareducation teachers to come up with strategies for each of the three areasmentioned. TEACCH (Treatment andEducation of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped Children program)has four main elements as identified by Cumine et al., (2002). These elementsare: “the physical structure of theclassroom, a visual schedule of the day’s activities, an explanation of thetype and length of the work expected, and instructions presented visually inaddition to verbally” (May, 2013).
Thesestrategies help to provide ‘scaffolding’, according to the researches, for thestudent with AS. The visual instructions and schedules are acclaimed as being helpfulfor these students, according to Ozonoff, et al., (2002).
Though writing andreading are essential for each child in school, students with Asperger’s havegrave difficulty doing such. It is suggested that teachers give them theopportunity to present their information in a non-traditional way (may, 2013).For example, the students could create a model to demonstrate the research theyhave conducted on a particular topic instead of writing a research paper. Thisway, students are not frustrated and they will gain encouragement andmotivation to participate in other activities.
Cons· If not taught how to affectivelysocialise with their peers, students with Aspergers can become depressed andact out because they may feel left out and frustrated.· Student’s with Asperger’s can alsobecome frustrated when they are given tasks they are unable to complete. Asmentioned earlier, they have issues with writing and reading. If they are thengiven a task to write for their assessment, they may become frustrated.Although they are brilliant individuals, they might feel less than when thisoccurs which will not help them.· Therefore, the teacher MUST differentiate instruction and someteachers may find this task as a tedious one.Pros· When being included in the regularclassroom, students can gain some level of understanding when it comes tointeracting with those who are not like themselves which can in turn help themwhen they are grown and have to work for themselves.· Main stream children would also learnhow to value and appreciate those who are not like themselves.The inclusiveclassroom is structured around meeting everyone’s needs therefore students withAsperger’s as well as those without have an opportunity to receivedifferentiated instruction tailored to meet their needs.