Presentation: 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
The incidence of individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, of which Asperger syndrome is a component, are increasing at an alarming rate. The U. S. Centers for Disease Control reported that autism affects 1in every 110 American children, a 78% increase from 2002 to 2008 and over 600% increase in just the past 20 years (U. S. Centers for Disease Control, 2009). These figures have now been adjusted with 1 in every 88 being diagnosed (U. S. Centers for Disease Control, 2012). These students are now entering the school system. The number of children ages 6 through 21 diagnosed with autism receiving services under IDEA has increased more than 500 percent in just 10 years, from under 20,000 in 1993 to almost 120,000 in 2002, according to data collected for the Department of Education (U. S. Government Accountability Office, 2005).
Educators are frequently being asked to treat students with Asperger syndrome/HFA yet few of these professionals are adequately prepared for this unique population. Reading comprehension and written expression are two classic areas that often frustrate the student, teacher, therapist and parent in the academic environment.
Excellent fluent reading is often present but is hampered by significantly reduced comprehension skills. Fictional material is often avoided due to the inherent difficulties of characterization, perspective taking, and the reading of emotions and intents – all concepts associated with a faulty Theory of Mind.
Written expression requires the ability to plan, draft, self-monitor, and
revise text, skills that are often deficient in Asperger syndrome/HFA.
Typically students with Asperger syndrome/HFA will produce writing
samples that are brief, less complex, and unfocused. Poor legibility is almost a given.
This session will discuss why traditional techniques designed to address reading comprehension fall short when the student has Asperger syndrome/HFA. It will focus on how the concepts of Theory of Mind and Central Coherence can be employed to more fully appreciate their unique needs. By including these concepts together with visual strategies into intervention more positive outcomes can be seen in reading comprehension
It will also address the inherent difficulty these students have when using written output as a means of assessing academic comprehension. Is the pencil necessary to achieve the process of written expression? Absolutely not! For many students with Asperger syndrome/HFA, writing is not an easy task. The ability to collect thoughts and put them into a well organized format often is a daunting task that overwhelms even the most sincere student. Their tendency for excessive detail and tangential thinking are a function of weak central coherence. The result is typically extreme frustration manifested in a variety of non-compliant behaviors. Homework becomes a battle between the student and the parent and when the work is finally completed, the product is typically anything but stellar. Techniques designed to learn how to remove the pencil from the process and enhance organization will be stressed.
Participants will learn a variety of strategies to address the 3 Rs of Asperger syndrome thereby increasing both reading comprehension and written output as well as reducing rage.