20 Ways To Ensure the Successful Inclusion 
of Asperger Children in the General Education Classroom
[Intervention in School and Clinic.]

      Children with Asperger syndrome (AS) have a variety of issues that
must be addressed on a daily basis. Because these children tend to be
high-functioning, many are placed in general education classrooms in order
to receive the best education possible. Teachers working with children with
AS may not be aware of how to provide the best inclusive environment. The
following are strategies and tips that can be incorporated to help these
children adjust and become successful in the general education classroom.
      1. Establish a schedule early on, and be consistent with it. Children
with AS find comfort in knowing exactly what will happen next. By providing
these students with a very consistent schedule that has little variance, you
increase their sense of security, making them better able to function
appropriately in the classroom and feel successful about their work
(Attwood, 1998; Brownell, 2001; Myles & Simpson, 1998).
      2. Provide a visual representation of the daily schedule. Posting a
chart in the classroom that displays the schedule and routines for the day
only adds to this security by allowing the child to determine what will
occur next so that she has a better transition to the next activity.
      3. Write notes in advance for the child if the schedule is going to
change for a special event. Let the child know what the change will be and
when it will occur because variation in the routine can lead to stress and
anxiety, which can cause outbursts and tantrums. As stated previously,
providing advanced notice of alterations in the schedule allows the child
time to transition and prepare himself for the change in schedule. In
addition, because many children with AS tend to process auditory information
less efficiently, written notes allow the child another avenue to obtain and
understand the message (Attwood, 1998; Barnhill, 2001a; Council for
Exceptional Children [CEC], 2002; Myles & Simpson, 1998).
      4. Provide visual cue cards to use during instruction and teaching.
Due to the difficulty children with AS have in processing auditory input,
visual cues of what is being taught could help them be more successful in
taking in the new information and remembering it. They may still require
more time to process all the information; however, by providing instruction
both verbally and visually, you offer students with AS a better opportunity
to learn the material (Barnhill, 2001a; Myles & Simpson, 1998).
      5. Set clear expectations and boundaries, and post them on the wall.
Once again, providing a visual representation of what is expected so that
the child can refer to it as needed provides security and increased
opportunities for comprehension of the material, both of which will increase
productivity in the classroom (Attwood, 1998; Barnhill, 2001a; Myles &
Simpson, 1998).
      6. Provide verbal and written instructions for the child. When giving
the class instructions or directions for an assignment or activity, provide
written instructions that coincide with your verbal instructions for the
child with AS. The instructions can be in picture form as well as in words
to further aid in comprehension and success (Barnhill, 2001a).
      7. Ask questions to check the child's understanding of the
instructions you have just given, or ask him to verbalize the instructions
back to you to Clarify understanding. Many times, children with AS appear as
though they fully comprehend what is being asked of them or what they have
read because of their "professor-like" responses to questions; however,
these may mask the fact that their comprehension is truly lacking. By
probing further, you can ask more pointed questions or have the child
verbalize in her own words, not repeating your exact phrases, what is
expected (Barnhill, 2001a; Myles & Simpson, 1998).
      8. Use a timer to limit perseveration/ echolalia/singing. Establish
the routine that as soon as the timer goes off, the child returns to the
previous activity. Some children with AS will begin to perseverate on
objects or ideas or participate in other behaviors that can hinder academic
development during the school day. Providing a time limit will help curb
such behaviors so that academic progress can be made. You must establish the
routine that as soon as the child begins to exhibit a certain inappropriate
behavior, the timer is set for a certain amount of time. The child must then
be taught that as soon as the timer rings, she must rejoin the rest of the
class in the current activity. As time progresses, the time limit should be
reduced so that less and less time is actually being spent on such behaviors
(Grandin, 2001).
      9. Allow the child to earn "free time" in the child's chosen area of
interest, such as art or computers, for completing work. Children with AS
tend to have an area of intense interest that can consume their
conversations and activities. Using this interest to motivate the child can
help him learn to be productive in his work while still having time to
concentrate on his area of interest (Brownell, 2001; CEC, 2002; Grandin,
2001).
      10. Teach the other children how to interact appropriately with the
child with Asperger syndrome in both academic and social settings. Children
can be very supportive and accepting of people with disabilities and
differences when they are taught to have such compassion and are shown how
to work and play with those individuals. In order for the child with AS to
be fully accepted in the classroom, the other children in the classroom have
to be taught how to interact and accept her. Through role-playing, modeling,
and discussions, successful friendships and interactions can take place and
even add to the successfulness of inclusion.
      11. Model and role-play social situations incorporating appropriate
behaviors. Continually working on general socially accepted behavior helps
children with AS begin to internalize the behaviors that are expected of
them in society. By watching both good and bad examples of behaviors that
occur in various social situations, these children can learn to make better
choices in their behavior (Barnhill, 2001b).
      12. Teach specific socially appropriate phrases to use in certain
situations. By providing a written script that the child can use in various
situations and allowing her to practice her reactions in role-playing
activities, you make it more likely for the child to be successful socially.
During such social events where the child is expected to act as taught,
prompting may be necessary to remind her how to act until she has had ample
opportunities to practice the skill in a real-life situation (CEC, 2002).
      13. Provide social skills practice and role-playing for any upcoming
social events. Students with AS need to have opportunities to act out
certain situations so they can prepare for them socially. Because children
with AS have poor social judgment, repetitive practice prior to the event
will provide them with the knowledge they need to respond appropriately.
However, because transfer to different situations may be difficult to
achieve, these children must have several opportunities to practice these
socially appropriate behaviors in a variety of contexts (Barnhill, 2001b).
      14. Provide a social skills notebook with stories of correct and
incorrect social behaviors that the child can use as a guide and reference.
This notebook can be used to prompt the child as to what behaviors are
considered appropriate or not appropriate in various social situations.
Providing weekly opportunities to read through the stories in a notebook,
continuing to stress socially appropriate behaviors, and practicing how to
use them in real-life situations will enhance the student's social
successfulness (CEC, 2002).
      15. Provide visual cue cards of expected social behaviors, and place
them in areas where those behaviors are expected. Visual cue cards can be
used as prompts of expected behaviors of the child in various settings.
Through role-playing and modeling, students are first introduced to the
behaviors. By including visual cue cards in this role-playing, you help the
child with AS learn to use those visual cues to help him remember what
behavior he should exhibit in the classroom and school environments.
However, children must be taught how to use these cards. They cannot simply
be posted in the room in hopes that the child will understand what their
purpose is. They must be shown how to use them and be allowed time to
practice using them (CEC, 2002).
      16. Write down what behavior the child is exhibiting and what behavior
he or she should be exhibiting. For example, "You are drawing on your paper.
A better choice would be to work on writing your story." Once again,
providing written responses instead of verbal ones may help the child with
AS better understand what is being asked of her. Connecting these messages
to visual pictures may also be beneficial (Grandin, 2001).
      17. Have the child complete this same activity with his own behavior.
After the child has been exposed to the method previously described, he can
then begin doing it himself with or without prompting. Writing the message
to himself and posting it in his notebook or on his desk may help him
internalize and remember the expected behavior.
      18. Begin discussing with the child how others view his acting out.
Children with AS have difficulty understanding how to initiate or maintain
soc\ial interactions. They do not realize what effect their acting out has
on those around them. You should therefore begin discussing these issues
with the children early in order to facilitate a better understanding of the
social consequences of their behaviors (CEC, 2002).
      19. Provide a safe place in which the child can retreat when she
becomes overstimulated or has difficulty adjusting to a new activity or
environment. This base could occupy a corner of the classroom where the
child can be in a dark, quiet place with little or no stimulation in order
to calm down. Once the child feels secure and in control of her body, she
can join the class again (CEC, 2002; Grandin, 2001).
      20. Be very patient and ready to teach both academic and social skills
over and over again. Children with AS need a teacher who will remain calm
when the situation escalates. When the teacher begins to get frustrated and
tense, the same feelings will tend to heighten in the child. However,
dealing calmly with the situation will allow the child to calm down more
quickly. In addition, being aware that the child with AS will need a great
deal of practice and repetition of newly taught skills in order to be
successful will help you better prepare for what you will need to do to help
that child be successful.
      Persons interested in submitting material for 20 Ways To . . . should
contact Robin H. Lock, College of Education, Box 41071, Texas Tech
University, Lubbock, TX 76409-1701.
      Robin H. Lock, Dept. Editor

References
      Attwood, T. (1998). Asperger's syndrome: A guide for parents and
professionals. London: Kingsley.
      Barnhill, G. (2001a). What is Asperger syndrome? Intervention in
School and Clinic, 36(5), 259-265.
      Barnhill, G. (2001b). What's new in AS research: A synthesis of
research conducted by the Asperger Syndrome Project. Intervention in School
and Clinic, 36(5), 300-305.
      Brownell, M. (2001). Steven Shore: Understanding the autism
spectrum-What teachers need to know. Intervention in School and Clinic,
36(5), 293-299.
      Council for Exceptional Children, (2002). Strategies to help students
with autism [Electronic version]. CEC Today, 8(8), 1, 5-9.
      Grandin, T. (2001). Teaching tips for children and adults with autism.
Online Asperger's Syndrome Information and Support (OASIS). Retrieved from
http://www.udel.edu/bkirby/asperger 
      Myles, B., & Simpson, R. (1998). Asperger syndrome: A guide for educators and practitioners. Austin: PRO-ED.

About The Author
      Holly R. Bullard, EdD, is an assistant professor of elementary
education at Lubbock Christian University. Her current interests include
examining the process of learning to read for children with autism and the
successful inclusion of autistic children in the general education setting.
Address: Holly R. Bullard, College of Education, Lubbock Christian
University, 5601 W. 19th St., Lubbock, TX 79407.