Understanding Asperger’s Syndrome Challenges and Strengths

The Asperger's Difference

With over 30 years of experience supporting individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome, Jamey Wolff MA, CAS answers a wide range of questions. This informational autism webinar is suitable for educators working with elementary, intermediate, and high school aged students.

Download this webinar to learn:

  • What is Asperger’s Syndrome?
  • How does Asperger’s Syndrome affect individuals’ daily lives?
  • What difficulties do students with Asperger’s Syndrome have in the classroom?
  • What unique strengths, talents and perspectives are associated with Asperger’s Syndrome?
  • What is the status of Asperger Syndrome as a diagnostic category?
  • Why is a diagnostic evaluation important?

Presentation Excerpt: What can we do about Asperger’s?

Let me start by saying each of these bullets is a workshop in itself.

  • First of all it is important to cultivate an environment where respect and appreciation for people that are different exists.
    • From an early age peers should be taught to respect others with individual differences and they should have proximity to others with individual differences.
    • There should be peer buddies and sensitivity training.  It is important to educate family and friends. Extended family is very important to include in the loop, so they can be appreciative of the differences of their loved ones.
  • It is extremely important to diversify educational strategies.  Sometimes I feel that our educational system is the autistic one with a one size fits all.  This population really requires diversified educational strategies.  They need an environment that will support their talents, teach them executive functioning skills, and modify tasks as appropriate.
    • They need to be taught dynamic teaching, they need variability introduced, they need to build a tolerance for error, need to be instructed to think outside of the box, and to have the expectation that the world is an imperfect place.
    • They need to be taught social competency, and by this I mean not just rote social skills, but teaching social understanding–the ‘whys’ of social rules, not just to make eye contact, but why eye contact is important. It is important because it helps the listener know that you’re listening and that you care about what they say.
  • It is important to consider their sensory system; they may need some kind of stimulus control in their environment, special speeding, maybe typing as an alternative to handwriting instruction, perhaps they can be accommodated with alternatives to phys. ed if that is a place where they have trouble.  There needs to be a respect for their sensory system and they need to be in touch with what they can handle and what they can’t.
  • We need to utilize a collaborative approach, and by this I mean a multi-disciplinary approach with all the people that are involved in the educational process.  If they are in mainstream settings there needs to be time set aside so the general ed teacher and the special ed teacher and the classroom aide can meet with each other.
    • We need to include parents whenever possible.  This is population that often has very informed, very interested, and very knowledgeable parents.  And there needs to be much consistency between home and school.
  • We need to plan and build for independence; we need to know when to give a student an aide but also when to fade out the aide and when to fade out other support services.  We don’t want to hold this population in protective custody any longer than they need to be.  We need to teach them to ask for help, and we need to involve them in their own long term planning.
  • We need to maintain and build their self-esteem; the aspy culture has much top offer in this regard, because there is much to celebrate.  They need to have access to counseling.  And we need to be vigilant for depression.  We need to cultivate their talents and have anti-bullying programs in the school.  We need to give them lots of encouragement and stress the positive.
  • And finally we need to build their self-advocacy skills.  Their self-awareness is the key.  Their parents and classroom staff can’t always intervene, so they need to know their rights.  They need to be part of their IEP planning, and they need to learn to communicate effectively.


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