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Spy_on_the_Inside
11-20-2014, 01:59 AM
I'm working on a story where the main character is a fifteen-year-old girl with Asperger's Syndrome. She's mainstreamed for the most part, but instead of going to homeroom, she spends an hour in the special ed. classroom.

Does anyone have any experience working in the special ed. setting? What kinds of skills would a teacher work on with a student who had Asperger's Syndrome. Her main issues are a lack of social grace and trouble gravitating her attention away from her own narrow range of interests.

She's also a foster child and has issues getting along with her foster parents, though she's very close with the children she shares the home with. In turn, her parent are overwhelmed with a special needs child, and would probably also need support as well. Would the school help with that?

Locke
11-20-2014, 02:07 AM
Be aware that the DSM-V has categorized Asperger's as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); the Asperger's diagnosis is no longer supported by it.

I'm hardly an expert on the matter (anecdotes to the rescue!), but I know at least two people formerly diagnosed with Asperger's who are extremely intelligent, neither of whom who were ever assigned to special education classes. I've also never heard the term "high-functioning" ascribed to an Asperger's diagnosis; that's typically used in direct correlation to Autism.

MythMonger
11-20-2014, 02:23 AM
Her main issues are a lack of social grace and trouble gravitating her attention away from her own narrow range of interests.

her parent are overwhelmed with a special needs child

What you describe doesn't sound very overwhelming. Certainly some obstacles to overcome, but nothing too bad.

Kind of reminds me of the character Brick from the TV show "The Middle"

Quentin Nokov
11-20-2014, 02:31 AM
Does anyone have any experience working in the special ed. setting? No, but I had a friend who has it. We're not really friends anymore.


Her main issues are a lack of social grace and trouble gravitating her attention away from her own narrow range of interests.

Sounds good. Those were the main issues my friend had. As my sister and I got older it felt more like babysitting rather than having a friend over because we had to entertain him. He didn't know how to keep himself occupied except through Youtube, video games, and music. Also,he was heavily influenced by the kids he hung out with, picking up on their foul language and ideas of being "cool".


She's also a foster child and has issues getting along with her foster parents, though she's very close with the children she shares the home with. In turn, her parent are overwhelmed with a special needs child, and would probably also need support as well. Would the school help with that?

Depends on the school. The mother of my ex-friend had to pull her son out because the school's were not co-operative. But, my cousin is a special ed teacher in N. Carolina and she had a fund raiser for computers and tablets for her classroom because she found it easier to teach the kids with electronics because it would hold their interest.

My ex-friend got into music and he's quite amazing. His YT Channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/Zephor). If her issues are minor, she shouldn't be that much of a problem for the parents. My mother babysat my friend when he was 5 years old until he was 15, and my mother never had a problem with him. She might have gotten frustrated at time because he'd smack or be messy or shuffle his feet, but those are petty issues. My sister and I helped expose him to various things so there was a lot of mutual interest between us until my sister and I became adults. But at 15, he was fine. I remember we'd try to find Unicorn Fountain in Zelda Ocarina of Time and he was good at make animal balloons so we'd dress up in balloons and make swords. We used our imaginations a lot.

How are you having her not get along with the foster parents? What problem is there between them?

cornflake
11-20-2014, 02:57 AM
I'm working on a story where the main character is a fifteen-year-old girl with high functioning Asperger's Syndrome. She's mainstreamed for the most part, but instead of going to homeroom, she spends an hour in the special ed. classroom.

Does anyone have any experience working in the special ed. setting? What kinds of skills would a teacher work on with a student who had Asperger's Syndrome. Her main issues are a lack of social grace and trouble gravitating her attention away from her own narrow range of interests.

She's also a foster child and has issues getting along with her foster parents, though she's very close with the children she shares the home with. In turn, her parent are overwhelmed with a special needs child, and would probably also need support as well. Would the school help with that?

I don't have direct experience in the setting, so I could be wrong here, but it seems strange that a public school SpEd teacher would be pulling a mainstreamed kid to work on social graces or not being interested in things. I don't really think that's their purview?

If it was a full-on SpEd student who wasn't capable of full academic work, or was being moved into a regular classroom, I can see working on those types of skills as part of the entire thing but wouldn't someone have to have an IEP to be pulled for special ed work? Can you get an IEP for stuff like that alone?

Also, what someone else said about the diagnosis - Asperger's was, basically, thought of as a form of high-functioning autism, so that doesn't so much make sense the way you have it, and now that it's not a diagnosable thing ...

King Neptune
11-20-2014, 02:58 AM
I agree with Locke on this. High functioning Asperger's people wouldn't be separated.

Muppster
11-20-2014, 03:06 AM
What kinds of skills would a teacher work on with a student who had Asperger's Syndrome. Her main issues are a lack of social grace and trouble gravitating her attention away from her own narrow range of interests.

Read this (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Its-Much-Work-Your-Friend-ebook/dp/B00BOR9S0Q/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1416438223&sr=1-1&keywords=it%27s+so+much+work+to+be+your+friend) by a legend in Special Ed. It's aimed across the board (ADHD, dyslexia, autism/Asperger's, Downs, etc) so just pick the stuff that seems relevant to your character...their teacher is going to do the same, it's not like "we don't teach that to Asperger's," they'll plug whatever social skills gaps need filling.

asroc
11-20-2014, 03:29 AM
I have no experience with special ed, but I have Asperger's. I was never in special ed (wasn't diagnosed until adulthood, though) and I don't know anyone else with who was in it either. Those individuals who had cognitive behavioral therapy or similar had it outside of school. We all went to regular classes. Special ed sounds like the wrong environment.

It's either Asperger's or high-functioning autism (or nowadays one end of a spectrum). People with Asperger's have normal to high cognitive abilities and are pretty much per definition high-functioning.

Cyia
11-20-2014, 03:36 AM
Your kid wouldn't be in special ed. She'd likely be in GATE or AP.

Locke
11-20-2014, 03:46 AM
FWIW, I've dealt with ADHD for most of my life (originally diagnosed as ADD but the DSM-V took that one away, too). While not related to Asperger's it can have some similar outward effects. I didn't form the coping habits which are crucial when you're young, so I had behavioral and academic problems throughout my education. I did, in fact, spend a year with one of my elective periods taken up by a "studies" class which was special ed (it was incredibly boring but at least it gave me a quiet place to finish up homework). But since the difficulties I face are attentive and not cognitive, they removed me from those classes the next school year. Mind, this is during the 90's where the classification of ADHD was still up in the air. I have no idea if that's improved recently. So, it's absolutely possible for your character to have been assigned to a special class due to behavioral problems. It's also quite possible to address issues such as negative connotations (especially when using the new category of ASD) towards mental health in America, which is something that would pique my interest having lived that.

PlainJane
11-20-2014, 05:06 AM
Your character sounds very much like my middle-school-aged son, who has received support and services for his "high-functioning" autism since pre-school (he was diagnosed back when Asperger's was a separate diagnosis from autism, and there was some difficulty in deciding which tribe he belonged to.) Here's our experience, for what it's worth:

He is currently mainstreamed with a one-to-one aide and spends an hour per day in a special ed classroom. He also receives speech therapy and, until this year, occupational therapy, at school.

His intelligence has consistently been tested above average, but schoolwork can be difficult for him. The constant sensory input in a typical classroom (noise, movement, etc.) can be overwhelming, as can the requirements for social interaction (a middle school class has lots of "hidden" social rules to trip a person up.) He has trouble "putting away" his intense interests during class (particularly if he finds it boring). In his special ed period, he receives support for finishing classwork that he couldn't complete during the regular class, and they work with him on developing tools to manage the "overload" that occurs regularly during his day. He is also allowed to leave the regular classroom and go to the special ed class if he feels he is close to a "meltdown."

Like some autistics, including those with Asperger's, he has language processing difficulties. He is off the charts advanced in vocabulary and some other aspects of language, but his "pragmatics" (i.e., using it in a typical conversational setting) are on the low end. He does well with systematic, step-by-step instructions, but can't yet handle multi-step instructions without re-prompting. This is what his aide does in the regular classroom, and they work on this in the special-ed classroom as well.

His school-based speech therapy works on the pragmatics, and much of that is practicing social situations, so it's possible your character will get some help with social problems at school, but in our experience, it isn't enough. We pay for a private speech therapist to help him (in a group with other autistics) to develop strategies for managing social situations.

Much depends on the school district--there's a huge difference in how willing they are to provide services. If your character is a foster child who has had to move around a lot, it's going to be a big problem for her because she may get services in one district and lose them in another.

In my experience, no school district will help the parents with issues other than those that directly affect school, so if your character's foster parents need help (or respite), they'll need to seek that on their own, and probably out of their own pockets.

Spy_on_the_Inside
11-20-2014, 06:12 AM
Well, my main character is a B student, above average intelligence but not overly gifted (except in her very specific areas of interest). She sticks to a rigid schedule and has a very hard time deviating from it. When her stress level gets too high, she is prone to temper tantrums, including hitting and throwing things (though more often rocking in the corner and refusing to talk or interact socially).

C.bronco
11-20-2014, 06:22 AM
Our people encourage and challenge them to go out of their comfort zones, but don't make them go to pep rallies. If your character checks in with a certain classroom, it may be for help with adapting to uncomfortable situations (in a good school). How good is the school?

C.bronco
11-20-2014, 06:25 AM
The hitting aspect might put your character in an E.D. classroom, and she would attend a Life Skills class. She may also have additional support from a counselor, such as an in-school or visiting psychologist.

Every person varies in degrees and needs.

Spy_on_the_Inside
11-20-2014, 06:29 AM
To give a better idea of what kind of school programs she would have access to, she goes to a public school in a lower middle class neighborhood in Minneapolis. Since the age of five, she has been in six different schools.

C.bronco
11-20-2014, 06:34 AM
Violence would put a child in E.D. They would mainstream her out as she is able to be successful, but throwing and hitting keeps kids out of general education.

Like anyone else, some kids with the diagnosis can be violent, and others far from it.

TessB
11-20-2014, 06:37 AM
Is this the same character who ends up in the ballet program in your other thread?

Spy_on_the_Inside
11-20-2014, 06:47 AM
Is this the same character who ends up in the ballet program in your other thread?
Yes, she is. The violence was generally more a problem when she was younger, usually going through stages of getting better or worse. For the last year or so, she has had no violent outbursts. Would that be long enough for the school to move her out of ED?

C.bronco
11-20-2014, 06:49 AM
It would be done in increments. One year would be the anomaly, to err on the side of caution.

TessB
11-20-2014, 06:53 AM
I don't know anything about ED, but I will tell you that this: "She sticks to a rigid schedule and has a very hard time deviating from it. When her stress level gets too high, she is prone to temper tantrums" gave me major red flags as far as productions go.

Performing is incredibly high-stress, especially for a child in a production with adults. There are so many last-minute schedule changes, and venue changes, and 'practice will be half an hour late because Hank got stuck in traffic, so we can't run the pas de deux -- let's do the mice scene instead' swaps around at the last second.

With that, the tight rehearsal schedules every company has, and the ... er... notably artistic temperaments of most artistic directors, there are going to be times when someone is screaming full-bore at the cast that she's 'going to murder every one of you if you don't get in line right now' -- and that's on a calm day.

A dancer who can't keep control under stress is a dancer who will be out and replaced by her understudy after the first outburst.

Is there some other symptom set that would work for your story without disqualifying her from dancing Clara?

Spy_on_the_Inside
11-20-2014, 06:57 AM
Is there some other symptom set that would work for your story without disqualifying her from dancing Clara?
I only just started doing research and writing the outline for this story. I'm still getting a feel for the character and just what her limitations and needs are. So far, nothing is set in stone.

cornflake
11-20-2014, 12:10 PM
To give a better idea of what kind of school programs she would have access to, she goes to a public school in a lower middle class neighborhood in Minneapolis. Since the age of five, she has been in six different schools.

I thought she was at the ballet academy - which I pretty much guarantee doesn't have special ed and wouldn't keep a student with issues like those.

Bolero
11-20-2014, 01:54 PM
What about giving the girl a stammer?

I am pretty ignorant about stammers, but it just occurred to me as something potentially socially isolating that wouldn't prevent her from doing ballet.

Faye-M
11-20-2014, 08:40 PM
Well, my main character is a B student, above average intelligence but not overly gifted (except in her very specific areas of interest). She sticks to a rigid schedule and has a very hard time deviating from it. When her stress level gets too high, she is prone to temper tantrums, including hitting and throwing things (though more often rocking in the corner and refusing to talk or interact socially).

Just to offer my 2 cents - Asperger's in girls usually manifests as anxiety rather than aggression, though it may seem like aggression to the outside observer. I have it, diagnosed as an adult, and I would get debilitating panic attacks as a kid that were interpreted as temper tantrums but were actually the farthest thing from anger. The overabundance of sensory information would suddenly become too much for me, especially in a school setting, and back then there were no "quiet rooms" for me to go to. I would end up either in the fetal position on the floor, or clawing at the teacher in an effort to make them understand, or running screaming through the halls in terror.

I just thought I should point that out, since it bugs me when people write Aspies as having regular-person "temper tantrums" in those situations. It's generally less anger and hitting, more sensory explosion with a lot of flailing and screaming as an attempt to numb your mind down.

Then again, Aperger's tends to be different in everyone, so what do I know? :P

Spy_on_the_Inside
11-21-2014, 02:20 AM
Just to offer my 2 cents - Asperger's in girls usually manifests as anxiety rather than aggression, though it may seem like aggression to the outside observer. I have it, diagnosed as an adult, and I would get debilitating panic attacks as a kid that were interpreted as temper tantrums but were actually the farthest thing from anger. The overabundance of sensory information would suddenly become too much for me, especially in a school setting, and back then there were no "quiet rooms" for me to go to. I would end up either in the fetal position on the floor, or clawing at the teacher in an effort to make them understand, or running screaming through the halls in terror.

I just thought I should point that out, since it bugs me when people write Aspies as having regular-person "temper tantrums" in those situations. It's generally less anger and hitting, more sensory explosion with a lot of flailing and screaming as an attempt to numb your mind down.

Then again, Aperger's tends to be different in everyone, so what do I know? :P
That's something good to consider. This might get me in trouble for making the comparisons, but Cesar Milan always says that people often have trouble telling the difference between true aggression and play or nervousness that simply hurts.

Maybe instead of hitting or throwing, she does claw at people in an attempt to get people's attention. If she had problems coping with anxiety, and there's no quiet room available, she does retreat to the corner and start rocking and moaning, sometimes screaming.

Locke
11-21-2014, 02:42 AM
Maybe instead of hitting or throwing, she does claw at people in an attempt to get people's attention. If she had problems coping with anxiety, and there's no quiet room available, she does retreat to the corner and start rocking and moaning, sometimes screaming.

Clawing and regressive behavior like rocking and moaning strikes me as more autistic than anything else.

When I have anxiety attacks, I'm more likely to hit or throw, but my larger underlying compulsion which I'm resisting is to bang my head against the wall. As a child, I would have seen being sent to a quiet room as a punishment and felt like it was unfair because it was somebody else who did this to me. No, it's not logical or reasonable, but that's how it worked for me.

True story: one time I had an episode like this and a teacher sent me into the hallway. I was carrying an umbrella and I decided to swing it at a bank of lockers. Little did I know that the teacher had followed me out and I almost caught him in the head. He tried to have me expelled.

Faye-M
11-21-2014, 03:34 AM
That's something good to consider. This might get me in trouble for making the comparisons, but Cesar Milan always says that people often have trouble telling the difference between true aggression and play or nervousness that simply hurts.

Maybe instead of hitting or throwing, she does claw at people in an attempt to get people's attention. If she had problems coping with anxiety, and there's no quiet room available, she does retreat to the corner and start rocking and moaning, sometimes screaming.

Exactly. There's also the problem Aspies have with being touched - if she's in a state like that, someone putting their arm around her to reassure her, or grabbing her arm to get her attention or pull her away from something, might cause her to strike out at someone - again, not in anger so much as in frustration and panic, but it can be interpreted as temper.

Faye-M
11-21-2014, 03:44 AM
Clawing and regressive behavior like rocking and moaning strikes me as more autistic than anything else.

It's very common in Aspie girls because of how fearful we tend to be. I had a lot of problems at school because nobody knew how to deal with me and thought I just had discipline problems. Teachers would ignore me when I would start to feel panicked and try to get their attention, or would grab me and force me back in my seat when I would jump up and try to run out of the room. Clawing at them was the only way I could get them to listen to me and see that I was genuinely fearful. I clawed at my poor parents a lot as a kid, too, for the same reasons. As I got older, I internalized it and started clawing at myself when I was anxious. I have loads of scars from that.

Rocking, spinning, banging my head against a wall... did all of that. In an effort to look less weird, I got addicted to swing sets as a kid. I could spend HOURS on a swing, which gave me the same mind-numbing benefits as rocking but also good exercise and fresh air. Of course, once I hit my teens that started to look weird, too.

Locke
11-21-2014, 04:01 AM
I got addicted to swing sets as a kid. I could spend HOURS on a swing, which gave me the same mind-numbing benefits as rocking but also good exercise and fresh air. Of course, once I hit my teens that started to look weird, too.

I totally did that, as far away from other kids as possible.

tiddlywinks
11-22-2014, 07:07 AM
Hi Spy,

As in the other thread post you put up today, I'm going to suggest you talk to some of the folks working in this field as well - since you are basing your story in Minnesota, perhaps talk to the Innovative Special Education Services group? www.isesmn.org

They work with about 80 or so schools around the state, providing special ed director services to schools (including online high schools, related to your other question). They might also have some suggested reading for you.

Good luck.

Debbie V
11-25-2014, 03:15 AM
Aspergers kids also often have trouble with executive functions - organizational skills and the like. Lack of these skills impacts academics because the child loses needed papers, never notes homework, can't keep notes in order, etc. (My own daughter is PDD-Nos, but I have friends with Aspergers kids.)

They can be very high functioning from an academic perspective once these skills are learned. Some have good enough memories to do well without the organizational skills, but not as well as they would. They are often low functioning socially.

Those who do not have behavioral issues may see the resource room teacher to help with organization and related issues. Usually this is one or two periods (high school days around here don't run in hours) a day. Many schools focus only on what is needed to have the student be successful academically. Others will add a social skills group or counseling along with academic skills.

Kids who need more support may attend classes in an integrated or inclusive model. They may have notes given to them. The modifications allowed by your state should be listed on the state education website somewhere. Class models are state specific. Sometimes they even vary by district in a region. You'll have to look at the local schools to see what supports are offered.