What Asperger’s Students wish you knew

As part of my job title as an Autism Specialist, I work with many Asperger students as well.  Most of them are very well advanced academically, can function on their own, and look “normal” .  Their greatest deficit is in the social world, they do not read social cues and have very little understanding in the world of social expectations, innuendos and hidden curriculums.  One of the biggest issues I have found while working with these students is that often times teachers and parents alike often forget they are a work in progress.  Although many of them are successful in many areas of their lives, they still struggle.  It often pains me to witness situations where the student/child is left feeling embarrassed, ridiculed or bewildered all because the adult “in charge” forgot they sometimes had problems with certain things…..
While working closely with these students ranging in ages  7 years old -adulthood, I have asked them many questions just out of curiosity and in hopes of helping others like myself who are trying to assist.  Here is what I found out when I asked the question: “What do you wish the adults in your life “knew or remembered” when working with you….  Below is a compellation of their responses…..

What Asperger’s Students Wish you Knew……

1. Essay Questions are not my friend!!!!

2. Although I have some issues…….. I am still a kid (teen), I want friends, I want to have a girlfriend/boyfriend, and I want others to like me.

3. Just because you don’t think I am being bullied and I don’t tell you or admit when you ask or you don’t see the signs, doesn’t mean it isn’t occurring.

4. Just because I didn’t complete my work doesn’t mean I am dumb or lazy, it most often means that I didn’t understand the directions and am fearful of doing it incorrectly, or I am possibly overwhelmed by the magnitude of the assignment or lastly, it is something I have previously done and don’t understand why I am required to do it again.

5. I need very clear and decisive instructions given in step order. Please refrain from using fluff words, jabber, or slang, I don’t understand “social language”.

6. I need more time to communicate when in a stressful situation such as when you are confronting me about a behavior or an issue. My mind works differently and I need time to process.

7. I like to follow the rules and I believe everyone should follow the rules. If not, there shouldn’t be a rule. 

8. I am a linear thinker and everything has to make sense to me for me to do it 

9. I am straight forward, I say what I think. Although this often appears as rudeness, it isn’t my intention.

10. I can get obsessed with certain topics, objects, or situations which are not common topics of interest for kids my age.

11. I lack self-confidence due to the lack of successful friendships in my life besides family

12. I do not understand “social rules” especially the hidden ones that I haven’t been taught. I often get in people’s space and invade their privacy.

13. If stressed or overwhelmed, I shut down…. I became very anxious and can make myself sick due to worry. 

14. If I am “acting out”, or appear angry, please do not touch me, it makes me feel worse and I will do whatever necessary to get away from you or get you to leave me alone.

15. Please do not treat me like I am a baby, like I am retarded, or like I am incompetent. I am not any of those things, I do have needs but I want to be treated like everyone else if possible. Please try not to single me out and embarrass me in front of my peers.

16. I am extremely smart, (often times smarter than my parents and my teachers) I just have a difficult time expressing myself.

17. I didn’t ask to be this way…. This is just the way I turned out, so please don’t treat me like it is MY FAULT!

18. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…….Remember this fact when interacting with my parents

19. I may often display unusual behavior due to sensory defensiveness. I sometimes can become overwhelmed by stimuli such as loud noises, sudden noise, or high pitched noises…. Sometimes to calm myself I may rock, stare off, pace or leave the area. Please be understanding as I learn to moderate my own behavior.

20. I am not a fan of change. I like routines and I like to follow a schedule. It is difficult for me to transition quickly especially without warning. I often have difficulty with substitutes, assemblies and other changes that can take place without proper notice. Although still disturbed I can tolerate when appropriate warnings are given ahead of time which allows me time to prepare and process the upcoming change.


Check back for a follow up posts on what you as a parent or teacher can do to assist students in these noted areas….


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