Asperger Syndrome: A Practical Guide for Teachers

Asperger Syndrome: A Practical Guide for Teachers

Asperger Syndrome: A Practical Guide for Teachers

Asperger Syndrome: A Practical Guide for Teachers


This fully revised new edition is a clear and concise guide to effective classroom practice. It is designed for teachers and assistants supporting children with Asperger syndrome in mainstream schools and other non-specialist settings. The book provides up-to-date information on the latest developments in this area and relates this to educational practice. With examples of innovative strategies and approaches to facilitate progress in learning, this new edition:

  • outlines the underlying impairments and their educational implications;
  • explores the process of assessment and diagnosis in Asperger Syndrome;
  • offers practical strategies for effective and realistic classroom intervention, including access to the National Curriculum;
  • considers the behavioural challenges the child with Asperger Syndrome may pose;
  • shows how transitions can be supported.

Asperger Syndrome: A Practical Guide for Teachers, 2nd Editionseeks to inform professionals meeting a child with Asperger Syndrome for the first time and equip them with effective educational and behavioural intervention strategies. This new edition is also updated with reference to Every Child Matters, the Disability Equality Duty and Access Inclusion Planning.

This book will be essential to professionals in mainstream schools, educational psychologists, INSET providers (including initial teacher training), as well as to parents, carers and others supporting social and behavioural progress for students with Asperger Syndrome.


Who was Asperger?

Hans Asperger (1906–1980) lived and worked in Vienna. He qualified as a doctor and specialised in paediatrics. His work brought him into contact with a number of boys who found it difficult to ‘fit in’ socially. In addition to their poor social interaction skills, the boys had difficulties with the social use of language, together with a limited ability to use and understand gesture and facial expression. Also evident were repetitive, stereotypical behaviours, often with ‘abnormal fixations’ on certain objects.

Having noted the similarities in the behaviour of a number of these boys, Asperger (1944) wrote and presented his paper ‘Autistic psychopathies in childhood’. He recognised how severely the boys’ difficulties affected their everyday lives, commenting, ‘they made their parents’ lives miserable and drove their teachers to despair’. He was also aware of the boys’ many positive features – they often had a high level of independent thinking, together with a capacity for special achievements – but he didn’t underestimate the impact of their individuality on others with whom they came into contact, and he noted their vulnerability to teasing and bullying.

Asperger’s paper was written in German towards the end of World War II, and for this reason reached only a limited readership. It only became widely accessible in the early 1980s when it was first translated into English and referred to by Lorna Wing in her own research into autism and related conditions. It was felt that the term ‘Autistic psychopathy’ sounded too negative, and ‘Asperger syndrome’ was suggested as a more acceptable alternative.

Autism and Asperger syndrome

At the same time as Asperger was doing his research in Vienna, the child psychiatrist Leo Kanner was working in Boston, USA. He saw a similar cluster of behaviours in a number of children whom he went on to describe as ‘autistic’ – using the same descriptor which Asperger had used for his research group. Both Kanner and Asperger had referred to the work of Bleuler (1911) when choosing the word ‘autism’. However, Bleuler had used the term to describe people who had withdrawn from participation in the social world. Kanner stressed that the children he was describing had never been participants in that social world, whilst Asperger felt that the coining of the word ‘autism’ was ‘one of the great linguistic and conceptual creations in medical nomenclature’.

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