Aspi2.0 - Practical Intervention Project

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For a while now, I wondered what I could add to Classroom2.0's discussions. What could I do is such a powerful community? Until now, I've stuck to writing and engaging on my own blog.

I was replying to a post on Will Richardson's blog about 'The School of the Future', and for some reason, talked about the issues I face, as a father of a 7 year old with Aspergers Syndrome. I continually argue that he is not so much an Aspi kid, as a kid with Aspergers. He's not so much 'special needs', as he is a kid who needs to explore 'special interests' in his learning.

Quite simply, this in not happening in his classroom and it's not like I don't get stuck into the schools as often as I can when he comes home frustrated and anxious because school is designed for 'neuro-normals'. Here is a simple example. He has 3 hours a week funded for his special interests (sorry: needs). The teacher allocates this time to 'reading groups'. Apparently, they believe that this builds social skills. It may do for a week or so, but then the 'reading' group is formed, and nothing further is learned to help him understand social connections, collaboration and empathy - the very things he needs.

He can read, in fact he's well above average. What the school is doing of course is pooling time and trying to get all kids with funding to so some median activity. The teacher lacks any ability to differentiate his needs - because she doesn't care enough to make the effort. Because Aspi kids are generally of high IQ and have advanced language skills - they are often labeled as under-achievers in school. It gets worse as they get older. Not the condition (which is quite amazing at time) - the effort that teacher's put into their needs. They don't display their disability in the way some with more severe autism to, nor do they have a wheel chair. They are never the less doing the best they can, dealing with classroom social structures and methods that frustrate, confuse and create anxiety.

The lash out, but soon learn that lashing out meets with 'consequences' - detention, segregation etc., - which simply serve to further dis-connect them from the world around them. No wonder they aften appear distracted - they learn that if they don't understand the situation or subtle meaning in statements people make - then they'd best avoid having any engagement with those saying it.

What I would like to do here, in Classroom2.0 - is to develop a distributed network of parents/teachers who go through exactly the same crap we do. To create ideas and solutions that will provide PD for these teachers.

My idea is quite simple. TO DEVELOP A WIKI OF RESOURCES THAT I CAN GIVE TO THESE PEOPLE SO THAT EVEN IF THEY ARE TIME POOR OR LAGGARDS, THEY CAN SIMPLY DIP INTO AND USE TO MAKE THE LIVES OF ASPI KIDS BETTER. I can't be there all the time - but I do want to make sure that I can provide scaffolds and ideas that they can use. I am aiming here for 1/2 hours week's worth of QUALITY TIME for Aspi kids. Immediate lessons and learning object that they can use in K12 instead of our kids having to get stuffed about and marginalized.

No tea and sympathy, no 'gently' - this is practical - in your face - go and use it stuff.

I'm calling it Aspi2.0 - and I'd like to get other people with an interest to work with me on it. (please).

Views: 83

Tags: aspergers, collaboration, differentiated, needs, project, special

Comment by Tanya Travis on December 6, 2008 at 10:06am
Your idea of creating a Wiki to make the lives of Aspi kids better will be an excellent resource. I am a parent of an 18 year old child with Aspergers Syndrome. I am also a teacher in the same school district where my son attended school. Fortunately, my family lives in Maryland and was close enough to the Kennedy Krieger Center and Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital to receive individualized help. Since the strategies used to help my son with his social skills and communication were specifically designed to help him I don't know if they would be consistently successful in helping others.

I showed your post to my daughter and she suggested having a section on your Wiki for the siblings of children with Aspergers. She benefited a great deal when she understood her brother's special interests and wanted to know ways to become closer to him. Our school system found simple ways to let her become a resource for my son during the school day without making her assume adult responsibilities. For example, the school scheduled their lunches so they could eat together. They simply felt like they were enjoying time together and never realized my daughter was providing a model of social interaction each day for half an hour. She never resented this time together and eventually my son began to sit with other students and interact successfully.

I will gladly share this Wiki with other parents and teachers I know.
Comment by David Wees on December 6, 2008 at 1:00pm
The Wiki is a good idea. It would allow interested educators to share their expertise and suggestions more easily. It is such a good idea that would check to make sure it is not already being done by someone. Better to pool efforts than re-invent the wheel.

Another anecdote: I had a student with Asperger's who spent every lunch hour reading by himself. His favourite thing? Japanese mythology and culture. So I introduced him to a collectible card game about Japanese mythology and then introduced him to some people he could play with. Now he plays cards at lunch time with his peers, interacting socially far more often than before.
Comment by Dean Groom on December 6, 2008 at 2:25pm
that is a fantastic story. I've not found anything so far. There are a couple of Aspi blogs, but not educational as such, mostly talking about the general aspi related 'life' issues.
Comment by Dean Groom on December 6, 2008 at 2:30pm
Thanks Tanya. See, great ideas come think and fast. Siblings! Excellent idea. Time to start the wiki then.
Comment by Jack on February 25, 2009 at 11:06pm
It is very helpful in a way where people like me gain more knowledge from some expertise and suggestion given by them. Keep up the very good work.

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