Review of School Success For Kids With Asperger’s Syndrome
School Success For Kids With Asperger’s Syndrome
by Stephan M. Silverman, Ph.D., and Rich Weinfeld
Prufrock Press, Inc. Waco, Texas: 2007. 219 pp.
While each special needs child has individual challenges and
issues that parents and teachers have to address, there are some commonalities
that can provide useful guideposts. At the very least, knowing what’s worked
with other children—and what to look for—can be comforting and
One of the particular challenges with Asperger’s is that these children often
have relatively high intelligence, yet their cluelessness regarding social
context and cues can frustrate those around them. Parents may not understand
that what appears to them as stubbornness is simply a child’s inappropriate
focus on something else. Teachers who are impressed by a student’s knowledge of
an arcane subject matter may be
baffled by his inability to complete tasks and projects on time or keep an
organized binder. And peers, confused by a child’s inability to participate
easily in a group, may shun their shy or withdrawn classmate.
According to recent research released by the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (p.3), about one in 150 children has autism or a similar disorder.
Asperger’s syndrome is classified as part of the spectrum of pervasive
developmental disorders. The authors strongly recommend that an appropriate
diagnosis be made by an expert in the field, so that the child receives the
right treatment and services.
With many Asperger’s children mainstreamed into regular classrooms,
understanding how to teach to their strengths and help them manage the
sometimes overwhelming social and emotional demands of most public schools is
of critical importance, not only for the child with Asperger’s, but for his
peers as well.
These children sometimes are fearful of loud noises, or become anxious when
there’s a change in their routine. Middle school poses particular problems,
when these students are no longer in a relatively protected elementary school
self-contained classroom and are expected to move from classroom to classroom
with large groups. Sensitivity to their needs, and strategies to help them make
these transitions more smoothly and comfortably, make their academic success
This book is a useful and eminently practical handbook to helping children with
Asperger’s navigate school. Written by Silverman, a child/adolescent
psychological diagnostician , and Weinfeld, an educational advocate who had
experience coordinating a gifted and learning –disabled program in
Maryland, the book offers specific information that will be invaluable to
parents and teachers alike.
For example, the authors recommend that teachers –and
parents—provide as much of a routine and predictable schedule as
possible. If there are changes, children with Asperger’s need preparation and rehearsal
to cope more successfully. Teachers need to be aware that these children may be
mocked by their peers, and be willing to act as their protectors. Since these
children may readily absorb facts and data, but not emotional context, one of a
teacher’s major tasks is to help them decode non-verbal cues and psychological
insights. These students often need help understanding what’s called the
“hidden curriculum”—teachers’ expectations, responses to a student’s
behavior, classroom rules, even how to ask questions in class. The authors urge
that parents , despite the frustrations
that these children may present, should try to be as patient and forgiving as
possible, to provide their children with as stable and conflict-free
environment as possible.
The appendices at the back of the book are particularly valuable. They offer a wealth of resources, from
national organizations around the country and web sites to detailed checklists teachers can use as quick assessment tools in the
classroom, specific intervention plans for students with Asperger’s, and even
strategies parents and teachers can use to help a child be successful. And
that, after all, is the ultimate goal.