The OASIS Asperger Syndrome Guide for Teachers - Letter of Introduction
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The OASIS Asperger Syndrome Guide for Teachers - Letter of Introduction


Dear  ___________________,

We are the parents of [name of child]. Our child has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a neurological disorder that is related to autism. He also has the following comorbid conditions [list] and learning disabilities [list]. While AS affects many aspects of behavior, it shares with autism the “core” deficits in social understanding and language. Simply put, our child sees and experiences the world differently than people who do not have AS. He may seem to “overreact at nothing” or become very emotional “for no reason.” We have learned that in most instances, there is a reason for why our child responds the way that he does. And it is a reason that “makes sense” once you understand AS. We have also learned that there are things we can do to help him. The first and most important is accepting that many of his behaviors are not under his control

If you have not heard of AS, it is because it is a fairly new diagnosis here in the United States, although it has been recognized elsewhere in the world since the 1940s. People with AS often have a unique and at times unusual mixture of abilities and deficits. They may appear to be more capable than they actually are. AS is a pervasive developmental disorder, and it can affect virtually every facet of a child’s academic, social, and emotional life, sometimes in ways that may unfamiliar to you. There is no “cure” for AS, but research on the disorder and new interventions and therapies are moving ahead quickly. We will be happy to share with you whatever information that we find that may be helpful to you in helping [name of child] have a positive, productive experience in school. Please feel free to call us anytime at [phone number].

Every child with AS is unique. No two have the same pattern of behaviors, skills, or deficits. A technique or approach that worked for one child may not necessarily work for the next. Or what worked last month may not work today. In the [number] years since our child was diagnosed, he has received the following therapies and interventions: [list]. We found [list the most effective ones] the most helpful. He is currently receiving [list other interventions]. (If relevant), He is taking [name of medication(s)] to address [list the behavior(s), symptoms, disorders, etc.].

Our child’s main strengths are: [list strengths].

The praise he values most is: [list: being told that he is bright, wise, fun to be around].

The most effective rewards would be: [list].

The strongest disincentive would be: [list].
 

Like many people with AS, our child has special interests: [list special interests]. You may find it helpful to allow him to indulge his special interest by talking about it for a limited period of time as a reward.

AS affects numerous areas. Below is a list of the difficulties [name of child] faces and what we and his other teachers and therapists have discovered works and does not work.


General Personality and Behavior

[name of child]
is [list the positives: warm, loving, has a great sense of humor, et cetera].

The areas in which is he is most seriously challenged are: [list challenges]. We believe that these can be most effectively addressed by [list interventions and tactics that have proved successful]. Some other approaches such as [list what does not work for your child] do not work for our child and tend to make him feel [describe adverse or undesirable behavior]. When that occurs, we find that it helps to [describe action].
 

Social Skills with Adults

[Name of child]
is [list the positives: warm, loving, has a great sense of humor, et cetera].

The areas in which is he is most seriously challenged are: [list challenges: has difficulties following multistep directions, a tendency to ask for help with things when he does not necessarily need it,]. We believe that these can be most effectively addressed by [list interventions and tactics that have proved successful: breaking all oral directions down into short, simple steps; gently encouraging him to do those things you know he can do]. Some other approaches such as [list what does not work for your child: repeating complex instructions several times; forcing him to do things he feels inept at] do not work for our child and tend to make him feel [describe adverse or undesirable behavior: anxious, dumb]. When that occurs, we find that it helps to [describe action: calm and comfort him to regain control].


Social Skills with Peers

[Name of child]
is [list the positives: interested in other children and anxious to make friends].

The areas in which is he is most seriously challenged are: [list challenges: his inability to join in appropriately, participate in conversations, and understand how to reciprocate]. We believe that these can be most effectively addressed by [list interventions and tactics that have proved successful: using Social Stories to cue and remind him of appropriate behavior; setting up situations where he can practice these new skills with other children]. Some other approaches such as [list what does not work for your child: simply leaving him in a group of children on the playground to “find his way”] do not work for our child and tend to make him feel [describe adverse or undesirable behavior: stressed, anxious, and sad]. When that occurs, we find that it helps to [describe action: gently remove him from the situation and set up another experience that is “rigged” for success].
 

Expressive and Receptive Language

[Name of child]
is [list the positives: has a large vocabulary, tells interesting make-believe stories].

The areas in which is he is most seriously challenged are: [list challenges]. We believe that these can be most effectively addressed by [list interventions and tactics that have proved successful]. Some other approaches such as [list what does not work for your child] do not work for our child and tend to make him feel [describe adverse or undesirable behavior]. When that occurs, we find that it helps to [describe action].
 

Auditory Processing

[Name of child]
is [list the positives: can completely recall songs or poems he has heard only once or twice].

The areas in which is he is most seriously challenged are: [list challenges]. We believe that these can be most effectively addressed by [list interventions and tactics that have proved successful]. Some other approaches such as [list what does not work for your child] do not work for our child and tend to make him feel [describe adverse or undesirable behavior]. When that occurs, we find that it helps to [describe action].
 

Sensory Issues

[Name of child]
is [list the positives].

The areas in which is he is most seriously challenged are: [list challenges]. We believe that these can be most effectively addressed by [list interventions and tactics that have proved successful]. Some other approaches such as [list what does not work for your child] do not work for our child and tend to make him feel [describe adverse or undesirable behavior]. When that occurs, we find that it helps to [describe action].
 

Fine and Gross Motor Skills

[Name of child]
is [list the positives: almost at age-level with basic living skills; he can tie his shoes, zip his jacket].

The areas in which is he is most seriously challenged are: [list challenges]. We believe that these can be most effectively addressed by [list interventions and tactics that have proved successful]. Some other approaches such as [list what does not work for your child] do not work for our child and tend to make him feel [describe adverse or undesirable behavior]. When that occurs, we find that it helps to [describe action].
 

Organizational Skills

[Name of child]
is [list the positives: able to pack his book bag at the end of the day if prompted; sometimes able to work at his desk without prompting].

The areas in which is he is most seriously challenged are: [list challenges]. We believe that these can be most effectively addressed by [list interventions and tactics that have proved successful]. Some other approaches such as [list what does not work for your child] do not work for our child and tend to make him feel [describe adverse or undesirable behavior]. When that occurs, we find that it helps to [describe action].
 

Perseverations

[Name of child]
is [list the positives: engaging in perseverative behaviors less this year than he did last year, and is becoming aware that they are stigmatizing].

The areas in which is he is most seriously challenged are: [list challenges]. We believe that these can be most effectively addressed by [list interventions and tactics that have proved successful]. Some other approaches such as [list what does not work for your child] do not work for our child and tend to make him feel [describe adverse or undesirable behavior]. When that occurs, we find that it helps to [describe action].
 

Transitions

[Name of child]
is [list the positives: managing to handle transitions, provided he is given clear, detailed explanations of what is expected].

The areas in which is he is most seriously challenged are: [list challenges]. We believe that these can be most effectively addressed by [list interventions and tactics that have proved successful]. Some other approaches such as [list what does not work for your child] do not work for our child and tend to make him feel [describe adverse or undesirable behavior]. When that occurs, we find that it helps to [describe action].
 

Changes in Routine, Surprises

[Name of child]
is [list the positives: still uncomfortable with surprises but less likely to scream when they occur than he was a few months ago].

The areas in which is he is most seriously challenged are: [list challenges]. We believe that these can be most effectively addressed by [list interventions and tactics that have proved successful]. Some other approaches such as [list what does not work for your child] do not work for our child and tend to make him feel [describe adverse or undesirable behavior]. When that occurs, we find that it helps to [describe action].
 

Eye Contact

[Name of child]
is [list the positives: making as much eye contact as he can comfortably right now].

The areas in which is he is most seriously challenged are: [list challenges]. We believe that these can be most effectively addressed by [list interventions and tactics that have proved successful]. Some other approaches such as [list what does not work for your child] do not work for our child and tend to make him feel [describe adverse or undesirable behavior]. When that occurs, we find that it helps to [describe action].
 

            [Any other information you feel is important.]

            Sincerely,

           [Your name]

 

 

This letter is from pages 369-374 of THE OASIS GUIDE TO ASPERGER SYNDROME by Patricia Romanowski Bashe and Barbara L. Kirby (Crown, 2001)

Copyright PRBookworks and Barbara L. Kirby

 

  

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