We, as Fionn’s parents, realised at the end of Primary One, that Fionn had Asperger’s.
We were moving into a new class, where the teacher had had previous experience on Asperger’s as had the newly assigned full-time Classroom assistant.
We also quickly realised that Fionn was a quiet, implosive child, who would not disrupt class, draw attention to himself being stuck, stand up for himself. We realised therefore that we needed to prepare a teacher for understanding FIONN… not for a PhD on Autism in Education. We had a priority…to see our son had his needs met with as little difficulty as possible in the school mainstream setting.
My years in teaching had meant i had clear thoughts on Autism and the courses being run then by education support services, was that these courses were general information…starting with the “What is Autism?”. This is still not specific to my child – to what his fascinations are, what he reacts like when he is nervous, what way he needed to be explained to if he was confused, …basically more a “What is Fionn’s Autism?”
So we decided to give the class specific information.
We gave it to save the best teacher time trying to translate Fionn, and to push the weaker teacher to look at what was actually in front of her…it also could be handed over to a sub-teacher, and was basically a get to know how he presents list…
This was an early type of example…from when he was about 9. Each year we UPDATED the information. It HELPED!.
Has normal intelligence.
He has Asperger’s syndrome.
He has ADHD as part of his condition- we are not keen to medicate and are working with OT on strategies..
He has arthritis/rheumatic flare ups in both knees.
- Fionn as always well intentioned- never deliberately disruptive
- He is incredibly restless and fidgety – has some fidget toys or can squeeze blutak
- He “mouths” objects – OT has suggested strategies
- The more stressed he is the more he needs to work off steam – ball etc or OT strategies
- Sits on one leg when he sits – and rocks on chair
- Can get up and wander around the room – and needs to
- Has a very short attention span
- Finds homework and written work difficult to stick at – very little interest in presentation
- Won’t make it obvious when he is stressed or confused
- Can shout out in class – unaware that he is being disruptive
- Is very visually stimulated – finds it easy to become distracted
- Has a very impressive rote memory – but this is an artificial intelligence
- Speaks articulately but not always understanding content
- Will need tasks to be set appropriately to his attention – and maybe cut down quantity
- Disciplining Fionn should only be when he fully understands the significance of what he has done
- Has very poor postural stability when writing and tires quickly
- Enjoys ICT and is quite capable
- Very disorganised – school bag, books, can be lost easil
- Has great difficulty generalising learning– can’t see links in repeated tasks:
- Maths principles
- Mental maths very difficult – needs physical examples
- Has difficulty in understanding new concepts – especially obvious so far in maths
- Needs a lot of time in reinforcing new concepts and in checking understanding – learning support unit has been discussed as check on learning
- Needs very clear and concise instruction
- He worries about other people “getting him” and finds it very difficult to understand other chilren’s intentions – we have spoken to Mr Murphy and he has agreed to bring Brona into class to discuss Fionn
- Fionn finds eye contact difficult to sustain at times
- He can at times need his own space – need to be withdrawn from class situation
- He can appear withdrawn or even rude
- Although now has a large circle of friend, he can still be afraid of some individuals
- He is very easily lead and reluctant to upset friends
- At times can react with over-enthusiasm which can make him stand out and therefore embarrass him
- Fionn does like routine – and needs to be warned in advance of any change
- Fionn needs a lot of movement – he can be very hyper if he doesn’t get to use energy
- He finds exercise relaxing – basketball or football- this has become very obvious this year as the ADHD is more significant
- He tends to be awkward and clumsy – especially when in bad form
- He has very little awareness of safety – has had several near misses with cars
- He appears to walk differently when he is uncomfortable in any situation – but can correct posture when reminded
- he is extremely sensitive – gets embarrassed very easily
- He is hypersensitive to some smells and sounds
- Tends to internalise worries
- When stressed finds that he needs to have something in each hand – not important what it is
- Difficult for him to understand or to discuss emotions
- Often states that he is fine to avoid embarrassment
- Finds it relaxing to use a pad and pencil –quietly or to read -quietly
hope this is a useful idea to parents out there.