Incorporating Asperger Students’ Intense Interests in the Classroom

In a previous blog, we discussed the power of choice in increasing student academic success. In one of the examples, we discussed that students can be given several topics to choose from to complete an assignment. Another layer to add to the element of choice is the integration of a highly preferred interest within those choices.

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Examples of How to Incorporate Student Interests

The assignment is to write a poem. The teacher may have three topics for the students to choose from in writing their poem. However, the teacher might add a fourth topic in order to incorporate an option that targets a student’s keen interest.

The revised list of topic choices might include:

  1. Family
  2. Sports
  3. Nature
  4. Mario & Luigi

You might have guessed that Mario & Luigi was added to increase a connection with the activity for the student with Aspergers. One might argue that this strategy is applicable to everyone. Research on neurotypical brains indicates that learning is retained when concepts have relevance and meaning.

A creative teacher will also take a concept and use the student’s interest as a way to teach that concept. For example, a student has a keen interest in rabbits. The teacher has found ways to use rabbits in multiplication problems, reading comprehension activities and social skills instruction.

Another way to incorporate interests throughout instruction includes the use of technology because students today have an affinity for this medium. PowerPoints, Prezi presentations, webquests and iPad apps are just a few ways to tap into technology strengths and interests.

By Lisa Rogers

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Jennifer Allen

After an extensive career broadcast marketing, Jennifer and her husband searched for answers when their oldest son hit the kinder years with great difficultly. After finally learning that their oldest son had Aspergers Syndrome, she left her career in television and became a full time mother to both of her sons. Jennifer elicited the participation of her sons and together they produced several independent programs including a children’s animated series titled Ameriquest Kids (now distributed by Landmark Media) as well as her documentary and book titled, Coping to Excelling: Solutions for school-age children diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome. The need for more information encouraged Jennifer to elicit a team of autism experts to provide weekly, original content to a website free to anyone seeking to live their best under the diagnosis of High-Functioning Autism/Aspergers Syndrome… appropriately titled: Aspergers101.com.

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