Understanding Asperger’s: A Teacher’s Guide

Students with Asperger’s syndrome present a unique set of challenges—challenges that many teachers are not provided with the appropriate training for. This can make welcoming a student with Asperger’s into the classroom seem daunting.

Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available to help teachers fill the gap and educate themselves, so they can make learning a positive experience and help students with Asperger’s feel comfortable and empowered, while managing the disorder’s more challenging traits.

Here, we’ve pulled resources from the Internet’s most authoritative Asperger’s resources to serve as a guide for teachers seeking to learn about Asperger’s and how to support students with this condition in the classroom.

What is Asperger’s Syndrome?

Asperger’s syndrome is a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). PDDs are a set of conditions that affect a person’s ability to develop basic skills, such as the ability to engage socially and use the imagination.

Children with Asperger’s are typically of average or even above-average intelligence, and although they can struggle to communicate, they have close to normal language development.

Kids with Asperger’s may act eccentrically or make repetitive movements, struggle with change to their routine, and have coordination problems. However, they are also extremely enthusiastic about their interests and highly talented in particular areas such as music or math.

Learn more:
Asperger’s Syndrome, WebMD

Asperger’s in the Classroom

Because students with Asperger’s tend to be highly intelligent, they usually function well in most aspects. However, they struggle to relate to other students, make friends, and participate in group activities in the classroom.

They are also prone to outbursts or tantrums, which can seem sudden, but are likely related to their struggle to communicate or to cope with a busy environment, etc. It can help a student with Asperger’s to cope if you can provide a “quiet space” s/he can retreat to when feeling over-stimulated.

Students with Asperger’s become anxious in unstructured settingswhere people are moving at random, and struggle with change to their regular routine—such as a substitute teacher.

Learn more:
Understanding the Student with Asperger’s Syndrome, OASIS @ MAAP
Challenges for Asperger’s Students, My Aspergers Child

Helping Asperger’s Students Succeed

Because of the unique challenges discussed above, students with Asperger’s syndrome have different support needs in the classroom compared to typically-abled students. There are a lot of ways teachers can modify their lessons and approach to help Asperger’s students succeed.

For example, it can help students with Asperger’s to have visuals that illustrate their daily schedule, and to get as much warning as possible of any upcoming change to the normal routine. They tend to take language very literally, so avoid slang or metaphors when addressing a student with Asperger’s, and give directions in short and direct sentences. Keep an eye out for when the student shows signs of feeling overwhelmed, and help the student break away for quiet time to regroup.

These are only a few of many ways teachers can help students with Asperger’s find success. Teachers should also be aware of all relevant laws and tools available to them, such as the school’s special education specialists and the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Learn more:
Classroom Tips for Students with Aspergers, School Behavior
Teaching Strategies for Asperger Students, Johns Hopkins School of Education
Individual Education Programs, Organization for Autism Research 

Promoting Understanding with other Students

Because students with Asperger’s struggle to make social connections, they have a hard time connecting with their peers and forming friendships. In their eagerness to make friends, they can develop a willingness to do almost anything to participate—something their peers may sometimes take advantage of. They often cannot discriminate between positive play and mean-spirited actions against them.

Research has shown that when students are given clear and accurate information about Asperger’s, they are more sympathetic to and accepting of peers with the disorder. Take the time to educate the other students in the class about what Asperger’s is, emphasizing the value of diversity and highlighting both the strengths and weaknesses of those with Asperger’s.

Meet with the school psychologist and the student’s parents beforehand to ensure everyone is on the same page about what to say, and don’t disclose the student’s name during the talk unless the parents and the student both agree to it.

Learn more:
Helping Kids Understand Aspergers, School Counseling by Heart
6 Steps to Success for Asperger Syndrome, Organization for Autism Research
Helping Peers Support Students with Autism, Autism Speaks

Working Together

Parents can be your best ally when it comes to addressing issues and finding what will work best for an Asperger’s student in the classroom. It’s best to maintain regular communication with the parents, and don’t be afraid to ask questions—most likely, they’ll be impressed that the teacher is putting forth the effort to learn more.

Teachers should also take advantage of additional support resources available to them, too. Most schools will have a school psychologist and special education specialists who can provide additional insights into how to help an Asperger’s student succeed.

There is also an abundance of information to help teachers understand and support students with Asperger’s online.

Teachers and Administrators, Autism Speaks
An Educator’s Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, Danya International Inc. and the Organization for Autism Research
The Complete Guide to Teaching Students with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism, My Aspergers Child

Unique Challenges, Unique Strengths

A student with Asperger’s brings a unique set of strengths and challenges to the classroom, for themselves, the teacher, and the class overall. But with patience, education, and understanding, a student with Aspergers can do well in a traditional classroom setting.

What is PDD?

Pervasive developmental disorders (often shortened to PDD) is a term used to refer to a group of conditions that cause a delay in the development of basic skills. These basic skills most commonly include the ability to socialize, communicate and use imagination. People who have a PDD often struggle to understand the world around them. 

Examples of PDDs include:

  • Autism
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder
  • Rett syndrome
  • PPD, not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)

Though PDDs are typically present in a child very young, but most commonly become evident around the age of three, when it becomes clear that the child is not keeping up with their peers’ development milestones.

PDD symptoms can range from mild to severe. They often include difficulty with communicating verbally, difficulty with gestures and facial expressions, difficulty relating to others, difficulty adjusting to changes in routine, repetitive behavior patterns or movements, sensitivity to sounds, and more.

According to WebMD, an estimated one in 88 children has a PDD, and it is more common in boys than girls. The outlook for a person with a PDD can vary significantly depending on how severe the individual’s symptoms are. However, though most will have some issues with socialization throughout their lives, many can reduce their symptoms and enhance their functionality with therapy and early intervention.

Interacting With Autism

If you are a parent, hearing a diagnosis of autism in your child can be a scary situation. Older teens and adults who are diagnosed later in life are often just as frightened, and may not know where to turn for answers. Whether you yourself have been diagnosed with autism, or you are looking for help in coping with a diagnosis of autism in your child, InteractingWithAutism.com can provide you a wealth of knowledge and support to help you along this challenging path.


 Understanding Autism

The first section of the website focuses on understanding the causes and effects of autism in children, as well as in adults. Head to this section to learn about the sensory problems related to autism, the methods by which it is diagnosed, and how the media has helped to shape the public opinion on autism, whether for better or worse. This is also a great place to look for information on the controversial subject of vaccinations with regard to increased childhood autism diagnoses. Before you check out the rest of the site, you can also read real feedback from parents as well as adults with autism under the Understanding tab.


Treating Autism

After you have a firm grasp on what autism is and what it means for you and your family, head to the Treating tab to learn about your options. Most of this section is devoted to information for parents, in the hopes of helping them make good decisions for their children. A small part of this section focuses on medications that have been used in managing autism, and this can be useful for adults with autism as well as for parents. For the most part, however, the Treating tab is designed to educate parents on types of speech and motor skill therapy, as well as specialized teaching and behavioral studies available to help them make the most for their children.


Living With Autism

The third and final tab focuses on living with autism. This part of the site is packed with personal stories and anecdotes to help comfort, inspire, and assist families and individuals dealing with an autism diagnosis. Check out this section to learn about what life is like for the people who deal with autism every day, and perhaps find some ideas that you can use in your own life to help yourself and your family as well.



With a diagnosis of autism in yourself or your child, you are sure to have plenty of conflicting feelings and negative emotions to work through. Visit InteractingWithAutism.com to learn about autism, discover the many ways in which it is treated and managed, and meet other families who are going through the same thing. InteractingWithAutism.com is available in English, Chinese, and Spanish, so even more families can be easily reached through this helpful and informative website


Click here to check out our range of autism awareness shirts

Autism and Immunization: Is There a Connection?

In the later part of the 1990s, parents suddenly began to fear for the health of their children based on a research paper that claimed to prove a connection between the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccination and autism spectrum disorders in children. Since the publication of this paper, the research has been discredited and debunked as a fraud, but parents continue to believe that there is some truth behind the controversial information. If you are a parent yourself, it can be confusing and even scary to try to figure out which side of the fence you stand on. The most important first step toward making any kind of a decision about the well-being of your children is to educate yourself fully on both stances.


The Argument Against Immunization

Despite the fact that most of the big names in paediatric medicine, including the World Health Organization and the CDC, claim that there is no link between autism and vaccinations, the concern is still very prevalent among today’s parents. The media has something to do with this, as many actors and actresses have used their presence in the public eye to speak out against vaccinating children for fear of causing autism spectrum disorders. Even some of the more well-known politicians in the United States have made it very clear that they believe in the strong evidence that supports this theory. The National Institute of Mental Health continues to investigate the possibility of a connection between vaccinations and autism, which seems like a pretty powerful reason to believe that there is still a cause for concern.


One of the biggest reasons that parents continue to worry about the connection between autism and immunizations is the steadily rising number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders every year. Since vaccinations became more prevalent in the 1980s and 1990s, children have begun to show signs of autism from a very early age, much more frequently than did children born before this time period. It is a clear fact that more children are diagnosed with autism today, and that most of those children have been given at least one immunization during their lifetimes. Some parents believe that there is a direct correlation between the two, and cite their own experiences, whether positive or negative, as solid proof of that.


The study which originally purported to demonstrate the connection between autism and immunizations focused on a sample group of twelve children, all of whom had been given the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination and later been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. The research paper published after this experiment showed a correlation between the injections and autism, as well as bowel disorder, and managed to prove a weak link between all three. The resulting syndrome was labelled autistic enterocolitis, and blamed entirely on the administration of the MMR vaccination. The paper gained attention very quickly, and made the powerful claim that three live virus injections administered at the same time, as in the case of the MMR immunization, greatly increased a child’s chances of developing an autism spectrum disorder. The study claimed that the measles injection was the most prominent culprit, as it affects the immune system more strongly than the rubella and mumps viruses do. The medical community eventually had this research paper retracted, but the information still stands, and many parents consider it worthwhile to consider what the study showed, whether or not the world of medicine see it as a valid point of research today.


Proponents of the anti-vaccination movement look to court cases to support their side of the argument, and many parents take these instances into consideration as well when deciding what to do about immunizations for their own children. In several different court situations, parents and guardians have been compensated for the onset of autism based on the use of vaccinations. Some parents believe that courts would not award these settlements if there was no truth to back up the anti-vaccination claim. Finally, even some paediatricians have concluded that autism in certain children must have been caused by vaccinations. When paediatricians agree with the parents of these children, it is usually too late, and the parents then share their stories in the hopes of bringing the information to others who might be able to make different decisions.


The Argument For Immunization

While there are plenty of aspects to consider on the anti-vaccination side of the coin, it is important to think about the available information to the contrary. There are many reasons why parents continue to vaccinate their children, in spite of the evidence that supports the connection between immunizations and autism. To begin with, many parents conclude that it is better to vaccinate their kids against possible severe illnesses rather than take a chance that they might come down with something potentially life-threatening. Measles, mumps, and rubella are not always fatal, but sometimes, they can cause complications that lead to childhood death. Parents who vaccinate their children believe it is much better to help save their child’s life than to worry about the possibility of a vaccination causing a mental health disorder.


Vaccinations are also necessary in order to protect the people who come into contact with children every day, and parents on the pro-immunization side take this into consideration when choosing to vaccinate their kids. The technical term for this phenomenon is “herd immunity,” which means that enough people have been vaccinated against a disease that, even if a few should fall ill, an outbreak cannot happen. If more and more children are left unvaccinated against diseases like the measles, outbreaks are going to become more common and much more widespread. When a herd immunity is present, it works to protect young children who have not reached the age of vaccination yet, as well as the elderly, immune-compromised, or otherwise ill who cannot receive the immunization themselves. More lives are potentially saved by the lack of these illnesses in the community at large. When children are vaccinated against spreadable diseases, they are helping control these viruses simply by living a healthy life without getting sick.


Herd immunity also spreads to future generations, and parents sometimes even take the health of their future grandchildren into consideration when choosing whether or not to vaccinate their children. When a female child who has been vaccinated against disease grows up and becomes a vaccinated mother, she prevents the spread of illness to her child, which can in turn greatly reduce the risk of birth defects. Communities that have been thoroughly vaccinated have managed to almost eradicate some diseases completely, meaning that future generations will never have to worry about catching something that no longer exists, such as smallpox. Parents who choose to vaccinate their children today are paving the way for healthier generations in years to come.


Finally, some parents simply consider the cost effectiveness when opting for immunizations. Common immunizations do not cost a lot of money, and are usually covered by health insurance. On the other hand, should a child who has not been vaccinated fall ill with a rare disease such as measles, it could cost much more in medical bills to treat the child and bring him or her back to full health once again. Although it may sound a little bit materialistic, the cost of medical bills is a very real concern. For this reason alone, many parents decide to choose immunization over leaving their children exposed to potential health risks.


Which Side is Right?

When you have the basic information for both sides of the argument laid out in front of you, it can be much easier to make a decision and figure out where you stand on the issue of autism versus immunization. Do you believe the countless parents who claim that there is a connection between the two, or do you prefer to stick to immunizing your children against the very real threat of measles and mumps, and take your chances otherwise? When it comes down to it, the choice is completely up to you. Do not let other parents try to convince you to take their side on the matter if you feel like they are wrong, but also do not ignore the evidence that exists to support the argument.


In the end, the medical field is still more or less divided on the topic, and may continue to disagree for a long time coming. It is in your best interest as a parent, to consider the pros and cons of immunizing your children. Do not jump to conclusions based on the first sensational news story you hear – give it careful consideration before you reach your final verdict. You want to do what is best for your children at all times, of course, so try to consider all available information to help you make this important decision.

Are Children Conceived in Winter More Likely to Develop Autism?

Expecting parents are always concerned with whether or not there is something they can do to ensure the health of their children.  Recently, studies have turned toward the subject of autism, and whether or not the time of year when a child is conceived has any effect on its mental health at birth.  There is compelling evidence to show that babies conceived in the winter may in fact be more likely to develop autism, and if you are trying to conceive, you may want to pay close attention to the recent information that has been discovered on the matter.



It is no secret that environment has a lot to do with a baby’s development while still in the womb.  According to a California-based study that focused on 7 million birth records in the 1990s and 2000s, wintertime viruses and other illnesses may be a major influence on whether or not a growing baby develops autism.  Of course, this could be less of a problem in parts of the world where viruses do not spread as rapidly during the winter due to warmer temperatures, but in the United States, where the study was conducted, this environmental factor did have a pronounced effect on the outcome of the children in question.



A lack of vitamin D also prominently raised the chances of autism in wintertime babies.  During the winter months, when the sun is less visible and people are less likely to spend time outdoors due to colder temperatures, it is natural that vitamin D deficiency increases.  Although quite common, this can be very detrimental to the health of unborn children, and may severely impair their mental growth while still in the womb.  Vitamin D deficiency in the children studied also increased as the season wore on.  December conceptions led to about an 8% increase in autism, while March conceptions showed up to 16% more cases of autism in the children that were surveyed.  All winter months were compared to July conceptions for the purpose of this study.


Other Possibilities

Of course, it is important to judge all studies with a grain of salt.  While the study undertaken by the University of California did prove a connection between month of conception and risk of autism, other studies conducted in Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom have proven that spring is the more likely season to trigger autism.  Research in Sweden and Denmark, however, agrees with that of the United States, and these countries have reported March as the highest risk month of conception.  Bear in mind that the original United States study might also prove another environmental factor, such as exposures that take place during the second or third trimester, so it is somewhat inconclusive in that regard.



When you are trying to conceive, you may be worried about a lot of things, including the risk of autism in your child.  Do not let studies scare you, but do take them into consideration and use the information they provide to make your own decisions when it comes to conception. As with anything, it is important to be as informed as possible, and to consider all relevant information.

Autism Awareness Shirts

About 1 in 68 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

ASD is a developmental disability that causes social, communication and behavioral challenges. The degree of these challenges can vary widely person to person, depending where they fall on the spectrum.

To date, there is no known cause and no cure. However, with therapy and treatments, individuals with ASD can live full, meaningful lives.

Why Spread Awareness?
There is a stigma around ASD that causes some to stereotype, avoid or even bully individuals with ASD. Negative stereotypes about the abilities and disabilities associated with ASD can make it harder for individuals on the spectrum to find jobs, join in social situations, and live the full lives they are capable of and deserve.

When you support autism awareness, you promote a better understanding of what ASD is, what those on the spectrum need in terms of therapy and support, and stave off these negative associations. You also help promote and fund research that could help scientists gain a better understand of how to prevent and treat ASD.

Sport Your Support
With such good reasons to wear your autism awareness support, why not get started now?

Here are some t-shirts that promote autism awareness:

autism awareness


autism awarenessautism awareness

Check out more Autism Awareness tees.

Autism Awareness Matters
Therapy, treatment and care for individuals with ASD is estimated at $90 million each year, and is only expected to rise dramatically. But with early intervention, the cost of this care can decrease significantly—and also gives the individual receiving the treatment an opportunity of a better, fuller life.

When you spread autism awareness, you help more people understand it better and help raise funds to prevent and treat autism in the future.



Check out our limited time Autism Awareness design, available until January 7th!