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Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by impaired social interaction and communication skills.

Asperger's syndrome (AS) falls within this spectrum and is sometimes referred to as "high functioning autism." AS is characterized by an inability to communicate effectively and interact socially

The following list is designed as a general overview of the Autism Spectrum, therefore individual students will most likely not exhibit all of the following characteristics.

Characteristics of the Condition

  • May misunderstand tone of voice, jokes, facial expressions, sarcasm, and other subtle messages
  • Oddities in vocal pitch, volume, intonation
  • Displays literal and concrete thinking patterns
  • May have delayed responses
  • May come across as argumentative, rude, or monopolizing
  • Strong, narrow interests
  • May exhibit self-stimulatory behavior (rocking, tapping, pacing, bouncing)
  • May become easily overwhelmed
  • May exhibit awkward eye contact, posture, and/or gestures

Impact on Performance

  • Difficulty with changes in classroom, seating, and syllabus
  • Sensory sensitivity (music, fire alarms, touch, smells)
  • May be easily distracted, particularly in long classes
  • Difficulty setting boundaries
  • Difficulty working in groups
  • Struggles with initiating, planning, organizing, and carrying out tasks
  • Asking for clarification or assistance

Interaction with Student

  • Be blunt - provide direct feedback
  • Set clear boundaries
  • Allow breaks during class
  • Avoid cold-calling in class
  • Avoid idioms, metaphors, sarcasm
  • Consider assigning group roles
  • Provide visual learning tools when possible (pictures, charts)
  • Supplement oral instructions with written instructions
  • Explain purpose of assignment
  • Utilize syllabus and note changes as soon as possible

Autism Spectrum Resources Asperger's Syndrome Coalition of the U.S. Asperger's Disorder Homepage Autism Society of Minnesota Yale Child Study Center Autism Society of America Heath Resource Center Hoagies' Gifted Education Page on Asperger's Syndrome Non-verbal Learning Disorders Tony Attwood's Asperger Homepage


Asperger's Syndrome by Ami Klin and Fred Volkmar

Asperger's Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Tony Attwood

Asperger's Syndrome Employment Workbook: An Employment Workbook for Adults with Asperger's Syndrome by Roger N. Meyer and Tony Attwood

Autism and Asperger's Syndrome edited by Uta Frith

Autism: Explaining the Enigma (2nd Edition) by Uta Frith

Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Transactional Developmental Perspective edited by Amy M. Wetherby and Barry M. Prizant

Autistic Thinking-This is the Title by Peter Vermeulen

Build Your Own Life A Self-Help Guide for Individuals With Asperger's Syndrome by Wendy Lawson

Handbook of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders edited by Donald J. Cohen, Anne, M. Donnellan and Rhea Paul

Right Address, Wrong Planet Children With Asperger's Syndrome Becoming Adults by Gena P. Barnhill

Succeeding in College With Asperger's Syndrome published by John Harpur, Maria Lawlor, Michael Fitzgemla and Jessica Kingsley

Taking the Mystery out of Medications in Autism / Asperger's Syndromes by Luke Tsai

The ADHD Autism Connection by Diane M. Kennedy

Visual Strategies for Improving Communication by Linda Hodgdon

Your Life Is Not a Label by Jerry Newport

Personal Stories and Fiction

Aquamarine Blue 5 edited by Dawn Prince-Hughes

Emergence: Labeled Autistic and Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Born on the Wrong Planet by Erika Hammerschmidt

Life Behind Glass: A Personal Account of Autistic Spectrum Disorder by Wendy Lawson

The Hidden Life of Dogs by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Pretending to be Normal: Living with Asperger Syndrome by Liane Holliday Willey

Nobody Nowhere by Donna Williams

Somebody Somewhere by Donna Williams