Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A much needed second line of defense

Later today I will be driving to the Kansas City area to give a presentation to teachers and parents of the Park Hill School District. This got me to thinking about a random article I wrote in late 2007 where, at the time, I said teachers were the first line of defense. Now I believe parents are, but only just. Teachers still play a potentially vital role as the second line of defense.

If a child is comfortable at home, and maybe even home itself is "Kansas", the parents may have a hard time seeing Asperger's. I'm sure my parents had a hard time judging my social skills because I had no shortage of words when in a conversation with them. That being so, how could they have seen that I lacked the ability to socialize with my peer group?

My social circle in school was either giving an answer to the teacher when called on, helping another student out by giving them the answer, or talking to the teacher at recess. I know the teachers I had commented to my parents regarding this lack of sociability in parent teacher conferences, but at the time Asperger's wasn't widely known and wasn't in the DSM.

Let's flash forward to today. Asperger's and the autism spectrum are more widely known. The numbers of those affected are now 1 in 100. 1 in 100! I believe I sort of fell through the cracks when I was younger, but today there should be no reason for it. How can this be achieved? It's simple, educating the teachers.

Teachers may see children more than their parents during the school year. Teachers will see children play and behave around other children much more than parents will, so shouldn't teachers be equipped to know what the warning signs are?

Of course teacher should be equipped, but there's so much disinformation out there that getting them the right information is key. The signs, like myself, were very subtle, but with the right information the ball could have started rolling to get me some sort of social therapy.

With my presentation today I open up another branch of society that I have touched. I may have fallen through the cracks in way, but I can't blame my teachers because the information wasn't there. Today is another story. All the information is out there and I hope to help fortify this second line of defense today.


  1. Beginning in pre-school the teachers in Aaron's life said he didn't socialize real well but "I think it is due to his high intelligence." That sucked me into thinking that my kid was a genius and he had the right not to socialize. I never saw or considered the possibility that it was more than that.

    What Aaron is doing for those who hear his presentation is to take them on a journey into his life that is seldom, if ever, understood by parents and teachers.

    God bless you Aaron and may he keep you safe as you travel.

  2. Aaron, it sounds like you are doing a super job telling people what it is like to have Asperger's. Any amount of information you get teachers to hear and act on is wonderful. I am glad you are out there telling folks!

  3. In the professional circles, social skills is an area multiple disciplines want to have a part of- speech therapy, psychology (as I remembered my days with counseling as a social confidence group participant), and OT. Objectively speaking, each discipline can have its strengths and weaknesses in providing social skills interventions. Maybe because I am a helping professional on top of being an aspie, I feel that it's important to NOT lump everything and call it "social skills therapy". Rather, you should do some research on each of the disciplines that may help people with autism on their social skills.

    As for what type of service that helped me the most- I personally will say OT. It's NOT because I am in the field. Rather, it's because I am able to use meaningful activities to practice and improve my social skills. In terms of meaningful activities, that will be classroom (since I still go to school), clinical settings (since that's the place I will be at a lot now that I am an occupational therapist), and OT conferences/workshops (since I know I will be going to these things with other OT practitioners). Yes, I still have minor issues here and there. But, because I am proactive in trying to address them, chances of me repeating the mistakes are dramatically reduced.