The Right School is Crucial for Aspergers Children
By Jo Divljak
Mainstream or Special Schools for Asperger Children?
There has been a lot of emphasis over recent years on "inclusion". The idea is that integrating children into mainstream schools rather than placing them in special schools is a "Good Thing". But is it?
Children with Aspergers syndrome see the world in a different way. With their fixed ideas and concrete thinking they can often come across as very pedantic. They may also be obsessed with some micro-topic and have little interest in general academic topics that they may regard as irrelevant. With their social skill problems they over act inappropriately in social interactions.
Because of all this, other people, particularly their peers, may regard them as "weird" or "odd". Often this ends up with them being teased and bullied. Then, because of their problems with social interactions, they can react to this with aggression or violence - lashing out at those that torment them.
At the same time they have great difficulties with their teachers who are just trying to teach a subject. With their pedantic interest in micro-topics they can be very tiresome to teach. Not only that, but if the teacher seems to handle situations in any way unfairly, this too will be challenged by the Asperger child.
Being perceived as oddballs by their peers, and having to cope with teachers who do not understand their ways of thinking, how to these children fare in mainstream school?
Frequently, not very well. With their unique interpretation of the world, and of social interactions, they often end up lashing out or getting into conflict with both other students and teachers. Often they feel they are being unfairly treated, and unfairly punished.
Fast forward this a few years and you have a dispirited child who is on the verge of being expelled from the school for bad behavior.
A very different scenario could occur in a special school. Staffed with teachers and carers with both the traning and the time to take a special interest in these children, the kids often get much more support and help with their social skills. Their self esteem improves, and so does their behavior.
The students, likewise, tend to be much more tolerant of each other's idiosyncracies, since they have themselves suffered teasing. With the right environment, these children develop a positive self esteem, a fascination for learning (in their unique style) and, ultimately, a much better outcome than they might have had in a mainstream school.
Every child is difficult. Surely it is logical that we cannot just apply a blanket ideology to all children as though they were merely sausage meat going through a sausage factory? Unique children require unique solutions in order to succeed, and if that means a special school, well, then so be it!
About The Author
Jo Divljak is the chief writer for, and editor of FYI Aspergers, visit there today for the latest Aspergers advice, and their free newsletter is well worth signing up for too.