It has been discussed throughout the decades that not every child learns in the same manner. It is with this idea in mind that a differentiated instruction lesson plan offers a more open way for any student to learn, making the lesson interesting and memorable. Besides sharpening interest and memory, a differentiated instruction lesson plan could offer certain students a doorway into learning at all.
How Do Differentiated Instruction and Aspergers Fit Together?
Aspergers Syndrome is a high-functioning autism. At first encounter, an AS child can seem like a vibrant, but otherwise typical kid. When the child doesn’t stop talking, and follows people who turn away, and goes on and on about one subject that he or she seems fascinated about, the realization may suddenly dawn that this child is a little different.
Because of the inner-focusing and malfunctioning ability to perceive social cues that an Asperger Syndrome student experiences, interactive differentiated instruction lesson plans may work for Aspergers children by involving them rather than sitting them in the middle of a classroom of distractions. According to Mindwingconcepts.com, the components of differentiated instruction are: Professional collaborative efforts, hands-on learning, cooperative learning classroom practices, non-linguistic representations for modeling and guided practice, and fostering the ability to make connections to “real life.”
Asperger-institute.com lists the characteristics of an AS child as having naive, inappropriate, one-sided social interactions; a limited ability to establish relationships; poor non-verbal communication; intense absorption in certain subjects. These characteristics are not things that can be unlearned or suppressed, and make the concentration on “outside” lessons and rules difficult.
Having a board at the front of the room for everyone to see and be able to follow the teacher collectively could leave an Asperger Syndrome child behind. High-functioning autism is stimulated by visual guidance in an academic environment, and the social skills of an Aspergers student are more likely to improve with more interaction with people. Differentiated instruction lesson plans offer these opportunities.
Social Learning With Aspergers Children
Differentiated instruction lesson plans involve not only academic learning, but as an alternative to traditional lessons, they also involves the teaching through the students as they work together and with the teacher. Asperger kids don’t register facial expression as cues to others’ feelings and moods, and so their non-verbal communication is poor. A happy face may as well be one of confusion or pain because an Asperger person won’t see it as any communication of mood.
Sitting in a classroom where faces are not seen while everyone is looking at the board, practice for seeing facial expression as a communication device is minimal. Cooperative learning classroom practices provide groups of children who can discuss projects and subject matter among themselves. An Asperger child’s inevitable one-sided social approach can be guided by students and teachers who will tell the AS student that it is time to see what someone else has to say. With an explanation to the class of why an AS child’s mannerisms are different from most other kids, patience and guidance can be practiced by all, whether pointing-out social cues or learning to see them.
Visual Stimulus and Interactive Learning With Aspergers
Differentiated instruction lesson plans may work for Aspergers kids at a more potent level, if the teacher isn’t alone in guiding an AS child through the learning process. Other teachers, as well as autism specialists and occupational therapists, can join together with professional collaborative efforts to find the right niche in which an AS child will learn best. The ideas of other teachers, and in some cases the presence of more adults in general, contribute to the success of academic achievement in an Aspergers student.
Many AS kids will communicate better and feed their attention more fully with adults, and they can learn that the academic effort that is needed in school prompts these highly desired interactions with teachers. The use of their hands-on projects or computer programs is more memorable for an Asperger child, since the sensory stimulation that promotes visual learning extends through touch as well. Differentiated instructional lesson plans can provide opportunities for this with clay sculpture, carpentry, and gardening among other projects.
A major characteristic of Asperger children is the intense absorption in any one of a number of subjects from airplanes to computers. Using this obsession as non-linguistic representation for modeling could be a powerful visual aid while learning math, science, and English. This interest in one subject would also be a key connection to lessons about life, which, to an Aspergers child, is not seen as a network of other people and situations entwined with his or her own, but rather as a setting for a movie in which the AS child is the only main character. For instance, the love for cars could offer the idea that not thinking before you act could end up as badly as a car that doesn’t slow down before rounding a sharp turn. This sort of association in any subject of a differentiated instruction lesson plan might help an AS student be aware of life necessities that would otherwise go completely unnoticed.
There are many ways by which Asperger students can learn their academic subjects, just as there are many other types of kids who would benefit from a differentiated instruction lesson plan. The variety and freedom through which differentiated instruction introduces education to children simply seems like a suitable fit for the way Asperger Syndrome children tend to learn best. While there are many other aspects to Asperger mannerisms that aren’t addressed through this type of learning, it is obvious that differentiated instruction lesson plans would help AS children more than by traditional means.