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Punkrockaspie
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23 Feb 2016, 3:30 pm

"During adolescence, a teenager with Asperger's syndrome is likely to have increasingly conspicuous difficulties with planning and organizational skills, and completing assignments on time. This can lead to a deterioration in school grades that comes to the attention of teachers and parents. The teenager's intellectual abilities have not deteriorated, but the methods of assessment used by teachers have changed. Knowledge of history is no longer remembering dates and facts but organizing a coherent essay. The study of English requires abilities with characterization and 'to read between the lines'. A group of students may be expected to submit a science project and the teenager with Asperger's syndrome is not easily assimilated into a working group of students. The deterioration in grades and subsequent stress can lead the adolescent to be referred to the school psychologist who recognizes signs of Asperger's syndrome."
―Tony Attwood, "The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome" (London; Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007), page 19.

The above quoted passage is, in my experience, contradicted at every turn by every teacher I run into. Because I am diagnosed with ASD, I immediately begin talking with teachers about Asperger's syndrome, and they all and always report the same thing: "Aspies are my best students."

I do not understand this contradiction at all. It makes life difficult for me inasmuch as I want to become an Autism Awareness Ambassador and so am frantically reading everything I can about the subject (in order to increase my own self-awareness thereof as well), and I keep running across contradictions just like this; reports that fly in the face of clinical discourse. There is a crying need for Autism awareness in NT culture. Myths, misconceptions and stereotypes are ubiquitous and abound in popular culture in the media, television, film and fiction. I want to become an Autism Awareness Ambassador to dispel all these and to educate the public on the truth about autism. But I find myself stymied at every turn by contradictions like this. If I cannot present a consistently non-contradictory approach to autism, I will thereby lack integrity and no one will take me seriously on the subject. And this will definitely not help me with my own attempt to understand my autism. I cannot be an effective Autism Awareness Ambassador in the face of contradictions. How do we resolve them? Can anyone help?


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AndrewR42
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23 Feb 2016, 3:45 pm

What exactly is the contradiction that your teachers state and how does it manifest itself? I'm not exactly clear as to what the circumstances, problem and the context of the problem that needs to be solved are.



FizzyOrange
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23 Feb 2016, 4:01 pm

I think everyone deals with this differently. I was as described in the top and continued to have difficulty in college. I never could understand why I, a some what smart person, could not cut it. Working has always been difficult. School was always difficult. I was simply labeled lazy and dumb and written off. I hated myself for it. Even social anxiety couldn't explain why I was having trouble. Some people are missed and just labeled as making excuses instead of providing proper help.

This is true for some and for others, they don't have this problem. Maybe their parents gave them a good routine to maintain their school work or they had therapists who assisted in their academic lives. There are some exceptions to the rule and it doesn't mean that a person with ASD can't are all good or bad students, but just might have difficulty in certain areas of life.



markie12272
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23 Feb 2016, 4:16 pm

I can understand your dilemma. My thoughts are that as ASD is a spectrum you will find that some aspies are better in some areas than others. The teacher you speak of may just have had students with aspergers that were more capable than others. Or more likely she was an excellent teacher who had a natural ability to make them feel comfortable and help them reach/fulfilly there potential.
Either way the most important thing to remember is that though we share the same diagnosis we are still individuals with different strengths and weaknesses in various degrees.
So I guess it's not so much a contradiction but more about being a human being who shares similar issues but to greater or lesser extent.
Its a spectrum and we cover a large range. Im kinda glad im not exacting the same as every other aspie. :-):-)



ASPartOfMe
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23 Feb 2016, 4:28 pm

Attwood's description pretty much described me as a student.

i am guessing here but maybe the teachers are only recognizing the highest functioning aspies or the aspies who best fit the stereotypes.

Also because we often present as quiet we are less trouble for the teachers. As a person who has been in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities the past year I can vouch for this. A lot people when they get sick become misreable complainers. I am on my IPAD all day posting on wrong planet not bothering them so I am their favorite patient. While I glad my Autism is working for me for once did I to get very sick to have women nurses fawning over me :?


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League_Girl
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23 Feb 2016, 4:30 pm

Punkrockaspie wrote:
"During adolescence, a teenager with Asperger's syndrome is likely to have increasingly conspicuous difficulties with planning and organizational skills, and completing assignments on time. This can lead to a deterioration in school grades that comes to the attention of teachers and parents. The teenager's intellectual abilities have not deteriorated, but the methods of assessment used by teachers have changed. Knowledge of history is no longer remembering dates and facts but organizing a coherent essay. The study of English requires abilities with characterization and 'to read between the lines'. A group of students may be expected to submit a science project and the teenager with Asperger's syndrome is not easily assimilated into a working group of students. The deterioration in grades and subsequent stress can lead the adolescent to be referred to the school psychologist who recognizes signs of Asperger's syndrome."
―Tony Attwood, "The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome" (London; Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007), page 19.



This is the reason why I had troubles in school. Rote learning ends and abstraction begins. I was a very concrete learner and visual. I still can't do essays. But yet I wonder how on earth do aspies do college and how on earth did they manage to get though high school without any support or an IEP before their AS diagnoses.

But I have to remember it's a spectrum so not every aspie will have these issues here in learning.


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23 Feb 2016, 6:38 pm

My main difficulties at school were caused by attention issues. My mind would wonder off as the teacher gabbled on. Then I was all confused when it was time to work. I did better in group work because I had others to do most the thinking for me, then we all got the grade between us. So I didn't have to concentrate so much.

But I was mostly on the special ed table, and I felt I could learn better with other kids who had learning/attention difficulties.

Secondary school was different. I grew very anxious at the responsibility I felt I was bombarded with, and if we forgot one text book or didn't do our homework, you got detention. When you're in year 7, detention is scary, and that kind of pressure caused me to actually forget to do things, even if it was written down clearly in my planner. When I got to about 14-15, I became more used to responsibily, and I realized that detentions ain't scary but just a way of sitting in a warm room during lunch, reading these rather interesting magazines. Lovely on cold days.
But revising for my GCSE exams was a nightmare. I just couldn't get focused. My mum told me to revise, and I'd begin to do it, then got distracted. And when I did manage to study, I forgot it the next day anyway.


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Punkrockaspie
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23 Feb 2016, 6:52 pm

AndrewR42 wrote:
What exactly is the contradiction that your teachers state and how does it manifest itself? I'm not exactly clear as to what the circumstances, problem and the context of the problem that needs to be solved are.


My apologies for not being clear. The contradictions are not stated by any of the teachers. The contradictions are observations by myself. The contradictions I perceive are, how, if Tony Attwood and the clinicians are correct, Aspies can be "the best students" simultaneously "likely to have increasingly conspicuous difficulties with planning and organizational skills, and completing assignments on time"?--that is not characteristic of a teacher's "best students"; how can Aspies be "the best students" and simultaneously exhibit "a deterioration in school grades"?--that is not characteristic of a teacher's "best students"; how can we be "the best students" and simultaneously incapable of "organizing a coherent essay"?--that is not characteristic of a teacher's "best students"; how can we be a teacher's "best students" and simultaneously "not easily assimilated into a working group of students"?--that is not characteristic of a teacher's "best students". Basically what every teacher I have met is telling me that Aspies are their "best", most excellent students, and what these teachers say contradicts everything that Tony Attwood has written in that quote. These teachers are telling me that their Aspie students are the exact opposite of what Attwood describes. I hope this clarifies things. Live long and prosper!


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wilburforce
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23 Feb 2016, 7:17 pm

Punkrockaspie wrote:
AndrewR42 wrote:
What exactly is the contradiction that your teachers state and how does it manifest itself? I'm not exactly clear as to what the circumstances, problem and the context of the problem that needs to be solved are.


My apologies for not being clear. The contradictions are not stated by any of the teachers. The contradictions are observations by myself. The contradictions I perceive are, how, if Tony Attwood and the clinicians are correct, Aspies can be "the best students" simultaneously "likely to have increasingly conspicuous difficulties with planning and organizational skills, and completing assignments on time"?--that is not characteristic of a teacher's "best students"; how can Aspies be "the best students" and simultaneously exhibit "a deterioration in school grades"?--that is not characteristic of a teacher's "best students"; how can we be "the best students" and simultaneously incapable of "organizing a coherent essay"?--that is not characteristic of a teacher's "best students"; how can we be a teacher's "best students" and simultaneously "not easily assimilated into a working group of students"?--that is not characteristic of a teacher's "best students". Basically what every teacher I have met is telling me that Aspies are their "best", most excellent students, and what these teachers say contradicts everything that Tony Attwood has written in that quote. These teachers are telling me that their Aspie students are the exact opposite of what Attwood describes. I hope this clarifies things. Live long and prosper!


I had terrible executive functioning in high school: I always procrastinated because I would forget about assignments or tests until the last minute and then I would end up cramming or frenziedly writing essays. The only reason I managed to get the good grades I did in high school is because my short term memory is pretty excessive (so cramming actually works well for me in the short-term) and I seemed to have a knack for essay/review writing and could throw things together at the last minute that were still decent quality.

Also, your single teacher's experience with good aspie students is anecdotal; Atwood's statement comes from years of clinical study.

ETA: I was a favourite student of many of my teachers, and though I did get good grades (which did begin to suffer near the end of high school, but because my grades were always really high going down from almost perfect GPA in elementary school to a 90/100 average--which is still an A+--isn't cause for that much concern, but it still follows the pattern Atwood describes) and I'm sure that was part of why they liked me, what they seemed to like most about me was my genuine curiosity about many different subjects and my eagerness to learn new things and to ask questions.


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dowyflow
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23 Feb 2016, 7:27 pm

I am having troubles with doing homework/assignments for as long as I know. Doing my homework, planning was never really necessary for me as I would get more than sufficient grades anyway. However, the idea that I am underpreforming has been 'eating' me for a couple of years now. Every semester I promise myself to do better, but I know it is not going to happen. Luckily for me I did manage to get my BA degree in International Studies (I wrote my thesis in 2 weeks, working 10 hours a day on it), and now I am doing a master degree. But not being able to do 'stuff' for school is a real handicap



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23 Feb 2016, 8:26 pm

I'd be cautious and assume that at least part of this is cognitive bias on the part of the teachers. I was sometimes accused of being a teacher's pet - but only in those subjects that fascinated me anyway as special interests; I'd be badgering the teachers for more information after the lesson ended for those subjects. That, in combination with some excellent physics and maths teachers allowed me to do well in those subjects.

During the subjects I wasn't interested in, I doubt any of those teachers even noticed I was there apart from roll-call - I sat near the back, kept my head down and daydreamed.

The outliers that get noticed because their talents, the subject, and the teacher are a perfect combination are only a fraction of the whole - and the experience won't even be consistent for the same person across different subjects and different learning environments.

There are plenty of people on these forums that have lived through being the autistic kid at school, and some who still are. The diversity of their stories speaks for itself.


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dachsowned
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23 Feb 2016, 9:06 pm

I'm a special ed teacher, and I have a few ideas. It may be that the teachers you encounter are working with the students in making the best use of their strengths and providing appropriate accommodations to support their weaknesses. More likely, in my experience, they make allowances for the student's disabilities and set lower standards. Not good!! I try to keep my lessons and subsequent results as natural as possible - if they're not getting work done, their grades will reflect it. As a kid I worked under penalty of my parents - I was totally disorganized (my executive function is rotten to this day!) and I was invisible in class. Somehow I got by, usually with Bs and Cs.

Tell more about being an autism awareness ambassador - I being both ASD and a teacher, that would be a natural role for me!



Astro77
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23 Feb 2016, 9:17 pm

Trogluddite wrote:
I'd be cautious and assume that at least part of this is cognitive bias on the part of the teachers. I was sometimes accused of being a teacher's pet - but only in those subjects that fascinated me anyway as special interests; I'd be badgering the teachers for more information after the lesson ended for those subjects. That, in combination with some excellent physics and maths teachers allowed me to do well in those subjects.

During the subjects I wasn't interested in, I doubt any of those teachers even noticed I was there apart from roll-call - I sat near the back, kept my head down and daydreamed.

The outliers that get noticed because their talents, the subject, and the teacher are a perfect combination are only a fraction of the whole - and the experience won't even be consistent for the same person across different subjects and different learning environments.

There are plenty of people on these forums that have lived through being the autistic kid at school, and some who still are. The diversity of their stories speaks for itself.


That was very much like me. History was easily my favorite subject and I excelled at it. I even bought one of my teachers a copy of Common Sense by Thomas Paine at the end of the year. Same with some computer classes I got to take in high school. I was very much into html and flash at the time, so the teacher thought I was great. Most of the other classes I was just the quiet one in the back.

I could still be one of the "best" students in those classes, it just depends on the criteria. I might not have gotten top marks, but I was nice, helpful and treated everyone with respect. Some classes that's all you really need to be. I know on at least two occasions it allowed me to pass when I probably shouldn't have.



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23 Feb 2016, 11:14 pm

Maybe some of those best aspie students are really just socially awkward nerds who decided they have Aspergers.



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23 Feb 2016, 11:27 pm

I've been both the best student, and the worst. It all depended on the class, and on how many other responsibilities I had. In the classes I really liked, I put forth my best effort. But I could not do that and manage to focus on the other classes at the same time. So whatever other class or two I was taking would suffer as a result.

That was in college, by the way. In middle and high school, I had too many classes, and I never could remember to do my assignments, or to keep track of them, or to even make myself complete them. In late elementary school it was the same. I was a disaster. I had no idea how to study or complete assignments.

My teachers would be frustrated once they realized that I was intelligent, and have these serious talks with me to try to "talk sense into" me. I would learn all the material and ace the tests, but that wasn't enough for a passing grade.



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24 Feb 2016, 2:43 am

I fit the teachers' description, not Attwood's.


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