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StarTrekker
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24 Feb 2016, 3:18 am

League_Girl wrote:
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.


For me, the problem wasn't with the abstractness of the learning material, I was quite good at that, especially in English. My problem was with organisation, so I had a much harder time in elementary school, where all the subjects were in one class, so you'd be doing English, then turn around five minutes later and be working on science. I could never keep up with this and got terribly confused. My ability to organise verbal information was also far weaker when I was younger, so I'd miss a lot of homework assignments or misunderstand directions, then be too anxious and shy to ask for clarification. I really hated elementary school.

As for the contradictory sources of information of which the OP speaks, as a self-ascribed autism awareness ambassador myself, if I run across such problems, I ask the question more than once, collect all the answers, then report the answer I get more frequently as "the truth". I always make sure to add the minority opinion to my discussion as well, should I feel it to be accurate and relevant. If I was really confused as to how to present a highly conflicted topic, I'd just describe how it impacts me personally as a person on the spectrum.


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rugulach
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24 Feb 2016, 5:02 am

Attwood's description fits me as well. Though I believe there is more going on than what Attwood describes. More research needs to be done as to why aspies' grades deteriorate towards the end of high school.



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24 Feb 2016, 6:03 am

Both pieces of info are fairly out-of-context, but some thoughts...

This sentence in the Atwood quote--" 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."--suggests the rest of the paragraph is about kids who are having the aforementioned problems before being diagnosed. So that means they didn't have any disability supports in place at the time. The fact that they were diagnosed during adolescence suggests they are probably somewhat higher functioning at least in the schoolwork department than kids who are typically diagnosed younger, but at the same time, they're impaired enough to get sent to the school psychologist and not so autism-atypical as to be undiagnosable now that someone is paying attention. That's a fairly narrow "slice" of autistic people. If the teachers are calling the kids Aspies, they already know about the diagnosis, so it sounds like they are talking about kids outside of the narrow section Atwood is referring to in that particular paragraph.

Kids who were diagnosed previously are likely to have supports, treatment, coaching, training, IEPs, whatever, in the past, which the current teacher may or may not have to participate in directly. Some of them might even have a significant decrease in impairment between the time they're diagnosed and the time the commenting teacher gets them. In fact, I've seen aspies who claim to be (and seem to be) not impaired by autism traits at all; they were presumably impaired at a younger age in order to get the diagnosis. The teachers could be getting students who have reached this stage.

There's a cluster of personality traits that are often associated with autism and especially Asperger's (nerdy, shy, socially anxious, untalkative, would get I_T_ on a Myers-Briggs test, possibly unliked by some peers, etc). In fact, even in the autistic community, when people use the term "Aspie" it tends to feel more like they're talking about those traits than they are about the AS-related impairments. It might be that the teachers are thinking kids have Asperger's when they don't, because they are confused about what it is? (Although the "diagnosed and then became less impaired" crowd is probably more common.)

The teachers are likely judging "best student" on qualities other than grades too.

Plus, different teachers/classes do different kinds of assignments, so a person's academic weaknesses might not be apparent in any given class. For example, the more homework a class entailed, the worse my grade usually was, but most of my classes didn't have homework. (Also, I don't think I've ever had to do an essay in a history class, and I'm positive we never did essays or group work in math class.) Possibly relevant, Atwood's book was published I think in 2007, and it probably took a while to be written, and the research is accumulated from years before that, and school culture has been steadily changing all this time. I graduated high school in 2005 and I've heard of some things being different since.


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24 Feb 2016, 8:43 am

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!


You don't have to be apologise for not being clear. Most of my misunderstandings arise from my own personal Aspie fallback traits of having everything required to be spelled out clearly and as literally as possible or else my brain just can't process the information given to me. It was especially problematic for me in high school where ambiguously worded questions were the bane of me because there were several possibilities of what the implications were and no definite criteria to decide which one was the most appropriate.

This was before my ASD diagnosis and it baffled my teachers because they all thought of me as highly intelligent, especially in mathematics and the natural sciences but I always failed to perform when it came to submitting assignments in time and getting good grades on exam due to time management, incoherent answers, poor organisation, etc. I guess pretty much the contradiction that Aspie students face without the label. In fact, in high school my mathematics teacher recommended me for a student excellency award but my less than stellar performance compared to other students took me out of the running and she herself said that she was very disappointed and (honestly baffled) because my math skills in class and the assignments I gave in (when I was in the proper frame of mind and I eventually submitted them after several delays) showed high potential. It was an inconsistency which several teachers couldn't wrap their heads around and I think serves your point about contradictions pretty strongly.

In the world of NTs, if you show the natural inclination and traits to succeed in your respective area- then there should be no reason (admissible to them) why you shouldn't display those in your performance and work ethic in accordance with their 'standardised academic portfolio [SAP]' built for NTs. The contradiction about Aspie students generally being served as the teachers' best students even though they fail to cohere with the SAP is, according to my hypothesis, possibly explained as them looking at Aspie students as exceptions to the rule rather than than imbibe them in the rule themselves.

So if I were to explain it in terms of their thought profiles, they view Aspies in a separate academic portfolio consisting of only them and they make an attribution of them as being their 'best students' by relating to this alternate model in their head rather than the standardised one as since they are very few representative of this model- being the 'best' is not a difficult position to gain.

When it comes down to the count, citing fundamental truths, all human beings desire to protect their internal worldviews or mental representations of reality that they built since childhood and sustained over several years since then. It's why almost all are wary of change and decide to incorporate more and more exceptions to previously determined rules rather than changing the rules themselves. Aspies are the best students because how they define the best students in relation to them incorporates a different definition of being the best, perhaps also with a twinge of pity thrown into it. It's a trait I notice a lot with NTs that whenever I mention being an Aspie to a person, they start to become suddenly more polite and understanding- the facetiousness is off the charts really- and the sympathy will start to tick me off.



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24 Feb 2016, 11:09 am

StarTrekker wrote:
League_Girl wrote:
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.


For me, the problem wasn't with the abstractness of the learning material, I was quite good at that, especially in English. My problem was with organisation, so I had a much harder time in elementary school, where all the subjects were in one class, so you'd be doing English, then turn around five minutes later and be working on science. I could never keep up with this and got terribly confused. My ability to organise verbal information was also far weaker when I was younger, so I'd miss a lot of homework assignments or misunderstand directions, then be too anxious and shy to ask for clarification. I really hated elementary school.


What about middle school and high school?


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24 Feb 2016, 11:28 am

Attwood's description describes my experience at school exactly.


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24 Feb 2016, 1:35 pm

wilburforce wrote:
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.


For the record, yes I know the evidence is anecdotal, but no it was not a single teacher's experience and what I wrote exactly was this: "I immediately begin talking with teachers about Asperger's syndrome, and they all and always report the same thing: 'Aspies are my best students'." It was not one teacher but many and I ask every teacher I meet about this (and will continue to do so) and they always give the same answer. And I am not submitting these teachers' experiences as evidence of anything. I simply want to know why there is a discrepancy. I do not like discrepancies.

My scholastic record resembles your own. I would procrastinate about tests until the last minute, then I would cram like crazy and somehow get a good or at least a decent mark. After elementary school the honeymoon ended and I found myself in high-school hell. "Sometimes children with Asperger's syndrome perceive themselves as more adult than child. Indeed, such children may act in the classroom as an assistant to the teacher, correcting and disciplining the other children" (Tony Attwood, "The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome [London; Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007, page20). Yes, that was me. A teacher's pet. Wrong thing to do because your peers will hate you for it, and all the other students already hated my guts "because I walked and talked funny". I managed to still get pretty good grades on a couple of subjects during high school, again cramming at the last minute, but most of my other grades suffered due to all the bullying I had to endure. My grades fell more profoundly than yours; except for a subject or two where I could still get As or Bs, I was mostly a C student.


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24 Feb 2016, 1:47 pm

I think the best student is a relative term. I could be considered a best student by some teachers because I was serious about my school work and eager to learn and I don't goof off in class and I follow the rules and I turn my school work in ASAP when I am done with it so I don't forget or lose it. But yet I had outbursts, asked questions, blurted out answers or answering theoretical questions, correcting my history teacher, getting very upset. And sometimes a student's problems are caused by the other kids. Like if other kids are just goofing off and not following the rules, that can make it harder for the aspie kid to function and learn and actually follow the rules themselves which was why I had problems in elementary school with rule following because I had a hard time with injustice and my school tried to say I had a behavior problem and wanted me in a behavior program and the lack of control over the classroom by the teacher can also do it too. All it takes is a good teacher and having good structure in the classroom and enforce all the rules and everyone has a consequence to their behavior and rule they break to make the apsie kid function better which was true in my case.


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24 Feb 2016, 1:47 pm

dachsowned wrote:
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!


Being an autism awareness ambassador is a work-in-progress that I have just now embarked on beginning with an intensive reading of material on autism. And of course I am talking to people, too, and the discrepancies I'm encountering are unexpected and new to me, so my mind searches for an explanation. And please take note that when I write a post I am NOT trying to prove any point, I am trying to LEARN. Big difference. I will have to make myself to some degree expert on the subject of autism if I want to fill the role of ambassador. Another thing I am considering doing is activism. There is a parent of an autistic child here in Toronto who has been trying unsuccessfully for years to organise Toronto's first Autism Pride Day. That is another project I am mulling over. And of course I am always open to suggestions. Live long and prosper!


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24 Feb 2016, 1:50 pm

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


Technically, the teacher's I talk to work with the parents and the counsellors and I know people on The Toronto School Board so these students are definitely diagnosed.


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24 Feb 2016, 2:10 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.


I’m Asperger and Tony Attwood’s assumptions about Aspergers appear to me dubious/stereotypic / or the quote is not complete.

There is this funny belief that all Aspergers could memorize, but would have no logic, and then could not organize a coherent essay. This is not true, not true for me, and not true for many other Aspergers.

You can also understand a lot of things without reading “between lines”, with good analytical skills and attention to details, like all Aspergers have. Also, I think that reading between the lines is more an imagination skill than science or knowledge or reasoning about facts.

Organization skills seem to me indeed difficult as a child, however, some easy organizational techniques can easily overcome this weakness over time.

Aspies, having good marks at school, they are well accepted, even welcomed in groups, especially at high school and even more at university, all the more when things are getting more difficult.



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24 Feb 2016, 3:48 pm

Cyllya1 wrote:
Both pieces of info are fairly out-of-context, but some thoughts...

This sentence in the Atwood quote--" 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."--suggests the rest of the paragraph is about kids who are having the aforementioned problems before being diagnosed. So that means they didn't have any disability supports in place at the time. The fact that they were diagnosed during adolescence suggests they are probably somewhat higher functioning at least in the schoolwork department than kids who are typically diagnosed younger, but at the same time, they're impaired enough to get sent to the school psychologist and not so autism-atypical as to be undiagnosable now that someone is paying attention. That's a fairly narrow "slice" of autistic people. If the teachers are calling the kids Aspies, they already know about the diagnosis, so it sounds like they are talking about kids outside of the narrow section Atwood is referring to in that particular paragraph.

Kids who were diagnosed previously are likely to have supports, treatment, coaching, training, IEPs, whatever, in the past, which the current teacher may or may not have to participate in directly. Some of them might even have a significant decrease in impairment between the time they're diagnosed and the time the commenting teacher gets them. In fact, I've seen aspies who claim to be (and seem to be) not impaired by autism traits at all; they were presumably impaired at a younger age in order to get the diagnosis. The teachers could be getting students who have reached this stage.

There's a cluster of personality traits that are often associated with autism and especially Asperger's (nerdy, shy, socially anxious, untalkative, would get I_T_ on a Myers-Briggs test, possibly unliked by some peers, etc). In fact, even in the autistic community, when people use the term "Aspie" it tends to feel more like they're talking about those traits than they are about the AS-related impairments. It might be that the teachers are thinking kids have Asperger's when they don't, because they are confused about what it is? (Although the "diagnosed and then became less impaired" crowd is probably more common.)

The teachers are likely judging "best student" on qualities other than grades too.

Plus, different teachers/classes do different kinds of assignments, so a person's academic weaknesses might not be apparent in any given class. For example, the more homework a class entailed, the worse my grade usually was, but most of my classes didn't have homework. (Also, I don't think I've ever had to do an essay in a history class, and I'm positive we never did essays or group work in math class.) Possibly relevant, Atwood's book was published I think in 2007, and it probably took a while to be written, and the research is accumulated from years before that, and school culture has been steadily changing all this time. I graduated high school in 2005 and I've heard of some things being different since.


This is a good point--I wasn't diagnosed in high school, so I had no supports available. I wasn't diagnosed until I was almost 30. Maybe it's different when the students are recognised early on as aspies like the teachers' "best students" the OP spoke of.


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24 Feb 2016, 5:18 pm

i had some trouble organizing school things for 1 year around age 12, but learned these things by the next school year and didnt have problems after, always turned in all work on time and did well


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24 Feb 2016, 11:13 pm

I did pretty well in school, particularly in those subjects that interested me (math, computers, science, social science). I don't remember having had issues completing assignments on time. I do remember transitions (from grade to grade, from school to school) being difficult.



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25 Feb 2016, 1:55 am

obsessingoverobsessions wrote:
Attwood's description describes my experience at school exactly.


Mine too. It's too bad that it took so many years before parents, teachers and school administrators gained an awareness of ASDs.

Back in 1983, two of my 8th-grade teachers got together to conduct an intervention with me, asking, "What's wrong? You used to ace everything, but now you're falling behind and you never complete your homework." I couldn't explain why I was having problems, or what I could do to fix them. My parents had no clue, either. Looking back on that time in my life, it seemed that everyone agreed that something was going wrong with my learning comprehension, but no one around me was aware of ASDs.


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