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Researching Asperger's Syndrome

Laura Richardson chose to conduct research in the area of Asperger's Syndrome as part of her probation year.

Primary Teacher, Castle Douglas Primary School, Dumfries & Galloway

As part of Dumfries and Galloway's probation scheme, we were asked to carry out a mini research topic. This was an optional activity but it was one that I thought would benefit me both professionally and personally. And it certainly did!

I chose to research the area of Asperger's Syndrome as I had a child in my class who suffered from this condition and although I had tried my best to help meet this child's needs I realised that to help him succeed more successfully I would have to research his condition further.

I therefore decided the aim of my research topic would be "What strategies are available to classroom teachers to help children with Asperger's Syndrome succeed in a mainstream classroom".

Observation

After I had devised my aim I carried out an observation profile on the child and I asked his mum and my classroom assistant to do the same so he was being observed in different situations and to try and avoid bias.

This worked well and it allowed me to identify the child's area of difficulties, which not surprisingly, were within his ability to use appropriate social skills.

I carried out a series of lessons which all focused on different social skills such as making eye contact when speaking, listening skills and identifying his own and other peoples feelings and how to deal with these.

Findings

One of my main findings from the research was that it was very easy to include this series of lessons with in my class PSD plan as all the skills being looked at are important for all children to learn therefore my research took place during my own classroom teaching!

Due to the length of time the research was carried out in and other limitations such as the child starting new medication I can't make any conclusions.

However, one of the main benefits of carrying out this research is that it has provided me with a series of techniques that can be used daily, if necessary, to help children with Asperger's Syndrome develop their social skills.

I thoroughly enjoyed this activity and it has allowed me to see the benefits of carrying out classroom based research as I feel it has helped me develop further as a teacher. In fact, at a recent job interview I discussed my research topic. It must have impressed the interviewees, as I got the job!