Facilitating Language Using Asperger Syndrome Special Interests

computer-books-web“I love video games and science, ” states the 11 year old with Asperger syndrome. A  characteristic of Asperger syndrome special interests can be used to facilitate language and provide career options.   Using special interests in speech-language therapy is a way to motivate clients to practice skills until mastered.This benefit is not limited only to children on the autism spectrum, but it is true for many children with learning disabilities. After reading the study below, summarized by my hard working intern Alicia Guerreiro, it appears that for children on the autism spectrum special interest can motivate them to persevere and learn skills and content in areas known to be areas of deficit.

A study by Winter-Messiers et al., aimed to demonstrate the strengths that special interest areas (SIAs) bring out in children and youth with Asperger syndrome (AS). Typically AS is seen through a deficit based lens, highlighting the issues those with AS face. Instead, the goal of this study was to use a strength-based model to look at AS and incorporate these strength areas into school, home, work, and social life. The study revealed connections between one’s SIA and individual strengths in areas that are typically characterized by their deficits (communication, social, emotional, sensory, fine-motor, executive function, and academic skills).
It was found that SIAs in individuals are not just hobbies, but part of their identity, which was a strong factor for the noticeable changes in attitude, behavior and skills. There were changes in social interactions when SIAs were brought into the conversation. What were typically seen as deficits suddenly became strengths. For instance, social interaction skills including verbal and body language improved. Body language improvements included a more direct eye gaze, appropriate gesture use, and a decrease in fidgety movements. Participants also spoke more fluently, with more sophisticated vocabulary.

A characteristic of AS is gross-motor clumsiness and difficulty with tasks that involve fine-motor skills. Many participants’ SIAs required fine-motor skills and it was noted that their passion for the subject encouraged them to persevere through their difficulties and master that skill that was needed for their SIA. Some SIAs included: building orchestras out of legos, building model airplanes, video and computer games and sculpting clay dinosaurs.
Those with AS typically have trouble organizing and planning as a result of executive function and academic deficits. Through engaging in their SIA, participants presented more organized thoughts and speech patterns, discussed social strategies that required planning ahead, and put extensive thought into their plans for the future (college or career).

Winter-Messiers, M., Herr, C., Wood, C., Brooks, A., Gates, M., Houston, T., & Tingstad, K.
(2007). How Far Can Brian Ride the Daylight 4449 Express?: A Strength-Based Model
of Asperger Syndrome Based on Special Interest Areas. Focus on Autism and Other
Developmental Disabilities, 22(2), 67-79.

Similar posts
  • Speech-language therapy vs Tutoring (Updated)Speech-language therapy vs tutoring: What’s the difference? With so many support services available, understanding the difference between speech-language therapy vs tutoring is important, in order to choose the right services for yourself or your child. Speech-language therapy vs tutoring Tutors re-teach information taught in the classroom.  Students acquire information at different rates, not all master what [...]
  • Not eligible for speech-language servicesNot eligible for speech-language services “Not eligible for speech and language services!”  What’s going on? Your child has been receiving speech and language services for several years or needs services.  After a recent team meeting, you were informed that your child is not eligible for speech-language services. How can this be? Is this the right time [...]
  • “Airplane” not “Mama:” Language Development in Children with Asperger Syn...Language development in children with Asperger Syndrome is often typical for verbal language but delayed in language use. “Compared with those affected by other forms of autism spectrum disorders those with Asperger syndrome (AS) do not have significant delays or difficulties in language or cognitive development,” states the “Autism Speak’s” website.  Slow developing non-verbal language skills in children [...]
  • Learning Styles: Are they a Myth?We may be required to unlearn what we once thought was true about learning styles. Teachers must ditch ‘neuromyth’ of learning styles, say scientists Sunday 12 March 2017 20.01 EDTLast modified on Sunday 7 May 2017 12.28 EDT Teaching children according to their individual “learning style” does not achieve better results and should be ditched by schools in favour of [...]
  • STOP the conversation! No one is listeningWhere are the conversations? In politics, conversations, where people have differing views, are impossible. People scream at each other. No one is listening to the other side. Democrats are outraged at Republicans.  Republicans push agendas in spite of the public outcries. No one is listening! How do we have conversations that move us toward healing and [...]

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply


Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.