Many high school students feel that traditional social skills groups are patronizing. High schools are filled with natural opportunities to connect with peers and adults.
- Direct instruction in social skills can come from specific classes like public speaking or drama.
- Schools with debate teams, moot court, or model U.N. offer opportunities to use social communication skills in a variety of settings and activities.
- School clubs or activities related to the student’s special interest also provide teens with Asperger profiles a chance to find other teens with similar interests.
- Make the student more part of the life of the school community by giving him/her a formal role (scorekeeper, theater-light-board operator, library or office assistant, computer technician/instructor).
- At each team meeting, brainstorm how else to make social opportunities or connections available to the student.
To provide students with the support they need in order to plan, organize, and understand the complex nature of abstract and long-term assignments, consider the following options:
- Direct instruction and support in a learning center or academic support block
- Assistive technology to help with organization, study skills and reminders
- Regular teacher check-ins and web-based assignment-tracking systems (e.g. https://www.schoology.com/).
Mental Health and Emotional Regulation
Consider the following to help high school students feel like they have a safe space to bring their worries and develop the calming and coping skills they need to build their resilience:
- Regularly scheduled meetings with mental health professional in building
- Small group of students who can support each other
- Teach and practice self-calming and coping strategies like deep breathing, meditation, walking, yoga, handcrafts, or music.
Many high school electives can teach skills for living independently. Look through the course catalog together and consider which skills can be taught at school and which will happen at home or out in the community. Some electives that might work include: cooking, business, budgeting and personal finance. Some students sign up for physical activities out in the community so that they develop healthy outlets for dealing with stress. It’s helpful to try shorter and longer overnight trips with support/mentoring so that teens learn how to live away from home if they plan on doing so after high school. Some families consider residential programs during the school year or summer.
In order for teens with Asperger profiles to learn about the world of work and gain valuable work experience while in high school, consider the following:
- Job-shadowing to consider possible careers
- Informational interviews
- Mock interviews
- Volunteer roles in school, then later in community
- Internships and paid jobs with a job coach
- Match the work experience to the student’s talents and interests
- Transitioning from High School to Employment or College
Play, Joy, Confidence, Self-Esteem, and Special Interests
Life can be hard, confusing, and frustrating for teens with Asperger profiles. Help your teen try a variety of activities in order to find something outside of academics the teen can enjoy, or where he or she can shine. Many teens feel more relaxed when they have time for what they love most, whether that includes animals, writing, drawing, playing music, photography, reading, or running. These interests or activities could also become lifelong healthful hobbies or recreation.