Creating a Community of Acceptance

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Session Description
Asperger Syndrome is one of the most common developmental disabilities and is characterized in three developmental areas; communication, socialization and emotional/behavior difficulties (Dillon, 2007). Students with learning disabilities caused from Asperger Syndrome face many challenges in reaching educational and career goals. These challenges can derive from difficulties pertaining to social interaction in the classroom and collaboration when working in a group environment. Despite demonstrated capabilities and gifts, idiosyncratic communication, socialization, and behavior can lead to significant problems and failure for students (Dillon, 2007). Technology is available to aid instructors in creating a learning environment that provides opportunities for students with Asperger Syndrome. Instructors can incorporate this technology so that students with Asperger’s disorder can utilize their skills and interact in the classroom with peers as they work to reach their potential. By creating a community of acceptance for students with Asperger Syndrome, classmates can also demonstrate their ability to work with someone that has a learning disability. The presentation will provide a strategy as to what technology can be used and what indicators may signal the need for additional instructor intervention. The technology that will be addressed during the presentation can provide a positive learning environment for all students and enable the instructor to encourage communication and collaboration similar to what can be expected in their career field.
Dillon, M. (2007). Creating supports for college students with Asperger Syndrome through collaboration. College Student Journal, 41 (2), 499-504

The presentation will include PowerPoint slides that identify a strategic approach for faculty when considering technology in the classroom in order to create a collaborative learning environment that involves all students. Participation by the audience will be promoted though activities that include polling the audience and discussions in the text messaging area. The audience will have the opportunity to submit questions during and after the presentation in addition to offering insight as to their own practices.

Henry Roehrich, Park University, Parkville, Missouri
Henry RoehrichDr. Henry Roehrich is an Assistant Professor of Marketing and Management at Park University. He also serves as an Online Instructor Evaluator for Park Distance Learning. Dr. Roehrich has developed and instructed courses in management, marketing, retailing, international business, entrepreneurship and economics. The courses that he has developed and delivered as an instructor include online delivery, classroom delivery and blended courses. He has twenty years of management experience and seven years of administrative experience in higher education. He received his Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota and an MSA from Central Michigan University.
Julie Grabanski, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA
Julie GrabanskiJulie Grabanski is an Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy at the University of North Dakota. Ms. Grabanski has over 20 years of experience working in acute care, rehabilitation hospitals, long term care, and outpatient pediatrics as an occupational therapist. She is working on her Ph.D. in occupational and adult education from North Dakota State University and has a Master of Science and Administration from Central Michigan University.
Donald Fischer, Northland Community and Technical College, East Grand Forks, Minnesota, USA
Donald FischerDonald Fischer is an Instructor in the Computer Networking and Unmanned Aerial Systems Maintenance Technician programs at Northland Community and Technical College, East Grand Forks and Thief River Falls, Minnesota. He received his AAS from NCTC in Computer Service Networking and his BS from Bemidji State University in Career and Technical Education. He has a 22 year old son with Asperger’s. He has been researching, advising and lecturing locally on Asperger’s since his son’s initial diagnosis 16 years ago. He currently resides in Grand Forks, North Dakota with his wife Debra and his exceptional creative son Justin.

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3 Responses to Creating a Community of Acceptance

  1. April 22, 2014 at 3:59 am #

    A very interesting topic! I look forward to the presentation.


  2. April 23, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    Some food for thought:
    Is it possible to create a community of acceptance while calling Asperger’s a disorder? A disorder implies a cure.

    It’s sticky when seen from the perspective of people with Asperger’s syndrome, who sometimes label themselves as different rather than disabled.

    If we truly are creating a community of acceptance, should we press people with Asperger’s to accept our social norms? A community of acceptance implies pluralism, which suggests that we accept the social norms common to Asperger’s. The problem then is that the behaviors associated with those norms may offend us or make us uncomfortable.

    Is it possible? I don’t know. Still thinking about it.

    • Don Fischer April 24, 2014 at 9:33 am #

      We greatly appreciate you taking the time to comment on our presentation. Contributions such as yours give us greater insight into the perception people have of our Asperger children and students.

      Your comment also justified our reason for doing this presentation and legitimizes our continuing effort to educate everyone on Aspies (as they call themselves).
      Please understand that Hank, Julie and I didn’t simply research the support for this effort. We all have children with Asperger’s (all now in their 20’s). My son, Justin, is 22 and was first diagnosed at the age of six. At that time little was truly known about Asperger’s, we simply knew Justin was somehow different. I personally researched and identified my son’s syndrome which was confirmed by psychiatric professionals. Note: nowhere in the presentation did we refer to Asperger’s as a “disorder”. It is identified as a “syndrome”. You will also note we stated others identified Aspies as being disabled. They view themselves as we view them; individuals with special capabilities that make them different.

      A big reason I have attempted to champion this cause came about as a result of a comment made by my son when he was in the fourth grade. We asked him if he understood why he had so many para’s during the day. His response: “to dumb me down so they can understand me.”

      If you review the presentation again, I ask a not so simple question, disabilities or capabilities. My son, pre-diagnosis, was considered gifted. He has an IQ of 157 and “Capabilities” that in many cases make him exceptional.

      Your comment: “If we truly are creating a community of acceptance, should we press people with Asperger’s to accept our social norms?” Aspies acceptance of what you understand to be the social norm is not legislatively regulated. Yours however, whether you agree or not, is. What if Asperger’s syndrome was the norm, then what? Aspies work with, communicated and relate to each other exceptionally well. Any knowledge of Aspies at all will tell you the world would be a better place if we all acted more like them. Their growing numbers may make it so someday.
      The term “social norm” is viewed by different people in different ways. Many behaviors in our world are not acceptable by everyone. Most of these behaviors make some uncomfortable and offend some even more. Increasing your knowledge of the behavior hopefully will make it less uncomfortable and less offensive. This awareness, we think, will lead to a community of acceptance for people, your students, with Asperger’s.

      The tone of your comments have me thinking that you may be one of those instructors whose Asperger students will benefit greatly from your increased understanding and acceptance of them.

      Don Fischer
      Parent of AS student.

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