Hey School: Asperger's != Mental Challenged

So, I went to a meeting at an Asperger’s Syndrome club on Wednesday. Everything’s fine, although I’d rather not been there as I had a horrible cold (still have a bit of the sniffles). I meet a guy there who went to my school, which was cool, as now I had someone I could really talk to there. I asked him what classes he had, he told me all the regular ones, and then he told me he was in the class for educable mentally challenged people. Also, as a result of him being in that room, the regular classes are made easier for him.

Wait a second here. He has Asperger’s and is in a room for mentally challenged people? What’s wrong with this picture? AS is a very mild version of autism, it causes social impairment; it’s not something that will likely affect his academic abilities. Aspies tend to have normal, or even genius, level intelligence.
I have no doubt that they saw he needed a little extra help for high school, perhaps with a LD or with AS itself, they wanted a one on one person for him, and gave him a one on one in that room in lieu of an actual education. He’s doing long division and he’s in grade 10 for Christ sakes, 3 years down the fucking drain. He told me he asked his mother to be taken out, but it pisses me off that he was placed in there in the first place and that he hadn’t acted sooner.

“Aspies” … that’s catchy!

Aslan, that seems kind of strange to me, too. From what I know of you, “Aspies” aren’t mentally challenged at all. In fact, you can be a little bit mentally challenging for us “normal” people! :stuck_out_tongue:

Did this kid’s mom ask for him to be placed in the special class? Does she know that he isn’t being kept up to grade level academically? Or does he have additional stuff going on that hinders him in school?

Are you saying that his other teachers know he’s in the EMH class and so go easier on him, is that it? That would be a reason right there for him to be in there: it makes it official, so the teachers can concentrate on teaching him what he can learn and stop wasting their–and his–time trying to teach him things he can’t learn.

Also, this may come as a shock to you, :wink: but–school districts frequently do actual screening to determine who ought to be in the EMH class. And, sometimes it’s the parents’ call whether their kid should be in there. You make him sound like a prison inmate, when in fact he may be exactly where he needs to be, as determined by people who know him better than you do.

You’re assuming that just because he has Asperger’s, his school district, and his mom, have automatically classed him as “retarded” and have shunted him into the “REE-tards” class. But you don’t know that.

Generally speaking, school districts don’t waste their increasingly scarce funding paying for one-on-one tutors for kids in the EMH room who don’t need it. If he’s got a one-on-one teacher, it’s because the school district can fully justify paying for it, if they have to --he’ll almost certainly have test scores somewhere that prove he’s entitled to it.

You say you just met him? Why not get some facts about him and his history before you go around fulminating about Evil Insensitive School Districts and Parents? :wink:

Of course, a diagnosis of “Asperger’s” is not the same thing as a diagnosis of “mental retardation”, but by the same token, a diagnosis of “Asperger’s” is not a guarantee that “he’s normal IQ-wise, he just lacks social skills”. It’s entirely possible for an AS person to have below-average intelligence.

A distressingly high percentage of “normal” tenth graders still can’t do long division, either. :smiley:

I don’t know the ins and outs of education in Canada, but it looks like “educable mentally challenged” is a catch-all phrase in North American schools covering a wide range of conditions and situations surrounding learning disability. It doesn’t necessarily equate to simply “mentally challenged” or low-level intelligence.

I don’t know about the first two. For no. 3, the club’s leader told me he does not have any problems that would make him have need for a special ed progams. I certainly hope his mother did not place him in there just because of Asperger’s, as it has nothing to do with being mentally challenged.

If he has a LD, one such as Dyslexia or Dyscalcula, such a thing is fairly easy to control(we have programs for LD students, plus afterschool help). A LD would not be good enough reason to send someone to where he is. Nor would a combination would be, as I have both.

To clarify, he might need some special education(for a ld), but he did not have need to be in that room.

He told me that the work is easier/less as a result of being in the room. He tells me that the work given to him is much too easy for him, that when he asks for harder work beyond long division, he doesn’t get any. This is most likely someone being stuck in a mentally challenged people classroom as a misunderstanding of what his problems really are.

He’s in that classroom, as a result the work that is expected of him is less. Just because he’s in there, and the work that is expected of him is lowered for regular teachers, doesn’t mean “it’s official”, it just means he’s been placed in that room, and as a result the way he is teached is different.

As he has said, the work is much too easy for him, and the person who works at the club I went to told me that he has no problems that would deserve him being placed in there.

See above, what the club leader said.

I’m going to inquire further next time I see him, but it seems from the details I have so far, he doesn’t need to be in the room.

I concede that I probably shouldn’t have put “AS people tend to be of normal, or genius level intelligence”, as all types happen.

He called the classroom by its official name, which I can’t recall. That’s the label applied to the students in that classroom, but if they were classifying as all in general, they wouldn’t use “educable mentally challenged”, but rather “Special Needs Students”.

What dd you think the “Gifted and Talented” classes were about?

C’mon, did any smart kids ever actually benefit from them? I don’t think so – they were just a means of maintaining control over the potentially disruptive ones and making it easy for the general population to identify appropriate bullying targets.

I’m sure this class is no different.

By “official”, I meant that having him be “officially” assigned to the EMH class takes a lot of the pressure off his teachers. This is part of the reasoning behind the whole idea of putting a kid in the EMH classes–it keeps the other teachers from coming down hard on a kid they may perceive as “uncooperative”, rather than “learning disabled”. Rather than tear their hair out over a seemingly unteachable kid (“What is the MATTER with him?”) who otherwise doesn’t seem classically “retarded”, they can now deal with him on an individual basis, tailoring their input to match his abilities.

Well, school systems have this funny habit of not allowing you to move on to algebra until you’ve mastered long division.

They also have the habit of not being particularly interested in “what the student may want to study”. His input is not being solicited by the school district. Even if he were a certified genius asking to be placed in a “gifted” class, his request would be ignored unless (a) his test scores showed he merited it, and (b) his parents requested/okayed it.

And teachers who have already discovered that he can’t do long division are going to be understandably disinterested in spending their time teaching him algebra on some kind of individual basis. Teachers stick to the lesson plan–that’s what they get paid to do. And the lesson plan doesn’t allow you to skip long division and go on to algebra.

(Can you do algebra? If so, why not try teaching it to him yourself, see what happens? Actually, you could find out for yourself how “teachable” he is–try to teach him something. A foreign language, better cursive handwriting, gin rummy or poker…)

And I think you’re placing too much of the onus on the school district here. Where are his parents in all this? Very few school districts will stick a child in either a “gifted” class or an EMH class without at least discussing it with the the parents.

Well, see, based on the limited information I have, and based on my experience of how school systems work, my interpretation of this would be that he simply wants to skip long division and go on to algebra. Kids of all ages and intelligence levels do this in all sorts of arenas–I used to go into my kids’ classes as a volunteer reading tutor, and there would always be a kid who couldn’t read that word, and so he would just want to skip it and keep going.

Also wanna point out that your club leader may not be any better informed about him than you are–he, too, may be operating on assumptions about Evil Insensitive School Districts.

Of course, it IS perfectly possible that it is as you say, and someone who is not retarded has been shunted into the EMH class by non-thinking educators.

But I don’t think it’s very likely.

Why don’t you get the Straight Dope and go talk to his mom? Tell her the truth–“I have Aspergers, too, and I’m not in the EMH class, and I wondered why he was in the EMH class, because he doesn’t seem retarded.”

Aspergers’s is not in itself reason to be in such a classroom but individuals with Asperger’s often have other learning disabilities. In my own case I have a short term memory deficit. This went undignosed until my 11th year in school when I finally got some help with it.

So your friend may be getting help, not for the Asperger’s, but for an associated learning disability.

I knew somebody who either had Asperger’s or very high functioning autism – he was very very bright, but socially inept. We got to be pretty good friends, and once I learned about his autism issues, it explained all his odd behavior to the point where I wanted to smack people who called him weird. Okay, yes, he was weird, but he had reasons to be weird. He didn’t broadcast the fact that he had reasons, though.

You know, maybe this person wants to go beyond long division because he already knows math past that point, DDG. Schools have placed people inappropriately before, and there’s no reason to completely excuse them.

Or he could have other issues that would justify him getting some extra help. But most learning disabilities don’t justify full-time special ed, do they? I can see where a combination of some not too serious (when handled properly) learning disability, plus the sometimes…well, weird behavior of people with Asperger’s, might make some harried admin people or teachers think he’s retarded.

Actually, the gifted and talented education program in my school district was great. It gave me a chance to learn a lot of things, and do some advanced math that I would not have had a chance to do in the regular classroom. Without gate I probably would have gone insane with boredom. As it was, I lived for fridays when we went to the GATE school.
As far as auspergers go, that sucks. I hope that he gets put in a classroom where he can be challenged.

I knew someone with Asperger’s as well. I didn’t think her weird before I knew her, and only caught a lot of the weirder stuff after I got to know her but she was fun to be around. Last I heard she is taking 2nd year engineering atm.

The others suggestions that it may be something else as well that has caused them to put him in that class are valid. He may be quite brilliant but have problems with certain things. My friend did, in fact she took all the higher math courses and had trouble with basic English courses. It’s just how people learn.

My friend is a great guy, at this point (he’s twenty now, I think, haven’t talked to him in a while unfortunately) his main problems are that he can’t read people. At all. He gives off a lot of mixed signals; for several months I thought he was interested in me romantically, but it turned out that he wasn’t. Oh well. sigh

I hope things get straightened out for your friend, Aslan.

My son has Asperger’s, and the quality of his schooling has ranged from putting him in a classroom with all the other non-standard children and passing him up to the next level if he can do the work that was obviously designed for those of the lowest intelligence in the classroom, to classes designed specifically for his problem, to all possiilities inbetween. Between that and the fact that the program he is involved in currently has been shifted to a different school each year(yeah, thats just what you want to do with a kid who has social difficulties!), his life just isn’t easy. But I support him and tell him that he can make it, and for some strange reason he believes me.
Maybe it’s because his father grew up with Asperger’s, and with no help whatsoever, became a moderator on the greatest message board on the internet. But I’ll be damned if he has to go through the living hell I went through to get to where I am today.

I’ve had a few friends with Aperger’s. I’ll tell you this much:

They all struggled at some aspect or in subject in school. They were extremely intelligent. Geniuses, the lot of them. One fellow could do math that bewildered our math teacher, yet barely scraped along in every other subject. Another was pretty good at everything, yet he actively refused to do some work he saw as too easy, and refused to work in groups, period.

So… don’t take too much offense when someone with Asperger’s gets put in a class where they can get special help. Also, “Aspies” are definately not all the same, as far as I’ve seen, and their slipping points are slightly different.

Well, TVAA, I don’t know about your schooling, but this Aspie loved every single Gifted class he was placed in. Before HS (which was a math / science magnet), the Gifted classes were the only place I felt even remotely comfortable.

As to Aslan, hi! Long time, no see. As to your acquaintance, he may have an LD in something specific that put him into the special track. If he doesn’t, and if the school has pigeon-holed him because they don’t know how to handle him, then they are failing him right now. Asperger’s, as you know, presents in some widely-varying ways. Not every school is set up to cover all these bases.

Find out whether he has a legitimate LD or if he’s just being shoved out of the way, and I’ll decide whether to be pissed off along with you. IMO, he’s probably being shoved out of the way – long division in the 10th grade!? That’s so far behind a regular student, especially if he can complete it and ask for harder work.

P.S., Gadfly:

Do we attend school together, or have you been spying on me? :wink: That is me in my school life, and my grades have suffered because of it. Causes my mother no end of irritation.

P.P.S., sorry for the rambling. 30-odd hours awake so far – probably shouldn’t be posting right now.

I’m not taking offense at him getting special help, I’m taking offense at the likelyhood he got shuffled off into a mentally challenged classroom because nobody really understood what his problems were. I’ll be inquiring further, but I really doubt he has any problems that would make him unable to do grade appropriate work.

Czarcasm, that sucks. Wish I could offer some advice, I can only hope for the best for you guys.

It’s not as bad as it could be. Whatever the school neglects to teach him we make up for by using computer learning programs such as the Math Advantage series and the like. We try to improve his social skills by taking him with us whenever we go out, so that patterns of behavior can at least be learned by rote. He’s just a damn smart kid with a few crossed wires, and we love him as he is.
Even when he has hacked every single game we have ever given him. :smiley: