Your Child's School Experience
One distinct advantage to obtaining a formal Asperger's Syndrome diagnosis for your child is that she will be eligible to receive certain educational services and supports. (As Asperger's is not an “officially” eligible diagnosis, according to federal law, your child's eligibility may be determined with a diagnosis of autism, other health impairment, or speech and language impairment. This is explained in the next section.) One reason why school districts are sometimes unable to provide such services is because the child has not been identified as needing support services. In some instances, even if educators are aware of your child's diagnosis, some may misinterpret your child's individual attributes. Sometimes, children with Asperger's are accused of being “lazy,” inattentive, or simply not applying themselves to the best of their abilities. This may be true in some children (as it may be for any neurotypical child) but such accusations have become so overused that they are Asperger's stereotypes. In other examples, schools may overlook the child who maintains during the day (by being quiet or compliant) but has legitimate educational needs.
Other children, who are fine academic achievers but experience meltdowns during the day, may be “missed” by school districts for needing a select educational program. Instead, such students may be placed in classrooms for children with emotional disturbances.
Such placements may be truly harmful to the child with Asperger's. In one instance, a child was set up to fail and the self-fulfilling prophecy was perpetuated. This particular fifteen-year-old had Asperger's and was extremely sensitive to touch. One day he was very upset about not receiving his report card when he expected it. When his teacher touched his shoulder, he reacted by striking her. The school resisted the Asperger's Syndrome diagnosis in favor of (inappropriately) placing the boy in a classroom for emotionally disturbed students.