Excerpt from Chapter Two:
How to Work with Students with Asperger’s:
Understanding the Syndrome and the Strategies that Work
“Inside the Spin” and “Inside the Fire”
If you can picture yourself as the road runner and the swirl that surrounds his feet, surrounding your feet and then widen the swirl so that it completely surrounds you, you have an idea of how I describe what it is like for many students who live inside the world of Asperger’s. In my experience, many students with Asperger’s live in what I see as two different realities. I call these realities living “Inside the Spin” and living “Inside the Fire.” Living “Inside the Spin” is the daily existence for the student with Asperger’s. The shift to living “Inside the Fire” occurs when the student with Asperger’s is in crisis.
Imagine you are “Inside the Spin.” You are able to walk successfully in all directions but you are immersed in this constant swirling, hitting you from all angles. When I speak to you, you hear me but you hear me through the spin. When you reach out to communicate with me, you have to force your thoughts through the spin.
For many students with Asperger’s, daily communication is a challenge. In order to focus, the student with Asperger’s needs to drive himself through the spin to connect to something on the other side. Those things which seem to make their way through the spin and reach the student with Asperger’s, become familiar to the student and so those are the things he clings to. Many educators observe the child with Asperger’s as having “quirks” or “unique interests” which they talk about incessantly. Even when new information is introduced, the student with Asperger’s may make a connection between the new material presented and his “unique interest” because it is this interest that helps to focus the spin.
Professional Wrestling and Polynomials,
One Boy with Asperger’s
One of my students with Asperger’s could tell me anything I ever wanted to know about professional wrestling. For him, it was this interest which pierced his life “Inside the Spin” and so he could relate almost any situation to professional wrestling. The Civil War? No problem. Polynomials? Of course. It was a wonder to behold. Why professional wresting? It is hard to say but when he spoke of professional wrestling, he could tell me all the wrestlers by name, all of the statistics, the history of who battled who and who won or lost, and when he spoke of professional wrestling, he was focused in a way no other topic could focus him. When he spoke of professional wrestling, it was like life “Inside the Spin” came into focus with the rest of the world on the other side of the spin.