Thursday, March 10, 2011

Martian in the Playground: Learning About Children with Asperger Syndrome

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

In classrooms across the world, teachers are encountering, with increasing frequency, children with special needs. Depending on the type of special needs the child has, the teacher may have the child in his/her classroom for the majority of the day. Islaamic schools are not exempt from this scenario and it presents a unique challenge to the teachers in these schools.

These children are our children and as Muslims and teachers, it helps tremendously if teachers take time to learn a little about the child's special needs who is a part of their learning environment. Armed with this knowledge, teachers may feel better equipped to help the child function in his/her classroom with less difficulty insha'Allaah.

The most common speacial needs students I have encountered in my classroom are children diagnosed with ADHD. This has become so common that many teachers, alhamdulillaah, have learned which strategies best help their ADHD learner succeed in class.

Recently however, I read two chapter books for middle school aged children and each had a character in the story with Asperger's Syndrome. I became intrigued. Asperger Syndrome has been classified as a form of Autism. Children with Asperger Syndrome are usually not physically different from their peers, with the exception of noticeable clumsiness in their gait or an unusual lack of coordination, these children sit among their peers but they do have special needs that teachers need to be aware of.

I had heard about Asperger Syndrome from a parent who expressed concern about the possibility of their child having this syndrome and after speaking at length with the parent my interest was now more than piqued so from the local library I checked out Martian in the Playground . Thus far, it is a fascinating and unfortunately, sad reading experience.

Fascinating because from what I have read so far, I have been given a peek into the world of children (and adults) who process information in such a unique way that it allows them to become extremely proficient in specific areas subhana'Allaah.

The read thus far has been sad due to the simple fact that these children, because they are unique, stand out among their peers and thus they often become the targets of bullying. La hawla wa la quwatta illah billaah.

As Muslims, one of our goals should be teaching our children how to respect these children. As a teacher, I feel especially obligated to be aware of potential bullying happening in my classroom (or my school). This type of behaviour (i.e. bullying) is completely unislaamic and totally unacceptable. It is reprehensible and goes against the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayahi wa salam).

As I have been researching Asperger Syndrome, I have come across Muslimahs who blog about their special needs children and I am thankful to Allaah that He has allowed me to begin learning about this unique way of learning, behaving, seeing and functioning in the world. I hope to come back when I have finished the book insha'Allaah, and share more about Asperger's Syndrome and if you have a child diagnosed with this syndrome, or you are knowledgeable about it, I would enjoy learning from you and your child. And if you homeschool a child with Asperger Syndrome, I would especially enjoy learning about how you address the social skills needs of children with this syndrome.


  1. May Allah reward you for bringing this into light to other parents and teachers alike especially in the Muslim society. I am a parent of a child with Asperger's . . . challenging and yes, "sad" two words that crops up the most in my daily life with him. This is my gift and test from Allah.

  2. Jazakillahu khayr dear sis Alizah for sharing this. Subhana'Allaah, I would really like to learn how you have worked with your son in the social skills area. Do you homeschool your son dear sis? Insha'Allaah, I would like to email you as I have many questions to help me learn more insha'Allaah.