College Students with Asperger’s Syndrome
October 17, 2011 by Applied Behavioral Strategies
Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to email questions from parents who are having difficulty with their child’s behavior. Today’s question comes from Angela, who is a college professor.
“Hi, I am a faculty member at a public university and I am being verbally abused (e.g., why are you such an f*ing b%^#) by a student with Asperger’s. Many of these interactions occur in my office when he comes in for office hours. Additionally, there is a past history of this student acting in a threatening manner by getting mad and throwing furniture. I called the University’s hotline and was told that this is normal for someone with Asperger’s. What do you recommend?
Angela, this is a great question! While this post may not apply to everyone reading this blog, parents of young adults with Asperger’s and teachers of high school students with Asperger’s should all pay attention. We have a responsibility to teach this young man (and others like him) that these types of behaviors are simply unacceptable and will not be tolerated in an academic setting. It is inappropriate to behave in this way towards anyone, but especially inappropriate to do so to a professor.
First, I don’t think you should call the University hotline. I think you should go straight to Student Services and report your concern. Every University has an office for students with disabilities. These offices provide support for college students with identified disabilities. The office at your University needs to be informed of this behavior so that it will documented in the student’s file. The staff in that office should be able to help him with his behavior.
If staff in the office do not know how to help the student with his behavior, then staff should contact faculty in the University who are also behavior analysts. The faculty may be housed in the Psychology Department, Special Education Department, Curriculum and Instruction Department, or Educational Psychology Department. If there are no faculty on campus to assist, then contact a local behavior analyst (BCBA or BCaBA) in your area. You may find a behavior analyst in your area by visiting the website for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board
. Look up a certificant by zip code and contact them directly from the website.
The second thing I would do is contact the student’s advisor directly. You will find the advisor by contacting the Dean’s Office within his home college. When you make your call, be sure to mention previous cases where students threatened people (not just faculty) and then ultimately ended up hurting someone (e.g., Gabby Giffords).
While the student has Asperger’s syndrome, and explosive behavior is common in this population, as a faculty member, you should be concerned. The student should not be allowed to participate in courses if he is not following the University policy.
Thanks Angela, keep me posted.
If you have a behavior or situation that you need assistance on, please email me at askmissy at applied behavioral strategies dot-com.