How To Explain Autism To Children
Big Bird was confused. The new, orange-haired girl playing on Sesame Street seemed like she didnt want to talk to him or give him a high five. He was worried that she didnt like him.
Of course, what the parents watching likely already knew was that the character Julia, who was introduced last year, has autism, as explained in kid-friendly language by cast member Alan: She has autism. For Julia, it means that she might not answer you right away, and she may not do what you expect. Whether youre talking to a giant yellow bird or a typical elementary-aged kid, it can be difficult to explain autism simply and succinctly.
Trying to explain autism spectrum disorders to anyone children or adults is tricky because its complicated, says Dr. Sandy Burkhardt, a child psychologist with Indy-based Childrens Resource Group. I say, if we cant make it simple, lets at least try to make it clear.
That means using age-appropriate language, not shaming children for asking questions, and focusing on the importance of manners.
When Carl Met George
George is excited about spending time with his new friend, Carl, who seems to know all kind of cool facts about trains and about well lots of things! Then George learns that Carl has Aspergers Syndrome a form of autism that makes Carl see the world differently than most people. Can George and Carl remain good friends and perhaps even learn from each other?
How Might My Child React
Your child may be pleased that they now have a better understanding of themselves.;
Some children will become concerned that there is something seriously wrong with them which will affect their health. You may need to emphasise that autism is not a disease and no one can die from it.;Autism is a life-long condition but with the right support,;autistic people can thrive. It may;be that your child needs some additional support.;For example, your child might have a;teaching assistant;at school who helps them with tasks they find difficult. You could also point out that your child is good at some things at school which other children need help with.;
Be there if your child wants to talk or ask questions. Some children may not want to ask questions face to face. Having a question box, diary or email system can make it easier for some children to ask personal questions. It also gives them more time to process your answer or think of other questions.;
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What Is It Like To Be Autistic
In case you are wondering if your child may have;autism, the following most common signs of autism could be a good signal. Typically children diagnosed with;autism spectrum are:
- Likely to be oversensitive by sight, sounds, and smell and touching which are normal for everyone else
- Likely to exhibit repetitive body movements, like rocking to & fro and making unusual finger movements in front of his/her eyes
- Likely to display strong attachments to certain objects around them
- Likely to get confused by changes in daily routines, often resorting to aggressive behavior
- Likely to observe even small changes in the people or their surroundings
What If My Friend Has Autism Spectrum Disorder
Some people with ASD do not feel that they have a disorder and don’t want to change. They’re proud of who they are and they want to be accepted, even though they may have different strengths and weaknesses than most other people.
All people deserve respect. But kids with ASD may be teased, bullied, or left out because they’re different. Bullying and teasing are never the right way to treat other people, but it may be hard to be a friend with someone who has ASD.
Kids with ASD often don’t understand playful jokes. You may need to be very clear when you communicate with someone who has ASD.
Try to be patient and kind. Remember how hard it might be for the person with ASD to understand how to be a friend. Stand up for classmates who are bullied. Tell adults, so they can help protect kids who are bullied.
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Sesame Street And Autism: See Amazing In All Children
In October 2015, Sesame Workshop created Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children, a national initiative aimed at families and communities with children 2 to 5 years old. See Amazing in All Children offers families ways to manage common challenges, to simplify everyday activities, and to grow connections and support from family, friends, and community.
When Should You Talk About Autism To Neurotypical Kids
But before I dive into how I explain autism to neurotypical kids, lets talk about when it should happen. Surely you want to wait until the child is old enough to fully comprehend, right?
Well kind of.
See, when we wait until this magical time that our kids will be able to understand disability, were doing two things:
To point one, kids can understand disability at any age. Want some proof? Children are born disabled. They grow up understanding theyre different and thats okay.
If disabled kids can understand that, so can typical kids. I pinky promise.
On point two By not explaining disabilities to your kids, youre allowing them to grow up with whatever ideas they have.
That the autistic child who screams sometimes is bad.
That the child in a wheelchair is too lazy to walk.
That the child who speaks differently is stupid.
Now let me be clear You are not telling them these things. But youre also not giving them anything else to believe.
When your child points at a man in a wheelchair and you say Dont point! Dont stare! and hurriedly move away to save yourself the embarrassment you are unintentionally showing your children that disability is something that shouldnt be talked about because its weird or bad.
If you have taught your child what the mailman does, teach them about disabilities.
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How To Explain Autism To Family And Friends
More people than ever have a working knowledge and understanding of Autism, but its still a difficult condition to explain. While we may have more understanding of Autism and some of its developmental or intellectual effects, there is still a lot for researchers to learn. Perhaps one of the most difficult things to do for parents and caregivers is to explain autism to family and friends. Often times people have preconceived notions or dated biases that they have carried for many years that make it difficult for them to build a proper understanding of your child. Sometimes people will also reject a diagnosis of autism or call it an overreaction. Whatever the case, there are many resources you can seek out to help you explain autism to your family and friends so everyone is on the same page.
A Bit Of A Background On Autism
Understanding the;history of autism may help some parents. The word ;autism comes from the Greek word autos meaning self and has been used for more than;100 years. The term;autism, therefore, describes a condition where a person is detached;from social interaction, and hence, an isolated self.
A Swiss psychiatrist, Eugene Bleuler, began using the term autism around 1911 to refer to the group of symptoms for schizophrenia. Until the 1940s, research on autism and schizophrenia was done together as one subject. In the 1960s, the medical professionals began to formulate separate understandings of autism in children. The role of behavioral therapy and the use of controlled learning environments came to light in the 1990s. The previous method of electroshock therapy used in the 1960-70s was put to rest. Today the cornerstone for research and therapy is focused on behavior, and language therapies.
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How To Explain Autism To Kids: Useful Tips
- Explain autism in a way that is developmentally and age appropriate
- Focus on the positives
- Speak about autism matter-of-factly and avoid these autism myths
- Read books about autism to your child
- Watch a video about autism with your child
- Answer any of the questions your child has honestly and as specifically as possible
- Include your autistic child in the conversation
- Don’t pathologize autism
- Embrace autism from a neurodiversity perspective
How Should I Tell My Child
There isn’t one ‘right’ way to tell your child about their diagnosis. However, here are some points to consider.;
Who is the best person in the family to help bring up the subject? If your child is comfortable with a grandparent or aunt, it might be a good idea to get them involved too.;
Choose a moment when you’re both in a calm mood and in a familiar place where you both feel comfortable. Autistic children can find it difficult to process new information, especially if they’re feeling anxious, stressed or are in an unfamiliar environment.;
Try to make sure you won’t be interrupted. Your child may need time to think about what you’re saying or to ask questions.;
One of the ways some parents start a conversation about autism is to talk first about differences. For example, you could write a list of family members’ strengths and weaknesses, then talk about what your child is good at and what they find difficult. You could point out that there is a name to this particular pattern of strengths and weaknesses.;
Your child may have met other autistic people. You could explain that although autistic;people;have some things in common, they are all different.;
The following might be helpful:;
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Share Suggested Ways To Interact With Your Child
When you first start explaining autism to friends, family, and kids, they might not understand all of the jargon and behaviors you identify. For example, they still might have trouble understanding the meltdowns, necessity for routine, or other behaviors your child exhibits. For this reason, you might want to share suggested ways to interact with your child.;
You wont need to share your childs treatment plan with everyone, but sharing the dos and donts for your child may be important for adults who care for your child regularly, like a grandparent or teacher. So, walk them through your childs schedule and make a note of the importance of sticking to it for your child. Let them know of any sensory sensitivities your child has with certain types of foods. Make them aware of any goals you are working on with your child, such as looking others in the eyes, and how to provide positive feedback and reinforcement. Any suggested ways of interacting can help others better know how to communicate and care for your child.
If you have any questions about explaining autism to family or friends, contact us at Carmen B. Pingree. We offer various autism programs for children and will be opening an adult autism center in the Summer of 2020. We are dedicated to helping those with autism receive quality treatment and work towards independence and increased quality of life. Discover all of the programs we offer today!
Explaining Autism To Children: 8 Tips For Parents And Teachers
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Whether your child has high-functioning autism or requires one-on-one help from a classroom aide, there will come a time when her peers recognize shes different, and with 1 in 68 American children being diagnosed with autism each year , we need to do a better job of explaining autism in a positive, non-threatening way so our children are accepted despite their differences.
But before we can do that, its essential that parents find acceptance from within first.;As scary, intense, ambiguous, frustrating, and exhausting as autism can be, finding a way to accept a child on the autism spectrum for who they are, rather than focusing on who they may never become, can be extremely freeing. And while its completely normal to go through a period of denial after an autism diagnosis, parents must find a way to accept the cards they were dealt with, fight for the needs of their children, accept the help that is offered, and raise awareness so their child can excel.
So, how do we do it? How do we remove the stigma around autism and show the world what children on the autism spectrum are made of? How do we explain the pain they feel on a daily basis in the face of sensory processing challenges and gastrointestinal issues? How do we explain why they may be on their best behavior at school, but meltdown the moment they walk through the front door every afternoon?
The answer is quite simple.
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Autism Where Is It Heading
To conclude,;over time, the definition of autism has changed from being one disorder to a spectrum of tens of disorders with overlapping symptoms. With intensive research and serious funds being propelled into Autism development, a lot has been achieved in the recent past and the future looks really bright for autism treatment.
Carl’s Concerto / Too Much Of A Good Thing
Carl has agreed to play the accordion for Georges puppet show. But his routines are getting in the way of rehearsals. Now George must decide: keep Carl and risk the show, or replace Carl and risk his friendship? / Buster enlists Binkys help to keep him from gorging on delicious Tuvaluna cookies. Will Busters self-control hold … or crumble?
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Process The Diagnosis Yourself First
Although children with autism are often as successful as their peers with individualized treatment based on evidence-based practices, parents of newly diagnosed children often have many hurdles to overcome. Parents often report feeling blame and devastation after their child has been diagnosed with ASD, but also report eagerness in finding adequate supports for their child. After your child is diagnosed for the first time, it is perfectly normal to feel scared and worried about the future. You might now be wondering if your child will ever be able to live on their own or hold down a job. You also might be worried about kids being bullied or judged on the basis of their diagnosis. A million possible obstacles for their future might come to mind.;
Its important that you take some time in your own family to process the diagnosis and understand that it is not a debilitating or negative condition. Do some research and educate yourself about autism and its possible symptoms. Once you feel more comfortable with the diagnosis and the future yourself, you can decide what information you feel comfortable sharing with others. It is your decision on who and how many people you share the diagnosis with and everyones situations are different. So, take the time to decide what is best for your family.
Kristis Corner Explaining Autism To Children
Article written by: Kristi Hansen
Autism Spectrum Disorder can be a complex and multi-faceted condition that is hard to explain to adults much less children. However, those who have children with autism in their classrooms, on their sports teams, in their neighborhoods and in their own families undoubtedly do pick up on some differences. Why does he move his hands like that? Why is she covering her ears? Why wont he get off the computer?
Where to start?
First, it is important that adults and parents do address the topic. Unanswered questions or quieted curiosities may lead children to draw negative and/or inaccurate conclusions. My brother is crazy. That girl doesnt like me. Hes a mean boy; may be a few thoughts that come to mind when misconception takes the place of understanding.
Simply put, Every day, our brains interpret the things we see, smell, hear, taste, touch, and experience. But when someones brain has trouble interpreting these things, it can make it hard to talk, listen, understand, play, and learn . So a friend with autism is just as smart as other kids, but he may have a harder time making friends, following directions, or dealing with change. He may be very sensitive to loud sounds, certain textures or foods, but may really enjoy the way it feels to flap his hands or spin around. Autism is not a disease and it is not contagious it just means that the brain operates a little differently.
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Asd Diagnosis: What Do We Tell The Kids
A childs diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder often comes after months or years of worry and a long and painful search for answers. Receiving that final, official word can be very hard, even if a parent expected the diagnosis, or fought fiercely for the evaluation that led to it. Parents may grieve over the loss of the child and family they envisioned and worry about their childs future. 1As they begin to regroup, learning how to navigate education, medical, and insurance systems, they may also wonder: When will;we tell;our child about this diagnosis? When will;we tell his brothers and sisters? How; will we tell them?
Model Behavior You Want
If you espouse the importance of treating people with compassion, try your best to practice what you preach.
Take advantage of everyday situations to model these behaviors. For example, if you and your child are at the bank and your bank teller has cerebral palsy, which can cause them to talk more slowly, be patient even if you’re frustrated.
Later, discuss the interaction with your child. Say something like, “I found that really frustrating. But I realize it must also be difficult for the bank teller, who might deal with rude customers who say mean things about them. They can’t help how their voice sounds and they’re doing the best they can. I need to try to be more patient,” Brown suggests.
Or if you’re at a grocery store and your child notices someone flapping their arms and mutters how weird it is, suggest why the person might act that way. Tell your kid it may feel good for them and this behavior is normal for some people, even if it isn’t how your child acts, says Brown.
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