Useful Resources For How To Explain Autism To Kids
Whether you are explaining autism to a sibling or explaining autism to an autistic child, it’s important to explain autism to a child in simple terms that are developmentally and age appropriate. These resources will help you explain autism to a child.“How do I explain autism to a child?”tips and resources for how to explain autism in simple terms
Celeste Shally And David Harrington
Ages 4-8Since Were Friends is a picture book to help children in pre-school through second grade better understand those on the autism spectrum. The story is about Matt, who has autism, and his best friend, who does not. Together, the two boys navigate sometimes-challenging social situations as they play sports, watch movies, read books, and talk about animals.ISBN-10: 1616086564 ISBN-13: 978-1616086565
Just Like Me Activity
For this activity, gather all of your students together on the floor so they can all see each other. Have each child take turns sharing something about themselves, like:
- I have a pet dog.
- I can play the piano.
- My birthday is in September.
- I love to play soccer.
- My favorite color is yellow.
If a statement also applies to other students , instruct them to raise their hands. This will help remind students that they share more similarities than differences with their peers and that they can always find something to talk about.
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Practical Guide To Explaining Autism To Your Child
The month of April is known as Autism Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to increasing awareness about the disorder of Autism. While it may be difficult to explain the technical aspects of autism, autism can still be explained to children in a clear manner. By cutting the jargon and explaining to your child that a child with autism will act in x,y,z manner, youre cutting away their confusion and making room for your child to accept them as an equal.
So, how can you explain to your child what autism is?
Kelly Ernsperger, a social worker and owner of Autism Counseling & Behavior Consultation explains it like this: Autism affects how the brain works and can make it difficult for some people to talk, understand others, make friends or calm themselves down when they feel worried or stressed. This simple language talk will show your child that autism affects how they react to situations, people, surprises etc.
Children with autism may be hyper-focused on certain topics or interests. They may have an enjoyment to constantly speak about the same topic, be it airplanes, books etc.
Children with autism may be nonverbal, but that does not reflect on their mental capabilities. They may not know how to react, but that doesnt mean they dont have feelings or inclinations.
Children with autism may repeat specific motions over and over. That doesnt mean that we should stare if we see them doing something repeatedly.
Why is blue associated with autism?
Light it up Blue!
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
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Effective Teaching Strategies For Children With Autism
In some cases, the learning characteristics of students with autism may differ from the rest of your class. But luckily, the right teaching strategies and methods can keep children with autism on track to finish the school year strong. Try these tips, educational accommodations, and resources for students with autism to help them learn concepts that might otherwise be difficult for them to grasp.
Bring Special Interests Into Lesson Plans
Many children with autism have a fixation on certain topics or activities. Take advantage of what theyre passionate about and use it while teaching students with autism to help them focus in class. If a child with autism loves outer space, for example, you could plan a math assignment about counting the planets in our Solar System.
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Autistic Women And Girls
More men and boys are currently diagnosed as autistic than women and girls. This is changing slowly but surely, as more women and girls are being diagnosed as autistic.
Attitudes towards autism and gender are changing, although we still have a long way to go. Many autistic women and girls are still struggling to get the support they need.
Here, we explain more about the gender diagnosis gap, share stories from autistic women and girls, and share some theories on why more men and boys are being diagnosed as autistic.
You can also visit our gender page here, where we look at autism and gender identity in more detail.
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?
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Look For Different Ways To Communicate
Like Llama, some autistic children are non-verbal, and they might communicate using methods such as gestures, looking, reaching or echolalia .
You might want to explain to your child that just because someone isnt speaking the way they do, it doesnt mean they dont understand whats going on. Encourage your child to watch for ways the person is using to communicate.
On The Subject Of Siblings
Chances are that any siblings, even those who are quite young, already have a sense that something is going on with a brother or sister who has an ASD. They may feel embarrassed by their siblings behavior or mannerisms, frightened by their sibling’s outbursts, or sad when their sibling won’t play with them like other children do. They may sense their parents’ worry about a brother or sister, they may worry about a stressed-out parent in turn, or they may feel conflicted about the enormous amount of attention, time, and money being devoted to the child with a disability. 12
Keeping them in the dark can leave them prone to arriving at their own, potentially scary conclusions: My brothers crazy or Its my fault this is happening or I am responsible for taking care of my sister so nobody gets upset. Experts recommend having a conversation with them about their sibling’s autism early on. 13This conversation will likely need to be repeated over the years as their understanding, concerns, and questions evolve.
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Explaining Autism To Professionals
You would think that this wouldnt be necessary, but it is in many circumstances. Youll need to explain autism to teachers, nurses, baby sitters, church professionals, camp directors, sports coaches, and more. My best advice for this is to stick as much as possible into explaining your child and their autism instead of trying to explain autism as a whole.
Be sure to explain your childs individual struggles and strengths. Explain to the professionals in your childs life exactly what supports and accommodations that you expect from them, and also outline anything out of the ordinary that you plan on doing for your child. Do you plan to send your child with a fidget toy? Do you need the church leader to give your child sensory breaks once an hour? Make all of those expectations clear from the beginning.
These are just a few tips to help with explaining autism to various people in your life. It will get old sometimes, but its worth it. Just keep educating, sharing, and letting others ask questions. It will help people start to truly understand autism, and more people will start growing up understanding and accepting autistic people. Dont forget to check out the rest of the posts in the Autism A-Z Series here!
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Use Art To Foster Understanding Of Autistic Children
Stone suggests parents of autistic children compile notebooks with drawings and photos to help their classmates understand their unique wants and needs.
For example, dedicate pages to your child’s likes and dislikes, their triggers and how they’re likely to react .
The notebooks describe the behavior from the child’s point of view in a way that other kids will understand, says Stone. “It’s like ‘I have autism and this is what it means for me. It’s not the same for everybody.'”
This tool can also help dismantle common misconceptions, like autistic children don’t want friends. While many autistic kids want to play with their peers, it might be more difficult for them to communicate in commonly-understood ways.
For example, an autistic child might like to play with trucks but is non-verbal. If their classmate knows this, they might give them a truck during playtime which could elicit a smile from the kid, says Gengoux.
Gengoux agrees with the notebook approach but emphasizes focusing on a child’s strengths too, such as activities they’re good at and what they like to do. This can help reinforce their own skills and make them realize how they can use their interests to connect with other people.
Doing so also helps their peers see the autistic child as a whole person to help combat the negative stigma that could be associated with just focusing on deficits, says Gengoux.
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Explaining Autism To Young Siblings
For a variety of reasons, parents of young children who have a sibling with autism find it difficult to talk to their child without autism about the diagnosis. Some believe small children wont understand such a complex topic. Others worry that their child might become afraid of their sibling. Still other parents feel that such an explanation will call out their child with autism as being different.
Even young children need to understand how best to interact with their sibling with autism. Explaining behaviors that concern or frighten them can help reduce their fear and foster a more positive relationship.
Although you may be consumed with correcting the behavior of your child with autism, its important to take the time to explain to their sibling what is going on. Even something as simple as, John has trouble telling you he doesnt want to play can help Tim understand why John reacts the way that he does.
If Julie didnt know why John was having a tantrum she could explain to Tim, John cant tell us what is wrong and so we need to teach him what to do when he gets upset. Other things you might tell a preschool-aged child include, Rick doesnt use his voice to talk, he uses pictures instead. Or, Sarah doesnt know how to take turns yet, but we can work together to teach her.
Explaining Autism To Kids
When you have a child with autism, you will run across people who are curious or concerned about your childs behavior. Explaining autism to adults is difficult enough. How can you explain autism to kids who might not understand such a complex topic?
Children will have varying levels of understanding, depending on their age and past experiences. When explaining autism to kids, ensure your message aligns with the childs concerns and level of understanding. Very young children, older children and teens will be interested in different information. Here we share the right information to give at every age.
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How To Explain What Autism Is To Neurotypical Kids
Okay, so were all on the same page that we should explain autism to neurotypical kids ASAP. But how do you actually do that?
Most adults dont really understand autism How can we explain it so that a toddler, preschooler, or little kid can understand?
#1: Start as basic as possible
Autism means that their brain works differently than other kids.
Autism doesnt mean theyre bad, it just means that some things are harder for them than they are for you.
Autistic people might behave differently than youd expect.
#2 Give them a comparison
You know how you are great at math, but not so great at reading, and your friend Katie is great at reading, but not so great at math?
Thats how autism works. Autistic people might struggle more with things like loud noises or following directions, but theyre really great at other things like noticing patterns or making jokes!
Now, youll have to edit these to fit the specific kids youre talking about, but its a good starting point!
#3 Let them ask questions
This conversation will go one of two ways typically. Either your neurotypical child will be like oh, okay and move on with their day, OR theyll have roughly 247 questions.
If they have questions, encourage it. I know its hard, but it will help.
If you dont have all the answers, dont stress! You can say Oh Im not sure. Lets try to figure that out!
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Explaining Autism To Strangers
This might be the most difficult thing you do some days. Whether its the rude lady in the grocery store talking about your childs meltdown, or a fellow mama in the park who asks why your child is stimming, you will often find yourself explaining autism to strangers. The first step? Taking a deep breath and trying to remember your life before you knew all about autism. You probably knew one or two autistic kids and thought that was an accurate representation of autism as a whole. You probably said things that you shouldnt have. Try to remember all of that and have patience.
Then, you need to determine how much is appropriate to share. If someone asks what youre child is doing, you can simply say oh, hes stimming. Its something that autistic people do when theyre excited and leave it at that. If its a mom at the playground who seems interested, feel free to go into more detail. Another thing to keep in mind is that you are not obligated to share with anyone. If someone is being rude about your child, telling them that your child is autistic isnt likely to change their behavior. You do not need to be a walking PSA for autism awareness/acceptance.
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What Should Julie Do
Four-year-old John flings himself on the floor, screaming and flailing his arms, as his 5-year-old brother Tim stands watching. Worried hes going to be blamed again he is about to bolt out of the living room as his mother, Julie, catches him by the arm on her way in.
I didnt do anything! Tim exclaims before his mom even asks, stamping his foot. Hes near tears himself. This always happens when I play with John, he thinks. Hes such a baby! Im never playing with him again!
Julie sighs. Thats what Tim always says. I know John is over-sensitive but why cant Tim just leave him alone? What am I supposed to do? I cant watch them all the time. You know John likes to play by himself. Why do you keep bothering him?
John has autism, and while Julie wants her kids to get along she would do anything to stop the tantrums. When she and her husband Dave decided to have a second child they had no idea what challenges they would face. Each day is a constant struggle to manage Johns needs, and Tim just wont listen.
After making sure John isnt going to hurt himself, Julie crouches down in front of Tim. She notes his tears and realizes her anger with her son has as much to do with her frazzled nerves as his lack of understanding.
You always yell at me when he cries, her son sobs.
She hugs the little boy. Hes right, she thinks. I do get mad at Tim. I know I do. Why dont we think about what we can both do differently?
Tips For Explaining Autism To Family Friends And Kids
If your child has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, you may be wondering what this diagnosis means for them and their future. Along with these overwhelming feelings of confusion and uncertainty, you may be wondering if you should share this news with friends and family and how you should explain it. The good news is, as you come to terms with this new future for your family, you will be able to better understand what and how to share with others It might just take some time. Here are some tips that will help you when you are explaining autism to family and friends.
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How Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Treated
There is no cure for autism, but treatment can make a big difference. The younger kids are when they start treatment, the better.
Doctors, therapists, and special education teachers can help kids learn to talk, play, and learn. Therapists also help kids learn about making friends, taking turns, and getting along.
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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