Having three children on the autism spectrum, we have had out fair share of explaining autism to an autistic child. When our youngest daughter was diagnosed at age 8, we realized that we needed to explain things a little different to her than we would to our three-year old or even to a sibling of an autistic child.
After a diagnosis, as parents and caregivers, you go through the motions of telling family, friends, and other caregivers about your child’s diagnosis. Typically, you are doing this while you are still grasping at straws to learn about autism yourself. In this process, it can easily occur that you may forget to explain an autism to your child with an autism diagnosis.
So today, we will go over just a few basics on understand and explaining autism to an autistic child. With the resources below, you will be prepared to handle the discussion in a positive way!
Explaining Autism to an Autistic Child
First and foremost, remember to keep it simple. Explaining in too much detail will overwhelm your child and do more harm than good. Here are a few key ways to explain autism as well as resources to help along the way
What is Autism?
First thing is to explain autism. According to the age and maturity level of your child this may be slightly different, but still the basis of what you need to explain. Simply put “Autism means that your brain works different from other children’s brains. “
You will also need to know more about autism yourself in order to answer any questions your child may have. Here are 8 key things to know about Autism. You can also read more about autism signs and symptoms here.
Remember to keep your answers simple and to the point. Many people with autism do not understand sarcasm, and may not understand metaphors until a much older age.
Explaining Autism in a Positive Way
When ever you talk to your child (around or even near) about autism, remember to keep it positive. Be open and honest about autism. Teaching different not less is ideal when explaining autism to a child with autism. You are your child biggest advocate. How you see autism is how they will see autism.
Use Resources to Explain Autism to an Autistic Child
Thankfully, there are a ton of amazing resources out there to help aid you in explaining autism to an autistic child! Here are a few of my favorite books to help children of all different ages understand autism.
Click on the book or the title to get access to the books. (Affiliate Links)
This positive, straightforward book offers kids with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) their own comprehensive resource for both understanding their condition and finding tools to cope with the challenges they face every day. Some children with ASDs are gifted; others struggle academically. Some are more introverted, while others try to be social. Some get “stuck” on things, have limited interests, or experience repeated motor movements like flapping or pacing (“stims”).
The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders covers all of these areas, with an emphasis on helping children gain new self-understanding and self-acceptance. Meant to be read with a parent, the book addresses questions (“What’s an ASD?” “Why me?”) and provides strategies for communicating, making and keeping friends, and succeeding in school.
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin |
If you’ve ever felt different, if you’ve ever been low, if you don’t quite fit in, there’s a name you should know… Meet Dr. Temple Grandin―one of the world’s quirkiest science heroes!
We’re Amazing 1,2,3! is the first Sesame Street storybook to focus on autism, which, according to the most recent US government survey, may, in some form, affect as many as one in forty-five children. It’s part of Sesame Street’s autism initiative that has expanded to include a new character with autism.
Elmo introduces his longtime friend Julia to Abby, who’s a little confused at first because Julia isn’t saying hello. Elmo explains that Julia has autism, so she does things a little differently. Julia sometimes avoids direct eye contact, flaps her arms when she’s excited, and is sensitive to some noises. But Abby soon learns that she also has a lot of things in common with Julia. All kids want love, friendship, and to have fun! They are all wonderful, each in his or her own way.
See amazing in all children through the Sesame Street Autism Resources Page: http://autism.sesamestreet.org/
This is the story of Zane, a zebra with autism, who worries that his differences make him stand out from his peers. With careful guidance from his mother, Zane learns that autism is only one of many qualities that make him special. Contains a Note to Parents by Drew Coman, PhD, and Ellen Braaten, PhD, as well as a Foreword by Alison Singer, President of the Autism Science Foundation.
Children with autism can do amazing, incredible things!
You can use this book to teach your child about Autism Spectrum Disorder. The poem will explain how those diagnosed are different, but also wish to be included in most social circles. The poem was written by a father of a son with ASD. This book will give you an opportunity to explain the diagnosis to your child when you believe they are able to understand.
Different, Not Less: A Children’s Book About Autism was written with children in mind. The text is big and bold, and runs down the page similar to list format. This should help avoid the skipping of words since it is easy for parents to cover up words as the child reads. Each page also has a hidden word. Red letters mixed in with the black letters spell uplifting words for those diagnosed with autism.
“Different Like Me” introduces children aged 8 to 12 years to famous, inspirational figures from the world of science, art, math, literature, philosophy, and comedy.
Eight-year-old Quinn, a young boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, tells young readers about the achievements and characteristics of his autism heroes, from Albert Einstein, Dian Fossey
Fully illustrated in color and written in child-friendly language, this book will be a wonderful resource for children, particularly children with autism, their parents, teachers, carers and siblings.
There Ya Go!
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