Explaining Autism

Many children have autism spectrum disorder. Knowing how to explain autism to others can be very helpful as they will understand the differences and how to interact with your child. Although some may have experience with what autism looks like, it is a good idea to begin explaining autism with the basic behaviors associated with it. Repetitive behaviors, lack of eye contact, difficulty with social skills, sensory sensitivities, and low attention span are some of the most common tell-tale signs.

Below are some important aspects one should teach and make others aware of when dealing with children on the spectrum.

Explain the difficulties they face:

Teach them how autism is a spectrum disability and how it affects a child and their behaviors. For example, your child easily gets overwhelmed in large crowds which can cause an intense response to the situation.

  • When explaining ASD to another child be aware it is not a one time talk but an ongoing process. The other children will need time to process the new information given to them. Allow them to ask questions at their own pace, which will result in a calmer attitude both on the children and mom.
  • Remember, if you give over the information to others in a positive and confident manner, they will mirror your response.
  • Describe how autistic children have difficulty communicating their feelings.
  • When explaining autism to children (or even adults!) use metaphors to give them a better understanding. Try something like this: “The ASD child’s brain works like a clothing iron that achieves an important task and your brain works like a washing machine, which is also just as useful. However, you can’t clean clothes with an iron and you can’t straighten clothes with a washing machine, but both of them are very important contributions to the world. They’re just different.”
  • Make it clear that it is okay to be different, there’s is nothing “bad” about a person with ASD.
  • Encourage your children to ask questions. Offering them books to read if it is age appropriate can be helpful for them.
  • Explain that even if an autistic child is verbal, they probably will have difficulty understanding and carrying a typical conversation.
  • Focus on being supportive with your friends and family’s adjustment.

Teach them some of the amazing strengths children on the spectrum can have:

Children on the spectrum have deep passions and intense interests which sometimes cause them to excel beyond the norm. Many of them have unique strengths or talents that can be very unassuming when seeing them in a specific setting.

Some of the common strengths they possess:

  • Some children can read at a very early age
  • Art, music, math, & mechanical skills are abilities that many of them have
  • Exceptional memory is a common strength
  • Excellent attention to detail

For a more detailed list of unique strengths in children with autism, check out the this amazing article.

An official diagnosis will benefit both child and family. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help and guidance. Feel free to contact us for any additional information to seek therapies and services that can be transformative.

 

By: BCBA Nebraska