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Its Autism Tuesday, so lets dive right in. Autism is starting to gain a lot of awareness thanks to various social media outlets. A lot of people know about autism, they probably even know a few signs, but when it comes to interactions with autism, they are unsure on what to do or say. From my personal experience, whenever I mention that we have children with autism, people tend to freeze up, even family members tend to avoid the “A” word.
If you are an autism mama, do you notice the same reactions? Autism is nothing to be scared about. It’s just something that my kids have that make certain situations harder for them. They are still kids, and want to be treated like every other kid. That being said, there are some noticeable differences in their actions. So, its completely normal to ask questions so that you can talk to your own kids about it before you interact with a child with autism. The same thing can be applied to the schools and teachers as well. If a teacher is aware that they will be getting a child with autism in their classroom, it would be good to talk to the parents so that they, as well as the other children, can help your child and to learn a little bit more about autism, themselves. We’ve all met someone with a disability, and as kids, we are just unsure on how to act or what to say, so often times we would just leave the other child alone. Now, as an autism parent, it breaks my heart when I see this happen.
So what are some ways that you can talk to your kids about autism if they have a friend, family member or classmate that has autism? Well, first and foremost talk to the parents. You need to educate yourself first before you can attempt to educate a child. If you were to ask the child’s parents, chances are they would be more than happy to explain things to you. Trust me, it takes up a lot of their life, they would love the chance to talk to someone other than their spouse about it. Ask them any questions about autism so that you are better able to explain to your child what autism is. Then start asking about the unique characteristics about that child. Every child on the spectrum is unique, and has different interests and struggles. For instance, I would say my son is obsessed with dinosaurs, and rarely talks about anything else. He doesn’t like to be touched or held, whereas my daughter seeks out rough touching. If you are unable to reach out to the parent, then here some great resources to learn a little bit more about Autism.
- Ten things every child with autism wishes you knew (check below)
- I see things differently (check below)
All of those are great resources to educate yourself a little about the common characteristics among children with autism. Once you arm yourself with some knowledge and resources, it’s time to have the conversation with your child or students.
Ways to help you talk to your child about autism.
- Read a couple books such as “I see things differently,” or “We’re Amazing 1 2 3.” Then ask them what they thought about the story.
- If your child would prefer to watch tv, tune into an episode of Sesame Street and watch the new character Julia, who has autism.
- Use visuals, or even YouTube to help explain.
- Be simple and precise, tell them that that character or person has what’s called autism.
- Explain that autism is what some people have, and it makes things like making friends, or communication, harder for them.
- Avoid words like disability or desease.
- Explain some of the common characteristics like lack of eye contact, often quiet, or maybe talks excessively about a certain topic.
- Let them know that people with autism sometimes don’t understand jokes or silly games.
- It’s ok to let them know that sometimes people with autism can get angry really fast, because they don’t know how to calm down like others do.
- People wih Autism like routines and doing things a certain way, and will get upset if it’s not done that way.
- Then tell them that the reason you are telling them this, is because so and so has autism.
- Let them ask questions!
- Let them know that so and so is still just a kid like them; their brain just works a little different then theirs.
If you explain things using visuals and simple terms, it makes it easier for the child to understand. It’s really important though, for them to ask as many questions as they want. If you don’t have the answer, tell them you can find the answer together. Above all, make sure they understand that their friend or family is just like them and wants to be included in games etc, and that they just do things a little differently then them and that’s ok!
If we sit down and explain these situations to our kids, we are both raising awareness, but more importantly we are helping to raise open minded children. Kids are sponges and can handle a lot more than we give them credit for. It’s so hard seeing kids turn away from my son and what I imagine will happen to my daughter too. I don’t blame the kids, and I don’t blame the parents. I blame society for not accepting and educating others.
If you have a child with autism in your life, or if your kids have a child with autism in their life, please take the time to learn about it and help your child better understand. Help them become better friends, brothers/sisters, cousins, and classmates. These kids need friends who accept them for who they are and not mock them behind their backs.
As always, from one Hotmess autism mama to another, I send you nothing but good vibes as you embrace whatever the day brings you!
Great products to help raise awareness on Autism