10 things your kids should know about kids with Autism

April is Autism Awareness month, and Babble has recently a launched a new Autism section with articles and reference material for parents.

One of my favorite articles on the page is a slide show of 10 things your kids should know about kids with Autism.

I can only pull a couple but here are my favorite items that I think are most important. Please check out the article on Babble for all of them and share them with your kids.

From Babble:

“Everybody’s brain works differently.

Everyone’s brain works a little differently. There are probably kids in your class who are really good at reading, but have to work harder in math. There’s probably a kid who is really good at art, but not so good at reading. Or a kid who is really good at every sport, but is afraid of public speaking. Everyone has things they’re good at, and things they have to work harder at. One way that brains can be different is that some people have an autism spectrum disorder. Just like every other kid, most kids with autism are good at some things but have to work harder at others. “

“Why are they doing that?

While you can’t tell that someone with autism has it just by looking at them, sometimes you’ll notice a kid that’s doing something different: spinning around for a long time, flapping their arms, jumping up and down a lot, or rocking back and forth. Those repetitive activities are called stims, and they’re doing it because it feels good, or it’s relaxing, or it’s fun, or as a way to block out too much noise around them.”

“Everybody’s ‘weird.’

Stimming can seem weird at first if you’re not used to it, but lots of people do things that are “weird.” People who don’t have autism or ADHD still do all kinds of little things when they’re “spacing out” or thinking hard, like biting their nails, chewing their pencils, tapping their feet, or humming to themselves. It’s just that we’re more used to seeing those things. Other “weird” things that lots of kids and adults do are talking to themselves, being picky about foods, only liking certain kinds of shirts, picking at scabs, or only liking one particular author. What are some “weird” things that you do? It’s okay that we’re all different. Think how boring it would be if we all did the same things all the time!”

Which items do you think are most important to teach your kids? Have you ever talked with your kids about kids with Autism they may have met or know? What did you say? Would you use the items in this article to start a conversation with your kids?

13 comments Add your comment

DB

April 9th, 2013
2:33 am

I don’t think either of my kids had a lot of interaction with autistic spectrum kids growing up — for one thing, their school (private) didn’t have the necessary resources to ensure an optimum learning environment for kids who had significant learning issues, so their opportunity for working alongside them was limited. Between church, sports and dancing, they would occasionally run across a child who simply acted . . . different, or they would sometimes voice their frustration if the child was disruptive in ways they couldn’t understand (i.e. the stims). The only thing I emphasized is kindness — it’s just as easy to be kind to someone who is different from the group as it is to be mean or rude. We only talked about it in general ways, I can’t remember getting into detail such as listed in this article. As they had more friends with ADHD, they had a better understanding of how that affected someone. Autistic spectrum disorders, however, cover such a wide range it’s hard for kids to get a handle on it. Plus, it also seems to me that it becomes a little too easy for kids to start “diagnosing” anyone who acts differently — “What are you, autistic or something?” for what would be considered perfectly ordinary mannerisms — just as adults sometimes sigh and “confess” to being ADD when they find they can’t concentrate on something, or are trying to multi-task too much.

Awareness and understanding of the people around you, regardless of how they fit into your world, is always a good thing, I think. Interestingly, my daughter will be doing a lot of work with autistic kids in the next year. She finds it very rewarding, helping them discover ways to express themselves in ways other people can relate to.

catlady

April 9th, 2013
5:46 am

I work in a room with a 7 year old who self-stims constantly, rocking and humming. If he is standing, he rocks and flaps. Mom is doing her Scarlett O’Hara: I won’t think about that today, I’ll think about that tomorrow. So, while he is NOT getting help, he has fallen behind (and he is at least average in ability.) Plus, his classmates are beginning to isolate him because he seems to like his own little world. Thankfully, the other kids have been around him for several years; it would be worse if he were plopped into a new group.

I hate it for him because I see glimpses of what he could achieve, if these behaviors were not interfering. When he is “with us” I make sure I give him lots of positive feedback over his good answers, and when he is stimming I will pat him on the back or shoulder, which brings him back for a few moments. However, I cannot pat him constantly, and he stims almost continuously if left alone. Any suggestions about what I can do?

Sk8ing Momma

April 9th, 2013
6:52 am

We teach our children to treat others with autism just as they should any other person — how they’d want to be treated. The Golden Rule (or the words of Jesus, if you prefer) is simple, but goes a long way.

We don’t differentiate or relax the rule when it comes to children with autism. Yes, people may be “different”, but it’s no biggie around here.

I’m proud of the way my children interact with children with autism. They’re patient, accepting and inclusive. They understand that God makes people differently and that all are special.

Sk8ing Momma

April 9th, 2013
6:56 am

Btw, we teach our children that people with autism process things differently; hence, they sometimes act differently. My kids have seemed to grasp this concept from an early age.

catlady

April 9th, 2013
7:13 am

Theresa, my 6:45 post never showed up.

Becky

April 9th, 2013
9:50 am

We have a little boy in our church that has Autism and my two are wonderful with him..He also has food allergies (sp), so they have learned to be aware of what they eat and touch around him…They have a cousin that has CP and one that uses a feeding tube, so they are aware of the differences in them and others..

@DB..I love your line about awareness and understanding of others..

Denise

April 9th, 2013
2:23 pm

I’m surprised this topic is not more active. I am very interested in reading what everyone has to say, especially those that complain about the topics of late. This is very important as it seems more and more kids are diagnosed and present as autistic. My cousin is autistic and I had a hard time ignoring his outbursts. He screams, talks really loudly, interrupts, and cusses people out. If you didn’t know he was autistic you’d just think he was a badly behaved little boy and wonder why his mother was only responding to his words not kicking his butt. I tried to have conversations with him but he would walk off cussing (maybe I just wasn’t interesting, I don’t know) or just kept talking over me so I’d be quiet. How do you tell a child “he wasn’t really being mean when he told you to kiss his butt. his brain functions differently.” and expect them to understand that? Maybe older children will but I cannot imagine a younger child being understanding when a kid calls them a mf.

HP

April 9th, 2013
4:07 pm

I’m sorry for the little boy in Catlady’s room. Denial is not just a river in Egypt. So much can be accomplished when kids on the spectrum get the help and support they need from parents and the school. But the school can only offer appropriate assistance when the parent okays that. And if a parent just wants to believe their kid is just “quirky” and not look into what might really be going on…It’s just unfortunate. My son is doing well in school, the school is aware, and lately he is even making attemps to make friends…because we opted not to just ignore things and hope they get better.

catlady

April 9th, 2013
6:51 pm

His mom doesn’t want him,labeled and thinks he will grow out of it. I think next year his teacher will press this to try to get him help. Or help for the teacher. HP any suggestions for me? Do u think my breaking into his stim is the right thing to do?

Denise

April 9th, 2013
9:53 pm

Catlady, my cousin had the same issue with her son (and she’s a teacher) so he was diagnosed much later than his symptoms manifested. Once she got her mind right he started getting his needs met. He is now in a school that can accommodate him and she has him in activities that have special times for kids with autism.

DB

April 9th, 2013
11:47 pm

@Denise: I think you raise a good point. Different families have different tolerances for potty-mouth and rudeness, and when you have a child like your cousin, who is clearly crossing the boundaries that other kids are expected to abide by, I think it’s difficult to explain in ways they can understand. In a typical child’s world, you don’t cuss at adults or engage in behavior that would be considered extremely rude without some pretty severe repercussions. To see an autistic child “get away” with behavior that they, themselves would probably be punished for can incur resentment or even hostility. In a child’s limited understanding, “it’s not fair.” Heck, even adults get frustrated with the behavior — why do we simply expect kids, with a limited understanding of the disorder, to simply accept it and, not only accept it, but embrace it? In one breath, we say, “Everyone is different,” and in the same breath, we then proclaim, “everyone is the same.” No wonder kids are confused :-)

The Dixie Diarist

April 10th, 2013
6:37 am

SELF ETYMOLOGY

Today the guys in first period had a vocabulary test. We had been studying the words for a long time, and today they were asked to write a sentence using the words. The words were meteoric, precocious, succinct, sylvan, virtuoso, articulate, garb, inherent, zany, and parody.

Lamar slapped his hands on the test and screamed he wasn’t taking the test.

I said … let me guess … because you didn’t study for it you feel like you shouldn’t have to take it?

Lamar screamed … That’s damn right!

Brainerd was already scratching out answers. So was Lucy. As fast as they could go. Lazlo had a panicked expression on his face. Lazlo inquired that might I had forgotten to announce we were having a vocabulary test today?

I reminded Lazlo that we’ve been going over the words for about a week … every day … and I’ve been reminding you about the test every day … for about a week … and yesterday I gave you some sample sentences with the words. Remember, I told Lazlo, that I said you could even use my sentences if you wanted to … to ensure a particularly easy grade of A plus.

Lazlo increased the intensity of his panicked expression.

Lamar turned around a smiled an evil smile at Lazlo.

By this time Lucy … quiet, mute, extremely irritable Lucy … was ready to turn in the test. I took it from her and looked it over. In her hard-to-read handwriting, Lucy said … People who have autism speak succinctly sometimes … My shyness is an inherent part of me … I have trouble speaking articulately to other kids sometimes.

I looked up at Lucy. Nice job, I said. Really. Well done.

Lucy wouldn’t look up at me. She didn’t say anything, either. She was already busy pulling hairs out of her arms.

http://www.actionjacksonart.com

Warrior Woman

April 10th, 2013
3:23 pm

At this stage in their lives, my children don’t need to know anything about autism other than to treat all people with appropriate kindness and consideration. This applies whether they are “normal,” “weird,” autistic, learning disabled, physically disabled, nice, or obnoxious.

We don’t gossip about people that might or might not have autism or any other issues, because we’re teaching them not to gossip.