Explaining Autism To Your Child
As a parent, your responsibility is to teach your children the skills they need to function as adults in the world. Parents can lay an excellent foundation for success even while their children are young. Social skills and acceptance practices are vital to developing healthy communication and mental well-being as children grow. This often includes practicing how to interact with those who are different from them.
In a world with increasing rates of diagnoses for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), understanding and accepting those with autism can be a crucial step to cultivating a kind and respectful child. Despite the complexities of ASD, parents can take certain steps to ensure their children know how to interact with individuals with disabilities without judgment.
The word “autism” doesn’t even have to make an appearance when you begin teaching your child about getting along with others. Parents can save the technical talk for later and simply focus on instilling the idea that differences between people are normal and often positive. When teaching your child about accepting differences, it’s important to explain that some differences can’t be seen.
The main point your child should take away from the lesson is that people may look or act differently, but they all have the same feelings and should be treated with the same respect.
Making the Technical Easy to Understand
When your kids are ready to talk about autism specifically, it’s best to not overwhelm them with words and concepts they may not understand. Try to relate autism to familiar experiences so your children can understand how a person with autism sees the world differently.
You can explain how bright lights may appear brighter or loud sounds become louder for individuals with ASD. If your child is still struggling to understand how people with autism see the world, you can utilize books or the internet to provide a visual reference. Young children are still in the process of developing empathy for others. Allowing them to see the world from the viewpoint of someone with autism may encourage them to assist friends with ASD or classmates who may be feeling overwhelmed.
Although the perspective of a person with autism may not necessarily be visible to your child, they likely notice when someone acts differently than most people, though they may not connect those behaviors with the disorder itself. Many people with ASD have difficulty recognizing social cues such as questions or gestures. They may respond differently to a joke or have unique physical coping mechanisms when they’re stressed. Parents should try to explain these differences to their child in a positive way that emphasizes the feelings of those with autism when they have these unique reactions to social situations.
Once the child understands how a person with autism reacts to different stimuli, they can then begin to act as an advocate for that friend or classmate, as many people with autism may be non-verbal. When they notice someone with autism displaying stress reactions, for example, they can seek out ways to calm them or bring it to the attention of an adult who can reduce stimuli. This demonstration of empathy and advocacy goes a long way in developing a child who is kind, patient and open-minded.
ABA Services in San Antonio and Brazos Valley
Kinder and more accepting children grow up to create a more open-minded and welcoming society for all. If your child falls on the autism spectrum, you aren’t alone. You can seek out the care your child needs to reach developmental milestones, learn social skills, and communicate with the people around them. At Empower Behavioral Health, our compassionate and patient staff help children on the autism spectrum learn all the necessary skills to prepare them for a lifetime of self-advocacy and empowerment. If you’d like to learn more about how ABA can help your child, contact us online or call 210-447-0039 today!