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What's going on in Room 125?

How to Talk to Kids About Autism

Curiosity is natural! I encourage students to ask questions about autism and about the students in my class. Questions lead to understanding and acceptance, rather than uncertainty and fear. Below are examples of information I share with students at school about autism which may serve as starting points for conversation around autism in your home.  There are also many child-friendly books that have great information. Some of my favorites are Ethan the Brave, My Friend With AutismMy Brother CharlieFriends Learn About Tobin, and I Know Someone With Autism. Also, check out our FAQ’s on the Recess Buddies page: http://recessbuddies.wordpress.com/frequently-asked-questions/.

This website has some great information about the importance of People First language, and how to present this to kids and adults: http://www.disabilityisnatural.com/.

Sesame Street also has so great videos and resources, especially for younger students http://autism.sesamestreet.org/.

This booklet offers a nice lay out of some of the same things addressed below:autism booklet

Here is a video based off of the book Ethan the Brave, reminding that all students have differences and are capable: https://vimeo.com/137837693

Finally, here is a great video about autism and differences in general: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0w6carvS8k&sns=em

 What is autism?

“Autism is a condition that affects how people see and act with the world. There are many different types and levels of autism. This is known as autism spectrum. Every person with autism is different. Some people with autism never learn to talk. Some people have such mild autism that they never know that they have it.” I Know Someone With Autism

Autism is not a sickness or a problem. You cannot catch autism. Autism is a different way of thinking, talking, and seeing the world. Everybody thinks and learns a little differently. This is true for people with autism too.

People with autism usually talk a little differently. They may use pictures, computers, or signs to talk. They may use only a few words or use sentences in a different way. Even if they cannot talk a lot, they understand what others say and have a lot of their own ideas.

People with autism have trouble making friends. While they probably want to play like everybody else, they may not know how to join in a game or make a friend. They may need some extra help making friends or joining activities with their classmates.

Kids with autism may feel things differently from others. Sometimes things that sound quiet to somebody without autism may seem very loud to somebody with autism. They may get distracted by sounds, pictures, or feeling because these things may feel different to them.

Sometimes, these differences may be frustrating for a person with autism. If a sound is bothering them, they can’t find a way to ask someone to play with them, or they can not use words to explain how they are feeling, they may act in a way that looks different from other people. They may cry, yell, run, or make strange noises. They are usually not doing this to be mean or hurt somebody else. Acting this way may be the only way they know to show they are upset.  Everybody feels mad or sad or confused sometimes, but can you imagine being upset about something and not being able to tell somebody what’s wrong or that you need help?

Everybody is Different

Edison is our community, where many different types of children and adults come together to teach and learn. Some of us speak a different language (or two), wear glasses, are tall or short, and have different cultures. We can run, climb, skate, jump, dance, play sports, and sing. Our talents and differences make us unique and special. Remember, kids with autism are still kids! They like to do what other kids do, but may do things a little differently. Everyboy is different, but you may see the difference of kids with autism more sometimes. Some kids with autism find it hard to understand how other people feel, and may have trouble making friends. Sometimes it may seem like a kid with autism is being mean. For example, they may not share a toy or may not answer when you talk to them. They are not trying to be mean. They just don’t understand how to play with kids, and need help making friends. Some kids talk differently, or may not talk at all. Some kids with autism may move in different ways…maybe they like to jump or flap their hands. This helps them feel safe. Many kids with autism do not like loud noises or being in crowded places. This can make them feel scared. Most things that kids with autism do is to help them feel safe and have fun, just like other kids.

How can I talk to a friend with autism?

Many people with autism communicate in different ways. Some kids talk, but may talk differently. Some kids may repeat things that they have heard from other people or on TV. Some kids don’t talk, but use sign language or pictures to communicate. Most kids have a strength in and preference for understanding visuals information, such as pictures that match what is talked about.

Things to remember when talking to or playing with a friend with autism:

  • First of all, they are kids!  Everybody is different. Sometimes you can see or hear differences more, but all kids are kids and want the same things (like friends, or recess…)
  • They need friends. They are learning about how to talk to and play with other kids. They may need your help. Some of them do not talk, but use pictures or signs to communicate. If you try to talk to them and they do not answer, or answer in a funny way, try again or ask a teacher for help.
  • Sometimes they may be upset about something and not know how to show it in an appropriate way.  If you see them running or hitting or yelling, it probably means that something bothered them and they do not know what to do.  You can help them by being a good friend and reminding them something good, giving them space, or getting a teacher for help.
  • Sometimes something that we don’t even notice may either upset, distract, or fascinate them. They may hear, see, feel, or smell something we do not. This may cause them to act in different ways.
  • They want to have friends and play with other kids, but many times do not know how.  They may need you to help learn how to play a game or with a toy.  Sometimes they do not know how to share, and you will have to help them learn how.  If you see them on the playground or field, you can be a friend by helping to teach them a game or going to talk. Don’t feel bad if they do not want to play the game the right way. They may try to play with you in different ways.
  • If they do something that seems weird, or even mean, they probably do not know that they made a bad choice. They need friends to help them learn how to make good choices and how to be a friend.
  • If you see someone being mean to them, tell the other person to stop or go get a teacher. They may not know how to tell someone to stop being mean.
  • Just be a friend!  Edison CARRES.

Why is a routine so important?

Many kids with autism like to do things in a particular way. A routine makes them feel safe. If their routine is changed they may become upset of scared. It is important for others to understand that change can be a challenge for someone with autism, and we can help them by letting them know that something different is going to happen.

What can kids with autism do well?

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Some people with autism have very special talents. They may be able to repeat lines from a TV show, play beautiful music, or remember long lists of information. Some kids are great at math, or sports just like other kids. Just like everybody else, kids with autism have different things that they do well. They also may need different kinds of help.

How can I be a good friend?

Kids with autism want to have friends, just like everybody else. But because they may not know how to make friends, you can help by being a good friend to them. You can be a good friend by learning about what your friend likes, how they talk, or how they like to be treated. You can help make sure your friend feels safe by telling them about change, avoiding loud noises, and treating them with respect. Take turns playing what you want to play and what your friends wants to play. Talk to your friend, even if they do not talk back. They may just be more shy or quiet and you may be able to help them talk more.

What about the kids in Room 125?

 If you want to know more about a student in Room 125, just ask! Most students would love if you took the time to get to know them, just like any other friend. If you need help talking with a student in Room 125, or have a question they cannot answer, come talk to Ms. Wales or one of the other teachers in Room 125.


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