When your child is in an inclusive environment, it is sometimes hard for the other children to understand his or her behaviors. This might lead to isolation and confusion, so it may be important to explain autism to the classmates. This might be done by the child’s teacher with the parents’ permission. It may also help to have the parents explain autism to them. Why is this important? First of all, it’s important for your own child to understand himself/herself. Secondly, knowing about autism can lead to empathy if it is explained correctly.
Steps You Can Take to Explain Autism to Classmates
1. Understand Autism Yourself
This seems intuitive, but if you don’t understand enough about autism, it is hard to explain autism to someone else. If you’re not sure about autism yourself, the Autistic Advocacy Group has created a booklet that goes over autism for parents or adults. It is important to focus not just on what autism is but on the positive aspects of having autism.
2. Put Autism in Child-Friendly Terms
This autism mini-booklet for adolescents may help you put autism in child-friendly language so that you can explain autism in words they’ll understand.
3. Use Picture Books to Explain Autism
Books are great resources for explaining autism and there are plenty out there these days. You may wish to preview some books and decide which ones are best to use depending on your target audience. If you want to explain autism to smaller children vs. middle schoolers you’re going to want to change the way you explain autism. Here are some great books to explain autism depending on your audience. These links are affiliate links, which means I gain a small amount of money if you choose to purchase the books so that I can keep this website running.
- Autism Is... is a great book for younger children because it’s a short picture book. It is a story about a grandmother whose grandson overhears her telling someone else he has autism. It doesn’t go into the nitty-gritty details about autism, but a younger audience doesn’t need details so much as a general understanding.
- Can I Tell You About Autism? This book is geared to an audience of 7 years old and up. The character in the book, Tom, decides to explain autism from the point of view of someone with autism. He talks about not only what autism is, but how people around him can help and support him. Even better–the book has a section at the end for parents and professionals to help the explain autism themselves.
- Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes is a book for children ages 8 through 12, and it contains famous autism heroes from the worlds of science, math, history, and comedy. It is written from the perspective of 8-year-old Quinn, who has Asperger’s Syndrome and is illustrated colorfully and written in a child-friendly language. The great thing about this book is that it puts such a positive spin on autism and the achievements of those with autism.
- Autistic Planet is a book about living in a world where having autism is typical and being neurotypical is unheard of. It’s written in child-friendly rhyme and is geared toward children ages 6 and up. It is fully illustrated and short, so it helps with short attention spans.
Whatever book you decide to use, make sure to explain autism in a positive light and focus on how others can support and help your child with autism.
3. Use Videos to Explain Autism
Another alternative to just talking about autism is to use videos to explain autism. Sesame Street now has a character named Julia with autism and their videos and resources do a great job explaining autism. There are other videos that explain autism out there. Explore YouTube to find additional videos.
What’s the Point of All This?
It’s important for your child to know about his/her diagnosis, but, more importantly, for you to support your child when you explain autism. These are all ways to stay positive when explaining autism. Ensuring that your child and his/her classmates understand autism and creating a productive, empathetic, inclusive environment is perhaps even more important. Hopefully these resources make you better able and more prepared to do so.