Friday, April 06, 2007

What is autism?

Given the statistics that Monicka shared with you on the blog recently, it is fairly likely that your child will know someone with an autism spectrum disorder.

How can you explain something so complex to a child? They may have lots of questions if their classmate is Autistic.

To start, you can use the explanation that autism is something that some people are born with (not like an illness which you can catch) and which affects the child's brain - making it more difficult to communicate and interact with others.

Another characteristic common to many autistic children is "sensory overload" - things can look much brighter, and sounds can be much louder, to an autistic child.

Just a few simple explanations like that can help your child understand that it would be kind to go gently with their autistic classmate. To remember that the other child might not understand a frown or a smile, and so to speak clearly - in simple sentences and without complex social overtones that can be difficult to understand. At the same time, your child can realise that the autism spectrum child may also be very intelligent and be passionate about his or her interests.

And most of all, your child can learn to be kind, welcoming and tolerant to all other children, even if they are a little different - and to appreciate the diversity in their classroom!

Happy parenting,


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