Now that my kids are starting school I realize that I have neglected to directly talk with them and teach them about people with differences and disabilities. I mean, sure, I teach them to love others and treat others with kindness, but I’ve never actually had a good talk with them about children of different abilities or asked them their thoughts on the difficult subject.
One disorder that is particularly hard to understand and therefore to explain to our little ones is Autism. Here are a few ideas to make it a little easier.
5 Tips for Teaching Kids About Autism
1. Know the Facts
Young kids might not need to know all of the details, but it will sure help you as a parent to know the facts before deciding how and what to teach your kids. Check out Autism Speaks to learn more…
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.
2. Get First Hand Accounts
Besides just learning the facts, try to gain an understanding from someone who has it or who is a parent or teacher of an autistic child. If you don’t know anyone first hand, read some of the great blogs on this list of autism resources at Kitchen Counter Chronicles.
3. Ask Questions
Sometimes it’s easier to get difficult conversations started with kids by asking them questions first. Like “Are there any kids in your school that act or look different than you?” or “How do you think that kid feels about being different?”
4. Teach Through Play
Children learn best through play, so try teaching them about autism or other differences with things like puppets, dolls, or role playing.
5. Read a Children’s Book
My kids love the book Chicken Boy by Gregory G. Allen. It’s a fun book about one boy with autism…
“I have a superhero inside my head. I call him Chicken Boy” proclaims our hero. What others may see as odd “quirks”, a child living with autism explains as all a part of his being a superhero. Told in the first person perspective, Chicken Boy offers a small glimpse into the mind of one child who wants others to understand they shouldn’t fear someone simply because that person is a little different.
Gregory Allen was kind enough to send along an extra copy of Chicken Boy for one of you! Just enter to win below…
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