In 4th grade I was upset because kids were teasing my brother and not being very nice. They didn’t understand his autism. I talked to my parents about it and told them they needed to talk to the kids at school. One of the best things you can do for your brother or sister with autism is talk to your parents. Help them understand from a kids point of view. The next best thing, talk to the kids that are around your sibling. Below, I wrote a few tips for kids and parents to help eachother understand autism better:
1. This actually comes from my brother. In 4th grade he said “If I could tell people one thing about autism it would be that I don’t want to be this way”. It’s not really a tip but something you should know in trying to better understand.
2. At school, if you think someone is weird just because he can’t express himself, he might have autism. Please don’t tease that person; instead, go and play with him.
3. If someone who has autism doesn’t respond right away when you speak to him, it doesn’t mean he’s being rude. Socializing can be challenging for people with autism.
4. Many people have trouble making friends, but it’s even harder for boys and girls with autism. Include people with autism even more than you would others.
5. We are all special in our won way. Focus on what kids do well. Ask others about their strengths and acknowledge that everyone has strengths and weaknesses.
6. Some people with autism can not talk with their mouth. It doesn’t mean they don’t understand. Some people with autism talk with sign language, pictures and by typing on computers. Please be patient and take the time to learn how they communicate. You’ll be amazed at what they have to say!
7. People with autism are exceptionally smart, but their brains are wired differently. It can take them longer to process information. Please be patient.
8. Most of all: INCLUDE!
Here are 3 really easy activities to do with a class when explaining autism:
1. Read “My Brother Charlie”
2. Go around the room. Ask kids one thing they’re really good at and one thing they really struggle with. Relate those things to your sibling with autism.
3. Ask the kids 3 or 4 of their favorite things (like tv show, video game, sport/team). At home go through the answers and find out what most kids in the class are interested in. You can work on introducing those things to your sibling at home. Then when the kids at school are talking about it, your brother or sister will know what they’re talking about and might even be interested!