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How to explain autism to 4yo dd?

(8 Posts)
attheendoftheday Tue 17-Nov-15 21:30:50

Dd1 is 4yo and in reception. She's in a small rural school in a class of 8. One of the other little girls has autism and understandably struggles with some of the social interactions. Dd1 knows that the little girls has autism, but is increasingly coming home saying things like "I don't want x to join in our games because she messes things up" or "I don't want to line up with x because she pushes".

I feel for this little girl, and I want to find a way to talk to dd1 about why she may find some things more difficult and what it would feel like to her if she's excluded from games. That said, I obviously also want dd1 to be able to play games and not be pushed, although I perfectly happy with how the teachers are handling this.

Dd1 is actually very accommodating of other kid's needs, from her little sister who is going through a pushing and hitting phase, to another kid in her class with a speech delay, and one who is partially deaf. She adapts her play to include these others, and I think if I could explain a bit to her about what is difficult for x with autism it would really improve how she is with her.

Has anyone found a good way of explaining autism to a child of this age?

PiccalilliSandwiches Tue 17-Nov-15 21:53:00

How about a book like this?

It's great that you want to help her understand OP.

Fairylea Tue 17-Nov-15 22:00:33

I agree it's lovely that you want to explain smile

My ds is 3.5 and has autism and he really struggles in social situations. He so badly wants to play with other children but he has no awareness of personal space and doesn't read people well - he wouldn't know when a child had enough of something for example so he needs close adult supervision to interject as necessary!

Depending on how well your dd would understand I think I would explain that some children / people have difficulty understanding other people and might need them to be more patient with them in order for them to join in. You could also say that autism sometimes makes people have difficulties in situations where there is a lot of noise and things happening all at once, it can make them very stressed and sometimes confused and might lead to them doing things which are a bit "strange".

The difficulty with something like autism is that there is no standard however - there is a saying that if you've met one person with autism then... you've met one person with autism (so they're all so different!) so it's hard to generalise but all you can do is speak in broad terms.

Good luck !

RiaOverTheRainbow Tue 17-Nov-15 23:34:28

There's a Sesame Street online storybook about a character who has autism.

Devilishpyjamas Tue 17-Nov-15 23:36:50

She finds it difficult to understand x/y/z (as necessary)

That's what I used with ds2 & ds3 about their brother from the time they could talk.

GiddyOnZackHunt Tue 17-Nov-15 23:42:17

Would it be helpful to say that they can't tell when they are being too much. And also that things that most children think of as fine are too much for a child who has autism. That they do things the opposite way round sometimes.
Depending on the parent you might be able to figure out something like a system for stopping scary behaviour on both sides and then they could operate in comfort. There are wristbands that children can use to indicate emotion. If a few of the children had them then that might work.

attheendoftheday Tue 17-Nov-15 23:49:54

That book looks ideal, I've ordered it. Thank you!

Thanks for the advice, also. I'm aware people with autism present differently, I suppose it's one of the things that makes it so difficult to explain. Good advice about the noise and busy times being especially difficult, I shall definitely talk about that.

attheendoftheday Tue 17-Nov-15 23:54:29

The seasame street story looks good, thank you for that.

Thank you for the other phrases to use, too. Very helpful. It seems quite simple now, but I was really struggling to find the right words earlier on.

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