My 5yo DD's best friend has autism. How do I explain this to her?(17 Posts)
DD1 has just started Y1. She has recently become firm friends with a boy with autism in her class. I have only met his mum a couple of times, and don't feel able to broach the subject with her.
Essentially this little boy lashes out regularly (I have seen the bruises, including on DD1), he also fidgets/messes about in class. Because of this he gets a lot of attention from the teachers, and I think that is part of the attraction for my DD. I have heard in the playground that he was offered a place in a special school, but that his parents turned it down.
Recently my DDs behaviour has deteriorated, and she is becoming more violent. Now, I'm not saying that the two are definitely connected, but I want a way to explain to her why her friends behaviour isn't acceptable from her (but he gets lots of attention for it)
By attention I mean that he has a special chart in the classroom, gets to sit on the teachers knee in assembly, gets lots of stickers etc.
It's the same as any other situation where another child does things you don't find accptable - 'I don't care what other children do - hitting is not acceptable'
What would you do if the little boy didn't have asd but hit other children?
There's a book called 'Looking After Louis' which is aimed at children to explain autism and why autistic children may get special attention in school. Might help you talk with your DD about these issues
I don't think bruising other children is acceptable for any child?
I understand how it could happen but frequently enough for you to see it on your DD and other children two months into the school year is awful surely?
I should add that I think that because if you start explaining it will muddy things.
If you explain asd in the context of bad behaviour it's not especially helpful. I would just say 'maybe he gets stickers because he finds it much harder than you to sit nicely/keep his hands to himself/etc
He has been in DDs class for over a year, so the bruises were actually
all last year. There was also a serious incident involving another child and a pair of scissors.
There are other children in the class who occasionally hit out, but DD isn't friends with them. I think she has some understanding that her friend is different, and I was wondering if there was a way I could explain it to her.
Academically, she is a fairly average child.
I understand the urge. Dd is 6 years younger than DS2 who has asd.
I spent ages thinking I would need to explain. DS2 is a quiet delightful child but I knew when she started to notice differences in things like his language.
In reality it was exactly like the sex discussions - you don't have one big discussion, you just deal with things/questions as they arise
I kept it really simple. She only needed to know he found stuff difficult, just like she found riding a bike difficult. The why wasn't actually relevant for ages.
Sorry, I was thinking primary one. It's a really difficult one to explain to a 5 year old, my DS is the same age. I normally tell him to concentrate on what he's doing and let the teacher deal with everyone else, probably not that helpful sorry.
Thank you. I have tried telling her that he doesn't learn in the same way that she does, but I think the advice you are giving is to do nothing. (apart from deal with her bad behaviour, clearly).
I have had a look at the book, but actually DD does engage with him, and makes up games he can join in with. What she doesn't understand is why he is different.
Ok. But what are you going to say that is actually anything other than 'he is different?
He has autism
What does that mean
It means he is sort of different.
And you just add the possibility of her asking him about his autism or telling someone else.
I am probably sounding horribly unhelpful but I am not sure what you want.
He is different because it is harder for him to keep his temper and sit and listen like she does. You are very pleased she doesn't hit and sits nicely and you want her to behave well because you know she can. His teachers are trying to help him because he finds it really really hard. We are all different. Some people find things easy, some find them hard.
I'd tell her the truth, that it is harder for him to control his behavior than it is for her and answer her concerns honestly.
At six DD2 could read better and spell better than her 9 year old dyslexic sister, much better (as in being best reader in the class kind of better) and way better at making friends.
There was no escaping plain simple truthful explanations. She had to understand that despite finding some things difficult, DD1 was just as bright as she was it was just her brain isn't wired the same way.
Pagwatch, you are of course spot on - I just wondered if there was a way to do it. If there isn't, then I won't.
DD1 seems to be a walking disaster at the moment. I am desperately looking for ways to try and help her with the things I can. If this isn't one of them, then so be it.
I think you can help her though - we forget that learning how different we are is hard but it makes life easer when you get it.
One conversation with DD ended up with me trying to get her to think of what her friends were good at and what they found difficult.
She started with obvious stuff 'Emma is brilliant at running but finds reading out loud hard' then got on to great stuff like 'Sarah is brilliant at making me laugh but can't share'
It became much more about everyone having strengths and weaknesses rather than 'ds2 has autism so he can't talk'
I'm sorry you suggest she is struggling a bit with some stuff. I hope she gets through soon enough.
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My ds has autism. I think that you don't say to your dd "x has autism", you say "x finds it difficult to concentrate" or "when [a certain situation] happens, x feels [worried or whatever] and does [whatever he does]".
Then say that everyone is good at some things but other things they need help with so x needs help with xyz.
The kids in my ds class don't particularly know he is autistic, but they do know that certain things may frighten him etc.
everybody is different, and he is still learning how to make the right choices. Its nicer if you help him make the right choices rather than copy him
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