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How do you explain autism to a 9 year old in a sentence or two.

(12 Posts)
Niecie Tue 03-Nov-09 09:34:11

DS1 who is 9 has a dx of AS. However, I have a problem with this as I am not convinced it is right and so I have never told him. He knows he has coordination issues and is not like other children as he gets OT help but he doesn't have a name label for it. (I should say I think he has dyspraxia not AS but that is a whole other thread).

On the telly last night there was a story about some autistic boys and DS wanted to know what autism was. Now I could write an essay on it for other parents but I couldn't think of a couple of sentences that adequately but easily explained it to a 9 yr old, ideally without making it sound like it was a terrible thing that made their lives miserable.

So, how would you all describe autism to a child because I am feeling really inadequate about how I handled it now. I feel like I missed an opportunity to introduce the ideas to DS.


wasuup3000 Tue 03-Nov-09 10:04:44

There a good book I got from Amazon for my sons Grandmother. I can't remember off hand the name of it. Do look at amazon and through the reviews and you will probably find it or something similar there.

likeacuppa Tue 03-Nov-09 10:07:57

Can I tell you about Asperger Syndrome? by Jude Welton is very good.

PeachyInCarnivalFeathers Tue 03-Nov-09 10:17:41

PC crashed but was trying to post a fewlinks for you LOL

OK so DS1 (ten next month)likes:


and takes this in to show and tellLOL

We also watched thislast night which is apparently new out, talks a lot (actual autistic /ASpeople talking) about how it feels to learn of a DX, has positive stories and real human faces. I am planning on getting a copy for ds1 soon.

wasuup3000 Tue 03-Nov-09 10:27:57

Yes Thats the one likeacuppa

Niecie Tue 03-Nov-09 13:06:39

Thanks everybody. I have the 'Can I tell You About Aspergers?' book. DS1 hasn't seen it yet as I don't think he would recognise a lot of himself in it. I could be wrong though - maybe I should dig it out and read it myself!!

The other books I will have a look at too. Haven't seen them before. smile

They are helpful in explaining in detail but what I was really after, I suppose, was a soundbite. What do you say to any child who wants to know what autism is? All I could think of was the detail when caught on the hop.

Put it another way, if somebody from your DC class, or a friend came and said what is autism what would you say? I am still at a lost to sum it up for a child without getting too complex.

Sorry, I probably sound really silly but I was surprised I couldn't do it!!! It isn't like I don't know what autism is fgs!!! <slaps self for being a bit daft about this>

PeachyInCarnivalFeathers Tue 03-Nov-09 13:24:58

It's like the difference between an appleman and a PC: both arev great, loved, deserving of respect- but goodat different things snd wired a bit differently.

troutpout Tue 03-Nov-09 14:06:39

Are you telling him that he has a dx of it? or are you just answering a question about it with no intention of telling.
That would make a difference i would want to present it in a way that is particular to him....(how it presents in him iykwim).
If you do want to tell him but are worried that the dx is wrong,you could tie the similarities between dyspraxia and aspergers together (they are pretty much identical if you look at the definitions aren't they?).
I just focused on the difficulties that my boy had when we talked/talk about it and then related it to the word autism or aspergers.

If you are just wondering about answering a question sensitively (but as if it was another person you are talking about) then i would say that peachy's idea of the brain being wired differently is a good one.Perhaps go on to talk about what difficulties a person with autism would have.

ds has dx of aspergers and dyspraxia.

Niecie Tue 03-Nov-09 19:12:21

Thanks again for all your replies.

I suppose this isn't really about DS but about me and my inability to answer a simple question like 'what is autism'? without over-complicating things!

No I'm not planning telling him about his dx. Don't know if I should - I really don't know what to do actually although I am sitting here thinking he has a father too! Why can't he spend some time thinking about these things?!n However, having a psych degree has it's disadvantages. I suspect he sees me as the expert which I am not by any means.

Anyway, that isn't the issue. I just realised that I couldn't sum it up succintly. And then if I can't explain it easily how would ever be able to broach the subject anyway?

For what it is worth his teacher doesn't think he has AS either although she isn't an expert by any means - she is 'only' a teacher. She is quite experienced though and has seen most things.

Poor DS - he seems to divide opinion. He is who is and I wonder about labels at all half the time, especially as we are getting the help he needs without them. Yes there are big overlaps in dyspraxia/AS but I think the dx lies where there is a majority of the problems and for DS that isn't the AS.

Peachy, you are a star. I had forgotten about brain wiring! (How?) He'd get that, especially if I compared the PS2 to the Wii or something. smile

PeachyInCarnivalFeathers Wed 04-Nov-09 09:20:24

PMSL at forgot about brain wiring-- I only did one year of a Psych degree joint (forst eyar, we all had to do a secxond subject) and that pain is ingrained for ever wink

(that might just be the mad Proffessor though hmm,yes probably <eek>)

linglette Wed 04-Nov-09 22:07:38

dunno if this is right but I would say:

"Autism is when showing and describing things is really really hard for you, and other people showing you things is hard too. So the things you do might not match the feelings you have inside and other people might not understand them and you might not understand other people".

matandrews Thu 05-Nov-09 07:28:07

We used a book provided by my sons school to explain to his younger sibling - although I can't remember the name. However I sure if you asked the local school then would recommend something.

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