Sunday, January 6, 2013

How do you explain autism to children?

Crap! HELP!!!! The Goofy child just realized there's something different about Alex.

We bought a pink and a purple sippy cup at Wal-Mart last night. My husband's doing dishes and asks if one is for Alex or if they're both for the baby. I tell him they are both for the baby, Alex has his own and Goofy butts in with his two cents on Alex even having sippy cups:

"He's not a baby, Mom. He's 10 years old."

My husband starts laughing and I'm glaring daggers at him because this is all. his. fault. That's his exact argument against buying teething rings. Then my husband's playing innocent, "where'd he get that from? Where could he have heard that? Goofy, where'd you hear that?" Goofy, not even looking up from his bowl of cereal says, "Jesus told me. He's 10 years old. He needs to act 10 years old. He needs to talk."

and it just got serious. more serious than it started out because sippy cups are easy enough to explain, the inability to talk, wearing diapers and the many, many other ways Alex is different, not less is not so easy. There are adults everywhere who just don't get it, how do you explain it to a 6 year old? I'm stumped, I'm shocked, and I haven't had anywhere near enough coffee for this.

and my husband, my knight in shining armor steps up to the plate. He sensed really quick how serious this just got and he saw me without words and stepped in. "Goofy," he says, "Alex is different. He acts different, he does different things and that's ok." My husband, my hero.

Now to figure out how to explain that Alex is different because Alex has autism. Any ideas? How did you explain to your kids?

Mom - Not Otherwise Specified ... A hair-dryer kid in a toaster-brained world (thanks, Cari, for sharing this!)

Chameleon in the Spectrum ... Teaching Moments which will take you to the earlier posts, too.

Bec sends us to Stimeyland's post ... Autism, the 5th grade and a lot of hope.

Busy Momma of 5 sends us to youtube ... Autism Speaks' My Name is David and Arthur's What is Asperger's Syndrome.

Rebel Souls Shared this video from Life for Leif.

Inner Aspie shared Mom, why do I have autism?

This is not what I signed up for posted The day I told her she is autistic.

Balanced Imperfection shared Four Sea Stars' post I talked to a bunch of third graders...and I liked it.

18 comments:

  1. my 6 yr old has ASD, he has a 4 yr old brother and a 2 yr old sister. so they don't have the concept of understanding that their brother is different. So I am no help :( But I know this will come up as my children get older. You're hubby said it best :)

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    1. Thank you! a few people reminded me of the links I just added from Chameleon on the spectrum and Mom - Not Otherwise Specified. I hope they can help!

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  2. That's tough Mac. Pretty good recovery by your husband though. I've never tried to explain autism to someone that young before, so I don't know if I can help. But I do like the "everyone is different" approach.

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  3. Hey Mac- it's not easy. We told our kids that everyone is different. Everyone needs different things to succeed. Sometimes people look different, sometimes people are different on the inside, sometimes peoples brains work differently. If enough people are different in similar ways we sometimes give that kind of different a name. We told our kids that for two in our family the difference has a name and it is Autism. And for 2 others the name if the difference is Bipolar. They seemed to get it. Don't know if that helps or not..... I hope you find something that feels right to you.

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    1. I love that, Michelle. Thank you.

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  4. This is a tricky one! We told Skeletor's six year old sister that he has Autism, and that just means that his brain works differently than some other people's. We told her that he was just as smart, but just different.

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  5. So tough. I love Stimey's approach to this...
    http://www.stimeyland.com/2012/12/autism-the-5th-grade-and-a-lot-of-hope/

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    1. Bec, that was beautiful. I love it and I love that you shared it :)

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  6. This is a youtube video that I saw posted on youtube and I fell in love with http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_O0vRTkaaY

    Also there is a Arthur show on Autism as well. It is on youtube as well
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iq-VhfVwqp4

    So depending on the other lil kiddos ages there is ways to explain it. My oldest son who is going to be turning 12 on the 15th is blessed with autism and his 4 siblings are very understanding and accepting.

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    1. Thank you! That Arthur video is my favorite :)

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  7. I love the posts you linked. Great starting point.

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  8. I think you guys are off to a great start!! I really have no ideas on how to handle this one because--as you know!-- my kids grew-up surrounded by autistic uncles. So when they showed signs of autism themselves, words like 'autism' and 'sensory issues' and 'poop on the toilet seat'(tee hee) were common and comfortable. Your post does remind me, however, of a lovely conversation I had last year with Tyran (my sixteen year old).

    We were watching his two younger brothers play with their friends. As usual, Shay (my fourteen year old) was asking weird questions and coming up with odd suggestions for game play. Everyone was pretty much taking it in stride, but it was still obvious and interesting. Tyran asked me, without judgment or attitude,"Why do you think Shay is so different?" My answer was simply,"Well, I encourage you kids to be yourselves. Sometimes when you are yourself, your different." Tyran smiled and told me he loved that answer. In fact, he asked me to write it down!

    I know it's not very helpful, but I think the important thing to remember is that your attitude will be heard and felt above all else. So, however you guys choose to tackle it, Goofy will learn to love and appreciate his brothers difference. Because you do.

    Love you Mac! And thank-you for sharing this with us!!

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    1. Tsara, You are always helpful. Attitude does make a big difference and I think that may be the one part we have covered, lol.

      I love your answer to Tyran's question. Your boys are lucky to have such a pretty and smart mommy :)

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  9. What a great list of resources! Thanks so much for including me!

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  10. Great post! The Autism Society also has a brochure- http://www.autism-society.org/living-with-autism/family-issues/growing_up_together.pdf

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