10 Guidelines for Telling Your Child about ASD

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, a highly controversial topic of conversation amongst parents and professionals was the question, “Should we tell our child that she has autism?”

German Translation

Greek Translation

Today most will agree that such self-knowledge is essential, that children need to understand how and why they may feel different from others around them…and what it means. In the absence of accurate information, all sorts of wrong conclusions may automatically fill in the gaps, which negatively affects a person’s self-knowledge. Now the question has changed to “How do I tell my child that she is autistic?” I have developed these guidelines in the years since 1990 when I first tried to explain autism to a 10-year-old boy, one of my former students. The method you use must be autism-friendly! These ideas are visually clear and orderly, and features the familiar process of sorting concrete pieces of information into two categories. more “10 Guidelines for Telling Your Child about ASD”

Understanding Friends

A program to educate children about differences; to foster empathy and mutual understanding; with the option of supporting self-expression/self-advocacy by children on the spectrum.

German Translation

Greek Translation

Understanding Friends is designed to be presented to classes of students in the elementary and middle grades. Adaptations can be made for older classes. This article contains lesson plans and a list of supplies that you will need. After presenting this program in all its revisions, to thousands of students since 1985, I have found that usually it is most effective to go beyond the generic program (Option A) and to discuss specific issues, giving accurate information about real students in concrete situations. Options B and C will help you with this. Option D suggests ways to include the student with ASD in the presentation of this program, if so desired by the student. more “Understanding Friends”

THE MISTAKE GAME

Teachers and parents can follow these instructions on how to make a funny, goofy game about making and correcting mistakes that your students or children can play, with the whole family or whole class!

SKILL TO LEARN: How to acknowledge that a mistake is discovered; understand that mistakes can be corrected; and feel okay with mistakes and the act of correcting.

NEW UNDERSTANDING: It’s okay to make mistakes. Mistakes can be corrected. Some mistakes can be funny. It’s even okay to laugh about one’s own mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Mistakes aren’t “bad”. Mistakes can be keys to learning new things.* more “THE MISTAKE GAME”

THE ARM’S LENGTH GAME

Teachers and parents can follow these instructions on how to make a game to help your students or children learn what exactly is an “arm’s length”. This is a prerequisite to the PERSONAL SPACE GAME that can be played with the whole family or whole class!

SKILL TO LEARN: How to allow a socially comfortable space between you and another person.

NEW UNDERSTANDING: I know what it means to stand an “arm’s length” away from someone else.

EXAMPLE SITUATION: The child may stand too close to others, so much so that it bothers most people.

PREPARATION FOR GAME: First, you prepare with the class. You will define, literally, what is meant by “an arm’s length” by using a measuring stick. Measure different children’s arms. Make a list on the board to show the range of “arm’s length”. Find the average arm’s length. With stiff cardboard or a piece of light wood, make a measuring stick that represents the average arm’s length. Write on it “Average Arm’s Length”. (You can make a math lesson out of figuring out the average arm length of the members of the class.)

THE ARM’S LENGTH GAME: A child picks a card out of a hat which has either a location, or object, or a person’s name on it. (Examples of what can be written on different cards are: “classroom door”, “Julie’s desk”, “my locker”, “Mrs. Smith”, “fish aquarium”, “bookshelf”, and individual children’s names, “Daniel”, “Athena”, “Rickie” etc…) After reading the card that he or she picked, the child is supposed to then go to that object, location, or person, and stand approximately an arm’s length from the object or the person.

Repeat the routine reminder that we are supposed to stand “approximately an arm’s length away from people most of the time”. The child will use the measuring stick which has been marked to show the average arm’s length to help him or her know how far away to stand.

As time goes on, the children can estimate (without using the measuring stick) and then someone else can check with the measuring stick to see if they are close to the proper distance. Continue the game by taking turns picking cards from the hat.

Eventually, you will modify this game, using the same general idea by playing THE PERSONAL SPACE GAME.

 First write a Social Story about personal space, and explain that personal space can be determined by using an arm’s length as a general measure. You will summarize by literally and concretely defining “personal space” as an average “arm’s length”. For more detailed instructions see directions for THE PERSONAL SPACE GAME.

Remember to write Social Stories™. Social Stories describe life. Teachers and parents are encouraged to be trained in writing Social Stories by Catherine Faherty, or another member of Carol Gray’s Team Social Stories™.

THE PERSONAL SPACE GAME

Teachers and parents can follow these instructions on how to make a game to help your students or children learn what exactly is meant by “personal space”.  First play the ARM’S LENGTH GAME to prepare for THE PERSONAL SPACE GAME. These games are meant to be played with other classmates, or the whole family at home.

SKILL TO LEARN: Allowing socially comfortable space between you and another person.

NEW UNDERSTANDING: I know what “personal space” means. To respect someone’s personal space means to stand approximately an “arms’ length” away from him or her. Giving people personal space is respectful. more “THE PERSONAL SPACE GAME”