Autism (Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD) is a neurological disorder that affects how a person interacts and communicates with the world. According to the World Health Organization, around 1% of children have autism. The severity of symptoms can vary and change over time.
While some people with autism can learn to live without help, others require life-long assistance. It’s up to the community, friends, and family to help them live fulfilling lives. That’s why it’s essential to explain autism to kids so they can adjust their behavior.
What Is Autism?
Before explaining autism to a child, adults should clearly understand the condition, its symptoms, and its consequences. They should be ready to answer various questions about autistic behavior and explain how to support people with autism.
Autism is a neurological condition that causes a person to have trouble communicating and understanding what other people think and feel. That’s why autistic kids don’t often respond to gestures, touching, and facial expressions.
What Is It Like to Be Autistic?
People with an autism diagnosis usually exhibit behavior that may seem strange to others. This includes:
- Painful reaction to loud sounds, extensive smells, bright colors, and touching
- Repetitive body movements (e.g., rocking back and forth, staring blankly at something)
- Strong attachments to certain objects
- Confusion with any type of change in their lives
- Ability to notice the smallest details
There isn’t one way to be autistic, so each person with ASD is different. Besides exhibiting unusual behavior, people with autism are more likely to develop co-occurring conditions and mental health disorders than general populations.
Such conditions are:
- Gastrointestinal and metabolic disorders
- Sleep disorders
That’s why autistic children are likely to get sick more often than their peers. They can also suffer from chronic pain and discomfort.
Factors that contribute to autism development in children include genetics and the environment. More studies need to be done to determine the exact cause of this condition.
At What Age Should I Explain Autism?
Children younger than three may not notice that people around them behave differently. Older kids can start staring at children with autism or, worse, making hurtful comments about their behavior. This is a good time for the adult to take the lead and start explaining.
There isn’t an exact time when adults need to explain the diagnosis to a child with autism. Some autistic kids may ask “what’s wrong with me” questions. Others could seem indifferent.
If the child doesn’t ask questions, it doesn’t mean they aren’t wondering about their condition. They could just have trouble expressing their curiosity. That’s why it’s important to start explaining at around three or five.
The age a parent or guardian should tell a kid about autism is individual for every family. It’s up to the adult to find the right moment since they know their child the best.
How to Explain Autism to Kids: Tips
A conversation about autism doesn’t have to be complicated. Kids are willing to take many things adults tell them for granted. It’s much better to explain as much as possible to a child than to leave them wondering, confused, or hurt.
Rehearsing the Process
Talking about autism is never easy, especially when an adult has to explain the diagnosis to a child with this condition. That’s why it’s essential to think the words through in advance. Whenever the time comes, rehearsal can prevent an uncomfortable situation.
When a child expresses curiosity about their condition or the behavior of other children, it’s an excellent opportunity to start talking. Adults should consider preparing themselves for the conversation for the question does not catch them unaware.
If the child doesn’t ask any questions, it doesn’t mean they aren’t curious. Every child will meet a person with some kind of disability at some point. They should be prepared for the encounter.
Avoiding Negative Emotions
It’s natural for adults to be emotional about autism, especially if it concerns their children. However, they should consider leaving emotions out of the conversation. Being matter-of-fact about the condition can help children understand that there isn’t anything to worry about.
Meanwhile, leaving words such as “handicapped ” or “weird” out of the conversation is vital. A child should understand that a kid with autism is still just a kid.
Children can often understand when an adult is lying. Kids with autism can pay attention to minor details. When explaining autism, the adult should be as sincere as possible.
Instead of hiding information from a child, it’s better to phrase it differently or generally. Sincerity can keep the child coming back with more questions instead of trying to avoid the subject.
A child with autism may be scared of their diagnosis. Meanwhile, a kid who meets a person with autism might be extremely confused. When discussing autism with a child, an adult needs to be positive about the condition.
Taking One Step at a Time
Showering a child with information can be counterproductive. An adult can explain the basics of autism the first time they have a conversation. More details can come later.
It may be reasonable to talk about autism at home, where the child feels safe. If the kid asks questions in a public setting, the adult may promise to explain later.
Get Autism Treatment at Brain Therapy TMS
While one out of a hundred people lives with autism, only a few get the treatment they need. One of the effective approaches to treating autism and helping people live independent lives is transcranial magnetic stimulation.
The procedure involves a painless magnetic stimulation of the brain cells in specific areas. Many people experience significant improvement. Brain Therapy TMS in San Diego, California, arranges transcranial magnetic stimulation for people with Asperger’s Syndrome and other types of autism.
Find out how we can help by contacting our clinical team at any convenient time.