Having three children on the autism spectrum, we have had our fair share of explaining autism to an autistic child.  When our youngest daughter was diagnosed at age 8, we realized that we needed to explain things a little different to her than we would to our three-year-old or even to a sibling of an autistic child.

After a diagnosis, as parents and caregivers, you go through the motions of telling family, friends, and other caregivers about your child’s diagnosis.  Typically, you are doing this while you are still grasping at straws to learn about autism yourself.  In this process, it can easily occur that you may forget to explain autism to your child with an autism diagnosis.

Explaining Autism to an Autistic Child

So today, we will go over just a few basics on understanding and explaining autism to an autistic child.  With the resources below, you will be prepared to handle the discussion in a positive way!

First and foremost, remember to keep it simple.  Explaining in too much detail will overwhelm your child and do more harm than good.  Here are a few key ways to explain autism as well as resources to help along the way

What is Autism?

First thing is to explain autism.  According to the age and maturity level of your child, this may be slightly different, but still the basis of what you need to explain. Simply put “Autism means that your brain works differently from other children’s brains. “

You will also need to know more about autism yourself in order to answer any questions your child may have.  Here are 8 key things to know about Autism.   You can also read more about autism signs and symptoms here.

Remember to keep your answers simple and to the point.  Many people with autism do not understand sarcasm, and may not understand metaphors until a much older age.

Explaining Autism to an Autistic Child | Explaining autism to a child can be tough. Even more so if you are explaining autism to an autistic child. Check out these great tips to make the conversation go smoother and give both you and your child a better understanding of autism #autismparenting #autismawareness #autismacceptance #themomkind

Explaining Autism in a Positive Way

Whenever you talk to your child (around or even near) about autism, remember to keep it positive.   Be open and honest about autism.  Teaching different not less is ideal when explaining autism to a child with autism.  You are your child’s biggest advocate.  How you see autism is how they will see autism.

Use Resources to Explain Autism to an Autistic Child

Thankfully, there are a ton of amazing resources out there to help aid you in explaining autism to an autistic child!  Here are a few of my favorite books to help children of all different ages understand autism.

Click on the book or the title to get access to the books.

The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (And Their Parents)

This positive, straightforward book offers kids with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) their own comprehensive resource for both understanding their condition and finding tools to cope with the challenges they face every day. Some children with ASDs are gifted; others struggle academically. Some are more introverted, while others try to be social. Some get “stuck” on things, have limited interests, or experience repeated motor movements like flapping or pacing (“stims”).

The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders covers all of these areas, with an emphasis on helping children gain new self-understanding and self-acceptance. Meant to be read with a parent, the book addresses questions (“What’s an ASD?” “Why me?”) and provides strategies for communicating, making and keeping friends, and succeeding in school.

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin 



If you’ve ever felt different, if you’ve ever been low, if you don’t quite fit in, there’s a name you should know… Meet Dr. Temple Grandin―one of the world’s quirkiest science heroes! 

When a young Temple was diagnosed with autism, no one expected her to talk, let alone become one of the most powerful voices in modern science. Yet, the determined visual thinker did just that. Her unique mind allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, helping her invent groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe!

We’re Amazing 1,2,3! A Story About Friendship and Autism

We’re Amazing 1,2,3! is the first Sesame Street storybook to focus on autism, which, according to the most recent US government survey, may, in some form, affect as many as one in forty-five children. It’s part of Sesame Street’s autism initiative that has expanded to include a new character with autism.

Elmo introduces his longtime friend Julia to Abby, who’s a little confused at first because Julia isn’t saying hello. Elmo explains that Julia has autism, so she does things a little differently. Julia sometimes avoids direct eye contact, flaps her arms when she’s excited and is sensitive to some noises. But Abby soon learns that she also has a lot of things in common with Julia. All kids want love, friendship, and to have fun! They are all wonderful, each in his or her own way.

See amazing in all children through the Sesame Street Autism Resources Page:

All My Stripes: A Story for Children with Autism

This is the story of Zane, a zebra with autism, who worries that his differences make him stand out from his peers. With careful guidance from his mother, Zane learns that autism is only one of many qualities that make him special. It contains a Note to Parents by Drew Coman, Ph.D., and Ellen Braaten, Ph.D., as well as a Foreword by Alison Singer, President of the Autism Science Foundation.

Different, Not Less: A Children’s Book About Autism

Children with autism can do amazing, incredible things!

You can use this book to teach your child about Autism Spectrum Disorder. The poem will explain how those diagnosed are different, but also wish to be included in most social circles. The poem was written by the father of a son with ASD. This book will give you an opportunity to explain the diagnosis to your child when you believe they are able to understand.

Different, Not Less: A Children’s Book About Autism was written with children in mind. The text is big and bold and runs down the page similar to a list format. This should help avoid the skipping of words since it is easy for parents to cover up words as the child reads. Each page also has a hidden word. Red letters mixed in with the black letters spell uplifting words for those diagnosed with autism.

Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes

“Different Like Me” introduces children aged 8 to 12 years to famous, inspirational figures from the world of science, art, math, literature, philosophy, and comedy.

Eight-year-old Quinn, a young boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, tells young readers about the achievements and characteristics of his autism heroes, from Albert Einstein, Dian Fossey, and Wassily Kandinsky to Lewis Carroll, Benjamin Banneker, and Julia Bowman Robinson, among others. All excel in different fields but are united by the fact that they often found it difficult to fit in-just like Quinn.

Fully illustrated in color and written in child-friendly language, this book will be a wonderful resource for children, particularly children with autism, their parents, teachers, carers and siblings.

There Ya Go!

Thanks for reading “Explaining Autism to an Autistic Child.”  Let us know how your conversation went! What was the most successful part of your talk?   To access more great information like this article, make sure to click that purple button below to stay up to date on our latest post, free autism resources, and giveaways!

The Mom Kind

Alicia Trautwein is an Autism advocate, writer, motivational speaker, and dedicated mom of four. Alicia’s desire to advocate for Autism comes from her own autism diagnosis and that of her three children, niece, and brother. Her life’s mission is to educate on autism acceptance and change the world for future generations of autistic individuals.

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  1. Thank you for sharing your story! I love reading about others experiences. It helps me to decide the best way to handle things with my own child. My daughter is 6. Not only is she autistic, but she is also legally blind. She’s incredibly intelligent but has a very hard time expressing herself. She lacks the confidence to trust herself, though we know her memory is amazing and she’s unbelievably smart. She’s in ABA now and thriving, though we still have a long way to go.
    After her diagnosis, I decided it would be best for her to hear from me what it means right away, rather than having her notice she’s different from her classmates and wonder why.
    I explained to her that autistic just means that her brain works a little differently than mommy’s. I had to keep it age appropriate and not too complicated. I explained that her remarkable memory and attention to details are a part of that, and though she may be different from others, she’s wonderful and perfect just the way she is. I told her to be proud of herself because she’s a great person and that mommy will always love her no matter what. When she’s cranky, when she’s happy, when she’s melting down and when she’s silly I love her the same.
    She smiled so big and she’s proud of who she is, so I’ll count that as a win! ?

  2. I am glad you enjoyed reading our story! I love how you explained to your daughter, it was perfectly age appropriate. There is nothing that beats our children being happy and smiling!

  3. My son is 4 and was recently diagnosed. We have told him a little about having autism, and his assumption is that everyone should have autism. A few weeks after telling him about it, he was having a hard time in a store and a lady made a rude comment. After the incident he asked me why I didn’t give her some autism so she would understand. Our older son (age 6) is having a much harder time with his little brother’s diagnoses. Since explaining it to my 6 year old he has made comments like, “why can’t he just be normal,” and, “why does he have to have autism, I just want a regular brother.”

  4. Do we know of any good resources for explaining autism to kids without autism?? My son will be going to regular kindergarten next year and I would love to gift a cool book about autism (or 10) to his new teacher that she could share with the kids in his class to help them understand why he doesn’t always see things the same ways they do… 🙂

  5. Hi Sarah! When it comes to younger ages, sesame street’s autism initiative is truly amazing! I highly recommend (affiliate link) “We’re Amazing 1,2,3! A Story About Friendship and Autism” as well as all the resources at It is perfectly age appropriate and does an amazing job of celebrating differences.

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