Mother talking to son on a couch
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Having three children on the autism spectrum, we have had our fair share of having to learn how to explain autism to autistic children. When our youngest daughter was diagnosed at age eight, we realized that we needed to explain things a little differently 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 still grasping at straws to learn about autism yourself. In this process, it’s easy to understand you may forget to explain autism to your child with the autism diagnosis.

Explain Autism to Autistic Children

While discovering more about autism, you will come across the neurodiversity movement. Many autistic adults do not like the puzzle piece (for several different reasons). O e way to help support your child and other autistic individuals is by purchasing items designed for neurodiversity like these autism shirts.

So today, we will go over just a few basics on understanding and how to explain autism to autistic children. With the resources below, you will be prepared to handle the discussion positively!

Explaining too much detail will overwhelm your child and do more harm than good. Here are three tips to know how to explain autism to autistic children

1. What is Autism?

The first thing is to explain autism. Acco ing to your child’s age and maturity level, 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 to answer any child‘s questions. Here are eight 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.

2. Keep it Positive

Remember to keep it positive whenever you talk to your child (around or even near) about autism. 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 most prominent advocate. How you s Autism is how they will see autism.

3. Use Resources

Thankfully, there are many fantastic resources to help you explain autism to an autistic child! Here are a few of my favorite books to help children of all different ages understand autism.

How to Explain Autism to Autistic Children

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? What was the most challenging part?

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.

6 Comments

  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 http://autism.sesamestreet.org/. It is perfectly age appropriate and does an amazing job of celebrating differences.

  6. As an Autistic adult, what was presented here might have helped me and my parents in understanding Autism. I was officially diagnosed as a kid, but nobody told me! My parents and doctors were afraid I would use it as an excuse to do things I wasn’t supposed to do and/or try to get out of doing what I was supposed to do. I only learned almost 3 years ago about my diagnosis- and I’m almost 60!

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