How to Teach Children About Autism

Parenthood is basically one long teaching job. All parents want their children to grow up to be healthy, well-loved, and good people. This is not easily done. There are so many misconceptions in society about a variety of issues that children can be taught to ignore. Parents also want to ensure that their kids are kind to other people, and able to function well and appropriately in social situations.

Kids speak their minds. This can be a great characteristic, but can also be inappropriate. Sometimes kids will pop out with a sentence in public that embarrasses their parents. Teaching children to speak their minds and be heard, while also being socially conscious of what is polite and what is not, is tough.

With the big diverse world that we live in, what is appropriate to say in one situation may not be appropriate in another. Teaching our kids to be inclusive of diversity is an important part of teaching them to be kind, social, human beings.
Autism is one condition that many people are born with, but one that is also not easily recognized by other children. We teach our children about different ages, cultures, and ethnicities, and it is also important that we teach them about some less visible conditions that make people different, and that diversity makes the world beautiful. When kids cannot see what makes someone different, they are more likely to use these differences as a basis of teasing.

This teasing can be incredible harmful to not only a child with autism, but also to the generation as whole. Parents have a responsibility to teach their children about these differences so that their kids grow up more open-minded, understanding, and compassionate. This will help make the world a better place.

More about high-functioning autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is something that affects 42 million children throughout the world. While many people may have heard about what autism is, a lot of them do not actually know what this entails. There are so many pervasive stereotypes and falsehoods in society and in the media that it can be hard to know what the truth is. For children, this gets even more confusing. With autism being a spectrum, some individuals are affected more severely than others. This means that each person with autism may function at a different level, and thus they cannot all be grouped together. They must be treated like the individuals that they are, and this is what we should teach our children about diversity. Children should learn how their peers with autism may function differently in social or emotional situations.

High-functioning autism is one part of the spectrum. This term is sometimes interchangeable with Asperger’s syndrome, though that is becoming less common. One of the more recent concerns specifically for people with high-functioning autism is suicide. Recent studies have shown that, because of the isolation that many people with high-functioning autism feel, they are ten times more likely to commit suicide. One factor that plays an enormous role in this are the stereotypes. Stereotypes about autism are frequently negative and can make people who are on the spectrum want less and less social interaction. People on the spectrum struggle to maintain relationships due to their different social abilities and stereotypes that drive them from social situations. Negative stereotypes that attack the very core of one’s being are astronomically detrimental to a person’s sense of self. Many of these stereotypes describe high-functioning people with autism as “slow,” “aggressive,” or “incapable,” but this is not accurate.

Many famous people in our society are on the spectrum. Often, these celebrities feel that their autism is a large part of genius and social abilities. With more and more people coming out and openly discussing life on the spectrum, autism is becoming more of a popular discussion topic. This is a good thing. It creates a basis on which stereotypes can be discredited and accurate information can be disseminated. Having celebrity figures be open about their autism can help make it more relatable to the general public, and can make it easier to teach children about it.

Step 1: Ignore the stereotypes

Stereotypes have always existed about every group of people. They are never going to go away, so it is best that we teach our youth how to deal with them and work to discredit them. Sometimes, this just means ignoring it. By ignoring stereotypes, they lose power. If you live in the USA, you have probably heard of people assuming that vaccines cause autism. While this is completely unsupported by any scientific data, it has permeated society and spread. This has led to refusal of some parents to vaccinate their children, and we are seeing outbreaks of infections that should not be happening. The 2015 measles outbreak in California is one such example.

Another negative misconception about high-functioning autism is that these individuals are not capable of working or are too slow. The truth is that people with high-functioning autism can be some of the best workers because their condition gives them unique abilities. Media and the way that society used to discriminate against people with autism is a large part of why these stereotypes exist. Children with autism used to be segregated in the classroom and not given the support that they needed to function as a part of the classroom unit. Fortunately, in recent years, the media has begun to recognize the damage that they were doing by portraying people on the spectrum in a certain light. They are starting to incorporate more accurate representations of people with autism into television. Additionally, online learning programs that utilize games are making it easier for children with autism to learn. This can also offer them an alternative means of learning that keeps them motivated and affords them the same opportunities to learn and grow as other children.

Teach your kids what stereotypes are and why they are dangerous to other people. Showing them the benefits of being kind and respectful to people different from themselves will help enrich not only the lives of children with autism, but also the lives of all children.

What is respect?

Respect is defined as “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” It is, more simply, the appreciation of uniqueness. People on the spectrum can be treated as unintelligent when in fact they are often highly intellectual individuals. Teaching children to be inclusive of people with ASD and recognize that they are fellow humans and should be treated as such is quite important.

Utilize resources to help support your educational endeavors. Children’s books such as My Brother Charlie and the movie The Guardians of The Galaxy are resources that portray autism in a positive light and can help educate children. This can help kids learn how to interact with other children with autism and can help them better understand the condition.

Together, we can help make the world a better place by raising educated, open-minded, loving, and respectful children. It is a challenge, no doubt, but one well worth embracing.