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Talking About Autism in School

Talking to your child’s class about autism can be a scary thing to think about?  Will the students use the information to make fun of your child or will the information help the other students understand him or her better?

Some parents choose to make the presentation themselves while others have the teacher talk about differences between children and how everyone is unique. This could be a way to talk about differences without singling your child out.

Antidotally, we have heard having this conversation at the beginning of the year can help children in the class be more accepting and patient with your child.

  • You can decide if you want to use the word autism, or talk about everyone is unique.
  • Use books or videos to help.  We have a list of resources below.
  • You can’t tell that someone has autism by looking at them.
  • Explain how your child is similar to the other students. What if your child’s favorite TV show or movie, what they like to eat, play with, favorite color, favorite things to do, etc.
  • Be open about differences and answering any questions the children may have.  Many students will want to know “Why does he do this?” Sometimes, that answer is “he is still learning how to _______.” and sometimes a blanket statement of “I don’t know” may be appropriate.
  • Ask the students to help by explaining the rules.  Kids with autism want to play, too! Besides asking your friend if he wants to play, it can be helpful if you explain what the rules of the game are.

Books About Autism for Children

• A Friend Like Simon by Kate Gaynor, Sarah Rennick, and Catriona Sweeney

• A Is for Autism F Is for Friend: A Kid’s Book for Making Friends with a Child Who Has Autism by Joanna L. Keating-Velasco

• All My Stripes by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer

• Andy and His Yellow Frisbee by Mary Thompson

• Different Like Me, My book of Autism Heroes by Jennifer Elder

• Ian’s Walk: a Story About Autism by Laurie Lears and Karen Ritz • Looking after Louis by Lesley Ely and Polly Dunbar

• My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete

• Playing by the Rules: a Story About Autism by Dena Fox

• Rules by Cynthia Lord

• Russell Is Extra Special: A Book About Autism for Children by Charles A. Amenta III

• Some Kids Have Autism by Martha E. H. Rustad

• The Autism Acceptance Book: Being a Friend to Someone With Autism by Ellen Sabin

• Waiting for Benjamin: a Story About Autism by Alexandra Jessup Altman and Susan Keeter

Videos About Autism

Elementary/Middle School Students

10 Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew – 4 minutes
www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-liQ3n6LE0

Autism sensory overload simulation – 1:08 minutes
https://youtu.be/Xyxr5Ky-Uf0

Can you make it to the end? – 1:24 minutes
https://youtu.be/Lr4_dOorquQ

Sensory Overload – Animated drawings – 2:22 minutes
https://youtu.be/K2P4Ed6G3gw

Middle School/High School Students

Autism “Awareness” – Ten Things You Should Know – 5 minutes
www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5m5vqrFZpc

Autism Spectrum Disorder Presentation – 12 minutes
www.youtube.com/watch?v=y42ISQ956gM

My Autism and Me – 14:21 minutes
www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejpWWP1HNGQ

What Is Autism? – 3 minutes
www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mh75_u0uR888

The Autism Society Inland Empire does not endorse the organizations listed here, they are provided solely as a reference for parents.

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