Kids who have never met a child with autism may find some behaviors strange or a little scary, but you can ease their concerns and encourage friendships to grow:
- You can say, “It’s okay to wonder about people who are different from you. All of us are different. Isn’t that amazing?”
- You might say, “Your brain is like the boss of your body. It’s what makes you you! [Child’s name] has autism. His [Her] brain works differently than yours. Sometimes it is harder for him [her] to talk, listen, play, and learn in the same way you do. But he [she] might also be better at [drawing, reading, playing music, doing math] than other children.”
- Children with autism have ways besides talking to tell other people what they know or want. They may point to an object, repeat what someone says to them, or use sounds or pictures to communicate.
- Children with autism may also have different ways of calming down or showing that they are excited, such as by flapping their hands, rocking, or repeating noises.
- A friend with autism may not look at people or answer them right away, but that doesn’t mean he or she isn’t listening. The child may need more time to respond. Kids who talk to an autistic friend may need to wait a bit for an answer or repeat their words. They may need to practice patience, too.
- Children should let grown-ups know if they see someone being unkind to a child with autism.