excerpts taken from Ellen Notbohm‘s, Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew 2012
I am first and foremost a child – a child with autism.
My autism is only 1 aspect of my total character. It does not define me as a person.
My sensory perceptions are disordered
This means that everyday sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches that you might not even notice, may be really painful for me. The very environment in which I live often seems hostile. I may appear withdrawn and seem belligerent to you, but I’m really just trying to defend myself.
Please remember to distinguish between “won’t” (I choose not to) and “can’t” (I am not able to). It isn’t that I don’t listen, it’s that I can’t understand you. Speak directly to me in plain words.
I am a concrete thinker and this means I interpret language very literally.
I often do not understand puns, double nuances or sarcasm.
It’s hard for me to tell you what I need when I don’t know the words to describe my feelings.
Please be patient with me. I may be hungry, frustrated, frightened or confused but right now those words are beyond my ability to express. Be alert for body language, withdrawal, agitation or other signs that something is wrong.
I am visually oriented
Please show me how to do something rather than just telling me. And please be prepared to show me many times. Lots of consistent repetition helps me learn.
I don’t need ‘fixing’.
Please focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can’t do. Look for my strengths and you will find them. There’s more than one “right” way to do most things.
Please help me with social interactions.
It may look like I don’t want to play with other kids, but sometimes it’s just that I simply don’t know how to start a conversation or enter a play situation. If you can encourage other children to invite me to join them, it may be that I’m delighted to be included.
Try to identify what triggers my meltdowns.
Meltdowns, blowups, tantrums or whatever you call them are even more horrid for me than they are for you. They occur because one or more of my senses has gone into overload. If you can figure out why my meltdowns occur, they can be prevented.
If you are a family member, please love me unconditionally.
Banish thoughts like: “If he would just…” “why can’t she…’ You didn’t fill every expectation of your parents and you wouldn’t like to be constantly reminded of it. I didn’t choose to have autism, and remember it’s happening to me, not you. With your support and guidance, the possibilities are broader than you might think. I promise you – I AM WORTH IT.
And finally work to view my autism as a different ability!
Look past what you might see as a limitation and see the gifts autism has given me.
Maybe I’m not good at eye contact or conversation, but have you noticed that I don’t lie or cheat at games.
And with my attention for fine detail and capacity for extraordinary focus, I might be the next Einstein, Mozart or Van Gogh…. They all had autism too.
(excerpts taken from Ellen Notbohm‘s, Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew 2012)