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Tips for Understanding Your Classmates with Autism

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When you go to school, you will notice that everyone is different. Sometimes, these differences make it hard to talk to a classmate. Autism is one reason that one in about every 44 students you see each day is not exactly like everyone else. To help, the Autism Hero Awards explains more about what autism is and how to be a good friend to classmates who have this diagnosis.

What Is Autism?

Autism is something that can affect a person’s ability to communicate. Someone with autism might have trouble looking you in the eyes when they talk. Sometimes, they might not talk at all. Some children who have autism might flap their hands around or rock in their chairs, and this can be scary to other kids. But you should know that their behavior is not without reason. Kids with autism can be overwhelmed by the things happening around them. Lights might feel too bright and sounds might be too loud. The rocking, shaking, or tapping — sometimes even yelling or crying — is how they cope with too much input coming into their senses.

One way to understand how they might feel is to think back to a time when your mom or dad turned your light on while you were still asleep. When you opened your eyes, the light was probably uncomfortable. Your first reaction might have been to cover your head, close your eyes tightly, and put your hands over your face. Children with autism might feel this way all the time, and they try to fight these feelings by moving repetitively. It is interesting to note that the same reflex that makes your eyes hurt has been studied as a way to diagnose autism in children.

How Can Parents Help?

There are a lot of ways children with autism can get help from their parents. First, parents will let their teachers know that their child has autism. At home, they might do things like keep their house quiet and avoid painting the walls really bright colors that could hurt the child’s eyes and make it hard to concentrate. Parents often focus on making their homes as stress-free and relaxing as possible for their autistic children. Even simple things like getting rid of clutter or adding greenery (plants and flowers) can make a place far more inviting and comfortable for children with ASD.

Children with autism sometimes have trouble sleeping in their own beds or can’t sleep at all. When this happens, their parents might look for ways to make them comfortable in their bedroom so that they can rest. Children who don’t get enough sleep can be really cranky!

Getting to Know a Child with Autism

If you go to school with a child who has autism, take the time to get to know him or her. You might find that he or she is really interesting. In fact, children with autism or Asperger’s, which is a former term for a level of autism, have a lot in common with geniuses, and are sometimes better able to remember details about things better than everybody else. Don’t be afraid to talk to your classmates, even if they don’t talk like everybody else. It’s easy to misunderstand someone you don’t know. Try to remember that, to them, you are the one who’s different.

The National Autistic Society has a lot of great information about autism, and your own parents and school counselor can help you learn even more. There are even TV shows with characters who have autism. Ask your parents if you can watch an episode; it’s a fun way to learn something new about a misunderstood condition.

Remember, no two people are the same. It is our differences that make us unique. Just like you might be taller – or shorter – than everyone else, someone with autism has their own set of characteristics that makes them the person they are. And if you’re patient, you might be able to get to know that person and make a new friend.

The Autism Hero Awards proudly acknowledges and celebrates people and their accomplishments in the world of Autism. Learn more by exploring our site.

Image via Pixabay

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