Understanding Children with ASD
“What do you do?”
“I work with kids who have Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
Then, comes the ever faithful, “WOW! Good for you! That must be challenging.”
Autism-it’s something a lot of people have heard of but is still fairly misunderstood amongst the general public. I have worked with individuals who have ASD for almost a year now; I am, in no way, a specialist or expert. I am always learning new things and trying to further my knowledge of ASD and Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), which is the type of therapy often recommended for individuals with ASD, amongst other therapies. This opinion is just what I have noticed when discussing my work with others.
It’s important when working with individuals with ASD to give them grace. Give their families grace. Give their caregivers grace. I won’t pretend to know what it is like to have Autism, because I don’t, but I can tell you that it must be challenging – for the individuals and the families. However, with those challenges also come rewards. So, be there for one another in time of challenge and celebrate in times of reward. Always, always be kind. All too often, the individuals and families are trying their best.
Autism does not discriminate. It doesn’t care about male or female, race, religion, education, or socio-economic status. You can’t spot an individual with ASD just by looking at them. When you see a child having a tantrum in a store, you don’t know if that child has ASD. Some individuals with ASD are non-verbal so crying, screaming, and echoic utterances may be their only way to communicate, so please don’t stare. Also, know that all kids have tantrums. Give the parents a warm, reassuring smile and continue your shopping.
If you are curious or don’t know much about ASD, do research. Break the stigma. The more you know, the less you fear the unknown. Talk to people that you trust. Find reputable sources that you can speak with or research. There are a ton of blogs, educational material and nonprofits that have put time, money and energy to helping educate others to erase the stigma. By doing so, you are becoming part of the solution.
People with Autism Spectrum Disorder are, in fact, people too. In the same way that you may not understand things I do, and I may not understand things that you do, you may not understand why a person with ASD does a particular behavior. That is okay. That is more than okay. We all think differently, and our brains all process things differently. That doesn’t make anyone more or less human. We are all people; we are all human. So, give each other grace.