If you are the parent of an autistic child or you work with an autistic child, you likely know that these children are sometimes unfairly judged by their peers. Many people do not understand why a child, who looks like a typical child, reacts in an unexpected way to what appears to be an everyday situation. If you are like many parents of such children, you likely want to help your child's peers better understand why your child reacts a specific way to certain situations.
Luckily, there are several things you can do help your child's peers better understand your child's situation.
Explain in Detail
The beginning of a new school year or when your child changes schools is a good time to explain to the child's peers that your child has autism. If your child is verbal and is comfortable doing it, you may want to allow your child to explain the situation. If there is another parent (or even several parents) with an autistic child, you could team up to explain the situation, particularly if your children experience different signs.
It is important for children to understand that autism does not manifest itself the same in every child. For example, some children are nonverbal and struggle to connect with their peers at all. Another child may typically do fine playing and interacting with their peers but may struggle to handle loud noises or changes in the child's routine. If you feel it is appropriate, you may even want to allow the other children to ask questions.
Allow Them to See
Explaining why your child acts a certain way is great, but allowing the child's peers to see is even better. One 9-year-old autistic boy from North Carolina created a video explaining his own experience. His video included clips where he demonstrated how he was like his peers as well as how he might approach situations in a different way than his peers.
While you may not be able to make a similar video about your child's experience, parents, teachers, and others who work with children with autism can explain to other children why the child with autism reacted in a specific, probably unexpected way.