Wednesday 21 March 2018

How do You explain Autism to Children?

**** Please note that I do not receive commissions of any description for the review of the following books. They are simply books that we have found useful. ****

One of the dilemmas that we've had to face numerous times over the past few years is how to inform O and L's classmates of what autism is. Autism is one of those invisible differences and unless you knew what to look for, you may miss O and L's autism completely.

Some children just get that O and L are different and accept them for who they are. Other children struggle to understand why they do the things that they do and as such need a little further information to assist them to understand O and L.

One of the books that I stumbled across when we first began our autism journey with L was a book titled "I See Things Differently" by Pat Thomas. The book is part of the "A first Look At ..." series in which various differences are discussed in an easy to understand format for children.

On a side note, this entire series is fabulous - titles in the series range from "Don't Call Me Special," to "Everyone Matters," "Stop Picking On Me," "Is It Right To Fight?"  to "My Manners Matter," "The Skin I'm In," "My Amazing Body," and numerous others!

When L was first diagnosed, O really struggled to understand what was happening and what autism actually was. She knew that L was different but she couldn't physically see what the issue was. We found "I See Things Differently" incredibly useful to explain to O what autism was and after reading the book to O several times, she began to ask questions of us about how could she help L to understand the world around him. O wanted to be actively involved in assisting her little brother.

The book really was a catalyst for O to begin to discuss with us about autism, what it was, how it affected L and what she could do to assist him.

The story is written from an outsiders perspective and really does promote interaction among children, parents and teachers on how autism can affect an individuals personal, social, health and emotional issues. I've used this book in a variety of settings from it being read in O and L's class to explain to their classmates about autism, to using it in the early learning environment for younger children to promote inclusion of those with differences. The language used in the book is very positive, is gender neutral and the illustrations are eye catching.

At the rear of the book there are a series of notes for teachers and/or parents on how to use the book effectively as well as a list of external resources for further information.

However when we read the book to L to explain autism, the concepts spoken about in the book went over his head. So it was back to the drawing board to find another book that would  explain autism in a way that L could understand.

Enter "Isaac and his Amazing Asperger Superpowers" which is written by Melanie Walsh. This is a book that resonated with L as the book is written from Isaac's perspective about how autism affects him. The book is written using an older term for autism, Asperger's, however the content is still very relevant.

L could relate to Isaac as throughout the story he is dressed as a superhero. Isaac has lots and lots of energy and loves animals, struggles with loud noises and he loves playing superhero games. Mmmm sounds a lot like a young child that I know very well....

This book is much easier for younger children to understand and relate to. Again the language used in the book is very positive and the illustrations are also very eye catching.

Again I have used this book in a variety of settings from the classroom to early learning environments and have found that it is also incredibly useful in explaining what autism is.

Books such as these two are useful in opening up the dialogue between the individuals with autism and their classmates and promotes inclusion of children who are different from their peers.


  1. These look like great books that makes the transition of educating children on said topic easier. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I don’t think my children have ever encountered someone with autism. My oldest girl is 5 now and I always try to explain things as true to reality and simple as I can. She does know that not everyone is the same, and that’s okay. It’s a blessing that there are books like this out there to utilize though.

  3. Those books are great ideas to help explain autism to children.

  4. This looks like such an incredible way to be able to explain autism to little ones. They don't understand a lot when it comes to medical conditions.

  5. Thank you so much for the book recommendations. My nephew has austism and I was trying to explain to my children what it was and I failed miserably. This will definitely help me explain this a lot better!

  6. I love that these books are available to assist explaining autism!


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