How to explain autism to a 4 year old? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 04-26-2009, 11:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Today, my 4 year old was swimming and an older child came up and jumped on her. Luckily, I was right there and was able to help her, but she was really scared as was I. The boys father finally got there and he explained that his son was autistic. I immediately had empathy towards the child and continued to comfort my daughter who was still pretty upset. I wanted to try to help her understand why he did it so that she wouldn't stay angry at him.

How can I explain what autism is to a young child? I'm not sure I did a very good job so I want to make sure I have a better answer if this happens again.
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#2 of 6 Old 04-27-2009, 12:04 AM
 
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Although I wonder if you could just explain about impulse control, which is, i think (and PLEASE correct me if this is wrong), the aspect of autism that created the situation that upset your dd?
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#3 of 6 Old 04-27-2009, 12:08 AM
 
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Seriously there cuold have been a million reasons why that happened. I'd suggest telling your daughter that the older boy made a mistake, a bad choice, and that she's ok now. Tell her it's ok for her to be upset and angry but that the boy didn't intend to hurt her and it's ok to keep swimming.

4 is awfully young to fully understand. My 8year old has a 4 yo brother w/autism and he STILL doesn't really get it. He knows, but it's still a very nebulous concept for him.
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#4 of 6 Old 04-27-2009, 02:24 AM
 
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I agree with the PP, I don't think it's probably necessary to talk about autism to explain this one - kids jumping on each other at the pool is pretty typical of NT kids too... I just say that DS's brain works differently, and that works for my DD, but that doesn't help when he bites her or tries a WWF takedown! Those are "normal" two year old behaviors that we talk about separately from his autism. (It's tricky when your two year old outweighs your 5 year old, sigh...).

Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win. ~Jonathan Kozel
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#5 of 6 Old 04-27-2009, 12:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamafish9 View Post
I just say that DS's brain works differently
That's actually exactly what I said.
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#6 of 6 Old 04-27-2009, 01:08 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MtBikeLover View Post
Thanks for the replies!


That's actually exactly what I said.
This is how I explained my son's SPD to him, as well as how I explained his friends autism. That their brains just work differently than other ppl's. In this specific case though, impulse control is real issue, imo and as the pp stated, so I'd likely go with that.
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