Autism and Teaching Our Children What That Means

Autism and Teaching Our Children What That Means

April is coming to an end which means Autism Awareness Month is also drawing to a close. Don’t let that stop you from teaching your child what Autism means.

As a parent, I am always looking for great ways to introduce ideas on how to teach acceptance to my children. Acceptance of cultures, adversity, those with disabilities, and even those with Autism.

In fact, most children who have Autism, do not have a “physical” distinction that screams out to the crowds around then that they are indeed autistic. I want my children to learn that Autism just means someone thinks and processes a little different than those around them. I also want my oldest who has Autism to understand that this is just another trait that makes him unique.

My oldest has Autism and his younger sister who is a shy 10.5 months younger than he is, does not. As they have grown older I have heard the remarks from my daughter somewhat belittling her brother because of the way he thinks or how he “acts”. Of course, we didn’t teach her to act this way but it is natural for children to notice differences and voice them. As a parent, the outcome of this entirely depends on you.

I feel like there are 3 routes on handling these awkward situations…..

1. Tell your kid not to stare and act like it isn’t a big deal. This doesn’t help their curiosity though or lack of understanding.
2. Punish your child for voicing what they have noticed. Again, this does nothing for raising awareness on the difference of those around us and it certainly doesn’t teach them that it’s OKAY that someone is different than you or I.
3. Take this moment as a learning opportunity. DING DING DING! This is the route I choose to follow.

One great way that I have found introducing the idea of Autism to my children, is through books. Yes, the power of reading to the rescue! One of our favorite books is called “My Brother Otto”. My Brother Otto is written by Mag Raby and illustrated by Elisa Pallmer.

My Brother Otto is about Piper Crow and her brother Otto Crow. Otto has Autism, Piper does not. Otto is nonverbal, has the generic arm flapping, fixation on objects, and lack of understanding social cues or vibes around him. Piper talks about the things Otto does and does not like. The way Otto acts and even what peers may think. My Brother Otto provides the perfect example in an illustrative form to open the discussion of Autism and differences that entails.

My Brother Otto

I really dove in deep with my children with asking questions and getting their brains thinking about Otto. Why he may be the way he is, why people may not understand what’s going on, and most of all, how it’s OKAY To be different.

My Brother Otto - Melanie

I deeply encourage you to add My Brother Otto to your reading list for your children. I will be ordering additional copies to leave at my children’s therapy office in hopes that this book brings as much opportunity to them as it has with me.

So far I have found My Brother Otto available through: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the infamous Target.

Autism is real. Let’s teach our kids to see the beauty in being different instead of being fearful of what they don’t understand. Even Autistic children want friends. Why not provide the foundation started with neurotypical kids to be open to those who are different than they are?

Let me know what you think of My Brother Otto!

What other books should I add my at-home library to address tricky topics?

About Misty

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