Autism is a disorder that causes communication and social challenges. It can run in a family and is often genetic. There might be environmental causes for autism too. Doctors don’t use the term Asperger’svery much anymore, but someone with Asperger’s has mild autism symptoms.
- Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) covers a wide range of behaviors and symptoms. Some people with autism cannot speak and will probably never be able to live on their own. Others seem to have very few symptoms. They go on to live independent lives.
- Many people with autism are sensitive to loud noises, crowds, or touch. They might not like tags in their clothing or itchy clothing. Some children with autism become agitated in a group setting where there is too much noise. They may cry, yell, or try to run away.
- Some people with autism have a hard time understanding social situations. They might not look you in the eye or understand a joke. They might think you are making fun of them when you’re not.
- Children with autism and Asperger’s often have a few very intense interests. They might love Legos or trains and know everything about them. They might want to talk about their interests a lot. Some children with autism do things to calm themselves down or rev themselves up. This is called stimming. They might flap their hands or make clicking sounds with their tongues, for example.
- Boys are more likely to have autism than girls. More children are being diagnosed with autism than ever before. Scientists aren’t sure why this is.
- Stimming: A repetitive behavior that is self-soothing. We all have stimming behaviors, such as popping knuckles or twirling our hair. For children with autism, stimming is more frequent, more noticeable, and often, more disruptive.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: A boy in my class has autism. How can I help him?
Answer: Use very clear words when you talk to him. For example, if you and your friends are laughing and he doesn’t understand, say, “We’re not laughing at you.” Try to explain what it was that was funny. If your friend gets angry or sad, try not to take it personally. He is probably feeling overwhelmed by being in a group. Be quiet and give him space until he calms down. Then try talking to him again so he knows you’re still his friend.
Be willing to listen if he wants to talk about his interests. It’s also okay to say, “You know so much about Legos (or whatever it is). Now I want to tell you something about me.” Help other children learn about autism. Stand up for him if someone is bullying him. Sit with him at lunch and play with him on the playground. It can be harder to be friends with someone who has autism, but children with autism are often very interesting and fun if you give them a chance.
Get a kit on autism and watch a video about it.