Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew

I stumbled across author Ellen Notbohm and her book “Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew” about a year ago.  As a parent of a child with Aspergers Syndrome I was amazed at the simplicity and accuracy of this list.

The Author first published her list in a magazine article like the one found at Autism Spectrum.

Here is a summary of the Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew:

1. I am first and foremost a child — a child with autism. I am not primarily “autistic.”
My autism is only one aspect of my total character. It does not define me as a person.

Sensory integration may be the most difficult aspect of autism to understand, but it is arguably the most critical.


2. My sensory perceptions are disordered.
This means that the ordinary sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of everyday that you may not even notice can be downright painful for me.

Receptive and expressive language and vocabulary can be major challenges:

3. Please remember to distinguish between won’t (I choose not to) and can’t (I am not able to).

It isn’t that I don’t listen to instructions. It’s that I can’t understand you.

4. I am a concrete thinker. This means I interpret language very literally.
It’s very confusing for me when you say, “Hold your horses, cowboy!” when what you really mean is “Please stop running.”

5. Please be patient with my limited vocabulary.
It’s hard for me to tell you what I need when I don’t know the words to describe my feelings.

6. Because language is so difficult for me, I am very visually oriented.

Don’t let autism cause you to lose sight of the whole child. Self-esteem is crucial.

7. Please focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can’t do.
Like any other human, I can’t learn in an environment where I’m constantly made to feel that I’m not good enough and that I need “fixing.”

8. Please help me with social interactions.
It may look like I don’t want to play with the other kids on the playground, but sometimes it’s just that I simply do not know how to start a conversation or enter a play situation.

9. Try to identify what triggers my meltdowns.
Meltdowns, blow-ups, tantrums or whatever you want to call them are even more horrid for me than they are for you.

10. If you are a family member, please love me unconditionally.
Banish thoughts like, “If he would just……” and “Why can’t she…..” You did not fulfill every last expectation your parents had for you and you wouldn’t like being constantly reminded of it. I did not choose to have autism. But remember that it is happening to me, not you. Without your support, my chances of successful, self-reliant adulthood are slim. With your support and guidance, the possibilities are broader than you might think. I promise you – I am worth it.

Whenever I find myself frustrated with my efforts to communicate or understand my son I pick up this book to gently remind myself what he needs.

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