Everybody Is Different: A Book for Young People Who Have Brothers or Sisters With Autism By: Fiona Bleach
ABOUT THE AUTHOR • The author, is an art therapist who has worked for many years at the Sybil Elgar School. • She has real insight into living and working with people with autistic spectrum disorders and her many illustrations make this a warm and accessible book.
ABOUT THE BOOK • This book is designed to give answers to the many questions of brothers and sisters of young people on the autism spectrum. • It explains how many children with siblings who have autism feel • It also shows how children with autism are treated in everyday life
Why children should read this book • It shows that it is okay to be different than everyone else • It’s a teaching tool that paves the way towards acceptance of persons who display autistic behavior.
ALL ABOUT AUTISM • Not until the middle of the twentieth century was there a name for a disorder that now appears to affect children ages 3-10 . • Autism causes kids to experience the world differently from the way most other kids do. • It's hard for kids with autism to talk with other people and express themselves using words. • Kids who have autism usually keep to themselves and many can't communicate without special help.
What causes Autism • Autism affects two to six out of every 1,000 kids, but no one knows what causes it. • Some scientists think that some kids might be more likely to get autism because it or similar disorders runs in their families.
Autistic children • Have delay in, or total lack of, development of spoken language • Have difficulty initiating conversation • Display Echolalia (repeating words or phrases instead of using normal language) • Do not respond to their name • Do not use or respond to gestures and other nonverbal cues
Engages in highly repetitive play Obsessively preoccupied with a specific interest or object Lack of make-believe or imitative play Dependent on routines, rituals and familiarity Repetitive body movements (hand or finger flapping, eye rolling, twisting, spinning, rocking, etc.) Behavior
Social interaction • Doesn’t point to objects or show them to others • Doesn’t make eye contact at appropriate times • Doesn’t look at other people’s faces as much • Doesn’t respond to facial expressions or body language • Doesn’t smile back at others • Lack of peer relationships appropriate to age level • Less interest in other children • Not motivated by praise or physical affection • Doesn’t clearly demonstrate sympathy or empathy .
How a child is diagnosed • Parents are usually the first to notice unusual behaviors in their child. In some cases, the baby seemed "different" from birth, unresponsive to people or focusing intently on one item for long periods of time. • An engaging, babbling toddler may suddenly become silent, withdrawn, self-abusive, or indifferent to social overtures. • The autism spectrum disorders can often be reliably detected by the age of 3 years, and in some cases, as early as 18 months.
There is no cure for autism, but doctors, therapists, and special teachers can help kids with autism overcome or adjust to many difficulties. The earlier a kid starts treatment for autism, the better. Different kids need different kinds of help, but learning how to communicate is always an important first step. Spoken language can be hard for kidswith autism to learn. How Autism is treated
How Autism is treated • Students with mild autism sometimes can go to regular schools. But most kids with autism need calmer, more orderly surroundings. • They also need teachers trained to understand the problems they have with communicating and learning. They may learn at home or in special classes at public or private schools.
Autism and everyday life • Some kids with mild Autism will grow up and be able to live on their own. • Those with more serious problems will always need some kind of help. • But all kids with autism have brighter futures when they have the support and understanding of doctors, teachers, caregivers, parents, brothers, sisters, and friends.
Don’t tell them that it’s bad. Tell them little by little not all at once because they are unable to process all the information at once. Explain to them that the sibling learns a different way. Tell them that the sibling may need time to understand things. How to explain Autism to your child Child Siblings
PRESCHOOLERS (BEFORE AGE 5) • Children in this age group are unable to articulate their feelings, so they will likely show their feelings through behaviors. • They will be unable to understand the special needs of their sibling, but they will notice differences and try to teach their brother or sister. • Children of this age are likely to enjoy their sibling because they have not learned to be judgmental, and their feelings toward their siblings will likely be linked to "normal" sibling interactions.
These children start venturing out into the world and become acutely aware of the differences between people. They have the ability to understand a definition and explanation of their sibling's special need as long as it is explained to them in terms they can understand. They may worry that the disability is contagious or wonder if something is wrong with them, too. They may also experience guilt for having negative thoughts or feelings about their sibling as well as, guilt for being the child who is not disabled. Some typical responses of children this age are to become OVER helpful and well-behaved or to become non-compliant in order to obtain a parent's attention. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AGE (6 - 12)
ADOLESCENTS (13 - 17) • Adolescents have the capability of understanding more elaborate explanations of the particular disability. They may ask detailed and provocative questions. • The developmental task of adolescence is to begin discovering oneself outside of the family. At the same time, conformity with a peer group is important. Therefore, for children this age having a sibling who is different MAY be embarrassing in front of friends and dates. • They may feel torn between their desire for independence from the family and maintaining a special relationship with their sibling. They may resent the amount of responsibility, and they may begin worrying about their sibling's future.
What children with a sibling with Autism feel • They feel withdrawn. • Depending on the age many will do anything for a parents’ attention • As they get older they feel more responsible for the way their siblings act.
Ways to cope With Autism • It takes time to come to terms that your child has autism. • Try to research and learn the facts about Autism. • Deal with it day by day.
How does one with Autism learn The Picture Communication Exchange System (PECS) PECS is a commonly used approach to teach children who have limited language. Teachers use pictures as symbols to teach children the names of different objects. • Structure makes the world a more predictable, accessible and safer place and can aid personal autonomy and independence. • Positive approaches and expectations seek to establish and reinforce self-confidence and self-esteem by building on natural strengths, interest and abilities. • Empathy is essential to underpin any approach designed to develop communication and reduce anxiety.
How does one with Autism learn • Many children with autism find it easier to understand the world about them through visual aids • The approaches and environment need to be low arousal: calm and ordered in such a way as to reduce anxiety and aid concentration. • Strong links between the various components of the person's life or therapeutic programmed will promote and sustain essential consistency.
Books written by Fiona Bleach Everybody Is Different: A Book for Young People Who Have Brothers or Sisters with Autism Teaching Young Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders to Learn: A Practical Guide for Parents
Other Autism Books Ian’s Walk by Laurie Lears Play and Imagination in Children With Autism by Pamela J. Wolfberg Nathan's Journey by Helen Barclay. Russell is Extra Special: A Book About Autism for Children Charles A. Amenta, III
For More information • Go to www.autisminfo.com www.autism-resources.com www.autism.org