From a book by Ellen Notbohm
Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew
I am a child first
My autism is one aspect of my total character. I am a person with thoughts, feelings, and many talents - like you. Don't allow stereotypical thinking to limit your expectations of what I may be capable of.
My sensory perceptions are disordered
The ordinary sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches of everyday life that you may not even notice can be downright painful for me. I am not withdrawn or belligerent; I am just trying to defend myself.
Distinguish between won't and can't
It isn't that I don't listen, it's that I can't understand you. When you call to me from across the room, I hear: "*&^#@, Billy. #$%$&*" Come speak directly to me in plain words: "Please put your book in your desk, Billy. It's time to go to lunch." Now I know what you want me to do and what happens next.
I am a concrete thinker. I interpret language literally.
Don't tell me something is a "piece of cake" when there is no dessert in sight and what you really mean is, "This will be easy for you to do." Idioms, puns, nuances and sarcasm are lost on me.
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. Be alert for body language, withdrawal, agitation, or other signs that something is wrong.
Because language is so difficult for me, I am very visually oriented
Show, rather than tell me how to do something. Patient repetition helps me learn. A visual schedule relieves me of the stress of having to remember what comes next--and helps me meet your expectations.
Focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can't do
I'm constantly made to feel that I'm not good enough. Trying anything new when I am almost sure to be met with criticism becomes something to be avoided. Look for my strengths and you'll find them.
Help me with social interactions
It may look like I don't want to play with the other kids on the playground, but I don't know how to start a conversation or enter a play situation. Encourage other children to invite me to join them at kickball or hoops.
Identify what triggers my meltdowns
Meltdowns and blow-ups are even more horrid for me than they are for you. They occur because one or more of my senses has gone into overload. Figure out why my meltdowns occur and they can be prevented.
Love me unconditionally
Banish thoughts like, "If he would just..." Remember that I did not choose to have autism, and 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'm worth it.