Autism affects 1 in 68 children (and 1 in 42 boys), so you likely know a child who has been affected by this common brain development disorder. In honour of Autism Awareness Month, I thought I would share with you 5 things that you may not know about children with autism. While the symptoms of this disorder will vary with each child, these are some common traits that may help you to understand the challenges and learning habits of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
1) Children with autism take comfort in organizing and sorting their toys.
While at first their play habits may appear to be similar to those of children with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), children with autism tend to sort, stack, and organize their toys because they find it comforting. They enjoy toys that can be sorted by colour or pattern, like blocks, cards or dominoes, because they take comfort in organization and routine.
2) They tend to be visual learners.
When it comes to communicating with others, relying on visual cues allows children with autism to have a better understanding of the information that is being presented to them. Processing words (and the meaning of words) can be difficult, but seeing what the words mean clarifies the message for them.
Visual supports help words and ideas become permanent and real. Children understand information better because they don’t have to guess what we really mean as there is a concrete, physical picture right in front of them.
3) Children with autism are very sensitive to sound,
including the inability to filter background sounds. They may seem distracted or uninterested in listening to what people have to say because they are distracted by sounds such as passing cars or the whirring of a fan. They do not like loud and sudden noises because it scares them!
4) They thrive when following a routine.
Children with autism feel more comfortable with their surroundings when they can anticipate what is going to happen next. Having a set daily schedule allows them to feel more at ease with the day’s activities and gives them a sense of security. (An essential tool for every classroom teacher is a visual daily routine, like Easy Daysies!)
5) Children with autism can appear to have poor social skills.
Children with autism are often unable to interpret and respond to nonverbal cues. They tend to laugh and cry at inappropriate times (often due to nervousness in situations that make them feel uncomfortable), and have a tendency to tap, twirl, or rock their bodies as a way to comfort themselves and focus.
I have created Easy Daysies daily visual schedules with the understanding that all children, and especially children with autism, anxiety and other special needs, thrive when following a routine and learning tasks visually. I’m so proud to share that Easy Daysies are recommended by name by child psychologists and occupational therapists who see great value in our products.
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