Monday, February 21, 2011

Autism 101 - Empathy And Emotion, Teaching Your Autistic Child

Most of us are born with the ability to tell what other people are feeling, or pick up on the body language they are sending us. For children with autism, this born ability is not there.

Children with autism often have a difficult time interacting socially with other children because they don't read cues the same way. Where most children know when someone is directing their attention to you, many autistic children do not. Instead the are in a world of their own, trying to interact best the can.

Another thing that autistic children are often missing is empathy. Instead of being able to understand the feelings of those around them, they often come off being cold and callous, because they simply do not understand feelings. And without understanding feelings, they often don't notice when they've done something that upsets their peers. As a result, social interactions when they do occur can end abruptly, with the other child quite upset over something the autistic child did or did not do.

Teaching our children these behaviours can be quite difficult too. While we weren't taught to understand each other, it was something we kind of knew from the start. Autistic children don't have this ability from the start, it needs to instead be taught to them.

One such way to encourage an understanding of feelings is with cue cards. Utilizing cards with different emotions we can try and teach our children what sad looks like, what mad looks like, what happy looks like, and hope that in the end they can at least begin to pick up the cues going on around them.

Another option, is to try and make them more aware of their own feelings and let them discover by association what others are feeling. We can do this with an emotion chart. Getting them to point out and show us what they are feeling may help them recognize and understand emotions in others. Asking them over the course of the day will help show them that emotions change and also give them the general idea of what a person looks like when having that feeling.

Autism changes the world around us, and can make life a little more difficult to live. With out help, our children can begin to understand their own emotions and the emotions of others, and begin to be able to interact better with their peers.

Autistic children are wonderful beings. To learn more tips to help your autistic child, click here!

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