Autism in a child might seem unimaginable for some parents. However, as understanding and knowledge about autism in
children increases, so do the opportunities and support networks. The most effective way of helping a child with autism is
through appropriate education. For autistic children and his or her family, the disorder is a lifelong challenge. Although autism
is a congenital disorder, it is appropriate education rather than medicines which will help the child reach their potential. The
kind of education which is best depends on the individual child, their level of general intelligence and their level of language
For children with autism school is a challenging environment because it places them in a setting outside the home where
communication and socialization areas are a significant challenge. These developmental areas are fundamental building blocks
for an autistic child. Going to school is a huge transition for these children; adapting them smoothly into the classroom and
school takes effort. The core characteristics of autism fall into three categories: differences in reciprocal social interactions,
communication, and behavior. Some autistic characteristics these children may exhibit may potentially impact their
participation in the classroom.
Children with autism may not learn what the appropriate behavior is for different situations as easily and quickly as their
typical developing peers. The most common myth about autistic children is that they do not have the ability, motivation, or
desire to establish and maintain meaningful relationships with others, including friendships with peers. There is no doubt that
children with autism have social deficits and communication or language delays that make it more difficult for them to
establish friendships than typically developing children. However, with appropriate assistance, children with autism can engage
with peers and establish mutually enjoyable and lasting meaningful relationships with children and adults.
Autism in Children has Challenges That Affect Social Interactions:
• Challenges interpreting nonverbal language
• Difficulty with pretend play
• Firm commitment to rules
• Poor eye gaze or avoidance of eye contact
• Few facial expressions and trouble understanding the facial expressions of others
• Poor judge of personal space – may stand too close to other students
• Trouble controlling emotions and anxieties
• Difficulty understanding how their own behavior affects others
Children with Autism and Communication Challenges
• Often in childhood there is a delay in expressive and receptive language; or the child may not speak at all.
• Autistic children are very literal in understanding speech; and have difficulty in picking up on meanings.
• During childhood they may have echolalia and repeat the last words heard without regard of meaning.
• Children with autism show a lack in pretend play.
Childhood Autistic Behaviors
• Uncommon intense or restricted interests in things (maps, dates, coins, numbers/statistics, train schedules)
• Unusual repetitive behavior, verbal as well as nonverbal (hand flapping, rocking)
• Difficulty with transitions, need for sameness
• Possible aggressive, disruptive, or self-injurious behavior; unaware of possible dangers
Autistic children are given educational goals for elementary school which include developing cognitive and academic skills,
supporting communication and language development, and encouraging appropriate social behavior. As the child grows older,
supplementary skills will be added to the child’s lesson plans as they become developmentally appropriate. For instance, self-
help skills and vocational training are important abilities students with autism should learn as they enter middle and high school.
Autism and Children
Children with autism are first and foremost children; they are like your typical child in many ways. They experience the world
very differently. Sights, sounds, tastes, and feelings that seem normal to us might be scary and overwhelming for a child with
autism. Unlike a typically developing child they may not recognize danger or experience fear.
During their childhood years autistic problem behaviors may be triggered for a variety of reasons. Such behaviors may include
temper tantrums, running around a room, loud vocalizations, self-injurious activities, or other disruptive or distracting
behaviors. Because autistic children often have difficulties communicating in socially acceptable ways, they may act out when
they are confused or fearful about something. For example, your autistic child may start any of the above behaviors when the
normal daily routine is disrupted, as their way of expressing confusion at what is going on in their environment.
Things to Know about Children and Autism
• Children with autism need and want friends.
• Understanding autism is the key to creating connections.
• Children with autism have their own way of communicating.
• Children with autism do have feelings and often understand more than they can express. No one should ever tease or make
fun of someone with autism.
Children with Autism Face a Great Range of Outcomes
Some children diagnosed as having autism have appeared to 'outgrow' much of the difficulties of autism naturally by mid
childhood. Other children have appeared to become significantly less affected by autism after one or a range of different
treatments. Many people with autism become main-streamed and achieve employment skills and some level of independent
living after years of hard work and intensive training and others remain in special education and later move into residential care
facilities. Some children with autism develop slowly, but never lose their diagnoses. Some autistic children may appear mildly
affect during childhood and report becoming "more autistic" or 'regressing' in adulthood. Some children, for any variety of
reasons, may fail to develop many more skills than they had in infancy.
For autistic children early intervention is crucial. It is unpredictable what the outcome of autism will be; some children may
'catch up' to peers on their own. For autistic children with a range of serious health conditions it is not unlikely that they be
considered as 'severely autistic' and either dramatically change once their ailments are treated or they may be overlooked as
partially autistic and grouped as ‘un-treatable autism'. Research indicates that the human mind and nervous system remains
alterable for longer than originally thought and autistic children, like those with learning disabilities, have been known to
cognitively develop throughout their lives. There is broad agreement in the medical community to the result that autistic
behaviors in children can be improved through training and through medical or educational interventions.
Children living with autism should live as normal a life as possible. This includes the expectation that they will live
independently of their parents as an adult, be appropriately employed if possible and enjoy leisure activities. There are many
adults who work and live independently with varying degrees of support.
Autism affects every individual child differently and they each have distinct strengths and weaknesses, different aspirations
and needs, different likes and dislikes. It would be impossible to set out a standard for adult living which would suit everyone.
Parents usually have the best understanding of their child’s needs and skills and are often best placed, perhaps working
together with outside agencies, to help find an appropriate and satisfying way of life for their child with autism.
|Understanding Autism in Childhren - Autism Information - Bright Tots - Information on child development. www.brighttots.com
|Bright Tots ~ Information on childhood developmental disorders, including autism, attention deficit disorder (ADHD),
behavior disorders, bipolar disorder, cerebral palsy, childhood disintegrative disorder, depression in children, diabetes in
children, down syndrome, emotional disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder , selective mutism, separation anxiety
disorder, speech and language disorders and spina bifida.
Resources, articles and information on autism including Asperger's syndrome, assessing autism, autism and tantrums,
autism in childhood, autism therapies, characteristics of autism, discipline strategies, early signs of autism, echolalia,
fragile x, hyperlexia / dyslexia, immunization worries, oral care and autism, pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), Rett
syndrome, savant syndrome, and more...
Understanding developmental disorders - Find Early Intervention in your area.
Information and articles on autism therapy and autism treatment including: ABA therapy, autism diets, chelation therapy,
cognitive behavior therapy, key to learning, medications for treating autism, play therapy, occupational therapy, physical
therapy, sensory integration, signed speech, speech therapy, TEACCH Method and more...
What is a learning disability? What are developmental domains? Tips on teaching a child with autism, age appropriate
behavior (milestones), parenting rules, oral care and autism, baby tooth decay, is your child over weight? For those hard to
understand terms, visit our Glossary.
Bright Tots - Helpful information for picking the right toy for Babies, Toddlers and Preschool kids
What to look for in developmental baby, toddler and preschool toys. Read on the importance of choosing the right
educational baby toys, educational toddler toys, educational preschool toys that will
"Make Learning Fun"
Choosing the right Baby Toys | Toddler Toys | Preschool Toys | Special Needs