How We Explained Autism to Charlotte
Charlotte had just turned six years old when we started the diagnostic road for Sean. I was having a hard time understanding Autism myself, and struggled with whether I should tell Charlotte what was going on with her brother. Fortunately or unfortunately Charlotte is very smart and knew something was going on. One night, out of many conversations Brent and I were having on the subject, she walked into the room and asked ” What is wrong with Sean? What is Autism?”
You know what? I honestly did not have a good answer at the time. I was still feeling kind of numb with the realization it was real. The best answer I could give her at the time was, Autism is a disability that will cause Sean to learn and possible behave differently from her and her friends. With all of that being said I was then on a mission to learn more and find resources to help explain it to her.
My first thought was to find a book. Charlotte LOVES books and if there were
“You will be a big sister” books out there, surely there will be kid appropriate books about Autism. Guess what?! There are lots of books out there, but the two that we initially bought have been her favorite:
1. I See Things Differently: A first Look at Autism
Written by Pat Thomas
2. My Little Brother is a Little Different
Written by Tammy Parker Cox
Another fantastic tool we found for Charlotte, was YouTube! I was able to find some amazing age appropriate videos for her to watch. I think these videos taught all of us more about autism as well. Here are a few of our favorites:
1. Animated Explanation of Autism https://youtu.be/6fy7gUIp8Ms
2. Sesame Street and Autism: Highlight Reel https://youtu.be/RuV8AddbXIs
3. Marvelous Max-Autism Awareness for Kids https://youtu.be/wc77MksM_2c
If I can take a moment to brag on my amazing baby girl. I could not have asked god for a better big sister for Sean. She is caring, loving, and so helpful with him. She has always seemed like a second mom for Sean. She tries to teach him how to play with her, she will watch his favorite shows with him, and she wants to help take care of him. This has all been on her own, I have never made her take care of him because he is my baby not hers. She chooses to, and I find that incredible!
I have also discovered that Charlotte has become Sean’s biggest advocate. She is the first one to tell people about Sean’s diagnosis. For example, if we are at the store grocery shopping, and he is getting overwhelmed and begins to yelling and squeals , she will tell anyone around us ” Don’t worry, he has autism and he is ok. He just gets a little loud.”
Autism can be a very complex and confusing disability to explain to adults, let alone siblings or other children. Every family is different and so are siblings. Some get it and some do not and that is all ok! If you are finding yourself struggling to explain autism to them, please know there are so many different resources out there to help. All you have to do is look and ask.
Until next time!! Have an amazing day!
Katlyn- A gulf coast mommy