The Situation –
My first piece of requested advice (yay!) has been from a respite carer based in America who has been caring for a 7 year old Autistic lad for four months. Her problem is that while out and about the little boy has very openly and matter of factly pointed out the differences of other people, it hasn’t mattered on the situation, colour, ability, disability, walking aids, wheelchairs, you name it as soon as a difference is noted the little boy feels that he has to comment on it. With it not being visible that the little boy himself has Autism the carer has faced verbal assaults, disgusted and judgemental comments and facial expressions, being judged and labelled because she “hasn’t brought up her son properly”. The family have tried talking to the little boy about how he’s making others feel by doing it, he doesn’t understand or remember this and continues to do it.
Personally I’ve never come across this situation, well, the judgemental people towards my parenting and looks I have but it’s always stemmed from public meltdowns or overly loud screaming etc. it’s never been because of comments about others. So any advice that someone may be able to offer would be greatly received!!
My Suggestion –
The way that I would gear Theo up to acceptance of others, if he wasn’t obsessed with the program already, would be to let him watch “Something Special”. The program is shown on a BBC channel called Cbeebies, which is aimed at children with development delays. They include the use of Makaton signing (for visual learners), show clips of children with various disabilities and difficulties, cover situations that can seem terrifying to children like the doctors, dentists, hairdressers etc. Lots of the program is directed to children through song which helps to keep their interest too. I hope that you’re able to view the video but if you’re not able too try searching http://www.youtube.com to see if there is any that are viewable out of the UK (Damned licensing laws!). If you are finding these clips available to view there are loads of them on there, plenty of viewing if the little boy will tolerate it!!
Failing that perhaps your SALT could suggest visual books that would be appropriate?
I genuinely believe that the more common and normal it is that children with or without ASD see people with differences the more that differences are accepted! I hope this helps and I hope that other people come forwards with their suggestions!