Welcome to the resources page of ‘Not That Different’ to understand autism better. There is enough information out there on this subject by many credible organizations. We have structured and curated the same for you.
The special feature you will find here are the thoughts and tips of autism activist and special needs mom, Mugdha Kalra. We hope her positivity, understanding and tips will inspire you to join in this movement.
First up, don’t miss this beautiful message by special -needs mom and autism activist Mugdha Kalra urging us to join the ‘Not That Different’ Movement. You have already taken the first big step by visiting this page. Congrats!
1) Why should we know about Autism?
Have you ever wondered how does your child react when they see someone different from them? Children come with no judgements. All they have are innocent questions. It is us, the adults, who help shape their views whether good or bad. You can choose to say, “Oh they are different. Ignore them-stay away from them” OR you can choose to say, “Hey let’s find out why are they different.” That is the first step towards INCLUSION.
Mugdha Kalra talks about you, me, all of us need to be aware of neurodiversity in this beautifully worded video.
Additional resources on autism awareness
2) Why are some kids neurodiverse?
There are many reasons for children being different or shall we say neurodiverse. One of the big ones is Autism. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental condition that involves challenges in social interaction, speech and nonverbal communication, and restricted/ repetitive behaviours. The effects of ASD and the severity of symptoms are different in each person.
Additional resources for what is autism:
3) How do you know if someone is autistic?
How do you know if the child has Autism? Autism diagnosis can happened as early as 18 months and most prevalently between 3 & 4 years of age. Children in the spectrum do not look different, they just act different. They are typically aloof, with limited speech and language in some cases, with quirky behaviours and boundless energy.
Additional resources on signs of autism-
Should you be interested, here are also some recommended books –
A Friend Like Simon by Kate Gaynor
All My Stripes: A Story for Children with Autism by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer Andy
His Yellow Frisbee by Mary Thompson
Everybody is Different by Fiona Bleach
My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete
4) Why is eye contact a challenge in autism?
Several children in the spectrum have a challenge making eye contact. In fact, it is one of the red flags to notice in early toddlerhood. Reasons of not making eye contact are several but it is important to understand that they do acknowledge your presence but in their own ways.
Additional Resources on eye contact-
5) Why can’t Autistic kids have candies?
There is much overlap between ADHD and autism, so for autistic children who show signs of hyperactivity, improving sugar balance is a must. Sugar and excessive carbohydrates should be cut to avoid yeast infections and constipation issues as well. Good oral health also ensures less visits to the dentist which in case of a child in the spectrum can be traumatic.
Additional resources on autism and sugar:
6) What are social stories?
Social stories are individualized short stories that depict a social setting and prepare a child in understanding what they may expect if they are in that situation. The stories are in pictures and are precise and sequential.
Children in the autism spectrum like familiarity of structures and routines and in order to prepare them to encounter something new, social stories are used. Many of them are visual learners so they take to this form of explanation. In 1991, Carol Gray, who was a teacher and an educational consultant in America, introduced this concept.
Social stories tell the child about the ‘who, what, where, and why’ of a situation. They tell them what they can likely feel in that setting. How they can handle being in that situation and give them some assurance about familiarity of what’s going to come.
Social stories also help understand and follow rules and routines. Gain insight into the perspectives of others, enhance self-awareness and understand how their behavior impacts others. At a young age they help develop self-care skills and also social skills.
7) How to prepare your child to deal with COVID appropriate behaviour has brought about? Her are our exclusive social stories and pro tips from Mugdha-
a) Washing hands-
Check out our Social Story on Washing Hands
Pro tip by Mugdha-
Ask other members of the house if they have washed their hands.
Model the behaviour and announce, “Oh I washed my hand when I got home .” Pick a song your child likes that they can sing for 20 seconds while washing hands. Happy birthday song is a popularly used one but you can sing your own as well.
b) Wearing a mask-
Check out our Social Story on Wearing a Mask
Pro tip by Mugdha-
Choose the mask fabric that the child likes.
It should be easy to put on and to wear around the neck during meals.
Name tag it to personalize for your child.
Choose dome design that doesn’t touch the mouth and doesn’t interfere with speech.
Practice wearing the mask at home. Gradually let the child get comfortable about the mask around his face… starting from chin, to mouth to eventually nose.
Reinforce and reward mask wearing.
Make and colour masks at home as a play activity
c) Social Distancing
Check out our Social Story on Social Distancing
Pro tip by Mugdha-
Play with hula hoop and explain them the concept of body space.
Get out the measuring tape and show your child how far 6 feet is.
d) Online Schooling-
Pro tip by Mugdha-
Don’t force the child to look at the screen.
Fix a place for the class.
Keep reinforcers handy.
Make sure the child is fed before the class.
Do some brain gym exercises or deep breathing before each class.
Let the child get enough fidget breaks.
Eye exercises after each class
Important Note: The information here is not meant to diagnose or treat and should not take the place of personal consultation, as appropriate, with a qualified healthcare professional and/or behavioral therapist.