Home' Aurora : Aurora February 2015 Contents 9
www.mn .catholic.org.au Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
Children are refreshingly honest in
their observations. It could be that
your son was simply providing
you with factual information and
wanted to know the answer to his
ques tion. You may find that he did not
feel uncomfortable at all talking about
his friend and as the adult, it created
discomfor t in you due to your k nowledge
about the world and how disability may
As adults, we know how important it is
to give our children guidance regarding
many topics, including relationships and
the diversity of people, so they grow up
to be accepting and respectful children
and adults. When it comes to a condition
such as autism, it is difficult to know
exactly how to respond, as features and
symptoms vary from person to person,
along with levels of ability and disability.
On one hand, it is important that your
son treats this new friend just like any
other friend. On the other hand, children
with autism may need additional suppor t
and we want our children to know this
as well, so that your son can better
understand his friend during difficult
times, such as sensory overload or other
The nex t time you have an oppor tunity
to talk to your son about his friend,
offer some general invitations such as
“Tell me about your friend” or “What
sort of things do you do together? ”
Provide some age-appropriate advice
about autism and make sure to point out
s trengths as well as difficulties children
with autism experience. You could ask
your son “What are some of the things
(friend’s name) is good at?” “What are
some of the things he finds hard to do?”
Once your son has given you some
information about his friend, you could
introduce basic information about autism
and some situations children with autism
may find a struggle. Have a look at the
Autism Spectrum Australia website for
useful information. If your son has some
idea of challenges his friend may face,
it will allow him to demonstrate more
empathy rather than judge him unfairly.
Perhaps you could invite his friend over
for a play date and talk to this little boy’s
Mum beforehand to get an idea of what
he may like or dislike.
In terms of fully answering your son when
he asked if his friend would have autism
forever, you can simply answer “yes” but
let him know that this does not mean his
friend is unwell. It just means that he may
need extra help for some things and not
others because his brain work s differently
from your son’s brain. Be mindful and
do not sug gest that your son’s brain is
“normal” and another child’s brain is “not
normal”. Talking about differences and
similarities is the key thing.
You may like to visit
CatholicCare's Counselling Team
Leader, registered psychologist
Tanya Russell, will address an
issue each month.
The advice provided is general
in nature and does not replace
ongoing support and advice
from your health professional.
To talk to someone about
counselling support, P 4979 1172.
Email your question to aurora@
mn.catholic.org.au or write to
Aurora-CareTalk PO Box 756
My six-year-old son came home from school and told me that he has a new friend with autism.
I asked him to tell me about his friend and my son said, “He talks a bit funny and needs special
help from another teacher.” My son then asked me if his new friend would have autism forever.
Although I answered his question with a simple “yes”, I felt out of my depth and I am not sure
how to t alk to him about differences and disabilities in children.
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