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What is Autism?
Autism is a disability that affects normal development. It is called a "spectrum disorder" because its impact on development can range from mild to severe. The areas of development most affected are social interaction and communication skills, difficulties with verbal and non-verbal communication, and leisure play.

For more in depth information regarding autism from the perspective of noted professionals, please see Autism: A Guide for Educators, Clinicians, and Parents.

What are the common characteristics of autism?
A person with autism may:
  •   Resist change.
  •   Use gestures to express needs rather than words.
  •   Laugh or cry for no apparent reason.
  •   Repeat words/phrases instead of giving a normal response.
  •   Prefer to be alone.
  •   Have difficulty mixing with others.
  •   Throw tantrums when unable to express him/herself.
  •   Make little or no eye contact.
  •   Not like hugging/cuddling.
  •   Not respond to normal teaching methods.
  •   Obsessively attach to objects.
  •   Show no real fear of danger.
  •   Be overly or under-sensitive to pain.
  •   Have awkward gross/fine motor skills.
  •   Not respond to verbal cues (as if deaf).
"I Have Autism"
A Child's First Look at Autism
by Pat Crissy

34.9500  |  Learn More!
I love the "I have Autism" set. I do in home family counseling and have used it with several families. I recently used the book and created a personalized book for one of my clients who was having a hard time understanding autism ... I truly thank you for giving me the opportunity to help change a child's out look on himself with your product.

Mackenzie G., Buckman MN
What is Asperger’s Syndrome? Is it a form of autism?
Asperger syndrome, also called Asperger’s, is a disorder where individuals demonstrate social-language difficulties and behaviors similar to those seen in children with autism. Asperger’s is often referred to as “High Functioning Autism” because it may be a milder version of autistic spectrum disorders or pervasive developmental disorders. Children with Asperger’s often have normal intelligence, an exceptional talent or skill, and/or an extraordinary vocabulary. Their language development appears to be typical; however, these individuals often have difficulty understanding and using nonverbal cues (gestures, body language) for social interactions. (Excerpt from Handy Handout 188: What is Asperger Syndrome? By Thaashida Hutton) Asperger’s Syndrome).
When should a child with autism start receiving services?
The answer is EARLY. Early intervention makes a dramatic impact in children from birth to three years of age. The youngest brains are the most flexible and yield a tremendous amount of progress by the time they enter kindergarten. Early intervention may even reduce the need for intensive support later on.
What can I do to help my child at home, school, and outside the home?
With the diagnosis of autism, if your child is of school age, he/she will have someone in the special education department to oversee his/her needs in the classroom and monitor his/her progress routinely. You will be a part of this team. Keep lines of communication open with those individuals in charge of your child at school. Ask for follow-ups on behavior, academic progress, peer relationships, social skills, etc. Expect that your child may have a different routine or set of rules than others within the classroom in order for him/her to feel safe, less stressed, and to work in a quiet environment.
For activities to help in fostering communication skills at school and at home, please see our What Do You Say…What Do You Do…® At Home, At School, and In the Community? games.
How can I help socialize my child with his/her peers?
Keep up with current trends in dress and in fads. You don’t want to send your middle school child to school in a babyish, cartoon shirt. Dress your child in age-appropriate clothing and tune in to his/her interest outside academics. You may have a child that is an expert in computers or video games. Therefore, discuss with your child how he/she feels about helping a classmate that may not excel in those areas in order to help foster socialization.
Use social stories that have visuals to offer help to your child in social or anxiety producing situations that make him/her uncomfortable. These social stories will cue you into exactly how your child reacts in different situations. For help with social situation stories, please go to our Social Inferences Fun Deck and Say and Do Social Scenes Books.
Why are pragmatics so hard for children with autism?
Children with developmental disabilities have problems interacting with others, therefore are unable to learn social skills that the rest of us learn quite easily.Pragmatics (the social use of language) are often hard for children with autism to learn because they usually focus only on themselves and do not consider the feelings of others. Normally, children pick up on pragmatic skills by watching and conversing with parents who teach by example. However, for the child with autism, these unspoken lessons go unnoticed. For help with improving your child’s pragmatic skills, please look at our Say and Do Positive Pragmatics Games and Cards.
Is it true that children with autism cannot read facial expressions?
Children with autism often have a hard time recognizing and interpreting the meaning of facial expressions. For help with identifying emotions through facial expressions, please view our Photo Feelings Fun Deck and other products that help children understand the variety of emotions we use to express how we feel.
Why is game play important for children with autism?
Children with autism need the same opportunities for inclusion in play activities as other children. Games help children with autism learn to develop social skills, motor skills, and communication. Simple games teach turn taking, help develop eye contact, help them understand compromise, sportsmanship, waiting, decision making, and helps them understand and enjoy each other, rather than standing alone merely watching and not knowing how to join in with a group. Games are an excellent way to promote an interest in other experiences, materials, and environments that these children may not typically seek on their own – since most children with autism prefer to play alone. Choose games that are appropriate for the child’s maturity, not necessarily age level. Remember, the first goals for game playing are simply to help your child develop social skills while learning to communicate and enjoying his/her peers.

For children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, board games are helpful tools for enhancing social interaction and communication skills. MagneTalk Turns & Topics teaches basic game play and improves language development with the flexibility to match game difficulty to the abilities of every child.
For Parents with a Child That Has a Diagnosis of Autism
  •   Make sure that the professional diagnosing your child with autism is familiar with autism and its characteristics.
  •   Form or join a support group with other parents of children with autism.
  •   Educate yourself about the different schools of thought on diagnosing and treating autism.
  •   Contact the Autism Society of America or the Autism Research Institute for publications and other valuable information.
  •   Be wary of miracle cures.
  •   Meet with your child’s therapist, teachers, and specialists regularly.
  •   Consult a trusted physician, educated in the field of autism about any program or therapy that you think
      may help your child before you allow him/her to begin.
Where can I go online to find dependable information about autism?
There are many online resources for information on autism. However, direct your searches to societies or foundations that support autism research and provide current data. From these sites, you will find support groups in your state and area.
Does Super Duper® have any other materials that are good for children with autism?
Here are other Super Duper® products that may assist you in working with your child/children at home to develop social language and understand appropriate and inappropriate responses.

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