A thing I do every time my girls get a new teacher (or begin kindergarten) is write a letter, and explain autism and what it means and looks like for our family. I do this for a few reasons:
So I don’t have to repeat myself constantly, and to open up the dialogue about autism.
So others that have involvement in our girls lives have understanding, education surrounding autism and compassion.
So that my girls don’t have to constantly justify themselves.
I place a photocopied letter in each of the kids pockets of the class, with a photo of my girl (s). I thought I’d share Wilding’s letter below. Now please bear in mind this is her letter with her individual sensory and learning accommodations listed. Every person on the spectrum is unique and has their own individual preferences.
I am Wilding. I’m five years old, and I am autistic. This can sometimes also be called ASD.
It doesn’t change who I am, it just means that I see the world a little differently to most kids my age and feel things differently, too.
Autism is a neurological disability which affects the way I process the world around me. There are some things that really overwhelm and overload me, and other things that calm me. There are things that I can do better than my peers and things that my peers can do that I struggle with and need support with.
Loud noises bother me. And so does unexpected events. When I know what is happening it makes me feel better. That’s why I have a visual schedule.
Sometimes I will go into my little green tent in the classroom for some downtime. Even though I love being around people, I still find socialising tiring and a bit of quiet time helps me recentre – so when I am in my tent, please don’t bother me or talk to me. Then when I’m done and come out, we can play!
I’m really visually sensitive. So this means if I don’t like the way something looks (for example: food) then I might not want to look at it, or watch others eat. Sometimes this may mean I want to eat away from others because the smell or the look of their food bothers me. I’m pretty literal and I say things how I see them; I’m not trying to be rude. It also means that visual things can help me calm down. You might have seen me watching the iPad or going on the computer in the morning for short bursts – this is why. The iPad is a great tool and helps me keep calm during transitions which is something I sometimes struggle with. Seeing photos of new people or new activities also really help me.
Chewing is something I love too. You may have seen my chewy necklace I wear? Mum and my Occupational Therapist got me it and when I chew that it makes me feel less anxious. It means I don’t chew my hands or my shirt or bag, cool huh? If you see me chewing it means I am anxious and so I chew to self-calm.
I love to move! Moving helps me concentrate and stay on task. So I use a Hoki wobble stool when I’m sitting at the table so I can keep fidgeting and I have a cute little weighted penguin that sits in my lap and keeps me grounded with deep pressure when I’m sitting on the carpet.
I am a really bright little sprite and I love to do puzzles and I’m learning how to write and read. I know all the letters of the alphabet already and can spell out short words on my own. I also love making new friends. Sometimes I struggle a little bit with personal-space so I may need to be reminded gently about this, but I’m really caring and loving. Cuddles are the best!
I am the third sister in a family of four daughters, and two of my other sisters are also autistic and so is my Daddy!
I’m really looking forward to being part of school and learning and making new friends.
Thanks for letting me tell you a bit about me. See you soon!
From Wilding. (and Jessica & Cj)
Please feel free to adopt and adjust this idea to use for your child. I find that it really helps with getting the most of out of a learning environment. I usually include a photo of the child the letter is about, too.