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Autism: Helping allistic preschoolers understand & empathize with autistic classmates
Autistic kids aren’t being naughty – they’re just overwhelmed.
Quick Things You Need To Know:
Nat over at the radically fantabulous Rabble Books & Games (also a patreon supporter) reached out to ask for books to help another awesomely spectacular daycare provider. This list would be helpful for lots of folks, so I’m including it here!
I have a customer who runs a daycare and she would love to find a book that can help her explain to the kiddos that the autistic kids aren’t being naughty, they’re just overwhelmed (and help start conversations about what’s helpful for them as individuals).
She is really keen to counter this “naughty” narrative. I think this might not need to be autism-specific, but I was hoping you might have a relevant book filed away in that spectacular brain of yours. The kids are around 4-5yrs old.
- Books about autism for allistic kids
- Anti-Abelist Autism Books
- Click here to go back to the unpolished book collections main page.
Quick & Messy Book List: Kids Do Well When They Can
A Friend For HenryI think the top best book for this could be ‘A Friend for Henry’ by Jenn Bailey. In the story, Henry flips out a few times because his allistic classmates do innocent things that bug him (like mess up his meticulously arranged carpet squares) and he flips out a little. It’s a great book to show allistic and autistic kids how we need to communicate with each other and pause to think about how we might come across. I’ve found it helpful for the Earthquakes since they get into these tiny fights several times a day. It’s also a decent story to teach the kids about intent and impact, since many folks have trouble remembering that we’re not ticking each other off / being naughty on purpose. And of course, it will help kids see why an autistic meltdown appears to come from nowhere, but has triggers they just don’t see.
Melia And JoMelia and Jo think very differently and Jo’s ‘naughty’ behavior gets on Melia’s nerves. Eventually they realize that both types of thinking are valuable, and of course, Jo never has naughty intent even though she’s breaking stuff.
Elwood wants to make friends but does it in really obnoxious ways that end up driving other people away. Q and I super identify with this character, and it could be helpful to show the kids how behavior that seems mean/naughty/aggressive is often just a social disability that needs tweaking.
- Estie the MenschEstie’s people are always telling her to be good (or a good person) but the best way to have fun with her is to accept her as she is and run with it.
- Ada Twist ScientistAda breaks stuff and does naughty things because she’s hyperfocused. Helpful for kids to see how a hyperfocus makes us forget niceties and how it can be hard to remember to follow the rules when we are driven to do something. Helpful since every kid will identify with this, but this way they can see that the challenge for autistic kids is amplified.
- Looking After Louis
Some caveats on this one (see Books about autism for allistic kids) but in it, Louis gets special treatment in class and his allistic classmate resents it. Eventually she sees that different kids have different needs so they can all get what they need out of the class.
- Autism Acceptance BookI haven’t read this one in years, and I think it’s best suited for 6+, but the teacher might enjoy reading this and coming up with discussions or lessons tailored for younger kids based on the material.
- I’ll Tell You Why I Can’t Wear Those ClothesThis one is GREAT for helping kids see how they and others have to deal with nagging sensory issues that just wear us out over the course of a day.
- Noah The NarwhalThis might work – Noah has migraines and runs out of spoons, and then has meltdowns/gets ill and can’t function. But sometimes he can. This is a good story to show kids how spoons work, and why sometimes autistic kids can do something, but then other times they’re overwhelmed and just can’t deal (hence the naughty behavior)
- Also! Neurodivergent NarwhalsLei makes some of the NN posters available for printing. They’re a little wordy, but might be helpful to post around the classroom for parents to read, so they understand a little more about why this particular student behaves differently, so they can be patient and continue the discussion of acceptance at home.