Understanding, Voice, Weight
U Is for Understanding
Kids on the spectrum need more understanding than most because they learn differently and don't understand some things. The typical brain progresses in a general to specific direction, but the autistic brain is just the opposite. Our brains take in information and cross-reference it, but kids with ASP have to be taught to cross-reference, think in categories, apply concepts, and identify cause and effect. Parents should get involved with a support group, read books on the subject, and talk to specialists at school. Share information with family and friends so they can better understand the child and offer the needed support. Remind them that Asperger's is a medical problem, not a behavioral problem; the brains of kids with Asperger's are wired differently.
Nick: My brain is like an untrained dog. You have to keep telling it the same thing over and over until it gets it. If you want to understand me, read a book or look online for information. You can also read my favorite book, All Cats Have Asperger's Syndrome. I hope you'll be more understanding and help me by being my friend and by not letting others make fun of me.
V Is for Voice
When a child with Asperger's reads aloud, his voice can sound flat and boring, without much intonation or emotion. His voice may be singsong, robot-like, or high-pitched. Each word is a stand-alone bit of information, not part of a story.
Nick: My voice gets very quiet, loud, or squeaky when I'm nervous. Sometimes it sounds like I inhaled helium from a balloon. When I'm talking in front of the class, I can sound like I am singing. I can't control it at first, but after a few words, when I feel safe, I can sometimes be in charge of my voice.
W Is for Weight
A weighted vest, heavy blanket, sleeping bag, or strong bear hug can calm down an overactive brain. Full-length body contact is soothing and calming. The movie Temple Grandin is about a woman with autism who achieves a Ph.D. in animal science and becomes a professor and an inventor. While in college, Grandin invented a squeezing machine to calm herself down when she was stressed out.
Nick: Sometimes I need to pile pillows and blankets on top of myself to stay calm. A friend has a vest with weights in it that he uses when he feels out of control. Sometimes squeezing my mom real tight helps me to feel comfortable and safe.