How to Explain Autism Spectrum Disorder to a Child – Part 1

In this two-part series, I have rewritten the well-known fairy tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears with a character who has Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is to demonstrate some common traits that people on the spectrum might exhibit in everyday life.

While every person with ASD has varying levels of severity and presentation, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) to receive a diagnosis of ASD a person must meet the following criteria:

  • Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, activities
  • Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period
  • Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning
  • These deficits are not better explained by an intellectual disability or global developmental delay although these can be co-morbid conditions

For a more detailed description of each of these areas visit the CDC’s description of the DSM-5 Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnostic criteria.

These characteristics can be difficult to explain to young children who are either classmates, relatives or acquaintances of someone with ASD.

To use the story, first listen to the introduction in Part 1 until you are told to Pause. Then switch over and listen to the story read aloud (Part 2). You will be able to download a copy of the story with notes and without.

There is also a free download of guide you can use after reading or listening to the story with children to further help explain ASD to them and also give them an opportunity to learn how to interact with and help someone with ASD.

How to Explain Autism Spectrum Disorder to a Child Part 2

Update May 2021: Goldilocks and the Three Bears is being released as an illustrated children’s book via AAPC Publishing in late 2021. Stay tuned for more information!

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Amy Nielsen

Amy Nielsen is a former children's librarian of nearly twenty years. She now spends most of her time obsessively pounding on a keyboard. She is the author of It Takes a Village: How to Build a Support System for Your Exceptional Needs Family, Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her upcoming YA Worth it debuts in May of 2024. She is also a freelance writer for The Autism Helper. When she's not writing, she and her family are most likely crusing the waters of Tampa Bay.

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