How to explain?

Ugh, I am just so drained after this afternoon, but need a little advice on how to explain something to my 5 yo.

I was at the park with the kids, when this older boy comes over to play on the play structure. They were all playing separately, until the boy got near Genevieve. Then I hear her start shrieking and crying, and I run over. He had bit her on the forehead, hard enough to cause immediate bruising, but not breaking the skin.

So I am livid and say," did you bite her?!" and immediately look for a parental figure because it’s obvious at this point that the kid isn’t responsive and doesn’t understand why I am angry. A woman comes of the visiting bus, and she apologizes. Her son has autism, and bites when he thinks someone is invading his space. Anyhow, she apologizes profusely, the boy is made to apologize. Gen is still freaking out, and crying,“Why did he bite me?”

I tried to explain it that he is sick and doesn’t understand how to act, but that didn’t work. (I don’t think sick is the right way to explain it, either.) The poor girl just came home and laid down for a nap all by herself, she is that upset. She still doesn’t understand, and I was thinking their might be some moms here who can help me explain or maybe recommend a book to read to her that can help understand autism a bit better.

Thanks for your help. Geez, I am still a little shook up over the whole thing.

if my memory serves right, i think you should pm cristy, as she works with children with autism.she may be able to help you find the resources to teach your daughter and help her understand. HTH

I’m not a mom, but I am a former nanny and preschool teacher.
I used to tell the kids all the time to use their words.

I would explain to Gen that she is a big girl and uses her words to say how she feels. When she was a baby all she knew how to do was cry, then she used her hands to gesture what she wanted, but now she is a big girl and has her words.

I would then explain that some kids, don’t know how to use their words. When they are happy they might clap, when they are sad they might hide their face and when they are scared they might bite.

You can explain that the boy that bit her doesn’t know how to use his words yet, so when he got scared he bit her, even though she wasn’t doing anything. I would tell her you are sorry she got hurt, and express sadness that this boy doesn’t know how to use his words.

At 5, I doubt she would get the depth of Autism. I would keep it basic and simple. I would also try to encourage empathy, thats one of the greatest gifts we can give our children.

We also have several members who work with Autistic children. I am sure they would be happy to add their 2 cents.

My niece is mentally retarded, and my daughter explained that her ‘brain was a bit broken.’ The boys seemed to get it. Even though she’s an adult to them, her functioning is below them in a lot of ways.

I think explaining that it wasn’t anything she did to cause this would be helpful.

I agree with Chel and Ingrid. Another simpler way to put it is that his brain has been hurt.
I’ve got a severely disabled sister, and this is what I’ve told my kids, that her brain was hurt when she was a baby. They perfectly understand it when it’s put in those terms.
ETA: Oh, and I’m glad your daughter is ok. My son was bit by an autistic kid when he was three, so I’ve been there.

[COLOR=black]I teach teenagers and young adults with Autism and also have a grandson that is autistic. [/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]The best way to explain disabilities to a young child is to explain that children with autism, brain and body sometimes work differently from that of other people. Because of that, they may do or experience things differently from people who do not have autism. Many children with autism don’t know how to express their feelings with words like you do. They often express them in physical ways.[/COLOR]

Try reading this and see if it helps.

[COLOR=black]I do want to point out that autism effects people in different ways. It can be mild to severe. This child was not being supervised very well. [/COLOR]

Thanks so much for the support and advice! I did have a talk with her today, and I got the idea that she was so upset because it was a bigger boy, and big boys are always nice to her.

I have a friend who has a son with Asperger’s, and while he flaps his hands he isn’t violent. I feel bad for the kid in retrospect, because he was pretty confused himself.

Thanks again!