Understanding a child’s autism

PUBLISHED: 11:57 14 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:51 06 May 2010

I refer to the article in last weeks Comet, regarding Freya Doherty, the little girl with autism who was upset after becoming anxious in a shop and the shopkeeper told her off for having a strop. As the mother of an autistic daughter myself, I can totall

I refer to the article in last weeks' Comet, regarding Freya Doherty, the little girl with autism who was upset after becoming anxious in a shop and the shopkeeper told her off for having a strop.

As the mother of an autistic daughter myself, I can totally understand how upset both Freya and Mrs Doherty must be about the incident. My daughter can get quite distressed in shops, and it is difficult to try and explain why to shopkeepers who usually have no idea what autism is, and presume that your child is just being naughty and/or uncontrollable.

I would guess that Mrs Doherty is already a member of the National Autistic Society, but I just wanted to let her know about something she may not be aware of that has been of tremendous help to me in just such situations.

The NAS produce cards (the size of a credit card) which say ...

"THIS YOUNG PERSON HAS AUTISM"

* Autism is a developmental disability that affects social and communication skills.

* People with autism tend to behave in an odd and unpredictable way as a result of their disability

* Please help us by being understanding and showing tolerance.

I have found that if I just show the card, that people are usually very kind and understanding. I also like the idea of using the cards because my daughter is unaware that she has autism and I do not want to mention it in front of her. I also give cards to her teachers when she goes on school trips etc.

It's difficult enough caring for a child with autism, so anything that can make our lives that little bit easier has got to be worth it!

NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED

* I have just read your article 'Autistic four-year-old scared to enter shop'. I feel that I have to say that I have always found the staff at KLM to be very pleasant and helpful. In fact I used to take my two-year-old niece there on our way to toddler group and the staff always made an effort to speak with her.

I do tend to agree with the shopkeepers' response that perhaps the older child did get it all wrong!

I will be continuing to use the shop, along with my children.

NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED

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