While National Puzzle Day is not directly affiliated with autism, the puzzle piece has become the branded symbol representing autism and puzzle that it is from cause to diagnosis to treatment to life-long solutions. In honor of both National Puzzle Day and autism, I decided to give you all a few puzzles to solve. Hopefully, these puzzles will give you a little insight to the complexity of autism and why we have to unite as a community to support families with autism.
National Puzzle Day Games & Autism
Let’s play the Urinal Game! The smiley faces represent people standing at a urinal. Which urinal do you go to?
Urinal game rule: You don’t use a urinal next to someone else! You always try to put at least 1 urinal between you and another person. Also remember, EYES STRAIGHT AT ALL TIMES!
The Urinal Game is a Hidden Curriculum topic. The Hidden Curriculum teaches kids on the autism spectrum that there are hidden social rules that we all must follow but that are not usually taught explicitly. For kids on the spectrum, these rules often have to be taught directly and practiced many times.
We often do not realize all the “untaught” but understood complexities of social rules and expectations. These skills were not needed to be taught because those without autism have perspective taking and executive functioning skills that allow these rules to be almost standard in us. So when you see a person on the autism spectrum “breaking the rules,” they are not because they do not know the rule. Rather than judge, be supportive, patient, and help them if appropriate (maybe not when standing next to them at the urinal ).
Can you use your executive functioning skills to unscramble these words?
Kids with autism struggle with executive functioning skills such as organization, flexibility, and time management. Smart but Scattered by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare is a great resource for parents looking for ways to work on these important life skills with their child or adolescent.
I am a sense that you don’t learn about. I help you read other people’s minds. What am I?
The social sense, your sixth sense! Most typically developing children and adults have a social sense which helps them take the perspective of others without really having to think about it. Kids with autism often lack this social sense which can lead to challenges with socialization.
There are two kids and one adult in a room. Kid A has autism and Kid B does not. The adult takes out a pencil and places it in a drawer with both kids watching. Then, the adult asks Kid B to leave the room. Once out of the room, the adult then moves the pencil to his pocket with Kid A watching. Kid B returns to the room.
Where is the first place Kid B would look for the pencil? Answer: the drawer.
If you asked Kid A which place Kid B would look for the pencil first, where would they say? Answer: the pocket.
Our ability to take another’s perspective tells us that Kid B was not present when the pencil was moved and, therefore, has no knowledge of the new location. Kid A lacks this perspective taking or this ‘sixth sense’ as do many children with autism.
Hidden Curriculum Question:
True or False: It is OK to ask a stranger to pass toilet paper in a public restroom stall?
Answer: It depends! If you are in the women’s restroom then YES. If you are in the men’s restroom then NO!
I hope this information was helpful in giving you a new perspective on autism and a few resources you might find helpful if you are in the world of autism.
Don’t forget to LIKE INCLUDING KIDS on Facebook to see and share those puzzles and more on January 29, 2016, National Puzzle Day!