Tuesday 12 July 2016

Investigations to relax about insects

Autistic boy spots caterpillar

Insects and bugs. I'm not the biggest fan of watching a magnified creepy crawly on the television.  But on the understanding that they are pretty useful for the planet, I don't have an issue with them too much.

Anthony quite likes ants.. why wouldn't he?  As a boy with autism he likes routines, lines, purpose.  Ants have all of these.

Butterflies on the other hand might as well have been an armed criminal.  Anthony used to run inside when he saw one. We'd walk along a pavement and he'd jump straight onto the road without thinking if one came out of a bush.  Bees were worse.  And while I'm the first one to move away if I see a wasp, we can't hide inside every summer as quite honestly with three kids, I'll go nuts.

Unlike his brother David, Anthony is one of the 75% of individuals with autism who talks. He can interact and listen and is able to have conversations. One of the ways we help him with his anxieties is to talk about his worries and there is nothing more reassuring than facts and details. Where things come from, why things happen.  The more facts the better, preferably supporting what you are trying to reinforce. 

For example, butterflies are scary because they are erratic and unpredictable.  But they are also very delicate and gentle. He was fascinated watching the caterpillars become butterflies at school.  The caterpillars were liked more due to their slowness.  He was relieved that they were held within a basket when they turned into butterflies, but was able to see and examine them without the fear of them flying into him.

His knowledge has not changed the way the butterflies are, but Anthony feels slightly more at ease around them.  We'll also talk about them when we get the chance. We'll point out butterflies and caterpillars to other members of the family, this usually means using Makaton and signing them too as verbalising with Makaton is David's primary means of communication. And we'll point out other facts such as 'That's one is called a Cabbage White', which just about goes to the limit of my butterfly and caterpillar knowledge.

With bees, I've had my knowledge increased.  Anthony had questions about why bees die when they sting you.  I had no idea, and when I found out it was a bit sad, and a touch difficult to explain.  But I know that he feels reassured by the facts and that slowly, he's better at being near butterflies and bees.  But he'll probably never like them as much as his ants though.  Fair enough.

Our related posts
All the trees are dead - autism, facts and absolutes
Turning fears into fancies - Fireworks
Different possibilities can be ok?


Makaton's sign of the week this week - Caterpillar!

As listed on:
Monkey and Mouse “Our


  1. My two kind of have an interest in insects! Some more than others. I try to steer clear of them! The insects I mean! ;)

  2. Its really amazing how exposure to these creatures help you be at ease with them. I can never go near a bee before but knowing more about them and that they need saving I am better to be around them now. #whatevertheweather

  3. I think that's the best way to understand most animals, find out more about them and why they do certain things. Everything is logical and some things are quite fascinating. I'm glad to hear it's helped Anthony find it easier to be near other insects. Ants are pretty cool though, except the biting ones! Thanks for linking up to #Whatevertheweather :) x

  4. It's each to their own, isn't it. We cultivated butterflies from caterpillars a couple years ago and it was the most amazing educational experience for the children (and me). I wouldn't recommend cultivating ladybirds, they're quite carnivore-like to each other!
    Anything that helps our children understand the role that insects play can only help.
    Thanks for linking up with #SSAmazingAchievements


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