Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder

Categories: Parent Perspective
We all know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. But what you may not know is that this familiar fairytale can also help us understand autism spectrum disorder.
As a mother of a child with ASD, I struggled to find materials to share with my son’s cousins and peers on the complexities of ASD, what to expect, and how to interact and have fun with a person on the spectrum. So, I was thrilled when one morning in the wee hours before dawn, inspiration jolted me awake, screaming, “Goldilocks has autism!” (Pictured below are sample pages from the book.)


In the original version, Goldilocks exhibits some traits you might see in an individual with ASD. She’s wandered from her home, lacks an understanding of social norms, enters someone’s home uninvited, and has sensory sensitivities to textures and temperatures.

In my retelling, I highlighted those traits and included others a person with ASD might exhibit, such as echolalia, stimming, and repetitive behaviors and interests.

Additionally, I added a glossary of ASD terms for parents and educators to share with peers and family members of autistic children.

A discussion guide also explains each autistic trait, offers suggestions on how a peer could react, and then guides children into suggesting their own.

For example, in one scene, Baby Bear says to Goldilocks, “I am a bear,” and she repeats it. Children are taught the term echolalia through a simple definition. They are also taught why someone with ASD might speak using echolalia. Then readers are asked what they should do when someone with ASD speaks using echolalia and are given suggestions.

And because each person with ASD will have varying degrees of the traits, including variations in challenges and strengths, children are encouraged to discuss directly with the person with ASD or their caregivers to know how ASD impacts them personally, rather than making assumptions. Goldilocks is not only a wonderful tool for teachers and families to educate young children but can also be helpful for anyone new to the world of autism.
Beautifully illustrated by the talented Anais Balbas, Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder can be found on Amazon and at AAPC Publishing. AAPC has been producing educational resources that help create a more inclusive environment for over two decades.

The world belongs to everyone. I hope through Goldilocks; we can teach children to understand their autistic peers, family members, and neighbors. We can all help move the needle toward full inclusivity of those living with neurodiverse conditions such as ASD.

To all children on the autism spectrum—may Goldilocks help your friends and family understand you a little more! – Amy Nielsen


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