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Family Life

How to explain autism to your grandparents using a kaleidoscope!

‘Life is like an ever-shifting kaleidoscope – a slight change, and all patterns-alter’

Sharon Salzberg

How would you explain Autism to your grandparents? That was a question that I was asked just the other day.  It may be possible if you look at it and explain it in a different way! Let’s talk in pictures.


Do you all remember the ‘Kaleidoscope’, a wonderful toy that will fascinate many jelibeans. Bear with me whilst I ask you to imagine (if you are able to), that you are pointing a kaleidoscope up to the light, you are watching the array of colours and shapes twinkling at the end of the cylinder. However long you look you can see a different shape or picture, there is so much to look at. It may take a while but when you are focused, it all makes sense. But the minute you turn the eye piece just a tiny bit – the colours, light and patterns change totally. It will only take the tiniest movement to achieve optimum result. Twist it constantly and your eyes just can’t keep up.

For those on the autism spectrum, it can take a bit longer for us to adjust to the changes that we are experiencing; our processing system is different and operates differently. A Kaleidoscope overwhelms a jelibeans senses of colour; light, sound and movement….WOW, an explosion of information in just a millisecond of time.

KaleidoscopesWe may see intricate detail but miss the bigger pattern, or it may all just be too much in one hit and we have to concentrate doubly hard to focus on the new or ever changing pictures.

Carry on turning the dial and the picture moves so fast that we struggle to keep up. The information is lost and we are forced to slow the process down by not turning the dial.

Check it out for yourself, find yourself a kaleidoscope or even better make one yourself. There are plenty of links and videos onl-ine. Jelibeans love to make things especially if it involves a bit of help from their favourite docking station! Remember though sometimes we can get very frustrated making fiddly things, do help us out.