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Autism and Emotions

Flora, like many children with ASC, has difficulty understanding and expressing her own emotions and recognising the feelings expressed by others. This difficulty may be due to her difficulty in decoding emotional expressions such as facial expressions, tone of voice and body language as well as understanding the mental states of others ("the theory of mind").

Difficulty in understanding and expressing emotions can often lead to discomfort and possibly to behaviours that challenge. More information about behaviour that challenge can be found here.

To help Flora learn to recognise and express emotions it is important to plan an activity that teaches Flora about different emotions .

Stage 1: Demonstrate the emotions

We choose the emotions we want to focus on. It is good to start with the basic emotions. We chose : 'happy', 'sad', 'angry', 'tired'

As mentioned above, Flora has difficulty decoding the physical cues, so in the first stage we focus on demonstrating emotions with the help of symbols. For example, while we are smiling, we tell her 'I am happy' and show her the matching symbol. More information can be found here.

Stage 2: Naming the feelings

Every day and every time Flora expresses an emotion, we name the emotion and show her the matching symbol. For example, if she cries we show her the symbol and say 'You are sad'.

Stage 3: Recognising the feelings

Gradually we start asking Flora how she and / or someone else might be feeling. At this stage, we can use pictures and ask Flora to identify the emotions and what caused it. With adult support, we help her identify the right emotion by naming the word. For example, 'She's angry because her toy is broken'.

We can add to the Morning Circle an activity where students have to say,with the help of the symbols,how they feel. More information about the morning Circle and the morning routine can be found here.

Stage 4: Reacting to feelings

Once we have practiced the previous stages long enough, we can begin to teach Flora how to react to emotions. For example, when I am tired, I drink water.

A reminder that a very child has different needs and it is important to take them into account when organizing our activities.

If you are interested in planning the Morning Circle, you can contact us at to share ideas and tips.


We will share more tips and activities in the future, so keep visiting us.

We are looking forward to hearing your views and experiences.

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