Autism Feelings Chart for Children

January 31, 2019
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To a child with autism, everyday life can be rather overwhelming. Autistic children often view the world as a confusing mash-up of places, events, people, and things, and can have trouble interpreting what they see.

It’s not that the child is seeing the world incorrectly – their interpretation of the events isn’t wrong – autism is simply a variation in the way their brain works. And when you consider it – don’t we all think differently anyway?

To help make an autistic child’s life that little bit easier there are numerous tricks, tips and techniques that can be used. Most of these are only small ideas which require little effort, but the positive effect they have for autistic children can be substantial.

An emotion chart is one such effective technique that can help autistic children to voice their feelings. We’ve produced one that you can download for free and use with children in your care.


Autism & Expressing Emotions

Identifying emotions is one of the main challenges for children with autism.

Children develop the ability to understand and express emotions from birth. By 12 months, they can read facial expressions and gain an understanding of how someone is feeling. However, autistic children can’t always do this, even as they continue to grow and develop.

Autistic children often find it difficult to understand and control their emotions, and interpret those of others. In addition, they can’t always recognise facial expressions and the emotions behind them. This may give the impression that they lack empathy, but in reality, they haven’t understood the situation. It can be even harder to recognise autistic tendencies in female children as the symptoms can manifest slightly differently. For more information, take a look at our guide on Autism in Females.

For a child with autism, emotions may be daunting. If they can’t comprehend how they’re feeling, then expressing it and discussing it can be particularly overwhelming. A tool such as the feelings rating scale can help them to communicate their feelings to others.

Group of children at school


What is a Feelings Scale?

A ‘Feelings Scale’ is just one example of an easy tool that you can use to help autistic children develop a better understanding of their emotions.

Feelings Scales – sometimes called a Stress Scale, Feelings Rating Scale, Emotion Chart or How Am I Feeling Chart – are a simple scale made up of numbers, traffic light colours or a range of faces. The idea is that the child uses the scale to indicate how they’re feeling at any given time.

For example, at the start of the school day you could ask the autistic child to look at the scale and point to which face best represents their current feelings. This helps to turn the abstract concept of emotions – something that autistic children often have difficulty comprehending – into something more concrete.

What’s more, it also helps the child to understand that they can express their emotions in a calm manner. Often, autistic children will display challenging behaviour in order to help themselves demonstrate their feelings to you but, if they are given an alternative method of expression, you may find this helps the child to develop a calmer coping method.
You can easily make up your own Feelings Scale using art materials, a pen and paper or a computer. It might also be a good idea to sit with the autistic child and get them to help you. Alternatively, we’ve prepared a ready-made Feelings Scale that you can download for free. This can be used with the child at home and as a visual support in the classroom.

Example Autism Feelings Chart

Image of an example Autism Feelings Chart for parents and teachers


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