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Girl Scouts: Girl Scout Autism Awareness Patch

Rady Children’s Hospital Kristin Gist Patch for Autism Awareness

We are pleased to offer the opportunity for Girl Scouts to learn more about autism spectrum disorders through self-completion of the Kristin Gist Autism Awareness Patch.  

Who: Brownies-Ambassadors
What: Kristin Gist Autism Awareness Patch
When: Self-Guided Patch Program
Where: 3020 Children’s Way, MC5010, San Diego, CA 92123
Cost: Patches are free with completion of age-appropriate activities.
Contact: For more information or to receive a patch, contact Julie Purdy: or 858-966-5408

The Facts

One in every 54 children in the United States has a diagnosis of autism. While it affects many people, autism and the behaviors that accompany it may not be well understood.  

Children with autism face unique challenges. Though each child might have different symptoms, the most common include speech and language differences, having trouble understanding social cues,  difficulty making and keeping friends, narrow or fixated interests, and repetitive behaviors.  Even children without autism may experience some of these symptoms or behaviors during their lives. By completing the activities for this patch, you should be able to recognize how to understand these behaviors in others and how you may have things in common with children who have autism.    

The Activities

To complete this patch, all of the * items must be completed for each section (Discover, Connect, Take Action and Reflect).  

Discover Activities: 

1. *With your troop/group/family, read one book from the list on page 5. What did you learn? Share what you learned with a parent, teacher or trusted friend.  

2. *What do these terms mean? You might have heard them used in conversation, but do you really know what they mean? Look up the following terms in a dictionary or on a computer. All levels must look up the starred items. All but Daisy/Brownies must look up the rest of the terms.  

A. *Autism



B. *Neurodiversity



C. Social Skills



D. Repetitive Behaviors



E. Sensory Processing



3. *Many children with autism are very sensitive to certain textures or sensations. Some children really enjoy these sensations (e.g. wet textures on hands, chewy foods, certain fabrics), while other children with autism have a very difficult time tolerating them. Sensory play activities may help children with autism explore these feelings. Try one yourself. Did you enjoy it? How did these activities make you feel?    

A. Dr. Seuss’s Oobleck (From Bartholomew and the Oobleck):  

B. Tasting Game:

C. Ice Cube Drawing:   

  • Put a small amount of acrylic paint or food color into different portions of an ice cube tray. Fill the rest with water and add a popsicle stick, propping the stick up with foil until it freezes.
  • Remove the colored popsicles and paint a picture on a piece of paper. How does it feel to paint with something some cold? (

Connect Activities:  

1. *Choose at least one of the following activities:

A. Song Time  
Some children with autism cannot speak. Think of all the things you can say with your words. What if you weren’t able to use those words? How would you communicate with facial expressions, or gestures, or even music orhumming? With at least one other person, try communicating an emotion by using non-verbal cues. For example, if you are trying to communicate anger you might make an angry facial expression and hum loudly and pick a wild song, and if you were trying communicate happiness you might smile, hum more softly and pick a different song to hum. Take turns guessing what emotion the other person is trying to convey. Do you get it right?  Is this difficult? Can you imagine how difficult it might be if you were not able to use words to communicate your feelings? (

B. Bullying
Many children are bullied. Some children with autism may be bullied because they have a difficult time understanding and following social cues. Many of us face bullying, and this is something we can work together to end. Play one of the games listed below:

  • A Safe Pair of Hands Game: Get together a group for friends and play the game “A Safe Pair of Hands.” Each person is given two pieces of paper on which they write a time that they have been bullied in the past. Everyone sits in a circle with the papers mixed up and upside down in the center. Each person takes a turn picking a person and the group makes suggestions by first saying “I can lend you a hand. Would it help if you/I/we?”  
  • The Anger Suit: Find an old jacket or hat. Each person takes turns putting on the suit or hat and acting out a bullying situation where they are the bully. People guess at what is happening and where they could go if a bully treated them that way.  

2. *Choose of the following activities from your age level below: 

Many children with autism process sensory information differently. Sounds or sites can become overwhelming. When this happens, a break can help. While you might not experience the world the same way a child with autism would, it is common to feel overwhelmed at times. Try one of the activities below to see if it helps calm you when you feel overwhelmed.  


A. Blowing bubbles:  ake deep, slow breaths, and exhale steadily to fill the bubble. Pay close attention to the bubbles as they form, detach, and pop or float away.

B. Pinwheels: Take deep, slow breaths, and exhale steadily. Pay close attention to the way your breath cases the pinwheel to turn. 

C. Balloons: Blow up a balloon. The aim of this activity is to keep the balloon off the ground, but you have to move slowly and gently. Pretend that the balloon is very fragile.

D. Texture bag: Have another person put small, interestingly shaped or textured objects in a bag. Reach in and touch an object, one at a time, and describe what you are touching, without taking the object out of the bag. Only use your sense of touch to explore the object. (


Try one of the following two activities that allow you to become more aware of your body and help you to be more present in the moment.  

A. Body Scan:  

  • Lie down on your back on a comfortable surface and close your eyes.
  • Squeeze every muscle in your body as tight as you can.
  • Squish your toes and feet, squeeze your hands into fists, and make your legs and arms as hard as stone.
  • After a few seconds, release all your muscles and relax for a few minutes.
  • Think about how your body is feeling.

B. Heartbeat Exercise:


A. Try an app: While many are available, here are a few ideas to get you started:  

  •  Stop, Breathe, and Think: Web and mobile app with meditations for mindfulness and compassion
  • Free website and mobile app with guided meditation and relaxation exercises
  • Insight Timer:  Free mobile app with virtual “bells” to time and support your meditations, and access to lots of guided meditations by many different meditation teachers
  • Plum Village: Zen Meditation: Free app for iOS, loaded with beautiful meditations and teachings in the Plum Village / Thich Nhat Hanh tradition
  • MindShift: Free mobile app focuses on mindfulness and other coping skills for anxiety
  • Smiling Mind: Free mobile mindfulness app from Australia
  • Headspace: “Meditation made simple.”  This app has a free introductory period, after which it requires a paid subscription to continue to use.
  • Breathr: Dr. Vo helped to develop this mindfulness app for youth with the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre (British Columbia, Canada). Free for Apple and Android mobile devices! (

B. Mindfulness Walk or Safari  

  • Go on a walk or safari with your goal to notice as many birds, bugs, and any other animals as you can. Anything that walks, crawls, swims, or flies is of interest, and you’ll need to focus all of your senses to find them.  
  •  Try to focus only on animals and ignore other people, cars or man-made items.
  •  Take slow deep breaths as you walk. (

Take Action Activities 

Many people do not really understand autism and this makes it much more difficult for a classmate with autism to interact with others. 

*For take action, pick one of the following items and make a difference. 

1. Educate someone else by sharing what you have learned with one of your friends, Girl Scout troop or school classroom.  

2. Realize that language matters.  While there is not complete agreement if we should say “a person with autism” or “is autistic,” people feel strongly about this.  Read an article that discusses this (like the one linked here) and have a conversation with another friend, your Girl Scout troop or school classroom about the differences. (

3. Make sure books such as the ones on this list are available for other children in your school or local library.  Perhaps you can speak to the librarian, your classroom teacher or donate a book from cookie sales.  

4. Create your own action project.  What will that look like?  What will you do to make a difference?  

Reflection Activities

What can you do to remind yourself of this process? *For reflection activities pick one of the following items which allow you to ponder what you have learned. 

1. Creating a journal: You can decorate a notebook or fold papers in half to create a small journal. Set a goal for yourself to use one of the techniques that you learned in this badge and keep track of situations that this helped you.  

2. Write a story, choreograph a dance or create a drawing: You can express your learning through any kind of artistic medium.  

3. When you feel overwhelmed, continue to use one of the activities you tried in the Connect activity section in #2. Try this for at least a month. Did this activity help you to feel less overwhelmed?  

4. Based on what you have learned, try something new—your pick. Why did you pick this activity? How does it help you better understand autism or behaviors that go along with it?   

Book List

Ages 4-8 (Daisy/Brownies)

  • A Friend like Simon by Kate Gaynot (ages 3-6)
  • A Manual for Marco:  Living, Learning, and Laughing with an Autistic Sibling by Shaila Abdullah (ages 3-6)
  • Crow Boy by Taro Yashima (ages 3-6)
  • A Boy Called Bat by Elana Arnold (ages 6-9)
  • A Friend for Henry by Jenn Bailey (ages 6-9)
  • Benji, the Bad Day and Me by Sally J. Pia (ages 6-9)

Ages 8-13 (Juniors/Cadettes)

  • A Whole New Ballgame by Phil Bildner (ages 9-12)
  • Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko (ages 9-12)
  • Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin (ages 9-12)
  • Autism, the Invisible Cord: A Sibling’s Diary by Barbara S. Cain (ages 9-12)
  • Can You See Me? By Libby Scott & Rebecaa Westcott (ages 9-12)

Ages 13+ (Seniors/Ambassadors)

  • In Two Worlds by Ido Kedar (teen)
  • Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis (teen)
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (teen)
  • The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe (teen)
  • Marcelo in the Real World by Franciso X. Stork (teen)

This patch was developed by the Developmental Services division of Rady Children’s Hospital to honor Kristin Gist, who has been an advocate for children with autism spectrum disorder for the past 35 years. Thank you, Kristin, for all you have done to provide services for children with autism.