10 thoughts on “Telling Your Child He Has Autism

  1. My son Arti (14 y.o.) was diagnosed last summer. It was hard, but we told him. Why do that at such a fragile age? Because the whole point of the diagnosis was to get him some therapy and some skills training–which we are doing through Mobile Therapy. I don’t know if he agrees with the diagnosis, he’s never verbally acknowledged it, he simply ignores us when we talk about it, and when we point out something he did or didn’t do that is probably directly related to the autism, he gets really pissed at us, screams oh my god, and storms off. Still, I’m glad he knows we think he has autism, and I think he spends more time thinking about it than he lets on. At times he seems like he’s trying to make progress.

    Really, I think that each kid has a window. If you catch it early enough it can be part of the discussion without the initial stigma. Learn late enough and he’ll have the maturity to introspectively handle it. For Arti, 13-14 definitely wasn’t an optimum time to learn, but we really hoped to avoid a Story #2 scenario, and he already feels the effects of the disorder anyway.

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    1. We do the best we can as parents whether our kids are a teen like your son or in their thirties like mine. Knowing that you believe your son has autism allows him to understand that you do not think he is bad or stupid or has other negative traits. He might have even applied negative labels to himself and can now reevaluate those. One woman told me she got her diagnosis as an adult, when her own child was diagnosed. She was elated because she said, “I would rather be autistic than stupid any day.” She carried her parents perception that she was stupid until the time of her diagnosis!

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  2. Also, I think your category and tags might be too narrow to reach a wide audience. You might check in with Robyn or the bereaved single dad to see what tags they use. A couple that fit well in my mind are “Writing” and “Parenting”.

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    1. Thanks for the thoughts. I struggle with categories and tags. I think of categories as broad like what you mentioned, and tags as more specific like what I included. Then I forget to add the categories at all. I will do some more research. I have also been trying to figure out Instagram and following some bloggers there. The extensive number of hashtags on those posts has muddied the “tag water” for me, I think.

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  3. We haven’t really had “the talk” yet with Declan. We have with Catelyn, of course, she was in the room when the clinician discussed her diagnosis and I think it helped her understand herself better, but she doesn’t use the diagnosis to define her. She doesn’t say, “I’m autistic.” She says, “I understand why I have big emotional reactions, or have difficulty socializing, or have so many sensory issues.” But with Declan, I haven’t been sure he would be able to have those understandings or draw those conclusions. He has heard us use the term autistic in reference to him and we told him that means his brain is really special. Like when he started learning and reciting all the US Presidents, his teacher pointed out to him that his brain was special and being able to learn and recite all that he could was something that she, and not many others, are able to do. We have just gone with that explanation as well for now. He hasn’t asked why he has to go to speech therapy or occupational therapy or social skills training in school when his peers don’t have to. He hasn’t asked why he rides the little yellow school bus instead of the bus the other kids on the street ride. He hasn’t asked why he has a 1/1 aide. I don’t think he realizes the differences yet. When he does and when he asks I’ll have to elaborate more on “your brain is very special.” But I think I want him to come to me with it because I fear if I go to him with it he will be upset that I am telling him he is the same as his peers, but different. “Different” being the trigger word for him.

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    1. Even if there were a class called Autism Parenting 101, there could not be a set curriculum. Two children, two experiences. I think of the time my daughter asked me something about babies and I spent an hour struggling through the birds and the bees talk when all she wanted to know was some simple thing which I can’t even remember. It was not the right time for all the information I gave her! Declan is not ready for all that yet.

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    1. I have seen that approach work very successfully with a young man I know here. He even conducts his own yearly IEP’s, the Indivdual education plan, in the states. I was invited to attend his transition IEP during his senior year of high school and was amazed by what I saw. It’s great for the kids who can handle that like your son. Thanks for sharing.

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