How to Tell Your Kids That They Have Autism
When our children are diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, we go through so many different emotions, such as relief as we realize we were right and think that they may now get more help. We will later discover how hard we have to fight for it! We know our children are quirky and willful, and we believe they are perfect.
But how do our children feel? How do you tell your own child that he or she is on the spectrum?
Your child knows he is unique. He knows that he sees things differently than other children. He may have been bullied over being a stickler for the rules or for being so obviously different from his peers by exhibiting verbal or physical stimming.
I believe that the best way to tell your child is to sit him down when he’s relaxed and happy. Here’s what I suggest:
Explain that when he went to see the doctor that day and the doctor had a talk with Mommy afterwards that it was to tell you that you have a child whose brain works differently. It works like a computer, deleting some useless data but downloading what interests them.
Make autism sound like what it is: a neurological difference that might make some things a little harder. He may have to find different routes to the same destination their neurotypical peers have reached, but chances are his way will be unique and extremely well-thought-out.
There are brilliant books available, including “Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes” by Jennifer Elder and “My Autism Book: A Child’s Guide to Their Autism Spectrum Diagnosis” by Glòria Dura-Vila and Tamar Levi.
My son knows he has autism. We told him as soon as he was diagnosed.
He’s very proud of his autism.
I just asked him, “What’s the best part of having autism?” He said, “Myself!”
I hope he will always be so proud. He certainly knows how to cater for his sensory needs and will go to the sensory play cupboard for play materials for tactile feedback and visual stimulation because he knows he needs that to calm him. He will get his weighted blanket if he feels the need to be grounded, and he will go for some time in the bedroom if he needs to detune.
Let your children express themselves and follow their lead. They will amaze you, and watching them grow with confidence in themselves is the greatest gift you can be given as a parent.
Educate them on great storytellers like Lewis Carroll, whose character Alice searched to make sense of her world. Let them marvel at the art of Michelangelo and Andy Warhol, and listen in wonder to Mozart: all amazing minds at work who might have had autism. People with autism can do great things; show them that.
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