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Featured When should I tell my son he has autism?

Discussion in 'Parenting & Autism Discussions' started by rainfall, Apr 2, 2019.

  1. rainfall

    rainfall Playing in the rain =P

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    I know that most of you here are on the spectrum (I'm an undiagnosed Aspie) and have your own experiences, so I am posing this question to all of you. When would it have been best for you to be told and talk about your diagnosis?

    My son is nine years old. He's obviously different and even in regular situations with more typical children he gets extra or different help to function socially currently. I've been thinking about this ever since he was diagnosed. He's aware of the term, as I've been asked by professionals a lot in front of him or it's been said as an answer when going to the doctor for his history. It's getting to the point when others may start asking him why he's different when I'm not around and I don't want him to think he's less of a person because of his differences being pointed out. It's likely he won't even understand their question as I don't think he sees himself as different than them right now. He understands and has been a victim of physical bullying but I don't think he recognizes the verbal stuff yet. So, if you could please give your experiences, thoughts and/or advice, I will seriously appreciate it. Thank you so much! :D
     
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  2. Nihilus

    Nihilus Lord of Hunger

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    I personally think for me as an adult that it would have been better to be diagnosed when I was closer to the age I am now, versus being a child and not able to fully understand what all autism means and all of the different aspects I’d have to learn from.

    I suffered horrendously growing up because of that, not being able to understand many things, always taking body language and tone of voice in hostility, among other things.

    I think maturity should be thought of in terms of diagnosis, but that is just my experience and opinion on the matter.

    Best of luck to you and your son.
     
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  3. Autistamatic

    Autistamatic He's just this guy, you know? V.I.P Member

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    I found out the same time as my parents at age 13. I understood it, it was a great relief to me, even though in the 80s it was difficult to find information and it was a decade before the spectrum became accepted as the standard.

    35 years on and they never accepted it, but it put my mind at rest. You are the best judge of when to tell your boy. You just need to find the balance between being protective and hiding the truth from him. Leave it too long and he may resent it in later life - do it too soon and he may not be ready.
     
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  4. Starfire

    Starfire Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I agree with @Autistamatic, you are the best judge of when to tell your child.

    I was an adult when I was diagnosed and chose not to tell anyone except my wife. My mother also knows as she was questioned as part of my assessment. I didn’t tell my children at the time because it would mean nothing to them.

    When my eldest daughter around age 12 from memory, was assessed my wife and I decided she should sit in with us to receive the assessment results and her diagnosis so she knew from day one, but she couldn’t care less about. It was at that meeting that the assessment team disclosed my diagnosis as a way to reassure her without my permission so they ‘let the cat out of the bag.’

    One of my child’s teachers also left some paperwork about my child by mistake in a classroom during class. A classmate found it and read it out loud in front of class. It was meant to be an internal document letting teachers know of my daughters ASD diagnosis. This was very upsetting at the time and she didn’t want to go back to school as her privacy had been destroyed and she felt humiliated etc.

    I would say discuss it tentatively and see if there’s any interest on his behalf. Perhaps explain that some people may treat him differently, some meaner and some nicer and explain why that is.

    Remember, to be forewarned is to be forearmed, and that knowledge in advance enables one to be prepared. It would probably be better if he’s prepared for any questions from other people which will come at some point, and some scripted answers he can draw on may be useful. It will be better for him to have knowledge if he’s ready and interested, than if he’s unprepared and unable to understand why he may be seen or treated as different from kids around him.
     
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  5. Dubz

    Dubz Member

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    I agree with most here, that it's your call. I have wondered myself how my life may have different if I grew up with a diagnosis. On one hand I could have gotten support when needed, really just a therapist to talk to would have helped. On the other hand I may have been held back from doing or trying things because someone, maybe even myself, may have thought" oh he shouldn't do that or he won't like that because he has autism" In general I usually think it would have been beneficial to know. For instance, if I felt a meltdown coming on I may have some tools to use to cope better. What I usually did was punch holes in things or smash things to bits. Lots of holes in walls and doors back then. I'd be willing to bet your son is aware when he is being talked about. I think we all have a right to truly know about ourselves and who we are. Best of luck to you both.
     
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  6. Crossbreed

    Crossbreed Neur-D Missionary ☝

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    I think you should bring him up to speed gradually (similar to sex education).

    Assess for intellectual giftedness, too. Whether he is or isn't, start off emphasizing how he thinks differently than most people (and the benefits of doing so). Even casual terms (if they apply) like "your a geek/nerd like me/your father." As he gets comfortable with that, then give him its official label.

    Autism, as an unknown quantity, sounds scary. It comes across as an alien, undefined thing. [​IMG] > [​IMG] > [​IMG] > [​IMG]
     
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  7. Major Tom

    Major Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    You are the best judge as others have said. My mother hid my diagnosis from me when I was 12 and I can't help to think how different my life would have been had she not done that. Even to this day she refuses to accept. I think the fact that you do accept the fact that he is autistic is a Big step in the correct direction.
    Good luck!
     
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  8. the_tortoise

    the_tortoise Lost Soul V.I.P Member

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    I was a kid who wouldn't have understood or accepted the idea that I was different at the age of 9, even though it was clear to everyone else.

    The right time to tell me probably would have been no earlier than 15 ....maybe as late as 17, since by that time I'd had a few moments where I'd noticed something peculiar in social interactions and had a very deep, uneasy sort of curiosity about what was going, or about some specific difference between myself and others -- and autism explained things.

    But that's just me.

    You are the best judge of what your son needs and of when the right time to tell him is.
     
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  9. Nervous Rex

    Nervous Rex High-functioning autistic V.I.P Member

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    It’s heartwarming to read the responses here. I agree with everyone else - you are the best judge of what your son needs.

    I would suggest a few milestones that may trigger you to consider whether to tell your son:
    • When your son asks why he’s different (and is capable of understanding the answer). I can only speculate, but I think knowing this as a child would have given me some comfort.
    • When your son wants to know why he struggles with things that seem easy to others.
    • After your son has a growth mindset. I would not recommend telling him if you think he will use it as an excuse.
     
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  10. rainfall

    rainfall Playing in the rain =P

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    Thank you all so much for your responses! :D

    Nihilus, I've never been diagnosed and until my son was I didn't know why I was different and it was difficult to not think there was something wrong with me. I don't want my son to think that way and grow up with that mindset, though as you say, maturity should be considered. :)
     
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  11. rainfall

    rainfall Playing in the rain =P

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    Autistamatic, My son was 3 when he was diagnosed and then 4 when I got a second opinion and he was re-diagnosed. He was there and heard everything but he was nonverbal and very busy. He's always heard what he has, but I've never explained it to him or how it affects him and makes him different. Right, the timing is what's getting to me lately and not wanting to screw it up. :(
     
  12. rainfall

    rainfall Playing in the rain =P

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    Starfire, I'm so sorry about your daughter! :eek::( That had to be awful for her. Right, that's what I was thinking more about lately. Instead of him wondering why he's different and possibly never telling me that anyone even asked, he would have some answers to give in his way and to the best of his knowledge having already known and accepted himself hopefully. He doesn't verbally acknowledge he's different but it doesn't mean he hasn't noticed.
     
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  13. rainfall

    rainfall Playing in the rain =P

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    Dubz, I agree with you. I wonder what his life would've been like without the help he receives. At home, unless there is a legitimate reason, he doesn't get away with stuff just because he's different. I don't want to treat him like it's a free pass because it's not and as he gets older he'll be treated more harshly for his differences and people won't find some of his actions "cute" anymore. I think he has that right too and I would never not tell him because of that. It's just the timing that I'm working on. ;):)
     
  14. rainfall

    rainfall Playing in the rain =P

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    Crossbreed, I may have already been doing that unintentionally! :D I am very weird and my son calls me weird and I laugh and sometimes thank him for the compliment because he's realized I'm different than other parents that he has been around. He labels himself weird whenever he does something that is similar to something I've done. I understand the word "weird" is not what most would be happy being described as but I'm fine with it, because I know and accept I am. Maybe knowing that weird means different and then knowing his particular different might be a way to talk to him about it.
     
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  15. rainfall

    rainfall Playing in the rain =P

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    Major Tom, I mentally denied it for at least a year or so when he was first diagnosed but I never didn't try to get him the services I could tell he needed back then. I couldn't deny what I could see with my own eyes, but it was all new, my first and only child and now he had a label that would follow him throughout his life. I was aware that it was more of a personal thing to accept and realize there was nothing "wrong" with him, he is just different. His dad never accepted it and only said he did after leaving us both.
     
  16. rainfall

    rainfall Playing in the rain =P

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    the_tortoise, Hmm, that's kind of how he is in a way. I think he knows there's differences but that he may not be thinking about them in terms of him being especially different than everyone else. I'm going to observe a little more closely than I was before.
     
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  17. rainfall

    rainfall Playing in the rain =P

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    Nervous Rex, I think he's capable of understanding the basic concepts but more detail would probably have to wait until later. This one, he doesn't seem to care. He's perfectly fine in his own little world and then joining in with others when he wants to. Right, I would never let him use it as an excuse. Knowing him and how smart he is, he may try to jokingly use it as an excuse sometimes but I can't see him using it as an excuse to refuse something at the moment.
     
  18. Mathalamus

    Mathalamus Emperor of the Mathalamus Empire V.I.P Member

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    in my opinion.... you should tell him as soon as he understands what autism is like. hearing the truth is a lot better in the long run than not telling the truth, or omitting it, or him finding out. and just give them the help he needs. thats really all there is to it.
     
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  19. rainfall

    rainfall Playing in the rain =P

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    Mathalamus, Right, but since I'm not sure of that answer, that he can understand what autism is like, the question of when is difficult. I never considered not telling him, I don't think that's right. Thank you for your thoughts.
     
  20. Bronzelincolns

    Bronzelincolns Well-Known Member

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    NOW!!

    best he knows what's going on then go through the frustrations of life trying to understand why. it will give him more confidence in himself.
     
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