Does your child know that he/she has autism? How and when do you tell him/her that he/she has autism?

A few weeks ago I met a lady and I shared that my son has autism, she got all excited (as we special needs parents often do).  It’s kind of like finding another member of the club.  Anyway, she was telling me that her young son was recently diagnosed.  She was so happy that she finally found the answer to why her child was “different”.   She said that his IQ is at genius level, and that he was talking in full sentences and using “big” words as a toddler.  I feel sure that this child can already see how he surpasses other children his age.

I was visiting with a friend the other day and she was sharing with me that a member of her family has a young son with autism and the parents are at odds with whether or not to tell the him.  He is at the age where he is becoming aware of the children around him.

My son is 26 and non-verbal.  His last IEP evaluated him at the level of a 6 month to 3 year old.  Have I told him that he has autism?  No, I have not sat him down and said “Son, there is a physical reason that you are different from your peers.”  But we have used the words around him.  We have always discussed his autism in his presence, talking about it as if it’s no big deal.  Because, we feel that for him and us, it really isn’t. (We have been dealing with this for 1/2 my life…there’s nothing new here)

Now if he was higher functioning, and unaware of his diagnosis, I would have told him that he has autism as soon as possible.  I think it would be unfair NOT to tell him.  There must be enough questions in his head adding to his frustration and anxiety. And one simple word could ease his pain and confusion.   It’s my job to protect him, and keeping him bubble wrapped would only help me, not him.

What do YOU think?  Have you told your child? And if not, why haven’t you?

~ASM

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