TELLING YOUR CHILD ABOUT THEIR AUTISM DIAGNOSIS
Receiving an autism diagnosis from an expert medical practitioner authorized to test your child may come as a life-changing news for you as a parent. From then on you will have to layout most of your decisions with your child’s autism disorder at the centre of it. Your parenting methods and approaches may turn out quite different compared to those parents of neurotypical kids and you will be confronted with many challenges unique to parents of special needs children. Regardless, you will still find a way to create the friendliest and most nurturing environment for your child as they grow and create their own future. Beating all the odds is most likely impossible, however, without the help of other people that are close to you and your family. After you and your partner have known about it, you will have to tell your child’s grandparents, your close relatives, trusted friends, and other people in the community who you think will show their utmost understanding and support for your child’s condition. However, it is also important that you let your child know about their own diagnosis as it not only helps them understand themselves better, but it also prevents trust issues and misunderstandings from happening as your child begins to become more aware of things around them. But this part can be very challenging for parents who do not know how to tell their children about it in the most considerate manner. If you are in this kind of situation, the following pointers will help you break the news to your child in the best parental way possible.
Instill in your child the idea of diversity
Over the course of your child’s life, it is inevitable that your child will feel that they are different than other people, whether by other’s observations or through their own. This will leave them in a confused state which can complicate into other psychological and emotional issues if not addressed. One of the most important aspects that can lead your child to understand their condition is by making them appreciate the concept of diversity as early as possible. Explaining the idea of differences in the human’s point of view may be hard for them, which is why you have to start with other living things such as plants and animals. For instance, you can introduce to them why there are different kinds of flowers in the world, and how each variety of flower is used for specific occasions and purposes. You can also have them differentiate a dog and a cat, or a group of superheroes based on their superpowers. Emphasize to your child how each of us can be different from one another, and how this diversity makes us stronger. Once your child understands this concept, you can then put into perspective the differences in humans, from our talents, personalities, and roles in the society.
From diversity, talk about similarity
Making your child see the beauty and power in diversity is one thing, but dwelling on this truth alone may lead your child to believe that they cannot do what other children can. As such, it is equally important that your child also knows how similar we can be. You can say that all flowers are appreciated for their beauty whatever the colour or fragrance and that both dogs and cats are adored by people because they are both cute and friendly human companions. This way, they can begin to understand the same principle in people, where we can be all similar in many things despite our differences. Tell them that every people have the same set of emotions, the right to dream and the privileges of friendship and a good life. It is also important that your child relates this fact to their responsibilities or duties at home and school.
Help your child understand the way their mind works
Just because there are medical terminologies in the diagnosis that your child cannot understand doesn’t mean that you have to keep the truth from them. What you can do to tell your child about your diagnosis is to explain some things about the diagnosis on your own words. For instance, if your child somehow develops a special preoccupation to a specific object or topic, you can explain to them that they’re thinking as such because their autism condition is telling this to their brain and at some point in time this preoccupation may change to other things and that it is alright if this happens. You can also explain why they may not like a certain food or people in that matter. There are many things about the autism diagnosis that your child can possibly understand if only you give them the right information. And when your child fully becomes aware of these things, it would be much easier to make them think of autism not as a disorder but as a kind of unique trait that makes people extraordinary.
Consider the right time to tell your child
Not all autistic children are the same, especially in their developmental process. There might be some who are made aware of their disorder at an early age, but there are also others who might not have any idea about their condition even after learning the ABCs. Rushing the explanation part to your child may not be a good idea if you are not sure about their level of maturity and capacity to understand most of the stuff that you’re planning to tell them. It is much better to monitor their perception from time to time and watch out for signs of curiosity related to their condition. If your child starts to ask questions that are linked to autism issues, it may be the right time to tell your child about the diagnosis.
Parents should always be cautious about what they tell to their child because it is their words that their child will take for it. It is important that you make your child aware of their autism diagnosis, but it should not be done in an abrupt manner and in a single discussion.