5 Tips for Talking to Your Child about Their Autism Diagnosis
Talking about Autism
One of the biggest challenges a parent faces as their child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder gets older is how to talk to them about their diagnosis. Parents have many questions about how and when to have this discussion. The thought about it may create anxiety and stress, but if prepared, it doesn’t have to. The truth is that there is not one right or best way to do this. In fact, the conversation is more of a process as opposed to a one-time event. This article will provide a guide for talking to your child about their autism diagnosis.
The question of why do I have to speak to my child about their Autism diagnosis is one that is asked by all parents affected. Children who are able to understand what their diagnosis means and what subsequent challenges they may face should be given the opportunity to discuss it with their parents. It is no different than a parent discussing any other medical issue or learning difficulty with their child. They deserve to know about how their diagnosis affects learning and communication, and the reason for the therapy they have been getting all these years.
5 Tips for your talk
Having the discussion with your child who is on the spectrum should be looked at as a process, and it is likely that not all of the topics that need to be covered during your talk, will be. That is okay, and the conversation can continue on as needed. The hard part is the beginning. Preparing for the talk is key, and here are some tips to make it impactful
- Be honest and compassionate- Facts and stories go along way when hand in hand. In other words, use real language but give real life examples of things you are talking about.
- Be clear and speak in the way that you know your child would understand best- Keep in mind how your child communicates and their level of understanding.
- Have a trusted professional with you, such as your child’s social worker or BCBA- Support from someone you and your child know and trust can make a positive impact during this discussion.
- Set the standard early that it is a two way discussion and that your child can speak and ask questions whenever they want to- Kids may want to share their feelings and have many questions of their own to ask.
- Use visual aids to help with your conversation- This is just another way to help your child understand, and can be very helpful.
Ongoing communication is key
As discussed above, talking about an Autism diagnosis with your child is not a one-time thing. As your child grows and develops, they will surely have more questions and feelings to share. It is important to keep the lines of communication open with your child as time goes by. This process may go slowly, but remember to go at a pace that you and your child are comfortable with. Having these discussions with your child is a positive thing, and another way to foster growth and communication.