"How will I know when it's time to tell my children about their Asperger's/Autism diagnoses?"
"What should I say if my child asks me a question about autism?"
"Won't it just hurt his self-esteem to know a diagnosis? How does having a label help?"
"What's the best way to tell my children about their diagnoses? What shouldn't I do?"
Parents call AANE with these and similar questions everyday. They want to help their children understand themselves--understand how their diagnoses may affect them--but they also worry about what happens next. I posed the question of why parents should tell their children about an Asperger's diagnosis to my 18-year-old son, Noah, who was diagnosed with Asperger's when he was 3 years old. With the help of our dog, Lavender, this is what he had to say…
By Brenda Dater
My son, Noah, leaves for college in 2 days. He was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome when he was 3 years old. When he started high school, my mantra about college was, "There's no one way to do life after high school." I didn't want him to feel like he had to follow the path of everyone around him.
I wanted him to know that he could adapt to new environments, academic requirements, social expectations and living independently at a pace that worked well for him. I didn't want to hold him back and tell him he couldn't step out of his comfort zone and I also didn't want to pretend this transition would be smooth and easy because he'd done well in high school.
Brenda Dater is the author of Parenting without Panic: A Pocket Support Group for Parents of Children and Teens on the Autism Spectrum (Asperger's Syndrome). Brenda is also the Director of Child and Teen Services at AANE.