Monday, March 20, 2017

Talking About Autism: What to Say

Here is the situation: You are a parent of a child whom you know has a form of Autism. You are well aware of the social challenges that your child faces. You know that direct communication is hard to come by with your child. You want to find a way to communicate properly with your child, but you're not quite sure how to go about it. You want to sit down and have an important chat about what Autism is and what you can do to help your child.

Where do you start? How do you start? What can you do to get a response from your child?

The link above takes you to an article where tips on talking to your autistic child, and I find these mentioned tips to be helpful. I especially like the "talk to your child sooner rather than later" tip because that highlights one of the most glaring problems parents have when addressing their child's condition. Parents choose to bottle up what they want to discuss with their children rather than just stepping forward and discussing what needs to be discussed.

Until your child can be made aware of it, he or she won't know that there are differences between that child and other children at school. Having your child be made aware of his or her condition, no matter what part of the Autism Spectrum it is, makes a difference. That difference is subtle, but as time goes on and reality sets in to your child that he or she really is different that other children, you will be thankful to let them know about those differences early on in their lives.

Let the truth be known as soon as possible to your child that he or she has Autism. If that is what the true diagnosis is, then let your child know. It's that simple. Having your child go through a part of his or her life not knowing what exactly made him or her different to begin with doesn't serve to help anyone. I would know this because I went through my entire childhood without knowing that I had Autism. I had no idea what Asperger's Syndrome even meant when I was a child. I never even heard of that diagnosis.

So what do you say exactly to your autistic child? How do you say it?

I'm not a parent myself, so I can't provide that specific perspective. However, from a casual and friendly point of view, I wouldn't do anything to make the situation alarming or dreadful for the child. You don't approach your child with a sour or grim look on your face. That's a red flag right away. Don't do that. You let your child know that there's nothing wrong, but do let your child know that you have something important to say.

When you finally spill the beans to your child and tell him or her that he or she has Autism, you never try to make it sound like your child has cancer. That's not what Autism is. Don't scare your child into thinking that Autism is something so harmful that they can't recover from. Autism is a gift in many ways, and not really a curse. Autism simply means that you are mentally rewired and you are capable of excelling in certain intellectual categories. Now that doesn't sound grim at all, does it?

Present Autism as an opportunity of sorts for your child. Make Autism sound like it's a badge of honor, as in "This is what you have, and you may be different than the others, but you are not worse off than them. You were meant to do something different, and that's what makes you... you."

Present Autism as a fun challenge of sorts for your child, as a motivational tool. Encourage your autistic child to go through life knowing that he or she will have a different set of obstacles waiting, but there you will be as a supporting parent to give your child that confidence to persevere and endure. Motivate your child and continue to motivate your child, through wins and losses. That's how you both succeed.

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