Welcome to the 2018 series of the Louden on Autism Q & A. As many of you know, I receive questions every day, and I want to make sure that the answers to these important questions are being shared with all of you.
Please know that these are my opinions and my answers come from my research and my own personal experiences. Of course, each situation is different. All of us as people are different. And no two people with or without autism should be treated the same exact way.
This week, I received a a question about when the “right time” to speak with a child about autism is, if you have a child or grandchild who is on the spectrum. Read more below.
I noticed that as my grandchild gets older, her differences stand out more. She is starting to question the differences and I’m wondering at what time is it appropriate for me to talk to her about “labeling” and having autism NOT define her as a person in this world we live in today.
This is a difficult question, because it very much depends on how you think the child would handle it. Generally speaking, I feel that when someone starts recognizing that they’re having struggles other people don’t, and that they’re having more difficulty with things than those around them, it’s time to start talking. I don’t advise that you wait until she notices huge differences and has no clue why. It’s better, in my opinion to get out front of any issues, rather than to act in a reactive way.
Certainly, the possibility of problems occurring is more likely when someone is not told about their disability and given the support they need. Consider the stories told by many individuals with an autism spectrum diagnosis who were not told, and/or not diagnosed until they were adults. Not understanding others or social situations for many leads to poor interactions with others and results in ridicule and isolation.
When you recognize you’re different, thinking “everyone’s better at life than me” can lead to pretty significant self-esteem and depression issues. You don’t have to throw her in to the deep end with the whole autism diagnosis necessarily, but being able to offer constructive and affirming answers to the questions that will come up, rather than leaving her to stumble around in the dark, can definitely help her manage the struggles that she may face.
As I usually say, each situation is extremely different, so I encourage you to do what you think is best for the people around you, but take it slow and be considerate of feelings and individual mindsets along the way.
Thanks for reading. Check back soon for another Q&A.