4 Important Reasons Your Child Should Know They’re Autistic

Wondering whether to tell your child about their autism or other "invisible disorder"? As an adult who found out late, I've got 4 reasons you should do it now!

Have you ever wondered when to tell your child about their autism?

Sometimes parents have a choice about when to tell the kids about their disability or disorder.  Other times, it’s really obvious.  If they’re in a wheelchair that’s not something you can hide; or anything else like that for that matter.  But when it comes to some neurological disorders, that’s really easy to hide.  It’s not just autism obviously, but ADHD, OCD, you name it.

My experience not knowing…

I grew up without any official diagnosis of anything. I was always just a quirky kid.  Some people love me for it, others were frustrated by it.  I’m betting it depended more on the moment than the person. I always struggled with friendships and life in general and it was devastating at times.

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As an adult, I was diagnosed with ADHD. I was about 19, and my therapist took an entire year to decide what disorder I had (although I would never have guessed I had any disorder…) and even then she was hesitant. She hemmed and hawed over telling me.  According to her, she knew immediately upon our first session it was one of two things. She never told me what the other “thing” was. She simply told me that it was very similar to ADHD and sometimes hard to distinguish between the two.  I hadn’t thought to ask her what the other was (and she certainly didn’t volunteer it).  I was busy fighting against being labeled ADHD.  She gave me a book, chuckling as she asked me to finish reading as much as I could and let me know if I still felt she was wrong.

Not big on reading?  Here’s a video with the gist of it!

That’s when my world changed

I read the book, to prove her wrong, and she was so incredibly right.  I felt and did everything in that book.  Page by page, I read my own life story written by a complete stranger.  I struggled to believe that there were people that didn’t feel this way.  I read passages to friends, family, acquaintances.  “Do you not feel that way?  Do you not think like that?”  Dumbfounded looks accompanied every, “No……

Now I know that’s called mind-blindness.  I was mind-blind to a degree my whole life and never knew it.  Floods of memories rushed in as I read my book.  So many sad moments in my life suddenly made sense.  It’s like knowing I was different, and how, was the missing pair of glasses I’d been looking for all my life.  Everything became focused and clear.  I no longer wondered why everyone else seemed to do life fine, while I was flailing and struggling.

Wondering whether to tell your child about their autism or other "invisible disorder"? As an adult who found out late, I've got 4 reasons you should do it now!
Should you tell your child about their Autism or other invisible disorder? I’d say yes; read on to learn why.


Then the paranoia set in

Once I started working with my therapist more on realizing I was not fully seeing things from others’ sides, not seeing what they saw, I was so paranoid.  I started re-living every situation that led up to a fight, lost a friend.  I began to see where a lot of it was me and my unwitting insensitivity or “weird behaviors”.  Escaping the playback loop is hard.  It’s still a struggle sometimes.

I learned to manage with her help, but now I am painfully aware, and always second guessing myself and watching my every move at social events.  It’s an exhausting chore.  Sometimes I wish I had never found out.  I’ve had almost 15 years mulling it over.

Wondering whether to tell your child about their autism or other "invisible disorder"? As an adult who found out late, I've got 4 reasons to do it now!

Why I think It’s important to know early

Going on as I was, spending money beyond impulsively, ruining relationships, failing college classes, having frequent panic attacks…. it was no way to live.  I realize ignorance wasn’t bliss.  Knowing is massively important.

Finding out so late, however, that was the problem.  It made me question my whole life.  It gave me no time to actively practice these skills as a child, to make it part of my normal.

My parents had no clue I had any kind of disordered thinking.  I can tell you, as an adult, if they had I’d have been furious about not knowing sooner.  Knowing that you aren’t just a failure, that there’s a reason for your struggles is a huge weight off.  Skipping the paranoia is too, of course.  If you haven’t shared with your kids their diagnosis, it may be a huge gift to them.

Now that I have my son with Autism

I’ve learned more about high functioning autism.  Looking back,  I’ve got a feeling Aspergers was the other diagnosis my therapist was considering. I also believe I’m actually on the spectrum mildly, and that’s why she was so torn.  Honestly, I can go into a whole other post on Autism vs. ADHD.  If I had to pick one thing, my money would be on Autism.

I’ve never sought an official diagnosis but I talked to a therapist I saw briefly a few years back.  He agreed the lines are really blurry between the two.  Any which way, ADHD, Autism, or both, I think knowing at a younger age would have positively impacted my life in a profound way.

To sum it up

I’ve got four main reasons I urge you to tell your child about their diagnosis ASAP.  A couple points are interwoven throughout my story up there, but here they are a bit more clearly for you to consider as they apply to you (and there are a couple that didn’t apply in my situation since I was diagnosed so late).

  • Knowing early on in life can reduce the paranoia your child may otherwise experience as a teen or adult.  It normalizes it in their world.
  • Kowing at a young age gives them more time to openly practice.
  • It minimizes breaking trust.  I’m guessing you know firsthand how strong a sense of justice to which people with Autism are pre-disposed.  They may possibly feel betrayed to find out they weren’t kept in the loop.
  • It de-stigmatizes the disorder.  If you spend their entire childhood hiding it, when they do find out, it’s going to likely feel like a dirty secret.  Like it’s hidden for good reason.  They must then decide whether to continue hiding it or work through possible feelings of shame.


Your Turn:  Have you shared your child’s diagnosis with them?  Why or why not?

Related books to help you on your journey:


 Bright Not Broken: Gifted Kids Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary Different Minds: Gifted Children  The Whole-Brain Child The Whole-Brain Child Workbook: 

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Author: Jill C

Jill is a Christian, homeschooler, "boy mom", and special needs parent. Jill has ADHD and has learned firsthand how adapting environments can be key to finding success! Her current mission is to empower parents whose desire is to homeschool their special needs children and helping them squash their self-doubt!

12 thoughts on “4 Important Reasons Your Child Should Know They’re Autistic”

  1. My son was diagnosed with ADHD and mild ASD November 2017. He’s now 7, we haven’t told him yet. I am grateful for you insight. You made a good point that telling him early takes away the stigma. I think I needed time to accept and process the information. I can see how helpful it might be for him to understand why he processes things differently and feels things with more of an intensity than other kids.
    Thank you so much for your blog, I’m grateful for all the resources and learning from another homeschool mama.

    1. Oh, that is so great to hear Carree! Obviously, it’s personal and up to each parent to decide what’s best and I respect that. 🙂 I’m glad though to be able to share my thoughts on it and know that it’s helpful for some people. Finding out and getting diagnosed can be hard, and everyone processes it differently! Sending a virtual hug to you!

  2. We talk about autism quite matter of fact you – like wearing glasses or hair color – it is just how my son is wired. Kinda haven’t gone past that much as he hasn’t asked questions. We’ll answer questions as they come. Having to some decide on supported decisionmaking/ guardianship issues, we need to do some talks, even if he doesn’t bring it up.
    Would you share the name of the book that helped at your Dx? I think my daughter and I would both come away better for it.

    1. Hi Wendy!

      That’s exactly how we treat it as well. Just part of simple genetics. 😊

      The book my therapist gave me to read was called, “Driven to Distraction.” I’ve also really enjoyed “You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?”

      I hope those help!

  3. Hi, I would never think to hide a diagnosis from a child but I think I’m kinda living in denial myself. My almost 6 year old is smart and overall can be very kind to people. But he really struggles in experiesing his emotions. It shows in aggression. Like it was a learned behavior, a coping skill. And since I have been staying home and taking charge in helping him (I have a degree in education) I never decided to get him assessed/diagnosed. His social/emotional skills improved thru they years but I still sometimes question the lack of diagnosis. And your posts made me wonder if no diagnosis and hiding one isn’t really the same…

    1. Hi Ola! I see what you’re saying. I think not having the diagnosis isn’t necessarily the same as hiding something! I think the main thing, in my opinion anyway, is being transparent and talking about it openly. So happy you’re there to help him from home!

  4. Thanks so much for your article. I agree, you should tell your child. When my Autistic son was 10 we told him his diagnosis. It was like something clicked inside him. He knew that he wasn’t the same as others in some areas, but now he knew why. I feel that knowing has helped him to want to help himself.

  5. Hi—I homeschool two kiddos with special needs (including Autism, we’re starting to believe) and I’m thrilled to find your website!

    Tonight I’m really fried (which is not unusual) and can’t find how to subscribe to your blog. May I ask you to do that for me please? Thank you so much! ☺️

    1. Oh yay! Glad to hear it! <3

      Finding answers is great, I hope you find yours regarding autism. =) We knew my son had it from around 9 months old, but his diagnosis came at 3. It was such a relief to have it confirmed.

      1. Our timeline was was exactly the same. I knew by 9 months and finally got a diagnosis at 3 (nobody else thought anything was wrong). He is 6 now and I’m wondering if it’s too soon.

        1. It’s a personal decision for sure! My biggest thing is that “keeping it secret” makes it a secret and stigmatizes it for the child and others in the world. I’d say you could always not talk about it, but also not make it secret either if it’s a huge concern. Like, talk about it little by little if that makes sense?

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