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 to 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.

Affiliate links- I use aff. links to cover the associated costs of providing this website. I only recommend resources and products I personally use. I make a small commission, and your price is the same. Thank you for your support of this website, it means the world to me!

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.

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!

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.

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.

-Jill

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

Privacy Policy

Related books to help you on your journey:

&

 Bright Not Broken: Gifted Kids, ADHD, and Autism Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary Different Minds: Gifted Children with AD/HD, Asperger Syndrome, and Other Learning Deficits The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind The Whole-Brain Child Workbook: Practical Exercises, Worksheets and Activities to Nurture Developing Minds

Your Turn:  Does your child know about their diagnosis?  What are your thoughts on the topic?

Related Posts

Join the newsletter

Slide1

Subscribe today to get sample worksheets that will help caregivers work with your children, discounts, encouragement, and tips!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Author: Jill C

Jill is a Christian, homeschooler, “boy mom”, and special needs parent. Jill, herself, 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!

4 thoughts on “4 important reasons your child should know they’re autistic”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *