During the autism workshop that we attended a few weeks ago, they talked a bit about when and how to go about telling children that they have autism.
To be honest it wasn’t something I’d really thought about before as we’d been so focused on just getting the diagnosis and thinking about how it would effect him throughout his life, that it just didn’t occur to me that at some point I’d have to have that conversation with him.
Max is becoming more and more aware of his own behaviour and how it compares to other children’s behaviour. But having said that, he is only five and I really feel like he is too young to properly understand. I just know that if I tried to tell him now it would be met with a barrage of questions, I mean I know all five year old’s ask questions but Max takes it to a whole new level!
I also worry that he might play on it, I can just imagine him blaming his behaviour on his ASD, when sometimes he’s actually just being a normal five year old who is pushing the boundaries.
So if not now, when do I tell him? I’d thought about waiting until he starts to notice his differences himself and then try to explain to him why he is different. But as I previously mentioned, I think he already is noticing, the other day he said to me “None of my friends ever pick me because they don’t like it when I get angry all the time”. He definitely sees that he gets frustrated more than other children.
And how do I tell him? Autism is so complex, and is different for everyone so it’s hard to explain exactly what it is, especially to a child. At the workshop they mentioned a few useful resources including The Big A – Me, Myself & Autism, which is a work booklet about autism. I really like the idea of this, but the recommended age is seven so he probably wouldn’t understand this just yet.
I’ve also done a bit of my own research and have found loads of books on Amazon that help children to understand autism spectrum disorders, a lot of these books get brilliant reviews so I think this is the route that I will go down. I think the words in the book will help him to understand better than I could explain it.
There are also some great videos on YouTube such as this one:
I have found that there are also books for siblings, one I particularly like the look of is My Brother is Different, because not only do we have to explain this to Max but we have to explain it to Evie too. I sometimes think it is more important to try and explain it to Evie because I want her to understand why Max behaves like he does sometimes and that she shouldn’t copy some of the things that he does.
I think for now I’m leaning towards waiting a while. Maybe in a year or so when I feel like he could grasp it a little better, then I’ll gradually start introducing the subject of autism to him. But it is really reassuring to know that there are some great resources out there for when the time comes.
Does anyone have any experience with this? What did/would you do? I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading.