Life is often a balancing act for parents, particularly those of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). When it’s time to discuss your child’s autism diagnosis with him or her, it can be difficult to know how to explain the challenges of autism while still preserving his or her self-esteem. It may also sometimes be tricky to prevent a child from using an autism diagnosis as an excuse for every poor grade or instance of inappropriate behavior. Consider using the following tips to empower your child while providing him or her with information about the diagnosis.
Deciding When to Discuss the Diagnosis
It may be time to discuss the autism diagnosis with your child when they begin to question their challenges and differences. Your child might ask why he or she must go to group or one-on-one therapy sessions, or why they have various difficulties.
Developing a List of Strengths and Challenges
Before having the discussion with your child, it can be helpful to develop a list of your child’s strengths and challenges. Try to think of specific things your child does well, such as their kindness toward animals, aptitude for fractions, and helpfulness in the kitchen. To help your child maintain self-esteem, try to be a little less specific about their challenges. He or she might need extra help making friends, for example.
Using Child-Friendly Language
When you tell your child that he or she has autism, it may be best to avoid explaining that it’s a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects multiple areas of functioning. Instead, talk about how it makes your child unique. Emphasize your child’s strengths. Mention your child’s challenges, talk about how everyone has challenges of their own, and praise your child for working hard to improve them.
The autism specialists at The Behavior Exchange have been honored to work closely with families in the Dallas area for about two decades. Our behavior classes, parent training classes, and school consulting services have helped countless families of children with autism spectrum disorders, developmental delays, behavioral challenges, and other special needs. If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our autism specialists to discuss your child’s needs, please call (214) 556-3947.