Answer: Higher functioning individuals on the autism spectrum often go undiagnosed until school life ends and independence begins. When the routines and structure of school end and work or post-secondary education begins, young adults can start to feel the pressure. There are more decisions to be made, greater organizational skills required, less structure and an increase in social complexities. The parent-child relationship is often redefined at this stage of life. The young adult may want more independence from parents but does not understand how to do this.
Answer: There are a number of frequently asked questions around when you should tell a child about their ASD diagnosis. How do you tell a child about their diagnosis of ASD? Is there a right age? How do you know when the child is ready to hear the information?
Answer: Receiving an autism spectrum diagnosis is a life-changing event. Now that you know, the next question becomes who should you tell? What do you base this decision on? It can be difficult to know how much information to give because you don’t want to overwhelm people yet you need to give enough information to educate and inform. There will be some trial and error in disclosing because there’s no way to predict another person’s reaction; some reactions will be positive and others will be negative. Negativity often stems from fear so an initial negative reaction can turn positive once a person is more comfortable with autism and what it’s all about.
How and when do you tell a child about their diagnosis of ASD? Is there a right age? How do you know when the child is ready to hear the information? These are frequently asked questions around helping a child understand they have ASD.
It is recommended not to start this process before the age of 7. Children under that age generally don’t have enough understanding to grasp what autism is all about. When parents feel anxious about wanting to talk to their young child about autism, I usually suggest they begin with celebrating differences and building positive self-esteem. A couple of good children’s books to start with are It’s Okay to Be Different or Special People, Special Ways. Let them know that each of us is unique, deserving of respect, and we should appreciate different ways of seeing the world.