My Child Has Autism

Therapist Tips on How to tell your Child about their ASD Diagnosis

Your child has always felt a bit different than their peers. As they’ve developed, you’ve noticed their brain works a little differently than other kids their age. Eventually, the effort of trying to fit your child’s differences into the strict guidelines of society is exhausting. After a long journey of thinking something is wrong with your child, there’s a load of relief in finally receiving an answer: an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis.

An ASD diagnosis begins a new journey and comes with it a lot of new roads for a parent to navigate. Although a diagnosis provides relief in better understanding your child and the support you can find for them, it also comes with new stressors.

One of the initial concerns many parents face is telling their child of their diagnosis. Especially when you are still trying to understand yourself, an added pressure is hoping your child will not only understand, but come to accept, this new diagnosis. Here are some tips for how to approach this conversation:

Start by explaining what ASD is. ASD is a complex diagnosis that presents differently in different children. Explain to your child, in terms they’ll understand, what autism is and how it affects the brain and behavior. Be sure to emphasize that nothing is wrong with their brain, it’s simply wired differently than others. A comprehensive explanation may give them relief towards the frustrations they’ve been experiencing.
Emphasize StrengthsThe conversation surrounding neurodivergence is constantly changing and what used to appear as weaknesses is continually being viewed in a more positive light.  While it’s important to acknowledge the challenges that come with ASD, it’s also important to emphasize the unique strengths and abilities that many individuals with autism possess. Take a moment to celebrate who your child is and the strengths they carry!
Address DifferencesOf course with any diagnosis comes drawbacks. Explain that individuals with autism may behave or communicate differently than others, and that this is okay. As mentioned earlier, a diagnosis may actually provide relief to the differences they’ve noticed within themselves and hope on ways to accommodate these differences.
Encourage QuestionsJust as you likely will, your child will have a lot of questions: the journey following an Autism Diagnosis is a long one. Encourage your child to ask questions and express any concerns they may have about autism. Give them space to express their feelings and assure them that you are beginning this journey together.
Foster Self-CompassionEncourage your child to be patient and understanding with themselves as they explore this new piece of their identity. And as they embrace the differences in themselves, encourage them to embrace different learning and communication styles in everybody. In fostering a mindset of acceptance they’ll not only gain self compassion but learn to be more compassionate towards those around them.

Remember that every child is different, and the conversation about ASD will vary depending on your child’s age and level of understanding. It’s important to provide ongoing support and create a safe and supportive environment where your child feels comfortable asking questions and expressing their feelings about ASD. If you have questions or need support navigating a new ASD diagnosis, connect with a therapist at Decade2Connect today.

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