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Telling your Child about AS

When and how should I tell my 7yo child he is AS?

My Opinion:
Well no one ever explained it to me, I had to discover it and figure it out at age 37, so I don't know how helpful this will be. But considering what I was like when I was 7 years old, I think these things would have helped me.

I would start with talking to him now about all the things he can do that are BETTER than the other kids. I don't remember from what you have previously said, what exactly those things for your son would be. But for me they would have been reading, language, and math, plus I have pretty much a photographic memory for things that I can see. So now pretending your son is the same as me, you would start now and tell him just how well he can do these things, so much better than most people, but be careful that he doesn't go around and start bragging about it, don't overdo it, just casually point out little things over several weeks, etc.

Then either when he asks, or maybe on a day when things did not go well for him in an area where he has difficulties, you point out and remind him how well he does certain things, and then mention something like "but you know, everyone has problem areas too". And then point out ONE or maybe two of his problem areas. So for me again, it would be abstract thinking or figuring out how to make friends or certain stims that I have. So it might go like this "you know how well you can read, even books that are for much older kids, but sometimes what the books are saying is so hard for you to understand, and this is why". Or use the social difficulty or the stim problem, whatever is good for your son at the time.

I think for me, this way I would not have felt that I was a hopeless loser, that I actually did have some strong points, but it would have been nice also to know why I was so different from other kids. Also be sure to emphasize that it is NOT his fault that he is like that, it is just the way he is, and that none of his friends is perfect either, everyone has challenges in life, altho we are not always able to tell what the challenges of others are (and it is not nice to ask them either!!). You can also point out that diet does help him to improve in those problem areas, if in fact it does, and it will give him incentive to continue it, especially if he wants to improve in those areas and be more like other kids.

The experience of a member of my local support group

My middle child (age 5) is autistic but recent events have forced me to seriously look at my oldest son (13 years old). I have long suspected he is Aspergers but never really thoroughly thought it through or told him. He had poor eye contact and did not talk until he was 3. After that, he did start talking and made friends but from time to time he seemed a bit odd - nothing like my autistic son though. Some of the things he would do is bump his head on his pillow to get himself to sleep, without thinking would constantly make noise such as crinkling a wrapper, be in the middle of a conversation and out of the blue say something that has nothing to do with the current subject using pronouns instead of names thinking others would understand and get angry that they don't, would cry at the drop of a hat, would do something hurtful such as insult someone and have no idea why it hurt them, sometimes his speech is robotic-like or he struggles with putting words in a sentence in the right order and can memorize facts easily but cannot apply them. After searching some websites and making a list of what he does that seems to fit, I was pretty convinced he is in fact Aspergers.

Yesterday I had some one on one time with him and asked him some questions about how he thinks. I then told him about my finding out I am dyslexic and how relieving it was to know what was wrong with me and how it enabled me to overcome it. I pointed out some of the things he does and that I felt maybe he could have Aspergers. Since his brother is autistic, he was familiar with the word but I had to assure him it is quite different than being autistic. He asked me some questions about what it is and then brought up some of the things he thought were odd about himself. After a little while he told me he felt he is in fact Aspergers. He had seen the ABC special with Temple Grandin and said he could relate with some of what she said about thinking in pictures. He said he was relieved to know that he is not dumb and has wondered for a long time what was wrong with him. I explained to him that knowing what is wrong is never an excuse for doing wrong things. He said he understood that this means he has to work harder in some areas. I pointed out the things that come easy to him such as memorizing and drawing (he can look at a picture then draw it without referring to it again with amazing detail). I told him it is kinda like being a left-hander in a right- handed world. People tend to assume one is right-handed and manufacturers tend to make things with that assumption so even though a lefty has the same amount of strengths and weaknesses, they are forced to sometimes conform to the right-handed world. The rest of the day is seemed like he was walking on air. A weight had been lifted off his shoulders and he is ready to find out what the next step is. This morning he told me again that he is so relieved to know he is not dumb and that I understand that what he does is not intentional.

Hopefully this experience may help one of you that may have to one day explain this to your child.

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