Does your child have a super power? We know all about that! Often at PediaPlex we have questions from parents about how to address their child’s autism diagnosis with their children, family, friends, etc. We know that this can be a tricky conversation and sometimes the idea of telling your family that your child has autism, or any disability, can sound scary or overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve been down this path before and we know just how to tell your loved ones.
Ok… so why do we keep referring to autism or disabilities as a super power? Because every child (with or without disabilities) is super and special in their own way! We all have different skills, challenges, and characteristics. The combination of those things is what makes up our super powers. It’s important to embrace these and show the world just have awesome we are!
Check out some tips for discussing your child’s diagnosis of autism or other disabilities with loved ones or even with them.
Embrace It– This is the first and most important tip. You, as a parent, have to embrace this diagnosis. This might not happen right away, and that’s okay. This is a new journey for your family and it’s normal to have questions and be a little scared. But it’s now a part of your story. Once you’ve gotten to the point of accepting and embracing the diagnosis, you will see that there are a ton of different resources for you! Autism Speaks has great resources for families all over the country so that you can start getting the services that you need. You will find that it’s an amazing community to be a part of and everyone you meet along the way will be happy to help you.
Sibling Support- This one is probably the most challenging. You might be concerned your other children won’t understand or that they will feel as if they don’t know how to interact and play with their sibling. It will of course be difficult to explain to younger children, so definitely use your best judgement about when you think it’s appropriate to have this conversation. We’ve found that it’s best to explain it as their ‘Super Power’ and it’s important to let the siblings know some of the challenges that their sibling might have. Check out this video to see what one of our client’s siblings thinks about her bothers autism diagnosis!
Strengths and Weaknesses- It’s important to let your child, and others, know about their strengths and weaknesses. They won’t always be good at everything they try, but that’s just a normal part of life. Not everyone was born to be Michael Jordan or Taylor Swift and we need to make sure our children know that. One child might excel in math or science while another child might be better at writing. Be sure to highlight your child’s strengths when you are having a conversation like this!
Role Models- One great idea to use when talking to your child is to relate to some of their role models who might also have a disability! There are many actors, artists, writers, and famous people who have disabilities and many of them are extremely proud to talk about their experiences and where it has brought them. You might even know someone personally in your community that would be happy to chat with your child and talk about their journey. Showing them someone who is older than them who has also been through similar challenges can help encourage them about their own super powers!
It’s important to know that there is no right or wrong time/way to share a diagnosis with your child or others. It is 100% up to you and you will know when the time is right. You can always ask a school counselor or your therapist for help with this! Visit our website for more information as well.
From all of us at PediaPlex- we love you just the way you are!