Explaining Autism Spectrum Disorder to children
When parents are first faced with their child’s ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) diagnosis, they are often left in a state of confusion and shock. Receiving the official diagnosis can be rather distressing and moving on to the next steps can be a challenge. There are various concerns they are likely to have about the child’s future - exploring treatment options available, learning how to navigate education, medical, and insurance systems or even about how they’d break the news to family and friends. However, a primary question or concern that parents are left to grapple with is - how do we explain the diagnosis to our family?
It is, vitally important to educate children as much as possible and offer them the support they require in navigating the world. In this blog, we’ll discuss how parents can explain ASD to their children:
Set a positive tone
Many families have discovered that by setting a positive tone early on about the uniqueness of each family member is a great place to start. This inculcates a positive attitude about ways in which they behave differently. When you really think about it, every person is indeed unique in terms of their likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, emotional and physical attributes. If these differences are discussed in a positive and empathetic tone, then it’s more likely that others will receive this information with an open, engaged mind.
Inform and educate siblings
Explaining an ASD diagnosis to brothers and sisters will vary based on their age. It is vital to remember that the conversations you have with them about ASD and how it impacts their sibling, will have to evolve over time to provide them with more information as the children grow. Ensure that you keep communication lines open at all time, in case they have any questions or concerns.
Equip yourself with important information
Your children are very likely to have questions - it is important that you do your homework by reading books, speaking to therapists and listening to experts, so that you’re prepared to answer them. In addition, ensure that you’re able to explain things in a way that is meaningful to your children and refrain from using any technical or clinical language.
Get help if needed
Explaining the diagnosis to your family is not going to be a one-time conversation. It will take time and more questions are bound to arise. Do not force yourself to address all details in one go. When you feel the need, do consider getting help from friends, other family members, therapists, online forums, books or websites. There are a multitude of resources available to address challenges across the spectrum. You may also consider joining groups - online or in-person, so you can meet other parents and have share your experiences, ideas and resources.
For more information regarding sensory therapy, cognitive skills, behavior therapy, developmental disorders, and early intervention, please contact Stepping Stones Center. We emphasize on acquiring new and appropriate behaviors, while also working on helping the child achieve developmentally age-appropriate milestones through evidence-based practices.
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