After learning about your child’s autism diagnosis, a common dilemma parents face revolves around the ‘who, what, when, where’ of telling your child about his or her diagnosis. Talking about the diagnosis with your child is crucial and is a step neither to be taken lightly nor without any forethought. This article will focus on some factors and points to consider when introducing the diagnosis to your child, through the 4 aspects mentioned above.
Who explains the diagnosis to your child could make a difference in your child’s reaction to the diagnosis. Selecting the best person to introduce the diagnosis depends on your child. At times, it can be hard for someone with autism to seek support and find comfort in the bearer of confusing or troubling news. As such, for some families, they opt to let a professional tell their child as this leaves the support and comfort role to the parents or close family members – hence family members are seen by the child as more supportive. Other times, the child may feel safer if close family members told him or her.
When and where are two important factors you should consider. There is no one universal correct time to tell your child about the diagnosis. The ‘correct’ time may differ from child to child. When to tell your child may depend on how ready you think he or she is for this information. Determining factors of readiness may include your child’s personality, level of social awareness and abilities. Other indicators of ‘when’ may be questions from your child such as: “Why am I different from others?” or “What is wrong with me?”. When you do decide to tell your child, choose a time when your child is in a calm mood, and a place your child finds safe and comforting.
Be prepared and think about what to tell your child about the diagnosis. For starters, you might want to factor in your child’s level of understanding. This may be a gauge for how much information to provide and how in depth your explanation should be, such that your child can understand the diagnosis easily. Be ready to answer questionsyour may have by reading up on autism. But if you are unsure what you should tell your child, you could always seek advice from professionals.
Having an action plan (e.g. interventions your child will undergo) ready may help reduce feelings of uncertainty. At Nurture Pods, after bringing in your child for an evaluation, our experts will craft an individualized intervention program catered to your child’s needs. For example, if your child is on track to transition to a mainstream school, our structured teaching and environment classes at our Centre for Child Development and Early Intervention will develop skills in literacy, language and mathematics (just to name a few) according to your child’s level.