In the world of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), labels opened the door to services such as social work, speech therapy, quiet rooms, therapeutic horseback riding, one-on-one swimming lessons, etc. At some point, however, the label is not just a topic of discussion and planning among parents, teachers, and therapists. In Michigan, the student is invited to at least part of the Educational Planning meetings beginning in middle school, or at the latest, high school. This is the beginning of the transition process to self-care, to self-advocacy, to independent living.
Eventually you do have to have the “big talk” and I am not talking about the birds and the bees (although that is another delicate issue). We had to tell our kids that they are autistic. When I had the big talk with my children, my oldest daughter accepted it readily, but then she was in an autism classroom (partially mainstreamed). My son felt bad about it, but eventually came to accept it. My youngest daughter was angry and mad about it – and has not and will never accept it (her words). Even though she needed speech therapy, she made the visits with the speech therapists miserable. We finally had to pull her out of speech therapy because of her attitude. Admittedly, she has fewer autistic traits and more typical teenage traits as a trade off. She is more neurotypical than her sister and brother. She is aware of the world around her and other people. On the other hand, her attitudes can be off putting, and she seems tone deaf as to how she sounds to other people.
Autistic Atheist Family USA said:
I appreciate the kids being involved in their own meetings. My son is in lower elementary and he has known about his autism since his diagnosis. We talk openly about it and watch youtube videos made by other parents and children and how they cope withe their challenges and strengths. I can’t imagine waiting to tell my child until they are in middle school. I don’t see how prolonging that talk helps them, if anything, they would think there were other things that are also being kept from their knowledge.
That’s just my opinion, and I am aware that each family has their own time frame in which they deal with such sensitive things. There is no doubt you love and respect your child. I love your writing, BTW.
Ann Kilter said:
When my kids were in lower elementary level in the 1990s, there was no You Tube, no Face Book. No Twitter. No Word Press. Compared to the plethora of information available today, words spoken and written were our tools. Nevertheless, my son and older daughter were not ready to hear or able to understand the concept of autism in the early elementary years. Even when we had the “Big talk”, they didn’t understand fully. Middle school was the time that they began to have a part in the IEPC meetings.