Sharing your child’s diagnosis of autism with other adults can be difficult. How do you communicate on a subject that can bring up so many emotions and reactions?
There are many ways to handle it, and each situation will be different. It will depend on who you are speaking with, how close they are to you, how understanding they are, and how you are feeling at the time.
When it comes to the important people in your life, or people you know very well, you may want to plan a time and place to bring the subject up. Plan it for a time that is more conducive to a serious conversation, such as a day when there are no special events or anything stressful going on.
Decide how you want to bring it up and who you want to be there with you for support. You may want to address the matter in a way that you feel comfortable doing it, yet also in a way that is gentle for the other person—especially if that person cares very much about you and your child. Here is a good post to read about how you can treat Autism with diet.
Be Armed With Information
Before talking to your loved one’s about your child’s diagnosis, anticipate the questions and concerns they may have and be ready with answers. Often times it can help the other adult to adjust to this new information if they know exactly what this means, how your child may process information differently, and what they can do to be helpful and understanding.
It’s Your Choice
You don’t owe anyone anything, and if you aren’t ready to face questions or “helpful suggestions” right now, let the person know in a kind way that you’d rather put such things off until you’re feeling up to handling them. This is about you and your child, and you don’t have to lay yourself bare for the sake of others. Just remember that learning this news can be hard for them as well. Let them know you appreciate their support.
When It’s Someone You Don’t Know Well
If the subject comes up in the course of conversation with someone that you aren’t close to and your family won’t see often or at all, it’s okay to dodge the subject, or to just state the truth and then move on—do whatever you feel works for you in the moment.
Again, it’s your choice, and what you choose may change depending on your mood, how your day has gone, how much time you have, who you are talking to, and whether you’ll ever see that person again.
Don’t forget that there are many resources out there, where you can lean on others and learn from their experiences. Whether it’s a playgroup for parents and their autistic children, or an online forum, or an autism support group, you’re bound to find parents who can help with suggestions of how they’ve handled certain situations and conversations.
Above all, remember—this is your family and your experience. There’s nothing wrong with politely avoiding a subject or limiting the conversation if you feel that the other person is being unkind or unsupportive, or if you’re just not in the mood. You need to take care of yourself and your family first.