The importance of sharing your child’s autism diagnosis with others
Deciding whether to inform people about your child’s autism diagnosis is a personal decision and depends on your situation and specific circumstances.
It’s understandable that you, as parents, may have concerns about sharing your child’s autism diagnosis with others. However, there are several reasons why it’s beneficial for people to know that your child is autistic, rather than hiding it:
Fosters understanding and support
When people around you are aware of your child’s diagnosis, they are more likely to show understanding and empathy towards your child’s unique needs and characteristics. This can facilitate a more inclusive and welcoming environment for both your child and you as a family.
By sharing your child’s diagnosis, you enable others to inform themselves and prepare to interact effectively and respectfully with your child. This can improve the quality of social interactions and provide greater emotional support for your child.
Helps combat stigma and discrimination
By speaking openly and honestly about autism, you can help debunk myths and prejudices that may lead to stigma and discrimination. This can have a positive impact on public perception of autism and foster a more open and respectful attitude towards autistic individuals and their families.
Promotes inclusion and equal opportunities
When people are informed about autism, they are more likely to implement policies and practices that promote inclusion and equity in areas such as education, employment, and social life. This can have a direct impact on your child’s opportunities and well-being.
Fosters connection and community
By sharing your child’s diagnosis, you can connect with other families and autistic individuals, creating support networks and communities where you can exchange experiences, resources, and establish meaningful relationships.
Empowers your child
By speaking openly and positively about autism, you demonstrate to your child that there is nothing to be ashamed of. This can help strengthen your child’s self-esteem and self-acceptance, which is essential for their emotional well-being and personal development.
In general, sharing your child’s autism diagnosis can be beneficial for your child, your family, and society as a whole. However, it’s important to keep in mind that each situation is unique, and your approach may vary depending on the context and the people involved. It’s crucial that, as a parent, you consider your child’s well-being and privacy when making this decision.
There are situations where not sharing your child’s autism diagnosis can have negative consequences in different places and times of life. Here are some examples to illustrate these scenarios:
At school: If teachers and school staff are unaware that your child is autistic, they might misinterpret certain behaviors or difficulties of your child as disinterest or indiscipline. This could lead to unfair sanctions or lack of appropriate adaptations and support in the educational environment.
E.g. Your child might have difficulties concentrating in a noisy environment and might cover their ears in response to the noise. If the teacher doesn’t know that your child is autistic, they might think your child is being disobedient instead of understanding that they are experiencing sensory overload.
In social situations: People who don’t know your child is autistic may misinterpret certain behaviors or social responses. This could lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and possibly social isolation for your child.
E.g. Your child might have difficulties maintaining eye contact during conversations. Without knowing their diagnosis, others might interpret this as disinterest or disrespect, rather than recognizing that it’s a common feature of autism.
In emergency situations: In the event of an emergency, it’s vital that first responders and authorities know that your child is autistic in order to provide appropriate assistance and understand their specific needs and behaviors.
E.g. If your child is in an emergency situation and cannot communicate verbally or feels overwhelmed, a first responder who is unaware of their diagnosis might not know how to handle the situation effectively and compassionately.
In the workplace: If employers and coworkers don’t know that your child is autistic, they may not provide the necessary accommodations and support for your child to succeed at work.
E.g. Your child might have difficulties dealing with unexpected changes in their work routine. If their employer doesn’t know that your child is autistic, they might think your child is inflexible or uncooperative, rather than providing the support and adaptations needed.
At school with classmates: If your child’s peers don’t know that they are autistic, they might misinterpret their behaviors or specific needs, which could result in social isolation or bullying situations.
E.g. Your child might have trouble understanding humor, metaphors, or hints during conversations with their peers. If classmates don’t know that your child is autistic, they might think they are strange, boring, or uninterested in friendship, instead of being understanding and adapting their communication to include them in conversations and social activities. By informing classmates about your child’s autism, they can be more empathetic and aware of their differences, which can facilitate more inclusive and understanding friendships and relationships.
In recreational and sports activities: If coaches, instructors, and other participants are unaware of your child’s autism diagnosis, they might not provide the necessary support or adjustments in the activity for your child to fully participate and enjoy the experience.
E.g. Your child might take longer to learn new motor skills in a sport or recreational activity. If the coach doesn’t know that your child is autistic, they might think your child simply isn’t putting in enough effort, instead of being patient and providing the additional support needed.
At family events and social gatherings: If family members and friends don’t know that your child is autistic, they might not understand their specific needs and behaviors, which could lead to tensions or misunderstandings.
E.g. Your child might feel overwhelmed at events with lots of people or noise and need a quiet place to calm down. If relatives and friends are unaware of their diagnosis, they might think your child is being rude by withdrawing, rather than offering empathy and understanding.
In medical and healthcare settings: It’s crucial for healthcare professionals to know that your child is autistic in order to provide appropriate care and adapt their communication and treatment approaches as needed.
E.g. Your child might have difficulty communicating what they feel during a medical consultation. If the doctor doesn’t know that your child is autistic, they might not get the necessary information for a proper diagnosis and treatment, instead of adapting their communication approach to obtain the information more effectively.
Sharing your child’s autism diagnosis in everyday situations like these can help ensure they receive the appropriate support and understanding from those around them. Furthermore, by being open about your child’s autism, you can also help demystify autism and promote a more inclusive and tolerant society.