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To tell teachers at extra-curricular activities about my DS's autism?

(22 Posts)
Allfednonedead Wed 13-Mar-19 11:42:48

My 8yo DS is autistic, but fairly 'high-functioning' in that he manages fine in mainstream school etc.

When he does extra-curricular activities, I usually let the teacher know ahead of time about his diagnosis, often with a word of explanation about eg his coping strategies. My thinking is that it's easier to deal with a child if you know what they are dealing with themselves.

But then I worry that I am letting him down by a) disclosing medical information and b) setting him up to be treated differently in line with whatever stereotypes the teacher holds.

Any thoughts?

PlainSpeakingStraightTalking Wed 13-Mar-19 11:46:15

If he was diabetic, would you tell the teacher?

Same rule applies.

ElfridaEtAl Wed 13-Mar-19 11:48:33

Surely it would be worse if something happened to cause a meltdown and the teacher didn't know how to deal with it? I think you're doing the right thing, that's what I'd do with DS anyway.
No advice on what to do if the teacher treats him differently, DS is only a toddler so it's not something we've come up against yet.

JacquesHammer Wed 13-Mar-19 11:48:40

You’re not letting him down, rather than ensuring he’s treated differently you’re equipping the teacher with the knowledge to make reasonable adaptations to ensure he’s given equality of opportunity.

Aeroflotgirl Wed 13-Mar-19 11:49:52

I would, I have 2 children with SN, and I always tell the activity leaders so that they are aware, and can help them.

GruciusMalfoy Wed 13-Mar-19 11:52:18

IMO, it's important for the leaders/teachers to realise that my child might act "differently" from a lot of the others in the group, and I'm sure they would find it useful to know why. Most recently I had to tell a leader and her reaction was so positive and "on the ball" about what he may need, that it made me more comfortable leaving him there knowing that he was recognised and understood.

JacquesHammer Wed 13-Mar-19 11:55:00


Just to add, I deliver sport as an extra-curricular activity. I don’t make assumptions regarding what a child might need, but would ask you what he might need and how that could be accommodated.

sweeneytoddsrazor Wed 13-Mar-19 11:56:03

Speaking as a leader of a youth organisation I would want you to tell me anything that would help me interact with your child in the correct manner.

lovelygreenjumper Wed 13-Mar-19 11:56:55

I run and after school activity club and have had a number of parents do just what you describe- telling me about 'hidden' disabilities and a child's coping mechanisms/every day things that they find harder than most. I use the information to know when I might need to adapt things so that the child can have a better experience. Speaking personally, my start point is that all the children can do any activity but for example if I know that a child finds noise stressful I can be alert to the fact that they might need some 'time out' if we are doing a noisy activity and can give this to them before they get upset. On one occasion we did some out of bounds activities and a high functioning autistic child did not want to try any of them and became quite stressed. Because his parents had discussed his needs with me I knew that part of the problem was the number of people around him and the noise levels- I was able to arrange for him to try a couple of the activities with just one friend when the others were having lunch and he loved it.

SmarmyMrMime Wed 13-Mar-19 11:57:07

It is an advantage to know background for any necessary reasonable adjustments. I'm involved in Guiding and Scouting, and we often aren't told about issues such as dyslexia which may impact a child's ability to complete a task for badgework. It may be more appropriate for them to demonstrate their knowledge by discussion than writing. In the absence of that knowledge, they could potentially miss out.

High functioning autism might not present as an issue normally, but if the child is tired or routine is different, they may need a different approach to behaviour to the standard policy. Understanding a child and being made aware of the way they tick and strategies that work for them gives us the best chance of giving them the best experience we can.

Often when we aren't told, we strongly suspect anyway.

Sirzy Wed 13-Mar-19 11:58:07

When I was a youth leader it used to really annoy me when parents didn’t tell us important things like this. We would generally be able to tell their was something but without having had discussion with parents it made it very hard for us to properly support them.

Idonotlikeyoudonaldtrump Wed 13-Mar-19 11:58:34

I do exactly the same. I think ywbu if you didn’t.

JessicaWakefieldSVH Wed 13-Mar-19 11:58:47

I have a child on the spectrum, with a late diagnosis. It really does help the child if you let others know. We’ve had all sorts of problems because of our initial reluctance to mention it. Even a child with high functioning autism, mine does too, is affected by it, and often more than we know as they can tend to keep things to themselves. You’re doing the right thing.

Queenofthestress Wed 13-Mar-19 12:04:23

I've just had this with a gymnastics group, I disclosed right from the start about my sons extra needs, they were fantastic about it and I don't have a doubt in my mind that I did the right thing

WanderingDaffodil Wed 13-Mar-19 12:04:54

Of course you should say. It's irresponsible to even consider not saying. The adults running the activities need to know. And you need to make the time to explain your child's needs in a way they can understand. It's a chance to challenge the stereotypes.

I have two 'high fucntioning' autistic kids. I wouldn't dream of hiding it.

JustHavinABreak Wed 13-Mar-19 12:05:46

I have been involved in running an extra curricular activity (sports related) and have always been grateful to parents who have been completely open with me about their children's extra needs. It has never affected the way I interact with their DC in that the child would be unaware of being different in any way, but it has meant that I have known what to look out for in terms of warning signals for seizures or how to calm someone on the verge of a meltdown. This means the while experience is better for their DC, for the other children and for everyone involved.

CloserIAm2Fine Wed 13-Mar-19 12:09:01

Speaking as a volunteer leader at an extra curricular activity, please do tell them!

Autism isn’t something to be ashamed of, any more than allergies or diabetes or asthma. But sometimes leaders may need to make adjustments or be aware of potential triggers. Depending on the activity and leaders, they may have limited experience of children with autism, and of course autism affects everyone differently anyway, so a quick word of the main things likely to affect him at that activity and how best to help him cope would save you all unnecessary frustration.

Allfednonedead Wed 13-Mar-19 12:12:43

Thank you! That's pretty much unanimous and very much reassuring.

I'm not even sure why I suddenly got anxious about it - possibly just the usual second-guessing myself that goes with the whole territory of parenting.

chocatoo Wed 13-Mar-19 12:42:32

Of course you must tell them, not fair on them or your child not to.

WanderingDaffodil Wed 13-Mar-19 12:48:41

Very familiar with the ridiculous second-guessing myself! It's bonkers. One day I'll master it as will you flowers.

namechanger2019 Wed 13-Mar-19 12:53:35

My daughter has ASD and ADHD. I always tell people if leaving her in their care.

99point9FahrenheitDegrees Wed 13-Mar-19 14:56:06

I have a diagnosis but my kids don't... yet. I give very specific pointers - x struggles with sensory overload, can there be a quiet space, if x shuts down don't fuss him, just move on. That sort of thing. I also tell anyone relevant in my own clubs, because it is a very helpful thing for an organiser to know.

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