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When did you tell your child they have autism?

(6 Posts)
Eulalia Mon 20-Aug-07 10:00:19

ds1 (aged 8) starts back to school tomorrow. He's in a mainstream very small village school with just two classes. Now he's in P4 he's moving to the big class. His teacher felt as he's going to be with older children that some sort of explanation about his condition to the class is necessary.

Have been thinking about this increasingly at home as dd (age 5) now asks why ds1 hits her and makes silly noises and faces.

However at our last appointment the paed said to tell a child when they asked themselves and it may not be till around age 10.

ds is fairly mild but quite obviously odd and he does notice that other kids tease him and that he hardly sees any friends but he's never asked why.

Am due to see his teacher this week to get the tone of this right. She doesn't want an explanation given without ds having one himself. But does it matter? I am afraid I might confuse him and also scare dd.

Another thing is that ds has started saying he can't help doing things and gets upset with me if I get annoyed with him. Have said OK to the noises/faces thing but hitting dd is unacceptable. He seems to feel that he can't control himself. I am worried if I tell him he has autism then he may use this as a good 'reason' for hitting or whatever.

Any advice most appreciated.

flyingmum Mon 20-Aug-07 13:38:25

My friend and I both worried about telling our respective sons and actually it all worked out really well. My son also has dyspraxia and dyslexia, infact a whole lot of other stuff as well as aspergers. He got very dispondent in year 5 about not being able to do the work that everyone else could and that was when he first realised for sure that he was 'different' to everyone else. I told him about the dyspraxia then. Then after his annual review that year we told him about a potential school he could go to which was for dyspraxics, dyslexics and aspergers syndrom and he just said 'is that what i've got then' and I said 'yes' and that was it! Since then and we've taken on the LEa to get him into an appropriate school he had to go and do trials and also tests and assessments so we explained more to him and he was fine with it. I bought him a book for Christmas called 'All cats have apserger's syndrome' which is really sweet although I have to say I don't think he's looked at it much but I might use it for his younger brother at some point because I think he will need to know soon now he's about to turn 7. I was worried about son 1 using his SEN as an excuse and he has at times but he's been very firmly put in his place by us as we've told him that that's all very well but he still needs to get a job and presumably doesn't want to live with us for the rest of his life he's got to fit in and make a real effort. I find its a tricky balance between managing his stress and anxiety (when he definately becomes more autistic) and encouraging him to do his best and stretch himself (due to the fact he feels he is crap at lots of things he is dubious about trying stuff out).

I think if the class is given an explanation then they will be less likely to tease him which will mean less anxiety on his part and then less 'quirkiness'

Good luck.

coppertop Mon 20-Aug-07 14:36:36

I told ds1 (7) a few months ago. He was starting to get a bit down about not always being able to do the same things as everyone else, mainly due to his poor co-ordination. I was also worried that he might be listening in during appointments with the Paed. It turned out to be easier than I thought. I bought the Kenneth Hall book and read through the bits of it that were similar to ds1. I told ds1 about his autism and explained that there were other people out there who were similar to him. He was really pleased to find out that he was not the only one to find certain things difficult. When he met MrsF's 3 boys recently he was really excited when I told him how similar they were to him.

So far he's seen his autism as an explanation for his difficulties rather than an excuse IYSWIM.

I think there are a few simple books that explain autism to siblings. I had a look on the NAS site when I was looking for ways to explain to ds1 about why ds2 is sometimes so difficult to manage. Ultimately though, I would say that you're a far better judge of how your dd or ds would react.

Eulalia Mon 20-Aug-07 18:08:49

Thanks flyingmum and coppertop. Sounds promising. Actually its dd who will be difficult in some ways but at least she may feel better with some kind of explanation.

I would rather tell ds on his own but can't actually think of a time when I will get a chance to! dd and ds2 are always there. I think I may ask the school if I can come in and talk to him there.

God I am dreading this though. It's like another step and makes it more 'real'.

Books sound promising but ds won't read and seems to find it a big chore at school, May give me some ideas though.

Peachy Mon 20-Aug-07 18:55:58

DS1 was 6.5 when he ahd a DX so we have been honest from day one, he'd already started to question his differences and I passionately didn't want him to label himself as 'bad' as he was starting to do. Paed agreed with this option, and tbh we just don't do secrets in our house- we're very open.

I really felt we had made the right decision, when a child in ds1's class referred to his dx as 'not right' he turned round and said 'my brain just runs on AMc while yours in on windows, that's all' ) and we were . However, his class teacher amde some very disparaging comments about him knowing at the handover with the Junior School teacher a fewmonths back, and seems to think we've done completely the wrong thing, which has made us worry. Ultimately thpugh, we needed that DX to understand what was going on, and we felt that it was armour for him against the constant non-invites to aprties, etc. besides, he gets some 1-1 at school so how could the kids not notice? On balance, i think we got it right.

Instead of using it to valaidate the violence (we're also OK with noises, stimming but against aggression) we are working with him to use awareness as a means of utilising time out. IOt worked well for quite a while, dipped when they removed the procedure from school (student teachers!) but seems on track again now....

Eulalia Tue 21-Aug-07 11:01:58

Thanks Peachy - agree with you, every child is different and if he is asking questions then that is the right time.

My ds isn't asking questions as such but he is explaining his feelings more - saying he can't help it when he gets annoyed and wants to lash out. Also he notices children teasing him. Therefore he knows something is wrong and it's time to say why and reassure him.

Anyway he's off back to school today so will see how he got on later.

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