A Parents Dilemma: To Tell or not to Tell Your Your Child about Their Diagnosis


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I’ve written before about a question some parents of children of ASD share- when and do we tell our children about their diagnosis.

There is a debate related to it. What does it benefit the child if we tell them? Some argue that it can cause low self esteem in children who might already feel depressed, upset or confused about themselves. The other side to the argument is some children might feel relief to know there is a diagnosed problem and it is not just a feeling. With confessing to them their diagnosis comes understanding about themselves and might make it easier for the child to manage their life. Whatever side you are on, I don’t feel there is a right side. They say “if you’ve seen one child with Autism, you have seen one child with Autism”. Every child is different; nuero typical or not. You have to decide for yourself whether your child could handle the reveal.

However, that pops a new question into my mind. Does that mean we are deceiving our children by not telling them?

I know, just recently, Bug has announced he is different than other people. His reasons are infantile and childish; he likes watching tv a lot. I want to correct him and explain that he is different. But so is Diva and SB. SB is cray cray! But I feel that parent guilt again. Am I lying to my child?

Bug is quite different from Diva. He sees the world in black and white. There are rules to follow for everything and if not he makes up his own rules to follow. He is book smart and doesn’t have a lot of common sense. He doesn’t express emotions. I want to tell him his deep secret I’ve been keeping for him. I feel he could handle it. I even feel it could help him understand why he knows he is different.

I think that’s it. I think the key to deciding if you tell your child is if they notice they are different. If they can access there is a difference between themselves and others, I think they could benefit from knowing it’s not bad to be and feel different.

Luckily, last week I was blessed with a few materials to help me blab my secret to Bug. During a EFMP intake meeting for our new duty station, we were given a bag full of great resources and books including Say Hello To Me by April Charisse and Since We’re Friends by Celeste Shally. Both children’s books depict the main character as having ASD.

It maybe not be the right decision for your child, but at this point, I feel it is the right one for mine. I know it will come with a lot of questions but I hope it will give him a lot of answers.

Of course I’ll keep you all updated on how it goes and right now I’m out of vodka to help me after the process; so it might be a few days before I get to it.

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4 thoughts on “A Parents Dilemma: To Tell or not to Tell Your Your Child about Their Diagnosis

  1. Oooh, I wonder if my EFMP has those books. I’ll have to check them out!

    I don’t know if my son “realizes” that he’s different, but I’m going to guess that he doesn’t. He is still young though, but I’ve never really considered NOT telling him. We don’t make his diagnosis that big of a deal, and although he’s working 35 hours a week to try and catch himself up to where he should be, we don’t let it define him. I think that’s important to think about: Can your child learn of their dignosis and still see themselves as something more than that. If not, I don’t know. Maybe make a friend for them that also has autism and have them learn how great people can be WITH it?

    • I think your suggestions are a great idea. There can be a great learning lesson there. Bug is high functioning so it could go either way if we friends someone with ASD. His sister also has ASD. Neither know of their dx and I don’t feel Diva would benefit from knowing. I could see her using it as a crutch. However, I could see disclosing to Bug his dx would help him understand and be a positive experience.

      Ask your EFMP about the books. I ask especially for our readers if it was available at every EFMP and she said they do have to order them. She also shared more helpful handouts I will be passing along to our readers.

      Thanks for the comment! I love hearing from other moms with children who have special needs.

    • We are still getting there. He knows he is different from other kids. But since his concept of life is black and white he may never understand it fully. It’s like asking someone what white feels like. If it’s not tangible it’s hard to understand. So glad you found us! I think it is really important to laugh a little in life and see the positive. Having a diagnosis doesn’t always have to be full of doctors and therapists. There is so much more; like a full and happy life to live.

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