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I Have Asperger’s? What’s Asperger’s?

We wanted to host a follow-up discussion to our previous Parenthood post, ‘The Void a Therapist Can Leave.’ So much happened in the episode, ‘Do Not Sleep with Your Autistic Nephew’s Therapist,’ we figured we couldn’t settle for just one post!

In this clip, Adam and Crosby are arguing. Pushed beyond his limits, Adam reminds Crosby that Gaby is a behavioral aid because he as Asperger’s. Max appears on the stairs, drawn by all the yellling. He has Asperger’s? What’s Asperger’s?

Have you told your child they have an autism spectrum disorder? If you are on the spectrum, how did you come to find out? What was this experience like? Please share with us your story.

  1. Ellenora Hurt
    February 28, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    I sat my son down and told him he has autism.He ask me what it was.I explain it to him.But I don’t think he fully understands what it is.Mainly because i treat him just like i treat my other 2 children.So he sees no difference.Autism is a word that’s not used in my home.I don’t want him to feel that he’s no lesser than my other 2 children.So we shy away from the word autism.

    • Bianca Victoria
      May 14, 2011 at 9:26 pm

      Wow, that definitely isn’t the way to go about it. You’re teaching him to be ashamed and secretive about his condition. Way to fail.

      • ERob
        September 28, 2011 at 6:35 pm

        You make it sound like some easy task for a father to explain that to his child. I wouldn’t say he’s the failure in this situation.

  2. Liz
    February 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    My son is 8 years old, and has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. My husband and I are SO interested in seeing tomorrow’s episode, just to see how the Bravermans deal with this tricky matter. We have not yet decided whether to tell our boy about his diagnosis. He already feels “other” in so many ways, and we want him to feel that anything is possible for him. But then… understanding himself through another lens could be helpful. AND, what if he hears it the way Max did last week? Or what if another child overhears adults talking about his diagnosis, and says something directly to him. We don’t talk about his autism a great deal, but it’s no secret either. And I’m sure other parents at school gossip and talk.

    I am very anxious to read others’ experience and opinions about this. It’s an issue I think about often.

    • Linda Hernandez
      February 28, 2011 at 10:38 pm

      Liz,I agree with you totally. I have become so addicted to the Parenthood show. I hav a son that was diagnosed as “being on the spectrum”. The school has not officially diagnosed him as Aspergers but he has all the characteristics. My son is 14 and knows that he is different. However, I constantly remind him that is not a bad thing. He is a person like everyone else; he just learns differently. Im so anxious for tomorrows episode!

      • March 1, 2011 at 1:21 pm

        I am looking forward to seeing this show and how they deal with it. My son is 15 and we talk about it as something that makes him special. We talk freely about the challenges that he face and somethings that he finds difficult, but he is learning to embrace his weaknesses as well as strengths. I am so happy that this is being discussed frequently.

  3. Carrieanne
    February 28, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    We told our son when he was about 7. We had talked with him before about how everyone was different and how that was good and made the world a better place to be in. It would be so boring if all the people in the world were the same. We built on that and explained that his brain worked a little extra different from most people. We told him that that was why he had a harder time understanding what people do, etc. He asked a few questions and then kind of nodded his head like “Yeah, that makes sense.” and hasn’t really brought it up again. Sometimes when he is having a particularly bad day with the perseverations, he will grin and ask is he is having an “Asperger-y day” He thinks it is kind of a cool thing to have. I don’t think he would have had such a positive attitude if we hadn’t presented it honestly and pointed out that it really is just a difference, not a problem.

  4. Karen
    February 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    We all found out together. As we went from a therapist to a sensory therapist and finally a neuropsychologist, we discussed each step openly with our son. We decided that facing this with no fear or secrets was the best way to help him adjust to learning that there was a word for why he does the things he does. At a family counseling session the therapist asked my husband how he was handling the reality that our son has Asperger’s and he said it was the best thing that ever happened to our marriage. We have since learned that he is also on the spectrum and as we learned more about our son, we learned more about him and instead of getting frustrated with his behavior, I was able to put it in perspective and understand where he was coming from. Since learning of his diagnosis, our son has not only accepted the reality, but embraced it as well and is very comfortable and honest about who he is, and when he needs help.

  5. Colleen J
    February 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    I am raising a grandson. He is 11 yr and I’ve had him since he was 3 months old. He has been tested and is ADHD and Aspergers. He takes Aderal for adhd but struggles with social skills. He has a great support system at school he can talk to and they are teaching coping skills. He feels so alone and it is hard for him to keep a friend. It hurts so much to hear and see his meltdowns and pain. I’m struggling to learn how to help him. When he is level he is so loving and bright as a new penny. Can’t get him to do and turn in school work but he retains an enormous amount of information. He has known from the start that he has both challenges.

    • Linda Hernandez
      February 28, 2011 at 10:42 pm

      Colleen, I understand your pain. My son Phillip is 14 and is going through the exact smae thing as your grandson. He started not doing his homework in the 7th grade. He was bullied in jr high and i think by rebeling was his way of expressing himself. I am not for sure though. I do feel so sad knowing that he is so alone. He struggles so much with making friends. There are many students from his elementary school that treat him nice because they know he is different but there are many kids in his high school that just avoid him because he IS different. I pray for him everyday that he meets friends that will accept him for him. I wish you all the best Colleen.

      • Colleen J
        March 2, 2011 at 9:42 am

        I pray for a friend who will ride the roller coaster with him. He has a couple of cousins who will give him some time and one neighbor boy who come over to play video games, I only allow it with time limits. They try to get him to play outside at but Jay doesn’t manage being tackled well so plays inside by himself most of the time. Prayer is my only comfort. To know God designed him in my daughters womb to be just as he is gives me hope He’ll help him cope with it as he matures. I need to learn how to help but God will lead.

  6. Terri
    February 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Actually, he was just given and “official” diagnosis in august. we have not told him yet and I would like too. Need some advice and suggestions on the best way to do this!!!!

    He is 8 years-old with PDD-NOS and ADHD.

    • March 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm

      In my humble opinion, I would recommend you do some research and reading about the diagnosis instead of relying solely on the doctor. There are a lot of books out there that are so easy to read now and sticking to being positive is something that I agreed with this episode. Just simple and positive as possible. He may be very smart, but he may not be able to truly understand if you explain it too technically. Good luck.

  7. Rebekah
    February 28, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    We got a diagnosis for our son right around his 11th birthday. I had never heard of Asperger’s or Autism before then (I know, I must live under a rock right?? LOL) but a friend of mine was talking about how she had her son evaluated and she was worried and she was telling me about different things he did that were signs of Asperger’s/ASD’s and I recognized quite a few as things my son did. I never questioned them as anything other than personality traits and I always said to myself “he is like his grandpa” because my father has a great number of traits of Asperger’s syndrome too, I have come to realize after becoming more familiar with the condition…..so my son was diagnosed very late because I never knew there was anything “different” about him except that a few friends said “what’s wrong with him?” all the time and when I got married to his stepfather, he noticed communication issues and other things (apparently myself, my son and my daughter all communicate with eachother totally differently than the rest of the world and I never noticed because I’ve always been a loner) that I never noticed, but I never connected them till after my friend talked about her son.

    So we got him into a psychiatrist and had him evaluated and he gave us the Asperger’s diagnosis, and since my son was in the room, he knew immediately what the diagnosis was, and he didnt understand what it meant for him. He has always known he wasnt like other kids and being diagnosed so much later, he was bullied a lot in elementary school and had lots of issues like that that made him much more self conscious than he may have been otherwise, so he didnt want anyone to know about his diagnosis, and he is in mainstream classes with no in school interventions at all because he refuses any help that would make him seem “different” than other kids. Thankfully he is a very good student and has no trouble academically and can zone out for half a class period and still keep up somehow and he was even allowed to skip 3rd grade, and he has learned how to deal with his impulses in less noticeable ways than obvious stimming or verbal outbursts, and Im assuming he just copies the other kids as far as social skills at school, he has never had any friends around the house, so I have no idea how he interacts with other kids other than his perceptions, and he is on the very high end of the spectrum to begin with, and with diet changes and other things, and the ability to express himself fully at home in whatever way he needs to, he has a less difficult time than most kids on the spectrum, from what I have heard from other parents.

    I have never been formally diagnosed myself, but I definitely have some Asperger’s traits, especially the communication difficulties and I have never been one to have more than one or two friends, and to find out that there is a reason for all of these things, was very comforting to me, to know that I wasnt “defective” or “stupid”. Its an interesting situation for my very NT husband, one confirmed Aspie, one possible and another child with severe ADHD and Tourettes, its never a dull moment around here to say the least!

  8. E Dormedy
    February 28, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    My son is a high-functioning autistic eight year old, and we are almost at the point were we need to tell him. We have used language like “this boy learns like you do” so we can include him in discussions of therapy and IEP plans, but we have not saddled him with a label yet. We talk a lot in our family about the fact that every human being on the planet has things they are good at, and has things that they find really hard to do. We try to identify these gifts and challenges in each family member (even Mom and Dad!) and talk about ways to best use your gifts to contribute to this world, and how to overcome challenges. I think when we do tell our son, we will probably tell him that the brain wiring he has that gives him his set of gifts and challenges has a descriptive name called autism, but not try to dwell on it too much. He is a boy that happens to be autistic. It does not define him all by itself. It is just one of the many characteristics that make him a totally unique and amazing individual.

  9. Donna
    February 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    We have not told our daughter that she has autism. She is 7 years old and we have no desire to hide it, but we don’t think that she is at a point where she can understand it and we are afraid that for now, it may just confuse her. I have however looked at books and some different materials on ways to tell your child and how to know when it is a good time to tell them. I am just praying that God will give us the discernment to know the right time!

  10. Nicole Fogel
    February 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    It was one of my greatest concerns that someone else would tell my son that he was Autistic and, that in my not telling him, he would draw a conclusion that something was “wrong”. Just because this disorder does not have physical markers does not mean we should not be open about it. If there was another handicap, I’m sure we would all talk about it with our child all along. In this mindset, I have been open with my son all along. We talk about how is brain is made in a special way that is different than some other peoples brains. We talk about all of our autism helpers: doctors an therapists that we see many times a week. We also talk about how much of the world is designed for people who do not have autistic brains, and so that is why some things are harder for him than his friends. This year we participated in the Autism Speaks walk not only to raise awareness of others but to allow him to see other children and adults like him. He seems comfortable with his understanding of it, and most importantly, that he has Autism buy autism does not have him.

  11. Jennie
    February 28, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Our son is eight and is autistic, more on the high functioning side (what ever you want to take from that. We have always been open about it. We have told him he has autism and that means his brain just works differently. He hasn’t asked really any questions and I don’t know that he really understands what that means yet. The kids at school know as well (he is in full inclusion) and this year we went as far as to have the teacher explain to the kids in his class what autism is. The teacher read sections of the book All Cats Have Aspergers to the class one day when our son was in speech. It really has helped his fellow classmates understand him. They have been a lot more patient with him. I have even heard from others that they are sharing the things they learned with their parents and other kids at the school. I have always felt that knowledge is power. He can’t change some of things he does, but I can help people change their prespective of him. I think of when I was young and in school and how their was that kid that was kinda “weird”. All the other kids made fun of him or her for the things that he or she did. What if that child were able to say I have autism that is why I such in such or a teacher had said something. How different would that childs life have been ? I recently found out that an old classmate of mine has aspergers and all I could think is I wish we all had known then. It changed my whole perspective.

  12. brenda casper
    February 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I told my son he had autism when he was ten,I wish I had’ent told him he has aleays used it as a cruch,I believe had he not known he would have done better in all area’s of his life.

  13. Beth
    February 28, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    My son is 11 and knows that he has Asperger’s and that it’s a form of autism. The decision to tell him was decided in a split second…he started asking questions about why he has to see a doctor that his brother’s don’t see, why he has to take medicine every morning when his brother’s do not, and I always try to be honest. He doesn’t really understand of course, but we are very matter of fact about it. It just is what it is and I figured that I can’t teach him how to get through life if he isn’t told what he is up against. Sensory meltdowns were the worst problem he had up until I explained things to him. Now, rather than meltdown, he is able to recognize a sensory issue before it gets to meltdown mode, and is able to use the tools I taught him on his own. He’s able to take some responsibility for himself and that has been priceless for all of us.

  14. Dawne
    February 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    My son is 17. He was diagnosed at 7 along with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. He to this day denies he he has anything wrong. I believe he knows in his heart he is different than his peers. He struggles to the highest extent with being different, thus depression is evident. We’ve always been honest with him from day one. Throughout the last 10 yrs we have always taught him that with or without a diagnosis he can make it in life just as everyone else. He will be bound by the same rules, same laws and we feel that never labeling him or using his diagnosis to make life easier has made it more of a success. He is a Junior in High School and taking his Drivers test tomorrow morning and although he has Aspergers we try to have him lead as normal of a life as possible.
    Life is different for our entire family unit. Sometimes it seems that no one understands, that the lack of education those around us have on Autism Spectrum Disorders is what sometimes makes life more difficult. At 17 we still encourage him to educate himself on his differences and difficulties, we encourage daily to live life to the fullest even when hiding in his room as his peers are at a Basketball Tournament he so desires to attend but cannot. He’s my boy, he’s my loving child in a shell that emerges in small increments as that shell cracks a bit everyday…Love my boy…

  15. Laura
    February 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    I told my son he had autism at age 10 when we started reading Rules for summer reading.The story is about a sister with a brother with autism, my son had too many questions about it even though he is more towards the high funtioning I think he saw some traits that he has.It was the hardest thing I ever had to do,if I had to it again I might not have told him, because sometimes now whem I correct on something he pulls the autism card out.

  16. February 28, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    We’ve just always made it part of normal conversation. He’s far enough along now that we can start talking to him about how his brain is different and whatnot. I think it’ll benefit him for a long long time.

    I had very low self esteem as a teen because I just couldn’t accomplish what my peers could. I found out as an adult that I have ADD and it’s helped me understand myself SO much.

    Our children have a right to know who they are, and with the right guidance they can take their “label” and turn it into something positive for themselves.

  17. Beth
    February 28, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    You know, I can’t begin to express how happy I am that I joined a community where people actually UNDERSTAND. I haven’t shared or participated much, but just reading through comments it is such a sense of RELIEF!

    • Colleen J
      March 2, 2011 at 9:58 am

      I agree with you completely. I am pulling book titles and comfort from what I am reading. Jay’s in school support leaders are having a Love and Logic learning seminar the next two Saturdays which I am attending and I hope to learn a lot. They have done this each year but I worked on Sat and couldn’t attend. So glad this year I can.

  18. ms
    February 28, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    My husband and I never sat our 8 year old son down and told him he has autism but on a horse and buggy ride he informed the other passengers (strangers) that he has autism. This announcement came after several very frustrating incidents we had with him on this ride. We were shocked that he even knew the word. We have always spoken very openly about him being on the spectrum, partially, to be frank, because he had such a language deficit and has always been pre-occupied with his own thoughts/things for so long that we talked in front of him about lots of stuff thinking that he either didn’t hear or understand. Obviously that was a BIG mistake….what else did we say in front of him??? Also, though, we’ve never been ashamed of him being on the spectrum so we talk about it freely with anyone that wants to. When my husband and I asked him what having autism means, we were able to squeeze out the response, “My brain works differently. Sometimes I act a little crazy.” Ahhhhhh, we knew now where he probably got it from. He has a little sister who is often his “victim” (he can’t stand the pitch of her voice) and she asks why he tries to hurt her, why he has certain behaviors and why he never says he loves her even though she loves him. We tell her that he has autism and that everyone’s brain works differently. We told her that this is just how his brain works and that sometimes people with autism do things differently than other people she knows and that sometimes people with autism don’t easily show other people they love them. My son surely overheard many of these such conversations. Since his announcement, we’ve been much more cautious about what we say in front of him and have put an even greater emphasis on trying to get him to express his thoughts and feelings.

  19. Marilyn
    February 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Our daughter was diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 11 after she’d been seeing a therapist for about a year. For a few months, we didn’t tell her. Then her application to a nature-field work summer camp required an explanation of any psychological counseling, and we decided we had to tell her. We agonized about it, and didn’t know how she would react. She was actually relieved to know that there was a reason she was different from other kids, that it had a name, and that others had it too. It was like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. As she’s grown (she’s 19 now and in college), she’s become more and more open about trusting friends with her diagnosis. She often finds that others are struggling with their own difficulties.

  20. Marie
    February 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Our daughter’s about to turn 10 and was diagnosed as high functioning autism at age 4. We’ve never discussed it with her and will play it by ear in the future. She’s never asked why she goes to speech, and if she does, I’ll probably just discuss her issues with having conversations. I’m sure the word autism will come up some day though.

  21. Laurie
    February 28, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    My 3 yr old son was just diagnosed with Asperger’s last month. When should we tell him? Start telling him now, or when he is older? What do others recommend?

  22. Meg
    February 28, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    I have no idea what aspergers syndrom is? or the symptoms? Anyone wann shed some light>

  23. February 28, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Beth :My son is 11 and knows that he has Asperger’s and that it’s a form of autism. The decision to tell him was decided in a split second…he started asking questions about why he has to see a doctor that his brother’s don’t see, why he has to take medicine every morning when his brother’s do not, and I always try to be honest. He doesn’t really understand of course, but we are very matter of fact about it. It just is what it is and I figured that I can’t teach him how to get through life if he isn’t told what he is up against. Sensory meltdowns were the worst problem he had up until I explained things to him. Now, rather than meltdown, he is able to recognize a sensory issue before it gets to meltdown mode, and is able to use the tools I taught him on his own. He’s able to take some responsibility for himself and that has been priceless for all of us.

  24. February 28, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    what tools did you use to help your son notice and address his meltdowns

  25. AmandaL
    February 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    My son is almost 6 and has Aspergers. He is in a special program and school but also integrated into his classroom. He wanted to know why so I told him he has an ASD. He loves numbers so I told him to imagine a big giant ruler. And every kid on the ruler needs some help – the same way kids need help to learn how to read or do math (which he is good at). The low numbers of the ruler are kids that need a little help and the high numbers are the kids need a lot of help. He is one of the kids on the lower number of the ruler. But since he is in the program with a range of kids, I made sure that he knew he should always help out a friend who needed it – because we all need a little help sometimes.

  26. Linda Johns
    February 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I don’t think I ever had to tell my son he had Asperger’s. He is very smart and listened to every thing. I do how ever have to remind him that it isn’t an excuse to misbehave. He still doesn’t totally understand what Asperger’s is but he does know it makes it hard for him to live a “normal” life.

  27. Patty
    February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Our son was diagnoised at 6 yrs old. He is now 9 yrs old and knows that he has ADHD and Aspergers. We have always been open with him about his diagnosis and tell him that his brain just works differently than others. We are all different and learn differently. He deals with it really well and really doesn’t care that he is different. I am looking forward to tomorrows episode of Parenthood to hear how they explain it. I will even DVR it and show my son the part as well so he can her it and see if he has any more questions.

  28. gabeysmom
    February 28, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    My 4 1/2 year old son was diagnosed hfa in October 2009. We talk about the “A” word occasionally and vaguely refer to the “condition that certain people may exhibit.” He is pretty delayed verbally, but I could tell since he was small that he understood us, so we assume he would get it if we told him. I worry about him trying to lean on it as a crutch, too, having seen kids do that in my older nt daughter’s class, with adhd and other issues. I know he sees the differences between the nt kids in regular preschool and th

  29. gabeysmom
    February 28, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Oops-and the autistic kids in his autistic preschool. I would like him to have a bit more verbal ability and be able to ask questions about it before we let him know.

  30. Liz
    February 28, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Nearly 35 years ago, when my son had issues, Autism was not even thought about. My son was (is) an excellent artist, from the time he could hold a pencil; has an unquenchable thirst for information, especially about things which interest him; and has a fantastic storehouse of knowledge about numerous things. His social skills, however, are sorely lacking and when this first came to light over 3 decades ago, the diagnosis was “thought process disorder”, and was explained to us that we normally think a-b-c-d, but he thinks a-c-b-d or some such combination. He did well in school, as long as it interested him, and is a self supporting, self-sufficient man with his own home. Even though we had no idea what we were dealing with then, in retrospect we can now address his differences armed with today’s information. While it can’t relieve what he lived through, it does help him to know that even though he thinks differently, he is a-ok. So, for all who are dealing with Aspergers and Autism Spectrum, I suggest being open, honest, clear and firm. An earlier post noted that “he has Aspergers, it doesn’t have him.”

  31. Carol
    February 28, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    My son was diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 6. We never realized he had it until he started to have meltdowns in kindergarten. After he was diagnosed, it took a while before we told him. Probably because we felt he wouldn’t understand what it was. To be honest, I don’t quite remember how old he was when we told him, probably 3rd grade. He just started realizing he was different and he asked me why he had meltdowns and had an IEP in school. So, I told him. I asked if he wanted me to tell other people and he said no, but then he started to share with people he met that he had Asperger’s. He’s 13 now and is such an incredible young man. People love him. He’s an Honors Student and is having a positive experience in MIddle School. The kids have been fantastic with him (I figured he’d be bullied, but no). His dream is to work in Television. I know he’ll succeed.

  32. Denise Farrell
    February 28, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I have a 15 year old Aspy son and a 8 year old daughter that is on the milder end of the spectrum. I have always been honest and told them what they could understand. My son has always felt that he was different, but having a diagnosis helped him realize that he wasn’t mentally ill or evil, he has a disorder. He was less scared about himself. My daughter has only recently realized that she is different, so we have been talking to her about differences and personal strengths and weaknesses. One thing I believe: children learn from example. If we lie to them, they will justify telling lies to us. If we are ashamed of our children and feel that the diagnosis is a stigma, they will feel the same way. Accept and celebrate your child for who they are, while helping them to achieve all that they are capable of.

  33. Dawn V
    February 28, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Our son is 17 years old. He had issues at birth that caused his aspergers to be misdiagnosed and unknown to us, At the age of 15, an observant school personel asked me if I had ever heard of aspergers. I had because I have 2 great nephews idagnosed, but never gave it a thought when it came to my son as I didn’t know much about it other than it was an autism spectrum disorder.

    From the beginning, I have talked openly and honestly with my son. Being 15 when we began the journey of getting a true diagnosis, he was able to understand, and it was like a lightbulb went on in his head when we talked about the different ways he thinks and differences and things he really didn’t get socially. He has had social issues since the 6th grade, being bullied among other things for the problems he had.

    At 17, he still has social issues obviously, but he really does understand himself and embraces who is his, his strengths and weaknesses. He is currently working with his autistic support teacher with younger kids in the high school he attends, and wants to work with children who have autism. He has a way of conecting and understanding. My6 year old great nephew who was diagnosed last year calls my son his “special cousin” My son has helped my great nephews parents to understand things that my great nephew cannot put into words yet. I would tell my son as early as he could begin to understand i I had to do it over again

  34. Melissa
    February 28, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    My son is 5 and we are not yet sure where he fits on the spectrum. Thank you everybody for the comments. It is so nice to know so many others face the same daily challenges. We do talk about autism in front of our son but we don’t really know how much he understands. In addition to being different because of the autism, he is also adopted and biracial. None of these are secrets, but we’ve not told him any specific information because developmentally he does not seem ready to understand any of those issues. I guess that we will just play it by ear and when the time seems right we will have those conversations. Hopefully not all at once!

  35. Jackie
    February 28, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Our son is 14 years old and has Asperger’s. We told him when he was about 7 years old and the discussion started when he began asking questions. It happened very naturally. We told him Asperger’s was a type of autism and that his brain just works differently. We told him it means he has to work harder on some things (like social conversations), but that other things are easier for him (school work). We have never allowed him to use it as an excuse or a crutch. We push him to work hard at anything he does, but be sure he has any supports he needs. He started high school this year and is doing really well. I will never regret telling him because he has never been embarrassed or ashamed of his diagnosis. It is just another part of who he is, like his hair color.

  36. Anita
    March 1, 2011 at 7:08 am

    All who haven’t explained the diagnosis to their children PLEASE do so.
    It is so important to their well being. If they were diabetic and had to test their blood sugar you wouldn’t try to hide it would you? This is no different. Mental issues are just as important as physical ones. When they get older and have to advocate for themselves it is SO important that they know what their diagnosis is and how it affects their interactions. How are they supposed to become independent if they don’t understand what they are dealing with! Do you really want to have to care for their needs until you die and who is going to take over WHEN not IF you do. My son will soon age out of the school system. He was told throughout his childhood of his need to accept services until he could prove that he didn’t need them anymore. He wouldn’t voluntarily go to speech, OT, PT, social work etc. Because he understands his diagnosis somewhat he is more willing and consequently more able to benefit from those services. Consequently I have hope that one day he will be able to navigate this strange world with little or no help. The statistics regarding outcomes should be enough to push you to give your little one all the tools they can use to beat the odds.

  37. Jill
    March 1, 2011 at 7:32 am

    My son found out at age 7. His best friend who is also on the spectrum told him. I explained to him that I was going to tell him but was waiting until he was a little older and could understand better. I also told him that since his friend told him I was going to be honest with him about the whole thing even though I wasn’t sure he could understand yet. I explained that he and his friend are high functioning while his friend’s brother has alot more trouble with speaking and other things. I told him that even though he learns different sometimes that different is not always ”bad”. Alot of the world’s problems are solved by people who see things differently as it gives them a fresh perspective. I also remined him how intelligent he is. That this diagnosis is a good thing becuase it helps us to help him with challenges by knowing how he learns. He still has issues with it and struggles to understand what it means.

  38. March 1, 2011 at 9:22 am

    I don’t think I’ve ever had the discussion, but maybe I will now that I’ve seen this.

  39. Jean
    March 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Thank you Anita and Beth for encouraging parents to tell their children about their “diagnosis”. In my experience it is such a RELIEF for the kids to have a name for their differences. They KNOW AND FEEL they are different at some level, and their fears are sometimes out of proportion to the actual truth. One approach to discussing it with them is to pick an issue that’s especially hard and frustrating for them (ie sensory meltdowns), then put it into the context of ASD.
    Ask them if possible what things they would like to change if they could. This gives you a way to get them on board for whatever therapies they need to work on the issues. I like the statement above that it is framed as a difference, and not a problem…worth repeating

  40. March 1, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    My son was diagnosed with ADHD and Aspergers when he was 4. Even before then, he would say Mama I am different, why am I different. For me, it was not a choice about whether to share his diagnosis, it was when and how. I bacame as educated and informed on all the spectrum information I could. Then from day one I have told him he is differently abled, and never disabled. Most of the time I have empowered him by explaining his differences without taking away his worth. It is rarely easy to explain the most heart wrenching things children ask, but by making it okay to ask, and to accept himself, I believe I have helped him. Good luck to those still deciding!

  41. Troy
    March 4, 2011 at 12:40 am

    I saw this part of the show and recall thinking “how could the kid be so unaware, don’t they have to run a myriad of tests?”

    The day after the show we were meeting with a psychiatrist for our son (6, with adhd)for her to take over med management from our his regular m.d. After reviewing questionaires and a lengthy interview with us she recommends testing him for the spectrum (feels weird to say as I’m not sure what it is yet)and asperger’s. Anyway,now I’m scared and relieved.

  42. MomtoDrew
    March 4, 2011 at 9:40 am

    My son was diagnosed with Asperger’s at age six. My son found out when we began going to autism support group functions and he met other children like himself-which was extremely helpful for my child’s self esteem. When he was eight, I also sat him down and explained that he had Asperger’s Autism and there are many forms of Autism but his is very high functioning and that he is “gifted” and since he is in main stream classes and in the gifted and talented program, he was fine with it. At age 10, he realizes that he has trouble talking to other children and making friends. Some parents might not like this, but his teachers( he changes classes) sat down with the class and explained what autism is and several other special abilities in order to teach his classmates tolerance. No names were mentioned or any child identified. We have a wonderful supportive school system to this point-4th grade. I worry about jr high and high school as I am sure all parents do. I always believe in being open and honest with a child if they are at an age where they can comprehend.

  43. March 4, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I understand exactly what you mean. Junior high and high school is going to be a challenge because he is gifted. You will find that the schools are quite unprepared because he doesn’t belong in special ed and peer pressure plays a big part. My son, 15, has managed, but I had to be vigilant in working with the counselor, and each teacher. It will be up to you to make sure your son gets the attention because it is easy for your son to get lost. Good luck.

    Chi

  44. margaret olivares
    March 5, 2011 at 1:11 am

    My son is 13 years old. He knows that he has autism. It just came up in a general everyday conversation about three years ago. At the time we were talking about Special Education and he asked why he was in a special ed. class. I explained it in a way that let him know that it is not bad to have autism nor is it bad to be in Special Education.

  45. Anonymous
    March 8, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Having recently been diagnosed at the age of 29 it is perhaps the best news I have ever received. If you have children on the Autistic Spectrum get them out there meeting and interacting with their true peers! Keeping them in the closet is cruel and abusive. Like being an American or a red head or a Mets fan or blind or gifted a strong and positive sense of identity is important to understanding the ourselves and the world in which we share.

  1. March 1, 2011 at 11:26 pm
  2. March 2, 2011 at 6:44 am

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