How do you tell a high-functioning child he has Autism? How do you tell a child that wants to be like everyone else that he is different? How do you say those words without crushing his spirit?
My son knows he has a vague thing called “Aspergers Syndrome” and we’ve talked about how it affects him (sensory and learning, a bit about social issues), but never about how it looks to other people. He can pass as a neuro-typical most days and unless you look hard he could be just any other kid with all the hopes and dreams of every other boy.
He has noticed kids with disabilities around him and will say “that kid that acts weird” or “Why do they do stupid stuff” not realizing that what that other kid is doing is exactly what he does. How do you tell him?
People with Aspergers tend to be very black and white type people. What is true is true and there is little to change their mind about it. If I tell him that he is just like “that kid” or that he has the same thing called “Autism/Aspergers” then that would really mess with him…to compare him.
So, in his mind, if that kid is weird then that kid is weird. I can do all the sensitivity training I can, and we do …and he kind of gets that we need to be kind to everyone and that everyone has value no matter how unique they are. We try to give him a script of what to say and what not to say.
I have explained disabilities but never used the word for him. I don’t see him as disabled. But he certainly is different from the regular joe.
The gap between he and his peers is getting wider. I hate to see it, but it is.
Ironically, as an Aspie with social skill issues, he values his friendships extremely highly. Too much so, at times. He loves his friends and wants to be with them often. Taking him out of school was hard that way. His friends are starting to see the gap widen as well. I can see that perhaps there will be a thinning of the crowd, a testing of who is truly a friend or not. I also see that this could be very painful for my boy.
Having an “Invisible Disability” is challenging. I am often thankful that he is as high functioning as he is. He has a lot of potential. I secretly wish, at times, that his “disability” was more visible. He doesn’t have to have crutches or a wheelchair, which automatically identifies a person with challenges and affords them some understanding. No, he has no outward physical characteristics that he is challenged in some way.
Actually, I think there are physical characteristics that he shares with other Aspies, but it’s just a theory and I haven’t researched if I am correct or not. I’ll have to share this in another post.
His siblings also know that J-man is different and has “Aspergers”, which we don’t really emphasize at all. Yesterday was “Autism Awareness Day” and they were supposed to wear blue in support. They all wore blue but I’m pretty sure they didn’t know that they were wearing in support of their own brother.
I am really confused about how to handle these things.
How do you say “YOU have Autism.”
Anyone have experience or words of wisdom?