Monday, October 18, 2010

Useful Article to Explain Autism Diagnosis to Kids

The Interactive Autism Network has posted a clearly written article designed to help parents discuss an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis with their child. The article, ASD Diagnosis: What Do We Tell the Kids? uses sensitive language and explanations that outline how kids with autism have many different profiles. It has information for siblings, too.

These elements all make the article useful for families who are looking to understand how to communicate with their children—and also makes it potentially valuable as a tool to help explain what is going on in your family to others, from grandparents and extended family members to friends who may have trouble relating to what's going on in your house.

The article explains:

"Each individual with ASD is different. Some are diagnosed at 2 and others at 12. Some are spending their day in a protected special education environment, and others are out in typical elementary, middle, or high school classrooms with some level of assistance, or none at all. Some are intellectually disabled, and some have IQs in the normal or even gifted range. Regardless of intellect, emotional maturity generally lags behind that of typical peers. All of these factors, and more, will influence a parent’s decision about when to inform a child about the ASD diagnosis."
The article encourages parents to "assess what your child already knows and is ready to hear" and to explain the news at the right level, to be positive about a child's capabilities and, overall, to tailor the information to a child's own situation while explaining that autism is "a different kind of disability."

"People have a disability when something isn't working quite right, and they need extra help because of it. For example, a person who is blind may need a seeing-eye dog. People with ASD have a different kind of disability. They can see just fine, but they have trouble with other things. Sometimes they get 'stuck' on a behavior or topic, and they have a hard time understanding how other people think and feel—that's why sometimes it's hard to figure out what people want, or how to make friends. People with ASD need extra help with these things."

This article includes a list of references to research articles and additional resources including other articles from the National Autistic Society in the U.K., from the Autism Society of America, as well as links to resources for families, adults looking at what kinds of information to disclose to employers and others, the well known Sibshops support group for siblings of people with disabilities, and publishers who specialize in books about autism.

This is the kind of article, even if you are not ready to discuss anything, will help you lay the groundwork to study the issue so you can make informed decisions later. Take a look.