Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Truth be told....

I will never sit my son down and tell him that he has autism.

I don't have to. Prior to diagnosis we made the decision that we would talk openly, and with acceptance about autism. We drop it in conversation all the time, "Did you know that so-and-so has autism too?", or, "You are great at that. Did you know that lots of kids with Asperger's Syndrome are really great at that?" I'll tell him that I'm thankful for the autism that makes him extra special. I want him to be raised in the knowledge. I don't want to have a big disclosing talk one day, that makes it seem like it was too big and horrible to have spoken about all of these years.

I also accept that my baby is different. It won't be too long before he realizes that he is different too. But, with the knowledge of why he is different, maybe it will help him to understand his differences better, and hopefully to embrace them. At the very least, to be knowledgeable about his syndrome and able to speak up for himself if he has too.

Studies show that knowing you have a diagnosis of Asperger's during those difficult adolescent years greatly affects one's ability to keep their self esteem in tact. And that's my goal. Kids tend to be pretty hard on themselves for not fitting in, they see it as a personal fault, rather than part of their disability.

That being said, I never use Aiden's label as an excuse card. If he's having a really hard sensory day, I'll mention how a lot of children with autism find loud noises awful, etc. But, I never use it as an excuse for inappropriate behaviour. He has to learn to take ownership of that all on his own. Does he have to work harder than other kids? Yes. Is it fair? No. But it is his reality, and I do him no favours by giving him a free pass, because he certainly won't get one anywhere else in that big world we live in.

I also want to take advantage of all autism events, where Aiden can go and see the support that the autism community has for one another. I want him, and all of us, to feel that we are part of something. That it's bigger than just our family, than just our boy.

So, you'll see the magnet on my van, and my hubby and I have some autism bling...because we are proud. We're proud of our boy, and truth be told, we're also proud of how hard we work together to do the best we can for him.


  1. Hey Natalie, your blog is wonderful! It's very insightful and beautifully written. I applaud your decision to have Aiden aware of autism and what's happening with him, rather than, as you say "be a big disclosing" at some point. With parents like you and Francis, I have no doubt that Aiden will do well and continue to thrive. Karen

  2. KUDOS! You are doing the very best thing you can for him, trust me. I did not know I had AS until adulthood, so it isn't as if it was kept from me, but my self-esteem would have done far better if I had known much earlier in life. Your son will benefit so much from the positive, supportive environment you are providing for him.