4 Tips for Explaining Autism to Family, Friends, and Kids

Diagnosing autism in children at an early age can save these kids and their families from anguish and provide them with adequate treatment and support.

However, the very diagnosis may come overwhelmingly to the family. They may find it hard to accept it and even harder to explain it to the other family members, friends, and kids.

Explaining autism can be tricky, but here are a few tips on how you can make it clear and straightforward.

  1. Accept the Diagnosis Yourself

Nowadays, children with autism spectrum diagnosis can be as successful as their peers if we provide them with adequate support.

However, the very first diagnosis may come as a shock to you and can make you feel worried and scared about your kid’s future.

You may start to wonder if your child will ever find and keep employment or live independently once they become adults. Your fears may bring about different name-calling or peer bullying scenarios in your head or the idea that your child will be stigmatized because of their diagnosis their whole life.

Even though such feelings and reactions can be overwhelming, they can positively affect your actions and make you eager to learn as much as you can about the condition.

Take some time to process the diagnosis and educate yourself about it.

Research the best ways to support your child, and get information on available programs for special needs that can make you feel more at ease about your kid’s future.

Once you accept the diagnosis, it will be much easier to explain it to your family, friends, and kids.

     2. Keep It Simple

When explaining autism to your closest ones, you don’t have to get into too many details – describing some basic behavioral characteristics will be enough for the beginning.

You can point out that people with autism most commonly have:

  • Problems in social interaction and communication, including difficulties in typical dialogues, decreased sharing of interests or emotions, trouble understanding or responding to social cues such as facial expressions or eye contact, and trouble making friends.
  • Repetitive or restricted patterns of behaviors, interests, or activities, such as a need for structure or predictable routine, intense interests in activities uncommon to their peers, sensory sensitivities, playing with toys in unusual ways, using odd patterns of speaking, etc.
  • You can recommend books and other materials to those who want to learn more about autism spectrum disorder and what it means for your child.

     3. Share the Specifics

There are different types of health, illnesses, and disabilities, and to each, we have a different approach. What matters more than sharing the diagnosis and explaining it is describing your child’s specifics and how to provide them with the support to achieve well- being.

Autism is a spectrum disorder and manifests itself in different ways.

For those who will be interacting with your child regularly, it’s more beneficial to know your kid’s specifics so that they can interact with them accordingly.

You can clarify to your friends and family that because of the condition, your child prefers to adhere to a specific routine and has a meltdown if he or she can’t follow it.

For example, they can have trouble making eye contact, and your family members may need to call them a few times by their name to get their attention. Your kid may also respond better to the therapy with emotional support animals around.

This kind of specific information will make it easier for them to understand all the suggested dos and don’ts when interacting with your child.

If some of your family members care for your child regularly, you should also clarify the goals you are trying to support your child achieve and explain how they can best contribute.

Share your kid’s strengths as well, and describe the activities they like to do and what they are good at.

     4. Teach Children Empathy

Other children your kid interacts with may begin to question behaviors that are associated with autism. It’s crucial that you explain using simple wording, depending on the age and development, so that they can understand what you’re saying.

You can use sentences such as “Tim rocks back and forth to calm himself down when he is stressed. Remember how you used to suck your thumb?”

Connecting your child’s behavior to something other kids can understand and relate to can teach them empathy and make them more open to accepting diversity.

When talking about your child’s autism, do that in a way that can help others understand the behaviors they find confusing.


Image Sources

  • Explaining autism: August de Richelieu from Pexels