Calling Mom's of older kids with Autism - I have a question...

Connie - posted on 09/22/2010 ( 10 moms have responded )

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We have noticed that our son seems to be becoming socially aware that he is different. He will be eight at the end of January and he has a cognitive function of about a 4-5 year old. He seems to be very sensitive about his difference, whenever he sees the word "autism" he becomes very upset. I need to know how to talk to him about this in a way that will help him understand that it isn't a big deal (it isn't in our house) we don't believe that autism is a disorder or a disease and that there is nothing to fix. He has a full time aide who has been looking for books for him to read about differences in people on a global level. I would love to hear from mom's who have older kids who are able to understand what autism is, how they feel about it and what your experience has been. Thanks in advance for your help with this.

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Phyllis - posted on 03/10/2013

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My son was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome when he turned 18. As a child he was different and we explained that all people are different. We showed him what it meant to be different such as in color of skin, tall, fat, adhd and different hair color. I sat at a mall and had him look to see if he could find someone that was different. Finally he could see on occasion that we are all different. I hope that helps.

April - posted on 09/29/2010

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hi my name is april. i have a 12 year old and a 3 year old both with autism my daughter the 12 year old has a hard time with it she is very sensitive so we are always keeping her spirts up and telling her that there is nothing diffrent about her and her brother in her friends and familys eyes and just be herself we just have to get down to there level when we talk to them so we are talking to them not over their heads they want to be included in things and given a choice once in a while it is just being carefull what we let them have a choice about it will be the small things that make it easier to get through the day i wish you all the best with your son . and just so everyone knows every child is special in there own way that is the best thing we can say to our kids

Kristin - posted on 09/28/2010

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I recommend the book All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome by Kathy Hoopman. It is short, simple, with beautiful pictures, and it explains Asperger's in a gentle, positive way. It is great for younger children, and also for family/friends who may not understand Aspergers. I'm not sure if it is available in bookstores outside Australia, however a Google search brings up several places you can buy it, including amazon.com. If your son's teacher is co-operative, it could also be used to let his class mates know why he may act differently at times.

My son was 12 before he was diagnosed, so we had the whole "why am I different" problem before we had an answer for him. All I could come up with at the time was "I don't know, but we'll find out." Once the diagnosis was confirmed, we found out together about Aperger Syndrome. I wish I'd had this book from the start, it would really have helped!

Tanya - posted on 09/28/2010

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We tell our son and have from an early age that his Autism makes him special. He also wears glasses and hearing aids and we try to let him know not to hide his differences. He already has so many social disorders that we just say thats another one to overcome and find a way to make him shine as his own person. It sounds like you have a great outlook already. Good luck

Julie - posted on 09/28/2010

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hi my son was 9 when he was diagnosed with autism /Aspergers syndrome, before the diagnosis he was quite depressed and knew there was something different about him, he used to say "I'm stupid" and "people just don't get me" it was heart breaking for us as parents and no matter what we told him he wouldn't listen. when he got diagnosed we told him straight away, we just told him exactly what we had been told, after all we know he's not stupid and we'd been telling him he isn't so why treat him so. We explained that his brain is just wired up differently to others, it isn't wired up wrong, in fact he can see things in a different way and often find solutions to problems before others because he thinks differently. he's much more confident now and doesn't worry so much what people think or say, i think he's just excepted he's different but in a good way, it would be boring if we all thought the same way. obviously every child is different and may need things explaining in a different way but i found being straight forward and honest was best for mine. good luck :)

Courtney - posted on 09/26/2010

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My son wasn't diagnosed until he was ten (he's 13 now), so he was very aware of his differences even without a diagnosis. We just worked on explaining that those things that he is particular about are his characteristics. Not Autistic. They are things that make him the person that he is supposed to be. Just happens that they are "Autistic", as well. He took a little while to understand that having a name for his traits didn't mean that he was less, just different. Before he was diagnosed, he felt (in his words) like a freak, and couldn't understand why no one liked him. He was very depressed. Once he learned to associate his differences, his self esteem soared. He borders on cocky now. Just stick with it...having a postive, loving home life will help him more than anything to hold his head high and love himself and his differences, and they won't be everyone's focus once he realizes they are as much a part of him as his hair or eye color. Good luck!

Tanya - posted on 09/22/2010

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My daughter visits with a psychologist that helps her with her socialization issues. There are many books and research that you have to do as a parent.; YOU are your childs best advocate. She also just recently watched the movie Temple Grandin and that has kind of helped her understand that she isnt the only person with ASD. My daughter is 11 and she wasnt diagnosed until she was 7. You have to do alot of research!!! I was so proud of her the other day when she was having trouble with some girls making fun of her. She was talking to the in the front yard and tells them." You know I have Autism and I see things differently than you do. You shouldnt make fun of me because I am different than you. That really hurts my feelings." She goes on to tell them that they need to read about people that have Autism and they would understand her more. That was the first time she had ever told anyone on her own that she has Autism. That was a very huge step for her. Education for this disorder is the best for everyone!!

Annette - posted on 09/22/2010

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Ah, sorry I wasn't so good at getting your message! Going with the flow of not making it a big deal, we were fortunate to have examples around us of people being different and how it didn't make a big deal. That helped frame things. They have a cousin with ADD, friends with missing limbs and auditory disorders, etc. So when we dropped the "A" bomb it was in a series of small conversations germane to something else..."oh, that loud noises bother you extremely is natural to your Autism." "Oh, what's Autism? You know, like cousin Alex has trouble sitting at the dinner table sometimes and it's part of his ADD...well, your Autism..." and the conversation always ends with a message of "it's no big deal, just a difference you get to work with...like Mom has to work with XYZ." I'm not sure that helps because our sons are older and were older when they became aware. Anyway, good luck with those blogs. The DVDs you found sound awesome!

Connie - posted on 09/22/2010

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Thank you Annette - I guess what I am looking for is more about when they became aware that they were different to other kids and how did you tell them. I don't want it to be a big deal, keep it positive etc. My husband and I didn't really think about how we would handle this part. My older kids don't see anything different and the youngest one doesn't know anything different either - but he seems to be getting upset about what other people are saying about his difference. He tells us in his own way that the conversation we are having does not sound good to him - so I am worried that he sees his difference as something that is not good. I want to nip it in the bud ASAP...and I want to make sure I do it right. Thanks again for your post. I will google blogs from that side of it. We rented a couple of DVD's - one is called "Normal People Scare Me" - it is directed and produced by a teen boy with autism - the other one is the "sandwich kid" which was made by his younger brother. They have both been helpful but I haven't been able to figure out how we are going to talk about it with him. Cheers.

Annette - posted on 09/22/2010

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There are a number of blogs wirtten by young adults and teens on the Autistic Spectrum. They may have insights to offer.

In our home (I have 2 teens on the spectrum) we try to focus on ALL of us having different quirks and needs, learning to sort out what's reasonable to expect from others, and understanding where we need to adjust ourselves.

Like you, we have never made an issue of our sons' diagnoses. They are both aware they are different, so we speak to them in terms of differences being healthy and how to balance that with the norm they experience around them - which can include working to develop coping skills. For example, when they don't appreciate all the noise around them in a class, at a party, etc., we explain that others sometimes find that loud expression to be enjoyable, cathartic, etc. We encourage them to understand that need in others, and then help them look for a reasonable way to cope (i.e., is it a situation where you can excuse yourself for a few minutes to take a break, then come back?, can you explain the disruption you feel to your peers with the help of a teacher?, etc.). The boys' are easily frustrated, and sometimes it takes a LOT of talking, but both have a healthy self-esteem which seems to help. We let them know what their talents and gifts are, as well as pointing out the occasional benefits in their symptoms (being able to focus for lengths of time has been identified, being able to understand patterns in math and English lessons, etc.).

I don't know if that's what you were looking for, but I hope it helps. Good luck to you and your wonderful son!

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