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Parenting Corner – Telling children about autism

Parents of children with autism or other developmental disorders worry about the adult lives of their children. Will the children be able to cope with the challenges of life? Will they be able to live happily as part of the mainstream?

Some children with autism can lead a life as part of the mainstream, they can get educated, work and earn their livings like everyone else.

However, it is important for them to be aware of their own limitations and accept themselves. This acceptance can help them cope with the difference between their own abilities as compared to others around them.

Parents should let the children know about their medical conditions and diagnoses. However, this needs to be done in an appropriate manner and at the correct time in their lives. Experts can help parents and children go through this process in a calm and smooth manner without causing a lot of negative emotions and distress. Dr Venkat Iyer, Psychiatrist

Why tell the child

Letting the child know that he or she has autism and that is the reason behind some struggles in their lives can help the child understand. The children will feel better after knowing the logical reason that at times makes them different from others.

The children may at times wonder why they visit doctors or therapist more often than other children or their siblings. Once the children understand and know, they can move forward in life instead of brooding over their shortcomings. Children can focus on learning skills and coping mechanism to overcome the barriers that are caused by the medical issue.

There is no standard time, age or manner for talking to the child about autism or other developmental disorders. Every child is unique with different abilities, perceptions and understandings.

Some points to consider:

- It is important to understand that all children deserve to be respected and understood by their families.

- Seek help from an expert to explain the condition to the child.

- Tell the children that being different is not a bad thing at all and it is all right to be so. They are unique and precious in their own way.

- Taking the help of a psychiatrist who can help understand the right time and manner to disclose information to the child.

- Let the child know that he or she is loved no matter what the diagnoses is.

- Motivate the child to seek more information about the condition and understand it.

- Help the child to learn to live with limitations by helping them with coping strategies.

- Accepting the facts and working on solutions is better than pondering over negative thoughts and emotions.

- Introducing the child to other children with autism can also help them understand better.

"Some children with autism will not be able to understand and accept their diagnoses. Some children have the ability and can be told. The decision can be made by parents and depends on the ability of the child as every child with autism is unique, "says Latha Venkatesan, parent and Special Child Assistance Network (SCAN) member.

There are parents who might not wish to talk to their children about their medical conditions and that should be fine as well. Parents are a child's well-wisher and understand him or her better than anyone else. However, as a parent if you are confused about how to go about it, then seek help from experts or other parents. This might help you get more clarity about the matter.


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