Telling others about your child's autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

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Information about what parents may want to tell other people about their child's autism.

Key points

  • While sharing that your child has autism may result in people underestimating them, it could also lead to greater understanding and acceptance of their behaviour and enhanced access to support services.
  • Many teenagers and adults with autism said that hearing a diagnosis of autism has made them feel less alone and relieved there is a cause for their behaviour.

Parents often worry about telling others about their child’s diagnosis. Telling people that your child has autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may have positive and/or negative effects. As a parent, you have the right to choose who you share your child’s diagnosis with and when.

Some of the drawbacks of telling others may be:

  • People may judge your child and misunderstand what ASD is.
  • People may blame all of your child’s actions on ASD.
  • Your child may be left out of activities because others think they are not capable to join in the activities.
  • Teachers may not have high enough expectations for your child.
  • You may fear that the label of ASD will follow your child forever.

Some of the benefits of telling others may be:

  • an increase in understanding and acceptance of your child’s behaviour, and problem solving around how to help modify inappropriate or disruptive behaviour
  • an opportunity to share information about what skills your child needs to learn to progress
  • a chance to use services that you might not have access to without a diagnosis of ASD

Many teenagers and adults with ASD have said how relieved they are to know that there is a name that describes the way they have felt over the years and that they are not to blame for differences in their development or behaviour which may have upset or disappointed others. When told of their diagnosis, many adults have said that they no longer feel so alone or different. The diagnosis of ASD helped them to realize that there were others who had similar difficulties and shared common strengths.

In the end, you need to decide what to do based on your child's and family’s needs and wishes. Talk about your concerns with health care professionals or other parents of children with ASD.

Last updated: March 9th 2009