Autism - Support Across the Spectrum

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Mommy, what's Autism?
October 5, 2012 at 1:13 PM

My ds was at recess on Tuesday and ran under some playground equipment and cut the top of his head open. I took him to the ER and he had to have two stitches. He was crying when I brought him into the ER and while filling out the paper work I told the nurse that the school had told me he was sleepy after the incident so she said well the doctor will check it out. The doctor came in and started to ask ds questions to which my ds would not respond. The doctor looks at me and says "I'm concerned because he is not responding" so I told him that ds has Autism, so he said "I'm glad you told me I was wondering why he wouldn't respond". I on the other hand had a lump in my throat because it was the first time I had said it out loud to the world that my ds has autism and in the presence of my ds.

When we got home my son was full of chat telling his grandparents and dh all about how brave he was getting his stitches and how he couldn't wait to show them at school tomorrow. After dinner I am loading the dishwasher and my ds looks up at me with his beautiful brown eyes and says "Mommy what's autism" I almost dropped to my knees and froze. I wasn't ready for this question and honestly didn't know how to answer him. He's 4 1/2 and I just thought that this question would be much later in his life. I guess he heard me telling the doctor earlier and was thinking about it.

So I put on a big smile and said "It's means that you are a very special child and that you see the world in a different way" he just shrugged his shoulders and went to watch TV. I went into the power room and cried, why did I cry I don't really know I guess I am not ready to talk to my son about his autism and I didn't have a great answer for him. I just didn't know what to say or even how to explain autism. I feel like I failed him in giving him a generic answer.

Has your child asked you this question yet? If so what did you say.


  • amonkeymom
    October 5, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    That's exactly how I explained it to my 11 year old after receiving his diagnosis.... Autism just means that he sees things in a different way than many other people and that doesn't mean anything other than that he's different, and really, aren't we all different in our own ways?

    It's not a generic answer, it's the truth.

  • Blue231
    by Blue231
    October 5, 2012 at 2:24 PM
    I think you gave your son the perfect answer. Thank you for sharing. Your story brought tears to my eyes, because the way you described Autism to your son is the way I want my son to see his Autism.

    Since my son had verbal skills we were told by a therapist that our son was just strong willed at age four. We were told we should just keep disciplining him and he would get better. If only our son had heard at the age of four what your son now knows, that he is special and just saw the world differently. It was two years later before he got that correct message at age six. I am thankful my son and I have the real truth now.

    As your son asks more questions, you can give him more information about Autism. How wonderful that for now he knows the most important parts.
  • Siobhan69
    October 5, 2012 at 5:30 PM

     Don't know why my writing is so small, sorry ladies!

  • Rachelle11503
    October 5, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    That has been the hardest part for me so far. My daughter is 8 and she's not quite understanding why SHE has to have Autism and how it works. For now I think you gave him the perfect answer. he is still pretty young to understand such a complex thing that we dont always understand.
    I just got a book the other day that is pretty awesome about explaining autism, answering questions and giving tips in a way that kids would understand...but I would think its more geared towards 6 and up. Its called the Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (and their parents) I've learned a lot from it, and it helps when she asks questions

  • kajira
    by kajira
    October 5, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    yes and i've explained it in bits and pieces and gave him books on high functioning autistic and asperger stories and let him read and talk to other autistic kids.

    but he's twice the age.

    I will say I didn't make it sound like he was super special because my son is ego-centric and already has issues from the public school district thinking he's special and deserves to be treated like a king because the school said he was special. LOL

    We have to do more the "autism is a different brain wiring and way of looking at the world. Quirky, different. there's good and bad and it balances out. you have to learn to work with it and be self aware, and the good parts can shine."

  • autismmom13
    October 7, 2012 at 2:17 PM
    I think your answer was PERFECT. We embrace our son's Autism, and we speak about it openly often as a family. I truly believe that getting your kids to talk openly and honestly when their young sets them up to be able to talk to us later in life when their issues get bigger. On the occasions that our son has a problem at school and goes to the sensory room to calm, his teacher will have class meetings to make sure his classmates understand why he has reacted the way he has. My hope is that when these same children hit MS and HS they will be more tolerant of his differences. Go with your instincts, cause it sounds to me like you're doing GREAT!
  • kquad
    by kquad
    October 8, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    I also agree, it was the perfect answer.

  • Jenn8604
    October 8, 2012 at 1:06 PM
    Great answer. May use it if my son ever asks about it.
  • BethChiang
    October 8, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    I think you gave a good answer, also, and I have been thinking about this myself. Like Kajira's, my son is ego-centric and I am unsure how to explain his Aspergers to him. I haven't had to yet, but I know I should do it soon. He is 7. I also wonder how to explain it in a way that he cannot start to use it as an excuse.

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