How do I tell my child they have ASD?

By Psychologist Emily Coen

In the second part of her “Should I tell my child with ASD about their diagnosis?” series, Emily Coen is back again. This time, for those of us who feel like we may be ready to share our child’s diagnosis Emily has some advice on how to go about it!

What should I say?

It is most important that you stay positive about Autism Spectrum Disorder. Everyone with an ASD diagnosis is completely unique and therefore it is important that each conversation is individualised to the child themselves. Everyone is different in their likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and personality. Differences should be discussed in a matter of fact manner, using concrete examples from the child and their peers. 

Most children will have a lot of questions, so start with minimal information, remembering that we can always continue the discussion as they learn more about themselves. There are some fabulous books you can read with your child such as:

  • Some brains:A Book celebrating Neurodiversity. Nelly Thomas
  • All My Stripes: A story for Children With Autism. Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer
  • Different like Me My book of Autism Heroes. Jennifer Elder and  Marc Simon Thomas
  • My Brother Charlie. Holly Robinson Peete

Some families find it easier to have a professional begin the conversation with the child, allowing the family members to play a supportive role. The professional can also gauge the child’s reaction, and provide further tips to the parents to best support the child. 

If you do wish for one of our fabulous psychologists to assist you with this conversation, please do not hesitate to give reception a call and book an appointment today. 

Emily is a registered psychologist with a Master of Professional Psychology. Emily has experience working with children, adolescents and their families across home, clinic, and educational settings. Emily has a special interest in working with autism spectrum disorder, developmental disorders, anxiety, behaviour management, and emotion regulation difficulties. Emily is passionate about working with children and their families in a flexible and creative manner, to best support their goals. Previously, Emily has worked as an ABA therapist and supervisor, allowing her to develop strong relationships with children and their support networks.
Emily works predominantly within the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy frameworks. Emily is an accredited Tuning into Kids facilitator and Cool Kids Anxiety Program facilitator. 
Outside of work, Emily enjoys spending time with her family, reading a good book, playing netball, and cheering on the Geelong Cats.

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