I have been thinking about talking to Jake about being autistic.
I have been thinking about it a lot.
There is no doubt in my mind that we will tell him. It’s not an if.
It’s when. And how.
He has grown up so much this year. He lost two of his baby teeth this week. It was so not an issue, his dad was more freaked out than Jake was. He listens to us talk, he thinks about what we say.
He’s not perfect, but I can see that he is becoming a compassionate, thoughtful, and responsible kid. I am incredibly proud of him.
I know he needs to know.
An adult autistic, Chavisory says,
- They already know that they’re different. You can’t keep them from knowing they’re different by not telling them.
- They deserve to know. They are entitled to accurate information about themselves.
- Yes, labels can carry stigma. But it’s the stigma that’s wrong, not the fact that a word exists to describe some facet of how your brain works.
- Knowing how to describe why things are harder for you is not “using it as an excuse.”
- Having community is pretty much the best thing.
- They will figure it out anyway.
I want to help Jake develop confidence, courage, and self-esteem. I believe that these traits, along with faith and a lot of work ethic, will be his most important life tools.
Jess at Diary of a Mom explains how she responds to the question of whether she told her daughter she was autistic like this:
I will tell them that we believe that knowledge is power and knowledge of oneself is the greatest tool imaginable.
I will tell them that we feel that secrets imply shame or fear. Or both. I will tell them that I want neither in my home.
I will tell them that we believe that our daughter deserves all of the insight we can give her into her strengths, her challenges and everything in between.
I truly don’t know when. Or how. I’d like to ease into it, just little bits at a time, and without a big fuss about it. I want to talk about how Jake is autistic without lowering my voice, without glancing at him for his reaction.
I want it to become a part of the natural vocabulary in our home, and have it be wonderful.
I want to be able to support and connect Jake, to build up his self-identity and value.
Jess can’t stop herself from asking a final question, and I feel it bears repeating.
I’ll ask a question of my own.
What if we could bring these kids TOGETHER? What if, instead of labeling them per se, we can give them a tool with which they can identify themselves and EACH OTHER? What if the label is a gateway to the monumental understanding that these kids are NOT alone? What if this group – this incredible group of people – this group that can so easily feel so desperately isolated from their peers – what if they found out that their differences, in and of themselves, are not so damn different after all?
I am quite certain that sooner is better than later. I guess it is the how that I’m really stuck on.