Thanks to my friend and fellow Aspergers mom at Meet Chaz for linking to an article by another Aspie John Robison, “When Should You Tell a Child They Have Asperger’s?”.
I like his practical and common sense approach. He focuses on the practical skills your child will need and the best time in life to focus on specific skills. I particularly agreed when he says, “I don’t think there is a hard and fast answer.” Mr. Robison discusses a desire to balance acknowledging your child’s differences without “labeling” them too soon and risking discouraging them and making them feel inferior. Mr. Robison suggests telling your child as the teen years get close.
I have never had a sit down with Daniel when I announced to him that he had Asperger’s. By the time Daniel, at the age of 8 had a diagnosis, he was already very frustrated with school and much of life. Almost immediately, he and I started discussing that he had a “special brain”.
The word “Asperger’s” was not used. Instead there were stories of the great contributors of history who also had beautiful, if quirky minds. The story of Einstein, one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th Century forgetting to wear his pants was a favorite.
The word Asperger’s actually surfaced when Daniel’s younger brother, Robert asked why Daniel’s brain was special. I explained Asperger’s Syndrome to him. While telling Robert about Asperger’s helped Robert to be more compassionate to Daniel, it also made it necessary to introduce the word into the conversation with Daniel. Slowly, I began to substitute “Asperger’s” for “Special Brain. “
Now days, Daniel knows he has Asperger’s. He also knows that Asperger’s is a description, not a definition. More then anything, Daniel believes he has a beautiful mind.