Raising Children with Autism: To Disclose or Not to Disclose That is the Question!

Integrated Play Groups Master Guide

Raising Children with Autism: To Disclose or Not to Disclose That is the Question!

Integrated Play Groups Master GuideI wish I had a dime for every time a parent of child with autism has asked me “should I tell” either the school, classmates and even sadly sometimes the individual themselves.What is disclosure? It is a noun that means “the action of making new or secret information known” (Wikipedia 2016). When you share with someone information that was previously unknown, you are practicing disclosure. Disclosure comes from the word “disclose,” which means intentionally release information (usually personal) or to open up, to reveal, or to tell

Of course this is a private and personal choice but there are individuals with autism who believe that we all have the right to know (and I personally agree). However if you are on the fence about whether you should disclose your child’s diagnosis of autism with them, or your extended family, school, community here are some things to consider :

  • At some point in your child’s life will they need to self-advocate?
  • Is your child requesting information? Does your child ask questions or talk about any of the following topics:
    • Being different or not fitting in at school
    • Wanting friends but feeling as though they do not have any
    • Not understanding why some things are so hard for them
  • At some point in your child’s life might they require information about their unique kind of mind or “disability” for moral or legal reasons, such as to provide legal protection against discrimination?
  • If I were on the autism spectrum would I want to know? Would I feel I had the right to know?
  • Keeping a “secret” takes a lot of energy and adds stress to you family environment.
  • What does a secret imply? In most cultures a secret implies something bad.

At Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society we believe that autism is not a 4 letter word. It is not something we can learn about in a one time “talk” it is a life long process of understanding, acceptance and empathy.

Want to lear more? Join us Feb 17th or Feb 24th for Demystifying the Classroom

Poem by Iain (age 8) son of Heather McCracken

  • Kirsty
    Posted at 06:02h, 27 October

    This is a very new scenario for my family. We did speak to our son ( age 8,) about him being on the Autism spectrum. I felt he needed to know and understand why he was getting extra support at school and visits with his great OT and SLT. I feel he felt very relieved to know why life was different for him and that we now know how to help.him. Our school has been very supportive and although we have not made a public announcement, we let those close to us know what our son is living with do they also vs. learn how to support him best.

    • Friend2Friend
      Posted at 15:30h, 27 October

      Thank you Kirsty for sharing. I have grown up in the world of differences. So for me autism is just likely any other kind of difference like our hair or eye colour etc. That is why our philosophy is “We are all different in our own way”. And when your child is ready to disclose his unique kind of mind he will let you know.

      Heather McCracken

    • F2F
      Posted at 14:49h, 06 December

      Thank you for sharing. I think that it is important that disclosure come (when and if) with your son’s approval and participation. It is not really important that people know that he has autism. What is important is that he knows, and that he people around him (especially his peers) understand that we all have different kinds of minds. That we are all good and somethings and not so good at other things. And being a good friends means accepting differences in ourselves and others.