The Disclosure Conundrum — The Bump
Special Needs

The Disclosure Conundrum

My son is three and has HFA. I would like to have the discussion about his Dx be an ongoing narrative rather than a bombshell. He's in a daycare setting, an integrated class, and a substantially separate ASD room. He's made statements like "other kids are hard, I'm just too hard" with regard to playground interactions and is asking NT peers who they're "working with" in class that day. I'm proceeding cautiously because I don't want to confuse him, but we've started to talk about how people are different and have strengths and weaknesses (Mommy wears glasses to help her see, Grandpa uses a cane to help him walk). 

How have you approached this? 
Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
11/10/10 The Kid

Re: The Disclosure Conundrum

  • Great question. I started thinking about this probably a bit late, this past summer before DS started kindergarten. I got a book, something like "Timmy has ASD TImmy is Awesome"- dear god it was awful. "Timmy hates the rain" "Timmy loves frogs" "Timmy has autism" Timmy is awesome!" DS was smart enough to know the book made no sense. Why is he so awesome if he hates the rain and has a hard time making friends? So I talked to his therapists who told me not to dwell on the technical term but just to emphasize that his brain works differently and he needs help with some things but is better at other things. Frankly, I was dubious because at that point, DS didn't have any "super powers" or things he is especially better at than his peers. He struggled with everything. But, I have been able to point out now that he's doing well in reading and math, which comes easy for him. When I've talked about it DS still doesn't seem to "get" it. He's in kindy now and he knows there is a small group of kids that move to another room for part of the day. He tells me that some of the kids "don't speak very well" (nonverbal or otherwise), but other than that, he hasn't been able to discern any differences between himself and the other kids. I've tried to talk to him about friends, and if he finds it hard to make friends or talk to other kids, but to him, he doesn't have a hard time with this. He's perfectly happy with his social stature (he has kids he gravitates towards and prefers to play with more than others). He knows a lot of the boys like sports and he hates sports, but he's content to find something else to do alone. I explain to him why this is but he doesn't really care one way or the other. I hope it isn't like dropping a bomb on him one day when he finally understands what is going on. Or maybe he knows a lot more than I give him credit for.
  • I also struggle with how I approach the "you're really good at xyz"- when I tried this his magical thinking kicked in and he said "Yea, I'm smarter than anyone in my whole class!!" I'm also quite certain he'll play the ASD card when he's older and doesn't want to do something.
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  • My other concern down the road is another kid saying something to him. I want to preempt that. It's not a secret among the preschool set in our neighborhood. People figure something is up as soon as they hear where he goes to school. I'm finding myself cornered into outing him when classmates' parents who don't know he's on an IEP ask about our enrollment selection for next fall (the team decides for us). I don't mind talking about it, but I wouldn't openly disclose that he has eczema, too, or that I have hypothyroidism, you know? 
    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
    11/10/10 The Kid
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