Telling Your Child About Their Autism

What It Is To Be MeThere is a decision many parents tend to struggle with after learning their child is autistic – -which is, when and how do I tell my child they’re autistic? Writer Brenda Rothman touched on this very topic (here via Huff Post). She talks about the various “tactics” that people have recommended (ie…think it’s time to have “The Talk”). After thinking it through, she came to realize it wasn’t about sitting down and having this serious, big talk with her son about his autism – which could make it a negative thing, like something was wrong. Instead, she felt it could be done in trickles, which was more of a natural sharing of information – almost the opposite of “The Big Talk” tactic – making it no big deal. I like this way of thinking – because autism is part of who your child is, it should be a natural sharing of information, with an emphasis on what makes them special.

There are some books out there that are designed for autistic children to help them understand what their autism means, which can also be a good tool in talking with your child. A few include:

What It Is To Be Me!

Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes

Asperger’s: What Does It Mean to Me?

But there are many different thoughts and ideas on this one, so we’d like to hear from you (as I’m sure other parents seeking this kind of information do too). How have you told (or how are you planning to tell) your child about their autism?

First to share her insights is our own Jen Westphal, who said:

A few of the most important aspects of The Son-Rise Program is the three E’s – eye contact, energy and enthusiasm – and their teachings of acceptance.  Once we realized what a gift Kyle’s autism was (because we did NOT believe this before Son-Rise), we enthusiastically set out to help Kyle appreciate that his autism was an important part of him!  Some days were better than others, for sure, but today, at 20 years of age, Kyle understands himself sometimes better than most “typical” people I know!  Kyle’s courage to jump over one hurdle after another, fall down 7 times, get up 8, and embrace his autism makes him a hero in the eyes of so many who know him.

Lynsey, Community Manager

Good Reads for the Dads (and the Moms)

Many of the voices we hear from in the autism community are the moms. But with Father’s Day coming up, we wanted to recognize all the dads out there that are on the autism journey – taking on all of the ups and downs that come their way. It can be a tough road, and sometimes it’s hard to admit that much, so we’re glad that we’re seeing more dads stand up and share their stories—their struggles, successes, big steps/little steps, denial, acceptance and all that goes along with the journey. Some of their stories are shared in books, with a select few highlighted below that are worth checking out:

Not My Boy!

Not My Boy! – Former NFL star Rodney Peete (married to actress Holly Robinson Peete), shares his candid personal journey with his son’s autism. He discusses in his own life with his son, R.J., and weaves in voices, insights, and dreams of other fathers who have been touched by autism.

Autism Dad

Autism Dad: Adventures In Raising An Autistic Son – This is a collection of essays written by award-winning syndicated columnist, Rob Errera. He covers many topics on autism—from diagnosis, to autism in the media, to therapy/treatments. Overall, though, it’s a father’s perspective of raising and loving a child with autism.


The Horse Boy

The Horse Boy: A Father’s Quest to Heal His Son – Rupert Isaacson chronicles his family’s trek across Mongolia all in an effort to help their autistic son, Rowan. Rupert and his wife found there was an uncanny connection between their son and horses, so, after trying some more conventional therapies, they took their son on an extraordinary journey across Mongolia on horseback to meet with shamans known for their healing powers.


Father's Day

Father’s Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son – A memoir by Buzz Bissinger, best-selling author of Friday Night Lights and Three Nights in August, about his relationship with his son, Zach. Buzz realized that while he was attentive father, he didn’t really understand what it was like to be Zack. So Buzz takes Zach on a road trip, from PA to CA, to visit all the places they’ve lived together—in hopes of bringing them even closer together.

Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there!

Lynsey, Community Manager


(Note – Book covers from