“We recently got a diagnosis. How should I explain high functioning autism to my affected son and his ‘typical’ siblings?"
Kids with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS) are very intelligent and inquisitive. Their struggles are obvious to them, but they may not be able to actually pinpoint the areas of weakness. If asked, young people with HFA will tell you that they are different from their friends and siblings. Their friends and siblings also notice the differences. It can be difficult to live with and understand a youngster with HFA. It can be tough for all involved.
You should be completely honest with all your kids about HFA. The youngster who has this disorder needs to understand the condition in age-appropriate context. Your “neurotyical” kids need to know about HFA so that they will be able to support their brother as much as possible.
Educate yourself about HFA so you can share the details with everyone involved with your child (e.g., teachers, pastors, youth workers, etc.). Contact your local Autism society chapter and ask for information on the disorder and also about the events in your area that they sponsor. Ask about support group sessions and educational events for the affected child’s brothers and sisters.
Speak with the special education staff at your son’s school about resources that can assist in explaining HFA to your youngster and his siblings, as well as information that will help you discuss HFA with your extended family.
You can find a lot of information on the Internet. The Autism Society and other Autism support organizations have websites chock-full of information and materials for families affected by HFA. Other websites offer testimonials and products produced by people with HFA, families affected by HFA, and professionals trained to treat the challenges associated with HFA.
Your kids will be more comfortable when they know exactly what having HFA means. They will see that while there are challenges to overcome, there are also numerous strengths associated with this disorder.
For more in-depth information about how to explain HFA and AS to “neurotypical” siblings, go to this post: Explaining Aspergers To Your Neurotypical Children
More resources for parents of children and teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism:
==> Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums in Asperger's Children
==> Discipline for Defiant Asperger's Teens
==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management
==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's: How to Promote Self-Reliance
==> Everything You'll Ever Need to Know About Parenting Asperger's Children
==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism
==> AudioBook: Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism
==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism
• Anonymous said... Google the Arthur tv episode
• Anonymous said... I agree and do the same with my daughter Kristin... I pray every day ... She's my heart and soul ..
• Anonymous said... I treat my son no different than anyone else, and expose him to as much as he can, to experience life, and not hold him back. He's expected to pull his own weight at home and has certain responsibilities.
• Anonymous said... We talk about how our brains work differently, so my daughters might think my son is saying or doing something that is unusual to them. I point out that he feels the same way about them sometimes too and we all need to accept we are different. It doesn't make anyone wrong, just not the same. They all know that he has to work at understanding society's rules but doesn't get it right all the time and that's ok. Good luck with it all
• Anonymous said... What I tell people is that my son struggles with social skills, just like Jimmy may struggle in math or Lucy struggles in English. Everybody has a hard time with something, and ---- has a hard time with social skills. The parents in our neighborhood asked how to explain it to their kids, and this seems to work. My son is really good at scholastics, so I would point that out and then say that he has to practice social skills just like Jimmy has to practice his math skills. I hope this helps. Good luck to you.
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