How To Tell Your Adult Child That You Think He Has High-Functioning Autism

Question

What issues should I consider when contemplating broaching high functioning autism to my 28-year-old son? I want to help him -- he has no social life, lives at home, is rigid in his habits...in short is on the spectrum in both me and my husband's opinion. Should we tell him what we're thinking?


Answer

Re: Should we tell him what we're thinking?

Yes. My bias is that it is better to know than not to know. If somebody has High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger's and doesn’t know, it affects him anyway.

If the person does know, he may be able to minimize the negative impact and leverage the positive. Without the knowledge that you have the disorder, you often fill that void with other, more damaging explanations (e.g., I'm just a failure, weird, stupid, etc.).

Re: What issues should I consider when contemplating broaching Aspergers to my 28-year-old son?
  1. Lead with strengths! ALL people on the autism spectrum have significant areas of strength (even if this has not been translatable into tangible success). Bring up areas of strength with your son. 
  2. Next, tactfully point out the areas in which he is struggling. 
  3. Then, suggest that there is a name for this confusing combination of strengths and struggles, and it might be "High-Functioning Autism."

Once the question of HFA has been raised, your son may wonder if he should pursue an official diagnosis. For some young adults, doing their own research through support and information organizations, books, the Internet, etc., provides the best explanation and enough answers regarding difficulties that they have faced, as well as the unique strengths that they may possess. Others may prefer a formal diagnosis from a professional. Either form of discovery is perfectly acceptable.

==> Launching Adult Children With Aspergers and HFA: How To Promote Self-Reliance

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