New book Talking With Your Child About Their Autism Diagnosis is a guide to aid discussion and understanding between parents and children. In this blog, edited and adapted from Chapter 3 of the book, author Raelene Dundon breaks down the reasons why she recommends being open and honest with your child about autism.
Is it important to tell a child they have autism? Do they need to know? Will they figure it out for themselves? What does the future look like if they don’t know?
These are questions that parents of children with autism may ask themselves many times from the time their child receives their diagnosis, and the answer is not a straightforward one. Depending on who you talk to, there are different opinions on whether it is necessary to tell your child about their autism or not.
All children need help to bounce back from life’s challenges, but having autism can sometimes make this more difficult. Building resilience and independence in children with autism can be hugely beneficial in helping them live an independent and rewarding life. Dr Emma Goodall and Jeanette Purkis have written The Parents’ Practical Guide to Resilience for Children aged 2-10 on the Autism Spectrum to help parents, teachers and carers support and empower the young people in their lives.
Parents of autistic children can worry about their child’s future. Parents are often given a long list of the barriers to their autistic child’s potential, or even told that their child will not finish school, get a job or live the kind of life parents tend to want for their children. Whilst well supported autistic adults usually achieve a happy and fulfilled life, many autistic people can struggle to find their confidence and resilience to respond to every day events.
“I had no premonition, when my first grandchild was born, that I would be writing this book. How could I know that Ruben’s birth would lead me to question many of my essential ‘truths’ about being male or female? That his small fierce journey across the landscape of gender would take me on one of my own? That Ruben’s insistence on living his own truth would inspire me to live mine more fully? None of us knew then that my grandson, soon to be celebrated in every hue of blue, would undo our gender bearings. These were impossible circumstances to imagine the morning Ruben arrived. I simply held him to my heart and gazed into his face, as surely in-love as I’ve ever been in the whole of my life…” p.11, Becoming an Ally to the Gender-Expansive Child
Tom Alexander explains what motivated him to write My Secret Dog and outlines the book’s positive message in promoting kindness to animals.
It wasn’t supposed to be published. Honest it wasn’t. I was just trying to get my sister a birthday present…
My sister Lois has always wanted a dog, but she lives in central London and keeping a pet is not only impractical, it’s specifically forbidden by the terms of her tenancy. (To avoid confusion, I should mention here that Lois is my older sister.) From this, I had an idea to write a story about a little girl in a similar position who goes the extra step and tries to keep a dog hidden from her mum and her teachers. I wrote it in one sitting and even though I failed all my art classes in school, I knew it needed some illustrations to break up the text. After a few terrible, terrible attempts at drawing a dog, I came up with this:
It wouldn’t win any portraiture awards, but there was no denying it was a dog. More specifically, it felt like the dog. Once I had that, the rest of the illustrations followed. Before too long, I had a collection of pages with text and pictures that I printed out, stapled together and gave to my sister on her birthday. She liked it, so I breathed a sigh of relief, put My Secret Dog in a drawer and left it there. As far as I was concerned, the folded, photocopied sheets were as much of a book as it was ever going to be. Continue reading
By Elke Barber, young widow and author of ‘Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute?’ and ‘What Happened to Daddy’s Body?’ offers her thoughts on the mind of a grieving child, and how best to reach them.
What picture pops into your head when you hear the word ‘death’?
Chances are, a pretty uncomfortable one. But crucially, one that you understand. You understand immediately what death means, and all the sadness, grief and emotion that is associated with it.
Do you know what a three-year old thinks of when he hears the word ‘death’?
Nothing. Because, chances are, he has never heard of it before. He doesn’t know what it means! He doesn’t even know that such a thing exists…
In April 2009, I was faced with having to explain to my three-year old just that: death. My husband had suffered a totally unexpected fatal heart attack; no family history, no previous symptoms, aged only 34. And our son Alex was the only person with him at the time. He managed to raise the alarm and get an ambulance there, but sadly Martin died at the scene. All of a sudden I found myself a young widow and a single Mum to two grieving children: Alex, aged three, and Olivia, aged only 11 months…
“He’s still so young – he won’t remember.”, and “He won’t understand.” were the well-meaning phrases I heard most often at the time. But I quickly learnt that these preconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth. I remember Alex lying in bed one night, not too long after his daddy’s death, and innocently asking “How many more sleeps until Christmas?” – I tried to work it out in my head, only for him to follow this with “And how many more sleeps until I have to die Mummy?” – I was completely taken aback… Continue reading