I am starting this with a disclaimer: All families are different, all children have different levels of understanding, children with autism too.
My children know they are autistic.
I've always been quite truthful with all my children, it's a bloody hard world out there, they need to know that from a young age. I am a complete 'over the top' mother, which means I have basically ruined them for any future relationships!
That didn't change because the two younger boys have a level of additional needs. I can't make the whole world accept who they are, but I can help my boys prepare for that world.
My middle boy is high functioning, this means that one day he will be independent. He will be out in the world seeking employment, maybe falling in love. I need him to understand that it's not his fault that he can't cope with things, that sometimes it's easier to avoid the situations that cause him to 'flip out'.
He recently went away, with Mr. Ojo, a trip to London, he absolutely LOVED it. He is, however, beginning to understand that some things are too much, luckily at the moment, we can see it brewing and remove him from the situation.
It was like a light bulb for him though.
He actually said to his dad that he doesn't like that he flips out, normally with me baring the brunt of it, so he was going to try and change that.
He still has these moments, but he takes them away from us, deals with his emotions (which can involve a lot of screaming), then comes back and talks. It's amazing, especially as he is now a teenager, which was an age I was terrified of. I know I am lucky that he is an incredibly intelligent boy, so stating facts, showing him information, has helped a great deal.
I told little A for different reasons. He knows that he is different, he doesn't have enough understanding for that to be an issue. He simply doesn't care. He lives in his happy little bubble and is totally unaware of any issues people may have.
I told him because it's easier to explain why he can't do some things. Other than that I can't really explain it. He knows he's autistic, every now and then he asks me to tell people he's taken to. I'm hoping as he gets older he can understand it all a bit more, but for now I am just building the foundations.
I have to take him to the Dr on Friday, the first thing I have to ask is if he understands anything about Autism. I can't have that conversation without little A hearing.
Do you think I've done the right thing?
What do you say to your children?