I have blogged in the past about how we explained to J that he has Asperger Syndrome. The diagnosis is still very new – only 6 months, and we only told J three months ago, when his anxiety had reduced to a level where he could cope with hearing it and be able to understand it.
We have always portrayed it as a positive thing. When he mentions what he had for dinner one Wednesday when he was four years old, I remind him that he has got such a great memory because he has Asperger Syndrome. When we’re writing a list or a schedule he’ll tell me ‘I like to be organised and know what the plan is because of my Aspergers’, and of course I agree with him.
For now, I’m trying to avoid him knowing that Autism is a disability. It’s important to say that I know that it is very much a disability, but for now I am mindful of advice that his psychiatrist gave – he said that while a diagnosis means that he can get the right kind of support (which he now is, we have a great team of people helping us) he shouldn’t think of it as something that limits him and think, “Well I won’t be able to do that because I have Aspergers.”
That’s not to say that I’m portraying it as a brilliant thing.
We also talk about how he finds some things difficult that other people may not. The other day we had a conversation about how he doesn’t like meeting new people and I explained to him that was also because of the Aspergers, because new things were difficult if he didn’t know exactly what was going to happen, or what people were going to say or do. Having the diagnosis means we can talk about things like that, and that he has a logical explanation for why he struggles with certain things, it’s not just that he’s not any good at something.
I know that life is always going to be difficult and challenging for him. He has also been diagnosed with a phobic anxiety disorder but I haven’t told him about this yet. He knows that having ‘worries’, as he call them, is also related to having Aspergers, and I think there’s no need to overload him for now. As I’ve said it’s still early days in terms of his diagnosis, but hopefully by being positive about his strengths that his Aspergers brings, it has made it easier for him to deal with and to understand.