Sunday, August 30, 2009

do you tell your kids they are different?

Before I get to my post topic, just let me explain that since Bil has gotten a hold of my blog password, he keeps changing my header. I would prefer not to have a picture of myself anywhere on the blog, but he thinks it is cool or cute or something..... I just don't want you all to think I am like Oprah or something, where I need to have my face plastered all over the place!

Anyway, I ran into an acquaintance the other day whose son happens to have SPD. She asked me a very interesting question, which was, whether I tell Danny that he is different and has SPD?

I was surprised by the question because I hadn't given it much thought before. I have never discussed it with Danny because it hasn't really seemed relevant. I don't think he sees himself as different from other kids. Maybe it is because he is young or maybe (fingers crossed) it is because his self-esteem is pretty high. I don't know. Also, I don't think he has really ever seriously been made fun of because of his sensory "issues." And to be honest, I am not sure he would really pick up on it, even if he is teased. Reading social cues is not one of his strengths, one of the many reasons why his therapist and past teacher think we should have him reevaluated for autism.

It did get me to thinking, though, especially now that I am still concerned that Danny has autism (the school social worker and I filled out an Asperger's assessment, and Danny got a really high score on the test).

So, I am wondering how do you handle something like this? Do you make a big deal of the kid's differences? If Danny is diagnosed with some form of autism, when should we tell him? How do you have a conversation like that?

See, my concern is that if we make too big of a deal of his "disorders" that he will see them as an excuse for not trying. Or that he will feel like there is something wrong with him. The way I see it, we all have our weaknesses, our quirks that make our lives more difficult in some ways. On the other hand, I don't want him to feel ashamed of his differences.

What have you done (those of you with kids who have some differences)? Or what would you do in this situation? Please share.


Amy Jane said...


I know this sounds like too pat of an answer, but why not tell him that EVERYONE is different? That's the truth, isn't it? And if he happens to notice that maybe he's different in a different way, then you can talk about it with him in a low-key way. I wouldn't point it out to him, though. Let him lead the way...hope that helps!

carrie said...


i would not mention to danny that he is different at all. we ALL have differences and issues. some more apparent than others. i guess i haven't really been around danny enough to even think that he is different. my brother has asperger's and as he asked questions my parents would offer answers to the best of their abilities. he knew growing up that he wasn't like most other kids in school. we didn't have to point that out to him, but he also knew that he was different for a reason. i guess our family was so unorganized he got to see first hand many other problems to realize that what he had wasn't too bad and that we just deal with what we are dealt. if you need to talk, give me a call.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Patty - First... LOVE that header. Don't change it! Second... I have before pointed out sensory stuff to the Tongginator. Then again, since I have SPD, it's easy for me to share with her that daddy doesn't really have sensory stuff, so it doesn't bother him one way or the other when you do XYZ, but Momma really doesn't like it just like you don't like it when ABC happens. That's about the extent of it for us. She knows the word sensory. She knows, when she feels out of whack, that she can try swinging or hanging upside down or whatever because it helps her to "feel better." I think the most important thing about this is to clearly help your child navigate the coping strategies that work for them, however you wish to phrase it.

Anonymous said...

We're not ready to 'tell' Nathan that he has autism. What purpose would it serve? I think that's the question you have to ask yourself. If you tell him, what do you expect him to do about it?

For instance, if he had to take medication for his SPD, you might tell him this is to help you do _____ because you have something called SPD.

To me, there is no benefit to saying "Nathan, you have autism" it isn't a communicable disease, he takes homeopathic medicine for it, but that is to help heal with body, not his brain. He knows he's different. When he wants to know why, then I will tell him.

Interestingly enough I wear an Autism puzzle piece pin & he asked why? I told him it reminds me of him - my little puzzle.

lonestar said...

We haven't had a specific discussion about autism with our boys, for the same reasons you mentioned. We have talked to our older boys about how everyone has things they are really good at and things they are not so good at. We wanted to make sure they realize everyone is working on something even if not the same things, and to remember that they also have strengths in areas that other kids do not. We have also talked a little bit about how their brains work a little bit different that some other people's brains (and explained that is why some things are easier or harder for them). That way it's not an excuse, it's just understanding themselves a little better and in the context of individual differences rather than singling them out as "different" if that makes sense. We didn't use the word "autism" yet because we're trying to give them language that will help other people to relate to them. Kids can understand if they say, "I'm good at this or not so good at that" a lot easier than if they say "I have autism." Many adults don't even really know what that means... When they get older we'll discuss more specifics and teach them to advocate for themselves.

Anonymous said...

I have not told Charlotte that she has Autism or Asperger's or SPD or anything.

I see her as more alike than different than the other kids around her at this point -most of the time. As she gets older, if the difference are more apparent, AND SHE INQUIRES, then I might. But ONLY if she inquires.

One of your commenters said how we are ALL different - and that's how I would frame up any discussion.

Unless DANNY thinks he's different, I wouldn't address it at all.

Yet. This is a topic (telling our kids) that is never "finalized." Continuously up for discussion as our kids grow and mature.

Has Danny started school yet? if so, how's it going?

Shellie said...

I like the header a lot! I wouldn't tell my kids they are different, but I do tell them a bit about what their challenges are. I have one who has a craniofacial deformity so it is pretty obvious. We don't make a big deal about it, but we don't ignore it exists, we just talk about how to handle the situations it brings up. Same with our other less obvious issues we face in my house- ADD, ODD, PDD, sensory issues, anxiety and depression, dyslexia, hearing loss, we just deal with how to handle our issues. The other day I mentioned something was because of one of the kid's ADD and he's like, what's that? So I just simply explained it's a kind of brain that is great, but it means you have some challenges in some areas. Sometimes the older kids try to get away with not trying because of a challenge and I tell them it will be harder to do x because of that challenge, but it doesn't mean they can't do it, it means it might take longer or require more effort than for some other kids but I still expect them to do their best. Does that make any sense?