While every child is different, I can only go by my own experience of when my parents told me I had autism and why I feel it was the perfect timing.
They chose to tell me at age thirteen when I started asking a lot more questions.
Why age thirteen? Why not an earlier age like five or six? Here are my thoughts ~
I truly believe there is power in innocence. Children do not need to know about autism in grade school. Let children be children. Run around and play, make friends, and let kids be kids. Autism is not a priority for them. Even if they start to question things that revolve around some of their differences with other children, I still believe it’s better to wait until the early teenage years, but always letting them know they are special and perfect just the way they are.
So why do I feel that waiting until the age of thirteen is a good time? Because it’s the beginning of the teenage years when things get incredibly emotional. Holding these emotions inside is not an option and will come out. So when it comes to autism at that age, can you think of some of the emotions that may come out?
In my opinion, being a teenager is the perfect opportunity to share these kinds of emotions and negotiate with them. Work through them and find healthy alternatives in dealing with them. Here are a few examples:
When I was thirteen and learned that I had autism, I felt all those emotions and my parents and teachers worked together in finding ways for me to work through all of them. If I felt frustrated and angry, exercise was crucial and really helped me burn off steam.
If I felt sad, I started to write or draw pictures. But one of my favorite things to do was dance and still is to this day. It makes me feel very happy!
Since verbal communication can be challenging for many individuals with autism, therapy doesn’t always come from talking out their feelings. It can come from being in motion and can provide amazing breakthroughs in their journey of accepting autism as a part of who they are.