'Why I Haven't Told My Kid He Has Autism': 12 Moms Speak Out

mom hugging son

To tell or not to tell: That is the struggle many parents of children on the autism spectrum face. Hearing the doctor deliver the diagnosis can bring up a whole host of emotions, and telling your child about their autism brings those emotions back to the surface. So it's no surprise many parents choose not to have the conversation. Or, at least, not right away.


Whether it's because the children aren't ready to hear it, or parents aren't ready to say it, there are plenty of reasons why families decide not to openly discuss a child's autism diagnosis. That's why we went to moms of kids on the spectrum to learn their reservations about having the big talk.

Here's what they had to say:

  1. "He wouldn't understand what I was talking about, so I don't want to confuse him with the details."
  2. "She's just not emotionally ready to hear it yet, so now is not the time."
  3. "He doesn't even notice he's different yet, and I don't want to be the one to point it out." -- mom to a 8-year-old boy with PDD-NOS.
  4. "I don't want him to try to use it as an excuse, and I doubt he will actually understand what it means."

    More from The Stir: How to Tell Your Child He Has Autism

  5. "I honestly think it will crush him. He is such a happy child. He is awkward and quirky, but so happy. I don't want that happiness to diminish by hearing that he has a diagnosis." -- mom to a 7-year-old.
  6. "My daughter wouldn't have the capability to understand. She has severe autism."
  7. "I haven't fully come to terms with his diagnosis, so I'm not ready to give him all the details."
  8. "We have not told him or many people because he would feel down about himself... He is so hard on himself, we don't want to put a label people view as negative on him. When he is older, we will tell him. But right now, at nine, he needs to worry about learning multiplication and if he remembered to clean the cat box out." -- mom to an 8-year-old boy with Asperger's syndrome.
  9. "I haven't sat him down and flat out told him, but we talk about him having autism all the time around him. I'm sure he doesn't even notice he's different yet."

    More from The Stir: Autism From A to Z: Everything a Mom Needs to Know

  10. "My son is 6 years old. He doesn't understand that yet. I am not sure if he even thinks he is different from anyone else. I don't emphasize around him that he's different, because everyone is different."
  11. "I don't want the stigma of the diagnosis to follow him throughout his life and in school. Kids have it tough enough as it is, so I want to make sure that he doesn't have that label." -- mom to a 5-year-old daughter with high-functioning autism.
  12. "When he gets older, I'll let him know and explain it to him so he knows that there is a name to some of his differences. This family celebrates differences, as if everyone were the same, this world would be quite boring. Everyone has their own road to travel with their own obstacles and detours -- he just happens to know what some of them will be.  It's not like he is going to have to 'work' harder than anyone else, he'll just 'work' differently than other people that aren't autistic." -- mom to a 6-year-old boy with autism.

Have you told your child he or she has autism? Why or why not?


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