When we get an autism diagnosis, it comes with a lot of fear. It comes with a whole heap of scary unknown futures. One VERY common thing that a LOT of us do is keep quiet about the struggles our kids have. Whether that be mental health issues, disorders, diseases, etc. I am so excited to do this episode because I know this topic is something a lot of people struggle with. So, hopefully, if you are struggling with talking about your child’s diagnosis to others, this episode will help you rethink that choice.
Why Do We Keep It a Secret?
If you aren’t telling anyone about your child and trying to keep it a secret, you might be thinking that you are protecting your child. Our job as parents is to protect our kids. So one of the ways we try to do that is to cover it up and not say anything and hope that we can deal with it on our own so they won’t be talked about or judged. We worry that people will talk about them behind their backs, treat our children differently, or think that they have to baby the child or not include them in activities.
We try to keep it hidden because we think when we tell other people, now it’s a label, a stigma, and it’s real. You might want to keep it a secret so you can work behind the scenes and fix it. You think if you can fix it before anyone finds out, then no one will judge you. Or you might not want to look bad and tell yourself that it’s just too hard to talk about. But, when you make it a point not to bring it up or tell people that your child has autism, the negative side effects far outdo any positive ones.
How I Felt About Keeping My Life a Secret
I was raised by my grandparents. My mom was in prison for making drugs and having a meth lab in the back of our rental house with her boyfriend. My brother and I were always told not to talk about it. I didn’t even know why my mom was in prison until I was older. But when people would ask me why I lived with my grandparents, I wasn’t supposed to tell them the truth.
I always wondered what other people thought. I wondered why everyone else had a mom and I had a grandma. It brought me a great deal of insecurity because I knew I had to keep it a secret because the situation was shameful. The reason my grandparents had was to protect their daughter. They didn’t want others to judge our family or to judge her as a mom. But if my grandparents had more awareness and talked about what the real issue was, then I would understand my mom a lot more and there wouldn’t have been so much silent judgment on our family.
The Real Reason We Don’t Want To Talk About Our Child’s Diagnosis
The real reason we wouldn’t want to tell anyone about our kid’s diagnosis is because we are ashamed. What is shame? It is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
That made me sad to think about because when we are not talking about our children and purposely holding something that big back from the people in our life, we are basically saying that our child with autism is a humiliation and is caused by wrong or foolish behavior. And that obviously isn’t true.
Why We Should Be Talking About Our Children
Telling other people that your child has autism is the best thing you can do for yourself and your child. When you can let people know, then you are open to getting a support system that you never realized you needed. You learn more from other parents that have gone through the autism journey than you ever will from social media, the news, TV, or doctors and scientists because you are learning from people’s real-life experiences.
If you try to make everything perfect and sweep everything under the rug, it’s not even going to work. If you don’t say anything and there are clear differences in your child, people will talk about you behind your back and feel sorry for you. Plus, the energy you’re spending trying to keep a lid on it is taking away from the energy you could be spending on helping and understanding your child. The energy it takes to keep something a secret is so exhausting. Let it be what it is. Live your life and let your child live theirs and you will feel so much freer when you stop worrying about keeping it a secret.
If people will judge you and treat you differently, why is that something that matters so much to you? Why would you want someone in your life that doesn’t support you and your child? The people who really matter are going to understand and accept your child. Telling people is also an opportunity for others to learn about something they never realized. You are giving them a chance to open up their worldview and understand something they might not have known very much about before.
How Being Open Can Help Our Children’s Lives
Your child will be much more understood when people realize that they have autism. It does the opposite thing than you think. Once you talk about it with the people around you, it will help them to understand better how they interact and function in the world. Your child will grow up loving themselves because you will be sending the message that your child is perfect exactly the way they are.
Remy is only surrounded by people who love and accept her. She is never ever around people who judge her and think she’s weird. And do you know what message that’s sending to Remy? That she’s perfect just the way she is. We all have the opportunity to learn her language, to speak her language, and teach her how to manage the world. If we don’t talk about it and keep it a secret, we are showing her that she’s not accepted and she is a mistake and should be different. The more we do this, the more the world will get on board.
My challenge for you is to pick up the phone and tell one person about your child. Talk about all of your fears and anxieties. I promise it’s not worth it to try and keep a lid on a situation you don’t understand. It’s not worth it for you, your friends, or your child.
- You learn more from other parents that have gone through the autism journey than you ever will from social media, the news, TV, or doctors and scientists because you are learning from people’s real-life experiences.
- If you do not talk about your child’s diagnosis, you are still going to get a lot of judgments about how misbehaved your child is and judgment about your parenting. They are judging you even more. People don’t know what they don’t know. When you don’t say anything, then you are not helping people understand your child, you are helping them judge your child and other kids.
- The energy you’re spending trying to keep your child’s autism a secret is taking energy from you that could be spent on helping and understanding your child. The energy it takes to keep something a secret is so exhausting. Just let it be what it is and you will feel so much more relieved about not having to hide.
- Don’t let other people’s judgment and mistreatment matter so much to you. Why would you want someone in your life that doesn’t support you and your child? The people who really matter are going to understand and accept your child.
- By not talking about it, you are sending a message to your other children, the world, and most importantly your special needs child, that they are different and should be hidden and ashamed of. But when we talk about it with others openly, that helps our child to see that they are perfect and amazing just the way that they are.