Telling Big Girl The News

Published May 1, 2013 by thefamilyof5

So several months ago big girl was diagnosed as being Autistic. Whilst it wasn’t a huge shock, as obviously I’d requested the assessment, it was none the less still quite a bit of tough news to digest.

Over the last few months big girls struggled with many things, mostly school related. There has been worry about certain events, anxiety about seemingly small stuff, there’s been sleep problems, relationship issues and problems with her peers at school.

Big girl finds it very difficult to process her emotions and this results in sleepless nights, frustration, anxiety and self harming.

I’ve wondered over the last few months if knowing she was Autistic might help her to understand why she sometimes finds things a little more difficult to handle than others or why sometimes she doesn’t understand the world around her as clearly as some of her peers, I wondered if knowing she was ‘different’ might make her feel less ‘rubbish’. Big girl doesn’t see herself in a very good light, she often uses the words ‘rubbish, stupid, bad’ when she’s feeling frustrated with herself, so I thought maybe knowing she was ‘different’ she might take some of the pressure off herself.

I asked the advice of friends and they suggested some very good childrens books aimed at explaining Autism to Autistic children and their siblings. I pondered for months over which book to get, how I’d broach the subject, the words I’d use and the words I’d avoid, how she’d react and even whether telling her was the right thing to do.

So the other day in the car I told her. No book, no planning, it just seemed like the right time. I explained carefully about the reason for all the appointments we’d had last year, I delicately explained what Autism was and how it might mean that sometimes she’d see and feel and hear things a little differently to other people but that she also had this wonderful skill at remembering all sorts of historical facts which is something that many other people would struggle to do.

I don’t know if I said the right things, I don’t know if I used the right words because I never got round to buying the books, but I did my best and I felt that right there and then, that moment in the car, when she was feeling relaxed and we were chatting, I felt that was the right time to tell her. I was still filled with dread at her reaction, how would she take the news, would she be upset, would she be angry, would she cry, would it make her feel even more ‘rubbish’ and more to the point, would she understand.

Her response, the one I’d spent months worrying about, was simply:

‘Ohhhh ok…….*short pause that felt like hours to me…… erm mommy will we take the shopping home before we collect them from school or won’t there be time?’

Every day my girls are teaching me that sometimes what we see as a big deal, really isn’t a big deal to them, and vice versa, all those pointless things she’s spent hours stressing about, were a big deal to her.

I’m going to buy the books so if she does want to talk about it some more some time, I’ll be better prepared πŸ™‚

I’ve linked up with the Weekly Adoption Shout Out Again #WASO


13 comments on “Telling Big Girl The News

  • CLAIRE! THAT IS SO FREAKING FANTASTIC!!!! I can not tell you the number of families I work with who have children diagnosed on the Autism spectrum who are adiment that their kids don’t know (and with FASD, ADHD and others too). The kids struggle so much with self esteem and trying to understand why they heck they try so hard to fit it, keep it together etc. but it never seems good enough. I’m telling you, you just did her one of the biggest favors in helping shape a positive future for her. And the fact that you didn’t read all the ‘expert’ books and just went with your gut says so much, I think, of your amazing mom skills. I’m seriously so elated right now. The questions will come, and the books and expert advice may come in handy later but HOLY COW I COULD HUG YOU RIGHT NOW!

    • So what your saying is I did good yes?! πŸ™‚ lol thank you so much for your super kind words, I’ve been so worried about telling her, I wish I’d known how well she’d take it πŸ™‚

  • I think you did good as well πŸ™‚

    I’ve had quite a few conversations with my DD2 about her many diagnoses and assessments, and she usually just accepts what I say without many, if any, questions. The only proble one was FAE, she had lots of questions and then fallout and anger towards her birth mother afterwards. But generally, kids are very accepting. It’s like discussions about adoption – do it calmly, casually and early enough and they just accept it πŸ™‚

    ps. I noted that this happened in the car. Do you find (I certainly do) that the car is a great facilitator for difficult conversations? Birth family, adoption, diagnoses, and other things, there’s something about being in the car that makes it easier to talk about! Maybe the lack of eye contact and the not facing each other thing, maybe something about the motion of the car, I don’t know. But the kids and I often bring these hard subjects up in the car

    • Ah thank you for your kind words, I just went with my gut :
      Its funny you mention about it being in the car, pretty much all of our best conversations take place in the car too, just goes that way here as well I guess πŸ™‚

    • ‘In the car’ is the way we talk about serious stuff in our family, too. The lack of eye contact reduces the pressure a whole lot, especially for people on the autistic spectrum. Sometimes it’s easier to let the thinking brain process things before tackling the emotional parts of us. =)

  • Does Big Girl normally deal with ‘big news’ like that? Taking it in, ignoring it, avoiding it, sitting with it, etc? I was like that when I was a girl, taking loads of stuff in but rarely letting stuff out. My mum is on the autistic spectrum and I could be diagnosed as well, so maybe it is an autistic behaviour?

    • Erm she is a ‘thinker’ I guess, she can sometimes take a while to process information, but this time, I actually think she didn’t see it to be a big deal. She had a friend at school who is very autistic and left last year to go to a special school, so she has a little bit of an understanding of what Autism is about and I think, for now, she’s just accepted it. Its been a few days now since I told her and I haven’t seen any of the usual tell tale signs that she’s worrying about something. Perhaps we’ll revisit it when I finally get round to ordering those books πŸ™‚

  • Oh I’ve so been there, my youngest was diagnosed last year. I really struggled to tell him and have still not had much of a reaction from telling him six months ago.He ignores when we talk. We get more from his brother who gets annoyed that we consider things differently for him. I was a little worried about our diagnosis because I was made aware of the many similarities attachment issues and ASD present. Take a look at this link just for your info

    It has also helped us a lot at school where ASD is understood better than attachment. Sounds like you did a brilliant and instinctive job of telling your daughter and that you’re allowing her to take it all in.

    Thanks for sharing on #WASO

    • Thank you! Thank you also for the link πŸ™‚ when big girl got her dx they did say that whilst they were making the dx they also felt that there were aspects of attachment difficulties too, I think they were concerned that camhs would ‘write her off’ as such! So her dx is Autistic with attachment difficulties πŸ™‚ in a way I was glad of the dx because like you say, school recognise that much more than they do attachment which has in turn meant she’s being much better understood this school year which is exactly what I wanted for her πŸ™‚

  • Thanks for linking this up to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out, I’m sure many will find it useful.

    And I’m certainly going to try more conversations in the car. Generally Mini is avoidant of important conversation – he can’t stand the eye contact, and he runs away. In the car he doesn’t have to have the eye contact and he can’t run away! Definitely worth a try! x

  • Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google photo

    You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

    Connecting to %s

    %d bloggers like this: