Autism Diagnosis: Share it or keep it secret?

My son, D, has had an IEP since before Kindergarten. At the end of his Elementary School years, the school changed the reason for the IEP from developmental delay + ADHD to Autism (the ADHD is still there though). Since the IEP change, he has finally begun to grow academically. However, other staff at the school were not allowed (by school policy) to know that D has autism, only that he has an IEP. We did not know this.

He's Autistic, not a TV, I can't just turn him down 'cause he's too loud for you.

So very very true…

D’s older sister, M, witnessed a member of the school’s staff threatening him with disciplinary action if he didn’t stop stimming. She told us about it. Needless to say, this did not sit well with Papa Bear (fotodad) and Mama Bear. Our philosophy is “If you’re gonna mess with Brother or Sister Bear, you’d better be prepared to deal with Mama and Papa Bear.”

We were livid when M told us about it. We requested (requested is probably too weak a word, more like demanded) a meeting to revise D’s IEP. The school complied with our request, and brought in the staff member and his supervisor as well. We explained that if D is being too loud, all anyone has to do is tell him to turn down the volume, not threaten him with disciplinary action for stimming. That would be like punishing the football team’s star quarterback because he broke his leg during a game. In addition, we gave the school permission to share D’s autism diagnosis with any school faculty or staff that work with him or deal with him on a daily basis. So far, the problems with this particular staff member have stopped, and we’re almost halfway through the new school year.

In my opinion, it is better to share the autism diagnosis with people that work with your child than to keep it a secret. There may be techniques that the staff at your child’s school can employ that will help him to do better. It may avoid problems as well.

Dad, can we go Home now?

D. has always been a homebody.  Back when he was a cub scout, we went to cub scout day camp every day for five days.  At the end of that week, he didn’t want to go anywhere.  Home is safe and comfortable to him.  During the holidays there are several family get-togethers and he is happy to be home when they are over.  Fortunately we never have more than one in a day so they are spaced out and it makes things easier for him.

E at The Third Glance is an autistic adult.  She has written a series of articles on how she copes with the holidays. D. doesn’t have the same issues that E has, but there are similarities.  You can read E’s coping strategies here.