Your child knows they are different from other people. It’s pretty obvious. Not talking about it won’t mean they don’t notice the divide, and they know it *far* sooner than they talk…
What age is good for explaining? My son’s 4 at the moment, so I’m guessing we have a few more years. Will he ask? He still mostly repeats things (though he’s getting really awesome at using the things he repeats in context and as communication). I don’t know how much he gets from me right now, but I talk to him whenever he’s interested.
Four years old isn’t too young.
Generally speaking, we talk to young children about their bodies at a very early age. We teach them what arms are, and what feet are, and what clothes are, and all of that. Disabled kids *also* need to know basic things about their bodies, at the same age non-disabled kids do.
And also for kids with intellectual disabilities — if they’re old enough to see TV shows that depict things like going to school, learning to read, having conversations, and other things that kids media teaches kids about — they’re old enough to need adults in their lives to talk to them about how some of that will be different for them than for other kids.
And it would be nice if they could have some access to children’s stories that described their experiences, but there is hardly anything like that available. So they need adults to teach them these things *on purpose*.
And also - We talk to four year old kids about boys and girls, and expect that boys will know they are boys and girls will know they are girls. And we start talking to them about how to live in the world as a boy or as a girl. Actually even before they’re four, we do that.
A kid who is old enough to have heard and understood the word “boy” or “girl” is old enough to need to hear words about their disability.
I wouldn’t wait for a kid to ask, because it is hard for kids to have the words to ask with if they’ve never heard any. If adults start talking about it first, it is easier for kids to ask questions as they need to than it is if it’s never discussed until a kid starts asking about it.
All right, I talk to him as often as he listens, anyway; I can find a way to start teaching him about his differences. So many of the things that would be considered autism-related make him so fun to be around. He likes logos and television bumpers and things like that, and he has such an amazing memory for it. He loves to make the noises that go along with them, and I do my best to copy him. He loves it when I get it right (which isn’t nearly often enough).
What kinds of things should I talk to him about? I don’t want to condescend him—he’s turning into a kid, and he’s no baby, so I would need to find just regular conversational ways to discuss these things, right?
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