Your child has autism. How (and when) do you tell him?

Your child has autism. How (and when) do you tell him?

Max Burkholder, left, plays a teen with Asperger syndrome on NBC’s “Parenthood.” A 2011 episode explored how his parents talked to him about his diagnosis. (Jordin Althaus/NBC)

By Mari-Jane WilliamsWashington Post

It’s a conversation that requires  more thought and planning than talks about sex, money, religion or drugs. For parents of a child who has an autism spectrum disorder, discussing what makes him different and why is a delicate matter.

When do you need to have the talk, and how do you do it so your child comes away feeling good about himself (and doesn’t start using it as an excuse for every little thing he doesn’t want to do)?

NBC’s “Parenthood” tackled this beautifully in a 2011 episode called “Qualities and Difficulties.” After Max, who has Asperger syndrome, overhears his father and uncle talking (okay, shouting) about his diagnosis, his parents Adam and Kristina, seek advice from a therapist on how to discuss it with Max. The answer? Emphasize his strengths and talk about how, just like anyone else, he has challenges too.

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