Why should I disclose?
Every child deserves to live a full and dignified life, regardless of whether they have a disability or not. There will be some trial and error in understanding who to disclose your child’s condition to because you can never really gauge another person’s reaction. Some reactions will be positive and others will be negative, but it is important to remember that you are not responsible for another person’s reaction to your disclosure. Often negative reactions come from a place of fear and misunderstanding, so once the other person has some more understanding of what autism is, their reaction may very well turn around. Most people are willing to help and accommodate once they understand the circumstances involved.
Disclosure of a disability can provide relief in many ways. People can develop empathy for your situation once they know what it is and reserve from making any judgements they might otherwise make. In social settings, it can help friends and family understand that your child is not being rude or misbehaving when they may say something very bluntly. They can understand that your child is not weird for pacing or engaging in repetitive motions, but simply trying to soothe themselves. Disclosure can smooth the way forward in social situations and remove any awkwardness.
In addition, carefully disclosing your child’s disability at school can allow your child to receive accommodations to help them learn. They may get extra time for assignments, access to school counseling services, or receive extra breaks so that they don’t have any meltdowns. They may be able to write tests and exams in a separate room so that there is less noise, appropriate lighting, etc. to make their test taking experience as smooth as possible. Informed teachers can facilitate your child’s classroom interactions with their peers and be on the lookout for any signs of bullying or harassment. Many possible benefits can be achieved if the disclosure is made properly.