Does anyone have any advice for telling my parents that I may have Autism?
I think I will be okay telling my mom, but I’ve gotten really negative responses from my dad about health issues in the past (They’re divorced and don’t communicate so telling one won’t compromise my choice of telling the other).
For example, when I first started therapy at age 13, I told my dad my therapist had informed me that I have depression and anxiety. He responded by telling me it’s all in my head and I need to ‘snap out of it’, and if I just eat right and exercise I’ll be fine, etc. Even when it comes to physical injuries - I severely damaged my shoulder a few years ago, and he convinced me I wasn’t hurt to the point where I didn’t go to the doctor, and by the time I got an xray was a year later, so they couldn’t see anything. I likely have nerve damage, and I refuse to pay for an MRI that I can’t afford because I chose to listen to someone else tell me how I felt. It’s been almost 5 years since my injury and my shoulder STILL hurts on a daily basis.
I’m just nervous that I might get a response of “oh, no you don’t, that’s silly, stop doing that to yourself” or a response of just taking it as a joke and brushing it off.
I know they are my parents and they love me, and I shouldn’t be afraid to talk to them about this, but I am.
I don’t have a diagnosis at this point, and won’t be getting one until sometime in August after I finally get to meet with the proper professionals.
Any advice is appreciated.
It isn’t something you need to hide from them, but in my opinion it’s also not something that merits a sit-down conversation with anyone if you’re not up for it. I’m open with my parents about my mental health struggles and progress, and I just talk about it in casual conversation. I never “opened up” to them about it, I just started saying things like “in therapy we discussed,” or “my psychologist is trying this to treat that,” or “I’ve been having a rough time with my mood lately.” They’ve always been supportive, but even if they weren’t, if I say it like it’s matter of fact, that leaves them no room to object. That’s just the way it is.
If your mom would be supportive, and if you want to confide in and process through this with her, by all means go for it. It’s a lot to process. Talk about all the trouble you had growing up, in your career, etc and examine it through the lens of possible autism. It could be a real bonding moment. As for your dad, if talk about your mental health or life circumstances comes up, drop in “well my psychologist just told me I have ASD or Aspergers (or some other soft-ball way of not saying autism and getting an alarmist reaction), so it’s been really interesting to reflect on things from that perspective.” Then keep the dialogue going and don’t pause for a lecture. If he’s willing to talk about it with an open mind, share as much as you want with him. If he tries to butt in with “that’s not true,” just keep the conversation moving. It’s not a debate, it’s no more subjective than saying you have diabetes, and anyhow he’s not your mental healthcare provider so he doesn’t get to discount it.
Telling loved ones you’ve been diagnosed with autism is big news. It’s affirming, and it can be freeing. The way I see it though, it’s not as polarizing as coming out as queer. There’s less concern about people rejecting you for ASD, so while it may be uncomfortable to address, I’d guess people aren’t likely to be too judgmental over it.
Lastly, remember that you are not your diagnosis. You are you, and just from the couple times you’ve posted here, you seem like a wonderful person who people would be lucky to know You’re a great girlfriend, daughter, employee, and advocate for undiagnosed autism, among so many other things!
Thank you @SheetMetalHead.
Your words made me a little teary-eyed.
This is really great advice, and I really hope to use it to my best ability.
Thank you again
First of all, Autism is’nt a health issue. It’s just how some people, myself included, have their brains hardwired. (hardwired is the word my dad uses).
From: Micro (Discord)
Hey friend! Thank you so much for posting. It’s really great that you are slowly coming to terms with the idea of a potential diagnosis and have a timeline to follow. hopefully August will arrive sooner than you expect and the process of being diagnosed won’t be too draining for you. I hear you and the fear of your parents reaction though. They may not understood, and it’s no breaking news that Autism - and mental health in general - are topics that are impacted by a lot of stigmas. It sounds that your dad has indeed a very strong way to perceive mental health that doesn’t allow a lot of openness or mutual understanding. However, maybe knowing about your potential diagnosis could actually help him to shift his perspective as well? We can’t tell you what to do, but I was in your situation, I’d probably wait to be officially diagnosed before I’d talk about it with my family. Just because that way, I’d have the possibility to talk about it first with my therapist and anticipate this conversation with their help. I would certainly try to rely on their own experiences to help me to find a way to make that conversation happen in a calm, loving and understanding way. Ultimately, and unfortunately, your parents reaction won’t be in your control. But I hope you know that none of this is going to change who you are. You’ll still be the same person! Just with an extra-bit of knowledge about yourself that will help you in the long run. <3
From: Ash (Discord)
I am so sorry your dad ever replied like that to any health or mental health concern you had in your life. First off I myself have a parent kind of like that and it is not easy to deal with they constantly made me feel as if my conditions were in my head when they were not and I had physical proof they werent. So let me say this if you feel this is a possible outcome and you are taking the path of trying to solve it by getting help from professionals than I feel it is wise to know that people may talk like your father does but only you truly know what goes on inside your head or how you feel. Listen to yourself only you can dictate what you do over something. If you were in a car accident and you could see physical blood on yourself due to that accident would you let someone else try and tell you oh your not hurt. I am sure the answer is no as you can feel and see the pain and such you have. Sometimes others cant physically see what we are dealing with so they just want to say it isnt real. However you know it is and you are giving yourself so much support by trying to get help and support for that. Dont let the fact your father may not want to support this keep you from doing so. You deserve to know and to open doors about yourself. It can help you learn who you are. As for your mom it seems she is loving and kind. If a parent choices that you arent worthy of their love based on being dignosied with something than that is a conditional love which is not right nor good for you. You deserve that unconditional love that no matter what you are loved. Just know that sometimes are parents may not accept everything about us but they will still be our parents. Hold fast we are here.
Thank you all for your encouragement and kind words.
I’m really grateful for all the advice I’ve gotten here on heart support in general.
After a lot of thinking, I believe I will wait until I receive my diagnosis in August before I share with my family. In the meantime, I have you all and a few friends who know that I know will support me.
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