Oct. 16, 2015

Quick Chat: Sharing an ASD Diagnosis with Your Child

Werklund Prof discusses his research into how and when to share information with children
Adam McCrimmon

Adam McCrimmon discusses his research project into when and how to tell a child he or she has ASD.

As adults, when we have an ailment and we visit a doctor to find out what’s wrong, we expect to be given a diagnosis.

This is true whether the symptoms point towards a physical or psychological problem.

But what about telling a child they have a disorder?

On the one hand, knowing that something is actually wrong can go a long way to helping a child understand why they feel the way they do.  On the other, many children may not be capable of accepting a diagnosis.

So, should parents share the information of a diagnosis with their young child, and if so, how can a parent know when the time is right?

For Adam McCrimmon, this is a topic that comes up frequently.  As an associate professor in the Werklund School of Education, he specializes in the area of Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD.   McCrimmon, who is a member of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute’s Owerko Centre for Neurodevelopment and Child Mental Health, part of the Brain and Mental Health research theme at the University of Calgary, says one of the big challenges parents face is knowing when and how to share the information of a diagnosis of ASD with their child.