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Nephew may be autistic, how do I approach my aunt??

By Anonymous September 23, 2011 - 8:33pm
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My nephew is almost 3 and has exhibited signs of autism since he was an infant,I fear that his mother knows but is either in denial or avoiding it. I feel he would benefit from a "special" school or lessons. How can I ask/tell her about this without hurting her??

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HERWriter Guide

Hi Anon

Thanks for your question and for looking out for your nephew!

You are in a very difficult position, aren't you? You don't want to make your aunt feel like she's a bad mother by not acknowledging signs but you don't have any "proof" (so to speak) that he even has autism.

You can say nothing and hope the little boy's doctor sees something. However, parents are the people who see signs first and bring it up to the doctor - if she's in denial, this isn't good.

A child with Autism doesn't necessarily need "special school" in the way that you mentioned - but they all need early intervention in terms of therapies and for their teachers to know the situation so that they can make provisions for this. A lot of autistic children do fine in regular class but many do need after school therapies or even a teacher's assistant during school hours. Early intervention is key and at three years old, he is ready for that, if he does in fact have Autism.

Testing for Austism is carefully done. There are a series of tests conducted but it's up to his parents to initiate this. Is the father around? Could you talk to him?

I agree with you that his mother may know something is wrong and be in denial and this is the opposite of what the child needs. Facing up to things is the first step in helping this little boy.

If you bring it up, be prepared for her to get angry and defensive. You can gently say that you've noticed a few things that may indicate a visit to his doctor may be a good idea. If she asks what, be careful what you say. Don't say "he won't" or "he doesn't" or "you didn't" as she may think you are accusing him (or you) of something wrong. Ask her if he is reaching his milestones. Tell her you know that the statistics of boys (especially) dealing with Autism are high and if she has ever worried about that. Be more general in what you say. At least it's a start.

For more on Autism, click here:

Let me know what you think and good luck!

September 24, 2011 - 9:30am
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