Conversations About Autism and LGBT Issues Don’t Have to be Difficult
Not everyone is well versed in explaining complex conversations to their children. Sometimes prep work is needed or time to let them explore the topic at hand so they can have some questions in mind. There are a few things to keep in mind when discussing autism and LGBT issues with your child. First, it’s important to be respectful and open-minded. Remember that your child is coming to you with questions or concerns, and they deserve to be treated with respect. Second, be prepared to provide accurate information. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding both autism and the LGBT community, so it’s important to make sure that you’re providing your child with accurate information. Finally, be supportive. Your child may be feeling scared or confused, and they need to know that you’re there for them. If you can keep these things in mind, you’ll be well on your way to having a productive conversation with your child about autism and LGBT issues. More things to consider:
- Start early – introduce your child to different families and lifestyles at an early age
One of the earliest sources of long-lasting prejudice is not having it explicitly stated that just because someone looks or acts differently than you, doesn’t mean that they are to be treated differently. This doesn’t mean that they need to attend every non-traditional group outing or special event. Taking them to public spaces that attract different groups is easy enough and an opportunity to teach lessons in politeness in not staring and that there is a respectful way to ask questions of or about others.
- Use age-appropriate language when discussing Autism and LGBT issues
Depending on your child’s age, they will have a different vocabulary available to discuss relevant topics. Sometimes this means that broad strokes are easier to grasp for younger children. But be sure not to talk down to them as they are still very perceptive and are much more likely to give you their respect and attention if you speak to them equally as an authority figure.
- Respect your child’s feelings and opinions, even if you don’t agree with them
Children are especially vulnerable to outside opinions that influence their worldviews. The younger they are, the more influence their parents have but as they grow older, friends, teachers, media, and more can make just as large of an impact. Being patient and explaining nuances to certain topics can go a long way in increasing their understanding. At the very least, showing them and their opinions respect means they are much more likely to do the same for yours.
- Let your child know that you’re always available to talk about any issue they may have
Approachability towards your child is important for many reasons. When you discuss certain topics, they may not be able to verbalize their thoughts and concerns until they think over what you have mentioned beforehand. Processing time is necessary when exposed to new things to allow children to assimilate new information into their current worldview.
- Encourage open communication within the family unit
Just as you want them to understand that you are giving them respect to discuss serious issues, you should also encourage their siblings to do the same. Many children get caught up in competing for attention and favoritism which can be harmless sometimes. When one of them starts to demean the other or use it as leverage in relationships is when it is cause for concern. Speaking towards the family as everyone being equal is important to know that everyone’s opinion has value regardless of age, ability, or intelligence.
- Seek professional help if you feel like you’re struggling to discuss these topics with your child
There are many people that struggle to find the right words to express their own feelings. It is a sign of strength and humility to know when to ask for help. There are many local, non-profit organizations that can either give you advice, some literature, or set up an appointment with someone trained in such topics. Turning this into a learning opportunity for both you and your child will undoubtedly bring you closer together.