I was watching the show Parenthood recently and in this particular episode, the parents of a boy with Asperger's syndrome are put on the spot by their son to explain what Asperger's syndrome is, as well as why and how he got it. The parents are completely unprepared for this dreaded talk and they say all the wrong things. They decide to turn to a specialist for advice, and he hands them a script to study.

This forced me to think about my own daughter and how we will explain cystic fibrosis to her someday. At some point, she is going to wonder why she wears The Vest and takes pills when no one else around her does. I need to be ready, but should there be a script? Every child is different, but having a plan of what you will say and how you will say it can help you keep your emotions in check and avoid saying the wrong thing to your vulnerable child.

Don't Get Emotional

It is important to keep your emotions in check. That means no crying. Crying will make your child feel that his condition or disability is something that needs to be mourned. It will make him feel as though he did something wrong or there is something wrong with him. Crying may also make him think he has disappointed or hurt you in some way. Stay strong and hold back any tears until you are alone.

Avoid Certain Words

Don't use language that includes the words 'disability', 'wrong', 'problem', or any other words that make it seem like your child isn't good enough or as smart or able as his peers or siblings. Labels are tough for all of us, but especially for kids, who are very concerned about fitting in with their friends and classmates.

Be Positive

Your child may have a special need, but that special need doesn't have to predict his future. Challenges can be overcome, and understanding himself and his weaknesses is half the battle. Remember that your child's unique differences can help him become a stronger, more determined, and more successful adult. Talk to him about how everyone has differences, and that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Find a role model who has the same or a similar disability for him to admire.

Be Honest

Be as truthful with your child as possible for his age and maturity level. Try to keep your answers simple and brief. If your child is coming to you with questions, it is because he has noticed that he is different in some way from the other children and he is ready to know why that is. Let him ask questions, and answer them as honestly as you can. If you don't have the answers, schedule an appointment with a specialist who can help your child to understand himself and his differences better.

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