Family Response to Autism Diagnosis

Eventually I spoke to my mum about it. Well…I never really discussed it, I simply said that I received the diagnosis. I wanted to explain what it was and how it affected me but her response halted me. It was subtle, but I noticed it. She seemed annoyed.

I asked it if she was okay. It transpired that her annoyance was purely that I hadn’t told her when I went for the assessment. I should have told her. I have children of my own so I can imagine how she might feel. Nonetheless, she then just changed the subject and asked how my job hunting was going. 

That was six months ago and not once have either of them mentioned it again or asked me about it. It is like it never happened. I don’t even know if she told my dad about it later.

I don’t understand what that means. They’re not entirely sure what autism is yet have made no attempt to even find out or ask me questions. My dad’s reference would be Rain Man, yet even that hasn’t compelled him to speak to me. I am fortunate enough to have my wife to confide in, but regardless, I feel somewhat confused and perhaps hurt that they have seemingly all but forgotten about it.


If they are not showing any concern or interest in how it might have and does affect me, then there is nothing I can expect from them. They are fully aware of my long history of mental health problems, my years of therapy, my overdose and hospitalisation. Come to think of it, they said very little about that either.

I was quite focused when I started this post, but writing about it has bothered my mind and frustrated me, and I actually feel quite angry.

Apologies, my mind has jammed up. I guess I am still conflicted about this. The truth is, some people will support you and be there for you in any situation, but there are others who will tell you that they will be there, when what they really mean is that they will help you or support you if they have the time and if it is not too much of an inconvenience.

I was diagnosed a little over a year ago, and when it came to telling my family I was apprehensive. I left it a few months before telling my mum. I’m not quite sure why I felt the need to wait, but I did. I suppose I was nervous and I wondered if they might be upset that they hadn’t picked up on it when I was a child.

I wanted to reassure them it wasn’t widely known back then so they wouldn’t have necessarily been aware of what autism was…

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7 Responses

  1. I understand completely how you feel. People I previously thought to be open-minded and unbiased have deeply disappointed me. As for family – they have treated me like a leper for years. Now I’ve discovered my Asperger’s (at 51), I know there’s no point in even telling them. They will do all they can to deny it, as they won’t want to accept that their treatment of me has been (in hindsight) extremely cruel. I did tell my mother, but she just remarked that it made sense – and that I could now go and ‘look up’ the bits of social intuition that I’m lacking…

    1. Yes. I feel that it won’t really be worth the effort to speak to them any further on the matter. I’m sorry you have had that experience too. It’s particularly frustrating when it’s your own family that are behaving in such a way.

  2. Perhaps they are feeling that you are blaming them for your autism. I was adopted and so there was no reference to autism in the family to look back to. I was diagnosed at 57 years of age 10 years after a university friend had suggested I had Aspergers and I might find some answers to life’s puzzles by reading “Martian in the Playground”. I went to a local GP who said I wouldn’t be at uni if I did have Aspergers. My parents have died so I can’t ask them but I am sure from memories of my childhood and youth that they and their friends knew I was different. How different I’ll never know now. Your parents may be thinking of a relative they know of that there may be some stigma about them and don’t want that for you or them.

  3. Our son has been really lucky in terms of the family. When they found out about his Aspergers they have been great. But quite a lot of parents when they found out either shunned him or treated him as if he was a toddler. Sadly some teachers have also reacted like this. It’s really sad and so frustrating. I really hope it works out for you.

    1. My son is waiting to be assessed, so with my diagnosis we already have some things in place that can support him. That’s such a shame that people treated your son that way. He didn’t suddenly change following a diagnosis so why the hell should they suddenly shun him. I hope he is doing well.

      1. I get sick of needing to change an ‘Asper’ or designated ‘Auty’ to confirm to being ‘a normal’. They can be be happy in themselves as much, or more than average ‘norms’.Vive le difference.

  4. Recently, I experienced something quite similar. I was diagnosed with ASD just two months ago (I’m 34 M), and I decided to share the news with my mom. To help her understand what autism truly is, I prepared a PowerPoint presentation, ensuring I covered all the important details. Initially, she appeared to be receptive to the information, and I concluded the conversation, hoping she would take the initiative to research and learn more about the topic. Unfortunately, this never occurred. It seems as though she completely erased the matter from her mind, never mentioning it again. Despite my numerous attempts to discuss it, she remained silent on the subject. The other day, I was struggling with some sensory issues, and she asked, “Why do you have this problem?” I couldn’t help but think, “Are you seriously asking me this question!?” Especially considering we had spent an entire hour discussing sensory sensitivities, eye contact, stimming, and special interests.

    I’m really confused, you know? I can’t tell if she’s upset, doesn’t believe it, or just doesn’t care. It’s tough to figure out. Ping me when you find the solution.

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