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Parents decide to hide 14 yo daughter's autism diagnosis from her. AITA? UPDATED

Parents decide to hide 14 yo daughter's autism diagnosis from her. AITA? UPDATED

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When these parents don't want their teenager to know the truth about her autism, her father asks Reddit:

"14 Yr Old Girl Finds Out She Was Diagnosed Autistic And Her Parents Hid It From Her. AITA?"

So pretty much, most of her life, our daughter (14F) had various issues. She had a speech delay, didn't make eye contact, was extremely hyperactive, had trouble making friends, fidgeted a lot, was extremely strict with rules, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

My wife and I suspected that she may be autistic and we took her to a psychologist when she was 4. The psychologist diagnosed her with hyperactivity disorder (although, we don't know if it coexists with her autism or if it was a misdiagnosis).

From 8-11, we gave our daughter as much early intervention as possible. She'd seen behavioral and speech (she was able to speak, but had a speech impediment) therapists.

I've given her various books about how to make and keep friends (at that point, she was a bookworm).

We got her placed in a social class to help her build social skills. It wasn't until the end of her 4th-grade year that she actually got diagnosed with autism. Her psychologist was excited to tell her, but my wife was against it.

She wanted to wait until we felt our daughter was old enough to understand. We are aware of the stigma neurodivergent people experience and she didn't want our daughter to go through that. I agreed to hid it from her until she reached adulthood.

This next part is relevant. When our daughter got into grade 6, she was bullied due to her autistic traits. She was gaslit, taken advantage of, had many false friends who backstabbed her. We did what we thought was best.

It made our daughter insecure about her poor social skills and that was when she started to mask. It left her with such immense trauma that she still has triggers and is in therapy.

Today, she came to us and asked "What is autism?". We told her it is a different way of thinking. She was confused since she didn't know we meant it in a sense that "autistic people have a different brain chemistry from neurotypicals".

After we elaborated, she told us the reason why she asked: she found out that she is autistic. She apparently found some of her old medical records lying around and read them out of curiosity.

She was upset and asked us how could we hide this from her. We explained that we wanted to tell her when she was older since we didn't want her to get hurt by other people.

She angrily yelled that she did get hurt anyways. She said that "All this time, [she] thought that there was something wrong with [her], but if it weren't for [us], [she] wouldn't have taken the bullying to heart and [she] would've felt differently, but instead, [we] made [her] pain worse".

Now she's in her room crying and refuses to speak to either of us. We are starting to wonder if we should've told her about autism when we knew.

Before we give you OP's update, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

lavendarcomrade writes:

I’m autistic, and realised I was around the same age. The difference was my parents didn’t know, got me diagnosed, and had actually been inadvertently buying me objects commonly used in the autistic community such as stim toys, noise canceling headphones, and weighted blankets just because I asked, which is something I find quite numerous now!

Once I knew I was autistic, everything made sense. If OOP’s daughter had known, at least in some areas she could have gotten help/accommodations which would have supported her in school, plus would have felt validated that she wasn’t broken, and not potentially gaslight herself into enduring sensory overload due to thinking everyone dealt with it.

(I know it wasn’t mentioned, but that’s something I’ve had to deal with before I knew and felt validated enough to leave parties early, and ask friends to be quieter). OOP really messed up here.

bekatiebe writes:

I feel for the daughter. My parents literally did the exact same thing to me.

I was diagnosed at 7, and they were either ashamed or embarrassed so they hid the dx and didn’t tell me. I guarantee that’s why the parents hid it. Not because they didn’t want their kid to feel the odd one out, but because they saw it as an embarrassment to themselves.

I ended up severely depressed, suicidal, and struggled through high school. Eventually dropped out of college, too. I started masking really heavily early highschool.

Not only did I never get any kind of accommodation, my parents would often punish or shame me for stuff I did or struggled with because I am autistic.

When I was 19 I decided to get myself tested, and that is when they cracked and told me.

Now I’m almost 26 and am still learning to unmask. Their decision left me traumatized, and lacking a lot of the skills I needed to at least be a somewhat functional adult.

I’ve gotten SA’d, stuck in abusive relationships, and generally just taken advantage of and abused by people because I never had the resources or understanding to not get into those situations.

I don’t think I started to stabilize (and it’s tenuous at best) until this last year. Ive found a therapist and a psychiatrist I vibe with, a job that accommodates me, and some Wellbutrin to help the MDD/ADHD lol.

They’ll be lucky if she ever trusts them again. I know sure sure I damn won’t.

canidrose writes:

Yeah, don’t fg do this. If your child is autistic to the point of it affecting their day-to-day lives, the diagnosis isn’t going to be what hurts them.

I understand fearing stigma, but this is like questioning your child when they come out of the closet because you’re scared for their future. It comes from a place of caring, but it still does often irreparable damage to your relationship and their self-esteem. The motive doesn’t change the damage done.

And this isn’t a case of mild ASD, this is consistent and seeps into most aspects of the child’s life. It sounds like she was getting at least some of the support she needs, but even that’s not great, because she was never told why she needed that extra support.

No wonder she thought something was wrong with her; she was struggling and had no idea why, or that it wasn’t her fault.

God… I mean on a surface level I can understand the reasoning. But holy shit, could they have gone about this in a worse way without dipping into literal abuse? I don’t know honestly. They may never have their daughter’s full trust again.

treefasce writes:

What an absolute pair of dumbasses. What the f is the point of a diagnose if the person having it isn´t aware of it? Did they just plan on her going through her teenage years not knowing she had autism. I don´t usually get this triggered by a post, but the absolute stupidity of these people.

A diagnose is a fucking tool. Having one can help you identify your issues and find ways and resources to deal with them. Also, 14 is more then old enough to understand autism.

Seeing that I have met fg 6 years old who are able to understand it. I can sorta see the point if she was a small child (Still not agree with it, but see their point), but at 14 she needs to fg know, or it will just gnaw away at her while she tries to figure out why she is different.

Withholding her diagnosis is like sending a knight into battle unarmed and unarmored. Sure they can survive, and perhaps even succeed with luck, but it would be so much better to just arm and armor them from the beginning.

Absolute idiots. At least the morons had the decency to take the AITA to heart and work on it. Makes me absolutely livid knowing that there are people who wouldn´t do that.

And now, OP's major update:

Her mother and I were completely in the wrong. We should never have tried to hide an integral part of our daughter's identity. We thought we were protecting her, but we only made it worse. I didn't know that it wasn't right at the time, but now I do.

We come from a country where mental stuff isn't talked about. If anything, the person gets stigmatized for it, so we did our best to support our daughter with what we knew at the time. This isn't to excuse our actions, but rather to explain them.

A few hours after posting my original post, her mother and I had a long talk about this, reflecting on what we did wrong, and what we should do moving forward. I gave her space for a day or two before knocking on her door and asking her if she wanted to talk with me about it.

I apologized for what we did, telling her that we love her no matter what, and promised that we would be better parents moving forward.

She says that she understands that we were just trying to do what we thought was the best for her, but she felt hurt that we kept these things from her, especially given what happened to her and having to find out from medical records of all things. She says that she isn't sure if she could trust us again for a while.

Our daughter is still angry with us, although we understand why. She's at least on speaking terms with us again. We're doing our best to help our daughter through her journey of self-discovery at the moment.

We got her another therapist to help her understand more about herself as well as accept the past bullying. Her mother and I are also doing research about how autism works and we are looking to get her an IEP at her school to give her access to accommodations.

In addition to this, we took some of your advice and her mother and I have been seeking therapy to better understand our autistic daughter as well as family therapy.

Thank you all for your judgement. Thanks to those who gave tips on how to support our daughter moving forward. I feel ashamed that I didn't realize sooner that I'd harmed our daughter.

She seems happier now that she understands why she is the way she is. We fiercely love our girl and are lucky to have her.

greatgame writes:

I too empathize with the teen girl here. My parents suspected and may or may not have diagnosed me as a baby but they didn't tell me until I was working on an adult diagnosis at 24 after self-diagnosing.

Things took 3x longer than my classmates and I never had any friends long term and I was massively lonely. I just thought there was something wrong with me in ways that I didn't have words for.

I also went to all these occupational therapies where I wasn't told why I needed this. I had an IEP but the school took me off it for their own shitty reasons and my mom didn't fight them even though it would have helped a lot to have it, but naturally I didn't get a say in my own life.

I asked my mom why she hadn't gotten me officially diagnosed and she said it was because of insurance- when i was born autism was a pre-existing condition and would have meant i could have been denied health insurance-

but then they could have done it and not put it into my chart or just explained things in child-appropriate language. Also at least my mom will say things just because they make her feel better.

And if they had been hoping that if they didn't get a diagnosis so I could blend in they didn't consider that my behavior was noticeably different and that I wouldn't have been able to blend in anyhow.

What do YOU make of OP's story? Did they do the right thing? What do YOU think?

Sources: Reddit
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