How to Tell Your Parents You Think You're Autistic

Two Methods:Doing Your ResearchTalking to Your Parents

If you are old enough to have an awareness of a complex neurological disability such as autism, you are old enough to tell your parents about anything. It may be hard, but it's worth it in the end. These steps will help guide you.

Method 1
Doing Your Research

Autism is a multifaceted disability, and it takes a lot of research in order to understand.

  1. Image titled Autistic Man and Woman Happy Stimming.png
    Learn about autism. Autism is a very complex and misunderstood disability, so you need to do a lot of research before you can determine whether you may be on the spectrum. Read lists of symptoms and essays by autistic people. Autistic people are the best source, because they have firsthand experience with how their brains work, and some stereotypes are wildly inaccurate.
    • Unusual social behavior (such as accidentally saying rude things or laughing when inappropriate).
    • May not want cuddling.
    • Uneven physical or verbal skills. For example, poor handwriting or bad coordination.
    • Avoidance of eye contact,[1] staring, or unusual eye contact
    • May prefer to be alone.
    • Intense focus and large memory, especially when studying favorite things; may remember childhood well
    • Difficulty with forming or understanding spoken words. May struggle with forming coherent sentences, and prefer written words, sign language, typing, or other forms of communication.
    • Passion about a few unusual subjects of interest.
    • Preference of routines and sameness.
    • Remarkable honesty and loyalty.
    • Idiosyncratic speech: echoing words or phrases,[2] flat or singsong tone of voice, unusual pitch, and/or artistic and abstract language.
    • Exaggerated response or little response to sound, light, smell, taste, etc.
    • Interest in how things work.
    • Stimming behaviors (e.g. hand flapping, rocking, tapping pencils, hugging oneself, clapping hands, jumping, spinning[3])
    • Strong sense of justice and morality.
    • Difficulty reading faces and interacting with others.
    • Unintentional rudeness.
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    Do a lot of research. Reading one article on autism isn't enough to get a good sense. Read the diagnostic criteria, delve into the Autistic community online, and read how autistics describe autism. Reflect as you read. Does it fit you?
    • Research related and comorbid conditions. Is it possible that you have any of these in addition to autism, or instead of autism?
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    Reflect upon what you've read. Think back on your childhood, your quirks, your needs, and the accommodations that you and others make for you. When you consider autism, do things start to make more sense? Or is it a poor fit?

Method 2
Talking to Your Parents

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    Choose a calm, quiet time to talk. You'll want a time when no one is especially stressed or distracted. Try a time like doing simple chores together, a long car ride, or cleaning up after dinner.
    • If your parents are moving quickly, being louder than usual, or being short with you, that means they are probably stressed and not ready to listen.
    • Avoid times of extra stress, like when someone is sick, a big family transition (e.g. right before a vacation), or holidays with relatives over. Your parents may not be as focused, and have a hard time listening well.
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    Use "process talk" to explain that you have something important to say. You can say something like "I have something big to tell you, and I'm wondering if now is a good time."
  3. Image titled Young Woman Discusses wikiHow Autism Articles.png
    Explain that you think you're autistic, and give some examples of why. Mention all the research you've done, and what aspects of autism seem to fit you.
    • For example, "I think I'm autistic. I've been researching it for the past three weeks, and a lot of the qualities describe me—meltdowns, sensitivity to sound, difficulty understanding others' thoughts and feelings, and fidgeting, for example. I've put a lot of thought into this and it's helped me understand myself better."
    • Describe the symptoms that are most noticeable in you, especially that others can notice. For example, you bouncing your legs and spinning may be easier for others to see than your face blindness. Bring up the most obvious ones first.
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    Be prepared to correct common misconceptions. Many people don't know much about autism, and rely on stereotypes that don't match autistic people in general, including you.
    • Autistic people do care about others, often quite deeply. However, not all of them know how to show this in ways that others understand.
    • Autism is not a childhood disability. It is lifelong. There is no "cure."
    • Autism is not limited to white boys. People of all ethnicities, ages, and genders can be autistic.
    • Autism is not an epidemic. It isn't contagious, the word "epidemic" is misleading, and autistic people have many unique gifts to offer the world.
    • Each autistic person is different. Some need a lot of support, while others go for decades without knowing why they're different. The degree to which they have different symptoms may vary.
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    Give your parents time to process this. This is big news, and your parents may need time to absorb it. They may also not understand what autism is very well. Do your best to be patient with them if they react badly. It's not personal; they're just confused.
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    Ask to see a doctor or specialist. Your general practitioner or insurance company may be able to refer you to an autism expert, who can officially evaluate you for autism.
    • If your parents are skeptical, you can explain that seeing a specialist would clear things up.
    • The diagnosis process is not perfect, and can rely on your ability to produce anecdotes about certain traits you do or don't have. Being prepared for your appointment can help you get a more accurate diagnosis.


  • If your parents are the skeptical sort, print out some articles or quiz results to offer to them.
  • If one parent is much more understanding than the other, talk to the understanding parent first. Then the two of you can tell the other parent.
  • Find websites like Real Social Skills and Captain Awkward to teach you about human interaction.
  • The autistic community is welcoming and super cool. Join tumblr or another social networking site and make new friends. Self-diagnosed people are always welcome!
  • Don't worry! Being autistic is rough sometimes, but you're a strong person, and you have a wonderful life ahead of you.


  • Look out for anti-autism groups as you research. Some organizations label themselves charities while spreading destructive rhetoric. This is not a reflection of you, and you have every right to ignore them.

Article Info

Categories: Telling Parents Important Things | Autism Spectrum