Telling Your Child About Their Autism

Advice for telling your child they have autism

As the autism community continues to grow, many more parents and caregivers are faced with the intimidating challenge of talking to their kids about their autism diagnosis. You’re not alone in questioning the best way to go about it or whether or not to tell your child at all.

Of course, the decision is yours to make. Psychologists suggest parents start the conversation early so you can introduce autism in a positive light and make it ok for your child to talk about at any time. If you keep it a secret, children can make up all kinds of negative reasons for why they aren’t like other children, leading to anxiety and depression.

Keeping it a secret can also lead to harmful labels and negative first impressions when other children and adults don’t know about your child’s autism. Talking about it works to demystify autism and opens the door to understanding and acceptance.


Start the conversation early

You might be surprised to learn you can start talking to your child about their autism diagnosis when they’re only four years old or when they develop the verbal understanding of a neurotypical child of that age.

For children who aren’t yet communicating much, you can still start to talk to them about autism using examples they might see on TV, the internet, or in books. Along with Julia on Sesame Street, PBS in 2024 will debut its first show with a lead character that has autism.

The idea is to start talking about autism. Make it commonplace, just one more thing that makes people different and special in their own right. As your child’s understanding develops, you’ll have made it so they’re comfortable talking about it when they encounter new situations in their life.

Even if your child can’t fully understand what it means to have autism, you should still make talking about it a part of their everyday life.


Make sure you’re emotionally ready

Parents and caregivers can experience a variety of emotions when their child receives an autism diagnosis. Before introducing it to your child, make sure you’ve come to terms with it and can talk about it in a positive or neutral way without emotions.

It’s ok and best to wait until you’ve made peace with the situation. However, if your child is already asking questions about their differences compared to other kids, don’t wait too long.


Talk in terms kids can understand

Autism is difficult to understand for anyone who’s not a health professional with experience in the field. Symptoms and severity can vary widely from child to child. To simplify it, just say to your child that the combination of strengths and difficulties they have is called autism.

Let them know every child with autism is different, but they share some things in common, including how they interact with other people, make friends, and are interested in different things. People with autism may also see, feel, hear, and taste things in a different way than other people. They might be sensitive to loud noises, new tastes, bright lights, and how things feel.


Acknowledge the difficulties they have

Let your child know it’s ok if certain things are harder for them to do or if they do things differently than other people. Remind them that they can learn and figure out what works for them to make life easier and more enjoyable for themselves. 

It’s also good to make sure your child knows their opinions and thoughts matter to you, because they know best what does and doesn’t work for them.


Highlight examples of their strengths  

Make a point to highlight the things they’re good at and come easy to them, especially those things that are harder for other people to do. Maybe it’s a creative skill or unique traits like the ability to notice details that others miss.

Provide them with role models to show how other kids and adults with autism have used their unique strengths and talents to help others and become successful.


Encourage your child to ask questions

You can learn a lot from the questions your child asks, because questions let you know what they do and don’t know. If you don’t know the answer to a question, let them know you’ll find the answer. You can be an example that learning never stops for anyone!


Learn how ABA therapy can help

ABA therapy is the gold standard treatment for autism. It can benefit children as young as two years old and make a lasting impact on key areas of a child’s development, including communication, language, self-help, socialization, academics, and fine and gross motor skills.

To speed up your search for a qualified ABA therapy provider, go to BHCOE (Behavioral Health Center of Excellence®) is the only accrediting body for center-based providers.

If you call DFW or the Boulder (CO) area home, The Behavior Exchange would love the chance to make a difference in your child’s life and in the life of your whole family. Our commitment to helping families the past two decades has earned us the highest accreditation possible as a Behavioral Health Center of Excellence.


Call 972.312.8733 or email to talk with our autism and ABA therapy experts. We can help, including being your insurance advocate.





Ashvina attended University of Bombay and graduated with a Bachelors of Commerce. She got her Montessori Diploma in 1985 and taught ever since. Ashvina came to TBE in January of 2016 as Admin Assistant. During the years she got the opportunity to learn and work in different departments such as HR, Finance, Office Manager and Executive Assistant. Last summer TBE bought billing in house and her current focus area is Revenue Cycle Management. She is detail oriented and enjoys working with people. Ashvina volunteers to deliver meals to seniors and local shelters on the weekend. She loves to spend time with her family and grandkids. Ashvina loves her job because she enjoys hearing different points of view, and she feels her contributions help fuel the direction of our company.

Working with children comes naturally to Angela. Her mom was a special education teacher for 30 years and often had Angela join her for Take Your Child to Work Day. And in high school, Angela spent every summer as the nanny for a little boy with an autism spectrum disorder. It was this experience where her passion for working with children with autism started to blossom.

From there, she went on to graduate from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences. She learned about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in a non-normative development class and from that moment knew that ABA would be her life’s work.

Angela moved to the DFW area shortly after and began working at The Behavior Exchange as a therapist. She worked on her Master’s in Behavior Analysis at the same time. A year after graduating, she earned certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Now, as a Clinical Director at The Behavior Exchange, she brings a life-long passion to her work, holding a special place in her heart for children with limited language skills and working closely with families to develop healthy sleep habits.

Danielle’s passion for working with families is deeply personal and from the heart. Her younger brother has an autism spectrum disorder, and through their journey as a family, she found her purpose in life as an advocate for individuals with special needs.

After graduating from the University of North Texas with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, Danielle began volunteering at The Behavior Exchange. She saw passionate therapists, meaningful change for clients, and families with hope for the future. After a summer of volunteering, she officially joined the team as Director of Admissions and found her home with The Behavior Exchange family.

With her extensive experience working as a client advocate with insurance providers, Danielle perseveres to help individuals of all ages and abilities receive the services they need to reach their full potential. She feels truly honored by each and every family who entrusts The Behavior Exchange to be part of their journey and is committed to the organization’s core values, mission, and goal of being a beacon of hope for the community.

Adam has always had a passion for helping individuals of all ages thrive and reach their full potential. He’s also an enthusiastic musician, songwriter, leader, and devoted family man, who has been helping children and team members grow with The Behavior Exchange since 2010.

Prior to joining the team at The Behavior Exchange, Adam was a mortgage loan consultant and grad student, pursuing his master’s degree in Education at the University of North Texas. He graduated in 2013 and also earned a graduate academic certificate in Autism Intervention. The following year, after years as a Behavior Therapist and seeing first-hand the power of ABA and the meaningful impact it can have on children and their families, Adam became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. He then commenced from the Stagen Leadership Academy after completing the Integral Leadership Program (ILP), a 52-week practice-based program designed to develop executives serious about transforming themselves, their teams, and their organizations.

Adam is truly grateful to be a part of a dynamic, inspiring and compassionate team, and he’s dedicated to bettering the lives of all children and their families through the delivery of the highest quality of ABA services, while supporting the amazing team at The Behavior Exchange.

Soraya is from South Africa and moved to Texas in 1996. She graduated from The University of Texas and pursued a career, at that time, in Education. Soraya taught at a Montessori school for a few years and then took on a leadership role.

During her time in the education system, Soraya realized her passion was to assist children with special needs. So she joined The Behavior Exchange as a therapist, transitioned into a supervisory role in 2017, and a year and a half later, was promoted to Clinical Operations Manager.

She quickly learned the ins and outs of ABA operations and scheduling and successfully collaborates across departments to ensure The Behavior Exchange continues to provide quality services to clients and their families. She’s thankful to be part of such an amazing organization and excited to see what the future holds.

You could say Walter’s career started when he spent hours as a young child drawing superheroes and coloring maps. This passion, along with extraordinary swimming skills, landed him a full swimming scholarship at Texas Christian University, where he graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Graphics.

During the next 13 years, his design and art direction skills, conceptual-thinking abilities, and marketing-savvy know-how were honed at a few prestigious advertising and marketing agencies around the Dallas area. In the mid 2000s, he helped his wife Tammy Cline-Soza (founder and CEO of The Behavior Exchange) create a unique and concise brand for her new business. From logos and websites to uniforms, brand voice and visuals, Walter has been the main creative force for all things The Behavior Exchange.

Aside from giving birth to The Behavior Exchange brand, Walter is helping Tammy raise two amazing, beautiful children, River and Sierra. In his spare time (the two minutes he’s got per week), you can find Walter illustrating iconic landmarks of Dallas and Texas or looking around for this next open-water swim. Once he gets back in shape.

After 20 years of building The Behavior Exchange, literally from the ground up,
Tammy couldn’t be more proud of the team, culture, and organization that it has become.

As a family helping families, The Behavior Exchanges looks for opportunities that will make the biggest impact and produce life-changing outcomes – for clients, families, and even for team members. Tammy believes that if a team, a family, a community takes care of each other, the possibilities are endless and the relationships built along the way can make life more enriching and challenges easier to navigate. You could say her goal has been to build a kind of utopia full of support, love, and expertise that brings the best services possible to the community and ensures more families have access to those services.

Tammy and her family have dedicated their lives to the mission of The Behavior Exchange and continue to grow, learn, cultivate, challenge, support, and create better models for success. To that end, she is committed to her own leadership development and actively participates in advanced training, mentoring, and deep self-exploration on how to live out her purpose to love and support her family and help others reach their full potential. She takes her position very seriously and tries to serve as a channel for what the universe wants to come to fruition.

She also loves travel, gardening, being creative, MUSIC!, tennis, yoga, meditation, journaling, reading, being in nature, adventures, and more than anything, spending time with her husband Walter and their two beautiful children, River and Sierra.