Meet Our Newest Contributor: Ethan Hirschberg

I have been asked a number of times how I learned that I had Autism. I remember some things and I got the help of my mom to remember other things. So, here I go… Ever since I was a toddler I knew that I was different. When I was three or four years old I asked why people called me “weird” and why I was different from everybody else. When I was eight years old my mom tried to read me a book about a boy who had high-functioning Autism. During the first chapter I got very uncomfortable and didn’t want to be read to anymore. My mom then realized that the description of the book was so much like me that I became upset about it and that I wasn’t quite ready to learn about my diagnosis.

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When I was ten years old my mom told me. It started out as a normal conversation with me talking about how I was different than other kids. Spontaneously my mom knew it was time to tell me. We sat on the couch and together we made two columns, listing her strengths and weaknesses first and then my strengths and weaknesses. My mom said that some kids have many of the same strengths and weaknesses that I do and kids who have this have something called Autism. She explained what Autism was and gave examples of famous and successful people with Autism so that I could feel okay with it. She said that I can use my strengths to help me and I would have to work harder at things I’m not as good at.

My mom then made a continuum line that showed the low, medium, and high levels of functioning and some characteristics of each level and then she explained where I was on this line. She then proceeded to ask if I had any questions. I asked two. The first was if there were any people that I knew who also had Autism. The second was if other people knew that I had Autism. After answering these questions my mom then explained that this was why I got extra help at school through my IEP, went to social skills groups, and attended speech and occupational therapy. Afterwards I felt happy and relieved knowing that I now knew why I was different, and that I could attach a name to my feelings to better understand myself.

I am aware of the controversy among some parents about whether or not to tell their kids about their diagnosis. I am in full support of parents telling their kids but also realize it is an important and difficult decision. When my mom told me it was beyond helpful. These kids already know that they are different and a conversation like this will help them understand themselves. By prolonging this important talk you may be hurting your child. As a parent, you need to determine when the time is right. For me, my parents tried when I was eight, realized that I wasn’t ready, and then tried at ten. As the maturity level of kids differs greatly, it’s up to the parent(s) to find the right time.

To all of the parents out there that have young children with Autism, I have a challenge: determine the right time to talk to your child. It doesn’t have to be now. It can be in a few weeks, months, or years. If you try it and your child isn’t ready, then wait. It’s only a matter of time!


Ethan Hirschberg was born July of 2001, in San Diego, California. Ethan enjoys business, hanging out with friends and family, martial arts, blogging, actively participating in Jewish activities, helping people, and having fun! Through Ethan’s experiences as a teen with high functioning Autism, he provides advice, shares thoughts, and tells his experiences. Ethan truly believes that intellectual knowledge (of actually having Autism) greatly benefits all readers.

Enjoy reading the book, and feel free to contact Ethan at any point through his website, www.thejourneythroughautism.com or email, thejourneythroughautism@gmail.com.

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