Intro & panic about teenage years

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by keepongoing, Aug 9, 2010.

  1. keepongoing

    keepongoing Guest

    I have been reading posts here for a while and it's time to start posting.
    Short intro: I have a 10 year old difficult child with an autism spectrum diagnosis. He is very active, loud, exuberant, with a great vocabulary and no stranger anxiety. He is high functioniong enough that people and other kids do not think 'disability' but they know after a minute or two that 'something is wrong with that kid'. He has no friends and my latest attempt to have him in a regular group (facilitator knew diagnosis) ended with me having to pick him up after one hour because he bit a kid. When I talked to him about the biting he looked shocked and asked me why I had not told him that others might think it's not okay. Sigh. Obviously we had conversations like this many many times. Little transfer of skills. He has had Occupational Therapist (OT), cognitive therapy, Special Education, social skills groups, medications, natural supplements, music therapy, horseback name it.
    So here is my panic: He is 10, in a 14 year old boy body with the social/emotional skills of a 4 year old. Recently he started to have pimples and started talking about ...mating (his words). I know he comes from a place of complete naiveness but I also know that once you are a teen and grown-up no one cares why you say or do the things you say or do. I am trying to get him to understand that if he hits or bites or talks to others about 'mating' they will call the police. I am afraid that it is beyond his capacity to get this. Any proactive advice on what to do before the s..t hits the fan?
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Does he see an autism specialist? He really seems extremely literal and socially unaware. I have a child on the spectrum who is almost 17.
  3. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

  4. keepongoing

    keepongoing Guest

    Thanks for the replies. Yes, he is very literal. He has seen many people who were supposedly specialists though I think some of them were only 'autism specialists' because their job title said so.
    He has made progress but he is chasing a moving train and socially he stands out more and more each year. At this point the things that have made the most noteable difference were Occupational Therapist (OT) and anti anxiety medication. He is now in middle school and the social stuff is brutal.
    How are your boys teen years going? Especially the part about interest in finding a girlfriend.
  5. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    I had to chuckle about mating. My difficult child used those same words. We had very frank discussions about behavior that is public and private. Private is behind a door to his room or his bathroom and NO where else. We talked about dating in the future and what appropriate behavior looked like and why. I got him age appropriate books so he knew what was going on with his own body. He poured over them for years.
    I was very concerned about sexual appropriateness. He did not need that albatross around his neck as he had plenty others. He also, is delightful, articulate, outgoing and you would be hard pressed to notice the first 3 minutes of a conversation but by 10 min. you are pretty sure that there is a bit of a disconnect.
    I was clear about what society's rules are for appropriate behavior. Biting isn't one of them that's for sure. It's never a quick fix to redirect their behavior to something smacking on appropriate but you have to repeat and repeat. Good luck. Temple Grandin and her mother were very instrumental in how I worked with my son. Temple was made to have table manners just like her siblings. She didn't care for them but she learned it was appropriate. So she did it and then it became ingrained as normal behavior.
    I used difficult child's peer group as a way to nudge difficult child along to age appropriate behavior. He got nudged to the point where he was able to function and pretend to have behaviors like the n/t's kids.
    It's scary and worrisome but I'm here to tell you that I was also terrified and my difficult child has not had the police called on him yet.
  6. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    IF it's any consolation to you. I was diagnosed as "on the spectrum" in my early forties. I learned to play NT so well that even the neuropsychologist who did my exam was unable to determine quite where I fit on the spectrum. I'm either an Aspie or a high functioning autistic. I STILL have to think about it, and I do present with a flat affect and as a bit of a pedant.

    I functioned in the real world quite well (as a computer geek, LoL) until the bipolar reared its ugly head. I didn't realize how weird my affect actually is until my attorney for my SSDI hearing started coaching me for my hearing.

    Of course, my mother, her father and her brother are all on the spectrum. My neice and nephew are aspies, with my neice also having ADD.

    What really came out of the neuropsychologist exam (We did it in eight hours over two days) was that my horrible handwriting is due to dysgraphia, and the reason I can't do math is called dyscalcula.

    I WISH we'd had the resources we now have when I was a child. I'm fifty years old, and back when I was a kid "autism" was the nonverbal kid sitting in the corner and banging his or her head on the wall

    These kids CAN learn to function in society. They might have to think about it, but most of them can do it. It's like playing the game until it becomes integrated into thought patterns.

    My late husband was High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and ADHD and had a very successful military career. He had definite rules to follow and a lot of structure and he, with the help of the little notebooks he wrote everything down in, did very well with it.

    His father was an Aspie. He was also an abusive jerk, which is not the norm with Aspies who've integrated into society. I was never abusive, nor was husband, despite his having grown up in an environment fraught with physical and emotional abuse.

    It's do-able. It might take a bit longer. Might take a bit of outside support, but there's a place in society. I embrace my inner Aspie and find it actually to be helpful in some cases.
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I'm skimming through the responses quickly, so forgive me if I repeat things.

    First - you are not alone.

    Second - your son can be taught what is appropriate and clearly is motivated to behave according to social norms ("Why didn't you tell me it's not acceptable to bite?"). But they need to be taught these lessons in the same way you would teach the alphabet, or the state capitals. It needs to be formally taught.

    You could enquire in your area to see if there are any social skills course available for pre-teen/teen Aspies/autistics. We were able to plug into such a course. In fact, it is probably time for another. The past course was actually organised by an informal group of parents, our kids meet to do drama classes together. Drama classes for kids with learning problems (most are on the spectrum). So one day when the mums were sitting around drinking coffee and chatting, the idea came up, so they organised it. It can be that simple. Or a therapist can help on a personal basis.

    Or you can do it yourself. But you need to sit him down and make sure he understands. "Son, you have autism. That's OK, it is part of who you are, but it does bring a few issues we need to consider, things you need help with."
    The Sixth Sense program explains autism as a defect in the social sense. So just as someone who has a defect in their vision sense can make some changes in their environment and can get some help in practical ways (a white cane; a seeing eye dog) so can someone with deficits in the social sense, get some help and be able to put some accommodations in place to help them adapt. Autism brings gifts as well as hassles. It's an ill wind. There are gifts he has that autism makes even better. But there are hassles too, and your job as parent is to identify the problems and help him find ways around them.

    One such problem is going to be his interest in his own developing sexuality. He needs to learn by rote if necessary, what is OK and what is not. Even if you have to write it down and stick it up behind the toilet door for him to memorise, then do it.

    Something important to teach him - "mating" is what animals do. "Sexual intercourse" (and all the other terms) are what humans do. Yes, humans are also members of the animal kingdom, but people like to fool themselves that they are better than animals and so don't like using animal terms. Also, sex is a personal private thing reserved legally for adults. Experimenting with sex when under age can get you into legal hot water. Talking about sex with other people especially when you're under age can also get you into hot water. While he might observe some people freely talking about it and think that makes it OK for him to do the same - he needs to remember that the others can get away with it better, because they DO have the social sense honed to perfection, while he is still having to learn and make adjustments.

    So despite what others do or say, he needs to always be more careful. It's not fair, but it is dafe. If he has questions, he should come and ask you. Or maybe you find someone else he can also go and ask. When the weird kid does something odd, he is going to cop a lot more fallout than when a easy child does something odd. Again, it's not fair but difficult child has to keep his nose a lot cleaner than a easy child. So he is going to have to learn to walk a straight, narrow path and over time, will learn what he can do and what he can't.

    They do learn. They do adapt. The brighter they are, the more they learn and the better they learn. They do take longer to seemingly mature, but they generally do a lot better than you ever would have thought possible.

    Stick around, pick our brains and in turn we'll pick yours.