Help with autistic teen behavior!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by LadyM, Jan 20, 2010.

  1. LadyM

    LadyM Guest

    Hello everyone, I'm new here and glad I found you all!

    I am a mom of a 14 year old highly functioning autistic boy. husband and I are at our wits end with him. I feel my patience is all but gone.

    1. Destructive - He is quite destructive to our home. Most of it is unintentional (running in the house when he's not supposed to), and some of it is. He is reckless and doesn't think about what he's doing. If the back door is locked, he'll stand there yanking on it trying to get it to open and end up busting the storm door hydraulic. Essentially, since September, he has broken a toilet lid, toilet seat, knocked my laundry door off the tracks more than once, same for the pantry doors, and pushed one end of a towel rack through the wall, broke the hydraulic on the back door, screwed up the handle on the back door, and the list goes on. I want to strangle him!

    Also, his father and I have to deal with disrespect and defiance from him. He'll call us names, insist that we WILL NOT do something he doesn't want us to do (as if he is in control), was caught several times trying to sneak his games, ipod, etc out of the house, argues over everything, doesn't do what he's told (i.e. will not bring his laundry down, go to bed without a fight, take care of his dogs, etc etc etc).

    husband takes a lot more from him than I will until he finally blows up (which is usually about once a day). difficult child and I argue all the time and it's driving husband nuts (me too for that matter). I've had it with working all day and coming home to a child that thinks he can tell me what I will and will not do.

    To make things worse, a couple weeks ago when difficult child and I were arguing about my right to curse in my own home, he punched me in the mouth. He never did that before and I didn't handle it well. If he ever does it again, I've told him I will call the police and send him to juv.

    Don't get me wrong, difficult child can also be very loving and gives me hugs and kisses and tells me how much he loves me. I just need some help in how I can '"deal" with him being a teen.:mad:
  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome aboard. Sorry, but I only have a couple of minute to post's been one of those days! Wanted you to know that I have read your post and I understand how stressful it is to cope with teens, and especially AS teens. been there done that!

    husband and I raised an AS teen until his GFGmom "reclaimed" him. It took quite a while to get him functioning appropriately and the challenge is enough to make anybody toss and turn at night. Sending hugs. DDD
  3. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member

    Hi there Lady M!

    Have you had therapy with him? Have you discussed his new aggressive behavior with his doctor? He's 14, so this may be his hormones kicking in.

    My daughter is on Risperdone because of aggressive behaviors. She, at times, has displayed some Aspie type behaviors, but she's not Aspie (adding to the confusion with our docs and has taken a long time to get her properly diagnosis'd, but I digress). About a year and a half ago, her aggression became very severe and her neuro suggested the Risperdal (generic=Risperdone). He said this was a medication that they frequently give to Aspie kids with aggressive behaviors. Have you considered medications? Perhaps this is an option?

    If you go to your "User Cp" in the upper left hand side, under the site's banner, you can access the edit signature feature. You can put a brief signature, including current medications (without names), you will find that you won't have to repeat the same info each time you post.

    Again, welcome and Good Luck.
  4. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Has he gotten interventions for his Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)? I have a sixteen year old with high functioning autism/Aspergers and he is really doing well, but he got tons of interventions most of his life...that really makes a big difference. These kids are wired differently and can get extremely frustrated.

    Tell us a little bit more.
  5. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Are you raising my son? That sounds so much like Eeyore! We are doing an updated mental health assessment and will be restarting therapy ASAP (we had stopped cause he was doing better but when those hormones kicked in - yikes!)

    We have the same broken back door! :rofl:

    Once I get some ideas from the therapist I will share! Have you read Explosive Child by Ross Greene?
  6. LadyM

    LadyM Guest

    He does see a psychiatrist and a neurologist and has been on medication (including resp) for quite some time.

    No, I haven't read the xplosive child yet, although I've been considering it (and the back door thing is hilarious)!

    I guess I could just use some sound, practical advice on how to respond to him when he becomes disrespectful and tries to tell me what I'm going to do. I don't want to be in a constant state of arguement with my son.

    What has worked with you guys in changing this mindset? As well as changing bad habbits like not bringing his laundry down, making messes, breaking things, and so on.
  7. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    When he was calm I explained to my son that he was to speak to me with respect. Now when he gets disrespectful and bossy, I just stare at him silently. Eventually, he will stop and either rephrase his words or take a self-timeout in his room. If he continues, then I will state that he must speak with respect and announce a punishment. Then I am silent again.

    I found keeping silent in the face of his noise to be key. I forget where I read it but it was a "low emotional environment" v a "high emotional environment". I am very much a HEE-type of person and it is hard to give a LEE response but it works much better.
  8. LadyM

    LadyM Guest

    Thanks, that is excellent advice. I am like you, a HEE person. When he challenges me the first thing that runs through my mind is how dare he think he has the right to say those kind of things to me, who does he think he is, and thus my response is to launch into a yell fest mostly along the lines of "I'm the mom, you're the child, straighten up or you'll be in trouble". When he hit me, we were having a huge argument (admittedly over something that wasn't worth the outcome). I don't know why I feel the need to give his arguments that kind of validity. I know I'm going to do what I want and there is nothing he is going to do to stop it. I just went in there while he was calm (right before reading your post) and hugged him and told him that even though we argue, I wanted him to know I love him.

    I'm going to try your technique though. I"m going to sit him down at a calm moment and explain to him that when he speaks to me, he needs to do so with respect. When he launches into one of his fits, I'll try the calm treatment. It will probably blow his mind:laughing:
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We've had to totally re-think discipline in our family. The this is - discipline is something we each learn when we are children. We then apply what worked on us, to our own families. Often what was used on us worked well and was appropriate.

    BUT - kids with various problems don't respond the normal way because their brains work a different way. They learn a different way. Therefore the usual methods just don't fit and can actually make the problems worse.

    You need to be able to get into your son's head and see the world as he does. With autism, social skills are a big problem. Much of how your son learns social skills will be by imitation. Even if you feel he is disrespectful to you and your husband, your son is actually modelling his behaviour on yours.

    Now look at your behaviour to him. If you're anything like a lot of parents, you see yourself as being on a higher rung than your son, when it comes to status in the family. You are the mum, he is the kid. You've probably said this to him, often.
    But the trick with these kids - it's not what you tell them, it's what they observe. They learn by observation and imitation. How often have you heard your own words come back at you from him? I first heard this with easy child 2/difficult child 2, when she was about 3 years old. I had poured a cup of water instead of the juice she had asked for because I had a rule that the kids had to have water for very second drink. So she stood there, hands on hips and said firmly, "I told you, I wanted JUICE! Why won't you pay attention to me?"

    So if you use your position of superiority to command respect from your autistic child, not only will it be less likely to work, but it has a good chance of backfiring badly. Your child will dish out to you, exactly the same phrases, words and attitude you dish out to him. Exactly.

    We say we want equality in this world, but when it smacks you in the face (literally, in your case) we find it is not so palatable. The truth is, we are not all equal. But this is a very sophisticated social concept that is beyond even a highly intelligent High-Functioning Autism (HFA) kid.

    When they are adults it won't matter so much. An attitude like this form an adult slips below the radar. But when they are kids, it's just plain wrong.

    We made a decision in our family, to stop trying to enforce the "Because I said so" approach, it was going to be just too much hard work, when it is only a problem while he's a kid. Instead, we brought in the "flatmate" approach. Try to imagine an old friend of yours, or maybe a cousin, has moved in for a while. This person isn't necessarily your best friend but also is not your worst enemy. This person is also not as worldly wise as you, doesn't know your household routine and needs to be supported a bit. Something like an overseas exchange student, perhaps.

    Now think about how you all shuffle around and sort out the house rules, meals, responsibilities etc. If this person was a house guest, you'd probably be fussing around them for the time they were staying. But I'm talking about a longer-term arrangement, there's going to be some adjustments needed on both sides.

    You need to approach an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) teen in this same way. Just as you might either bite your tongue initially with a new house resident when you find a soggy towel on the bathroom floor, do the same here. What you would eventually do, regarding the soggy towel on the bathroom floor, is call them in and say, "I note that you left your towel on the floor here. Can you please try to avoid doing that, because it makes it untidy for the rest of us that use the bathroom. Also, and this is important for you, if your towel is left on the floor then it will get walked all over and made soggier by everyone else, so when you next go to use it you will find your towel very unpleasant to use. I don't want tat for you, so how about you use this hook here for your towel? We can make sure this hook is always left available for you. Is that OK?"

    You spell out the advantages TO THIS PERSON of following the house rule and you make it clear what the accommodation is, for their use. This person has a place in the household, and you have just defined it. Also there may be times when this person wants to do something for you, or understand a better way to belong. You will constantly need to keep in touch with how this person feels and how to help them feel they have their own niche in the household. Make it work for you, help them fit in with the already-existing house rules. Some house rules may need to be modified, plus this person may bring some skills or other interesting aspects to the household, so involve them in discussions over house rules.

    Another example of a good house rule for flatmates - you let one another know when you are going out, where you are going and when you will be back. Each person does this, whether they be child or parent. It is a good habit to get into anyway, because all of this I am suggesting, your child will need when they leave home. Whether they leave home to go to college, or to get married, or simply to live away from home - chances are at some stage, your child will need to live with others for a while and will therefore benefit from the same sort of social rules.

    So, back to letting people know of your movements - this rule applies to EVERYBODY. Parents set the example, "Johnny, I'm just popping out to the corner store, I need to get milk. Is there anything else you think we need? I'll be back in about ten minutes."
    Johnny might just shrug and say nothing, but that's OK. You have just set an example. When you get back, announce that you're back.
    Then require the same from him. THAT is the key. How can he refuse, when it's what you do? It is no longer a case of adults checking up on the kids, it has now become house mates keeping one another in the loop as a matter of mutual respect.
    This begins to work, when you are going out and he says, "While you're at the store, I think we need more bread, too." Or when he says, "I'm going out to visit Jake, I'll be passing by the store on my way back. Do you want me to pick up anything?"
    Even if he doesn't make the offer, you can grab the chance to make the request (and hope, when it comes down to it, that he remembers to get it!).

    The really important side to this - when each member of the household knows everyone else's movements, you can better coordinate things like meals. It's really important to know who is going to be home for dinner. If you said you would be home at 5 pm and you're running late, you call to let people know of the change in plans.

    We did this yesterday - husband & I were out on our own, leaving difficult child 3 home alone. We rang him to let him know that we didn't expect to be home before about 8 pm. But at 8 pm we were visiting mother in law in hospital, 40 minutes away from home. So we rang difficult child 3 and said to him, "OK son, it's now about 8.30 pm. We won't be home for dinner, you had better get yourself some dinner. There is fresh pasta in the freezer, how about you cook some of that for yourself? We will be home at about 9.30 pm."

    If we hadn't told him, he may not have noticed. But if he did, he might have become more anxious and when we finally walked in we would then have been met with, "What time do you call this then, eh? It's very inconsiderate of you to not let me know, I was worried and about to call the police, You could have been run over by a bus!"

    by the way, when we get that kind of language from him, we don't label it as insolence. It is simply imitation of our own style. And if we should have called him and we didn't - we apologise for not calling him. Then if he's not too worked up we suggest, "Son, we're OK. Sorry we didn't call; you are right, we should have. But you do need to remember, we are the adults here, you need to moderate your tone because although WE understand, someone who didn't and who overheard the way you just spoke to us, would think you are a rude, inconsiderate young man. And we know you're not that. We don't want people to think badly of you, that is why we tell you this."

    Other things you do with someone else sharing the house - you show them how to use the washing machine. You get them to make their own bed, to change their own bed. You encourage them to take turns with the various chores such as cooking, washing, cleaning. You ALL pull your weight, often working side by side works best for someone with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). I find difficult child 3 has always got more done, more willingly, if he sees me beside him. So if I ask difficult child 3 to do chore A while I do chore B, it often won't work. But if I ask him to help me so together we do chore A and chore B, the same amount of work is done by both of us, but he is in better grace. He also learns more about how to do these chores.

    Rewards work better than punishments, too. ANy punishments - try to use natural consequences rather than punishments. For example, if he doesn't come when called for dinner, then the natural consequences is - he eats alone and his food is cold. OK, he can always heat it up in the microwave. Don't stop him doing this because to him, a lot of punishments will seem more like revenge, or you imposing your will on him because you can. In these circumstances, your intended message won't get through. But if you keep it low-key and simply say, "I did call you for dinner. We have finished ours. But you can heat yours up and eat it. A pity you will be by yourself." But no more nagging about it. Just matter-of-fact.

    Anyway, I think you get the idea. We have found that giving choices works for us; allowing the "other person" to have some input is also good. If this other person has a special request for a special recipe for dinner for example, then tell them that of course they can have what they want, but it has to come under budget, they have to help plan for it, shop for it, budget for it and prepare it. But of course you will help. No change is impossible, but it must take everyone else's needs into account. If your budget covers macaroni cheese and your "guest" wants lobster thermidor, then somehow they need to make it work for everybody, or postpone the dream until they CAN make it work.

    It's all a lesson in how to live day to day, with life's responsibilities. No nagging, no instruction theoretically - just practical involvement with hands-on learning in a low-key way.

    The benefits of tis approach are legion. If you have an autistic person in the house, this can bring an increase in order unexpectedly. You may also find this person adopting chores that they enjoy, such as doing the washing. When we bought our new front-loader washing machine, I started it off and then the boys went missing. I finally found them both, sitting in front of the washing machine with their heads tilting this way and that in unison, over and over, as they watched the clothes swish back and forth. difficult child spoke up. "I don't know why, but I find this strangely compelling."

    Anyway, that's just a rough idea of how it works.

    As for the clumsiness, some people are just like this. My mother in law is one such - and at 86 she's not likely to change. If something is in her way and she doesn't want it to be, she will push it, shove it or generally force it until something gives. She gets cranky with something (like a knife that won't cut properly) and will slam it or force it, often making things worse.

    Impulsivity is not exclusive to the young!

  10. Autismkids

    Autismkids Member

    I don't have much success with my son's behavior, but I do with my daughter and she's "only" autistic.

    I made a house rules chart. Mostly positive; Keep your toys tidy instead of don't leave your toys out. Use nice words, instead of don't curse. There are more, but you get the point. Then we have a consequences chart. If you use mean words, you have to make an apology card. If you do not keep your toys tidy, they will go in time out.

    For your laundry issue, how many steps are involved? If "bring your laundry down" means put the dirty clothes in the basket, and bring the basket to the laundry room, that could be too much. I tell my daughter to put her dirty clothes in her dirty clothes basket. When she's done I tell her to put the dirty clothes basket in the laundry room. I break up the step for her so she knows what to do.

    For some tasks we have a step by step picture chart. My son's morning routine is extremelyyyyyy broken down. (Not the whole routine) Take off your pj top, put in the basket, take off pj bottom, put it in basket, take off diaper, put in trash, pick undies from drawer, put them on, etc. My daughter's is still broken down but not nearly as much. Take off pjs, put in dirty clothes basket, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, etc.

    Have you accepted that he's autistic and things have to be different? I know many people who will say that their kiddo is autistic, but still expect typical kid behavior from them. I expect decent behavior from my daughter, but I know I have to go about it in an entirely different way than her typical peer's parents.

    I'm lost with my son, so ymmv with all of this! LOL.
  11. LadyM

    LadyM Guest

    Thank you for all of this wonderful advice!

    I think I"ll create another post to deal with other issues (one at a time) to get some additional advice.

    Marg you are 100% correct. He is notorious for repeating my words back to me.

    Additionally, I can't really say I haven't been expecting certain normal behavior from him, I suppose that's something I need to come to grips with.
  12. LadyM

    LadyM Guest

    Just went through more drama this morning. He was carrying on, yelling, not responding to warnings. I was actually quite calm with him, even started out with "I need you to calm down please". This went on for about 10 minutes until I finally had to take something from him, which then erupted into another battle and husband made him sit in a chair for a "time out" for a while.

    Always a challenge...
  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi LadyM, welcome.
    He sounds like a handful.
    I agree with-JJJ and Marg. One thing I would suggest is to work on one behavior at a time. Doing everything at once can be overwhelming ... not just for difficult child, but for you.

    The silent treatment works well for me, especially when I'm driving the car. It is very distracting to argue in the car. So when difficult child pesters me, I just shut my mouth and keep my eyes on the road. It drivres him nuts, but it generally keeps things from escalating.
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    LadyM, have you noticed that this is the sort of issue that seems to repeatedly set him off? The sort of situation where he is perseverative, desperate for you to pay attention to what he is saying (even if it makes no sense to you) and he simply won't back off and give you space? And then you take something from him (even if you repeatedly warned him you would) and he then REALLY explodes?

    I suspect I'm right.

    Several reasons for this, and if you can, YOU need to change what you're doing here (although you're not wrong) because he CAN'T change here.

    First, when he is talking at you and at you, even if it seems to make no sense - they really don't have a lot of control over this and it's not effective to punish him for what he can't really control. His behaviour will be very Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in this. As he gets older he will acquire more skill here but he needs help with it; fear of punishment from you will make his perseverative behaviour worse, not better, because it ramps up his anxiety.

    Second, taking something from him - unless what you take has a direct link to why he is badgering you, this is very unhelpful. From his point of view, you are doing this because you are more powerful. It then becomes a control thing and instead of teaching him not to do what he was doing, instead he focusses on "How can I get to have power and control like that?" and can quickly degenerate into a struggle for supremacy.

    You have noticed how much he patterns his own behaviour on yours; therefore you need to become even more so, the model for him.

    Again I emphasise - you have not been doing anything that is bad parenting. What you have been doing works for millions of other families. It's just that it is what DOESN'T work for THESE kids, and so we need to flip it over and find the better way. The good news is, this flipped over methodology also works for the other kids (so you now have more than one way to handle them; but I don't recommend you mix and match. Choose one method and stick to it or even 'normal' kids will get confused).

    Even if what you take from him is directly linked to his nagging, it's probably still a bad idea. Punishment in general tends to not really work with these kids. Especially ifhe is bright, he needs to see an example of how he should behave, and then be given a chance to practice it and be rewarded for it. If you get impatient with him, it only serves to ramp up the anxiety and make him worse. It also means YOU risk missing the point of his behaviour. Not the point he is trying to make, although sometimes it can be the same thing. But you need to be really on your guard the whole time to listen to him (including what he may not be aware he's saying or doing) so you can step in and say, "Ah, I think I see what is happening here. have you tried doing it this way?"

    If you're impatient or distracted, that is when problem behaviours can suddenly appear, seemingly out of the blue although this actually rarely happens. If you can look back and analyse, there is always a reason for what happened. Finding those reasons will give you the clues to help him next time.

    The more you can help him (instead of punishing him) the faster he will learn self-control and the right way to behave. It won't happen smoothly because this isn't just about learning how to behave; it's also about learning to overcome some things he has poor control of, due to the autism.

    A simple example - difficult child 3 is obsessed with certain things. Computer gaming and anything technological. Bubbles. Balls, especially in various kinds of ball races. Coin sorting money boxes. So if we're going somewhere public and he sees something like this, he will stop and stare at it. if we're in a hurry, this can be a problem. Let's say he & I are rushing along a city street and he sees a moving ball race in a shop window. He MUST stop and look, but we are running to catch a bus and we risk missing it. I handle this by telling him, "I promise we will come back this way and give you time to watch it for a lot longer, but we haven't got time now, I'm sorry. I need you to hurry with me. We WILL come back."
    Because he knows I will keep my promise, these days he will (still reluctantly) move along. But for the majority of the time in between he will be nagging me, "When can we go back and look at those balls, mum? Tell me when..."
    It is VITAL that you do NOT punish the nagging with a retraction of the promise. OK, he's nagging. Think back to when you were a kid - how did you feel if you were afraid you might miss out on something you desperately wanted to do? There is also the fear that if he doesn't nag, you might forget. And I freely admit, this has happened to me -I've been guilty of forgetting to do what I promised simply because he was a "good boy and stopped nagging". That's the worst you can do - promise a reward if the child is good, then fail to follow through. In tihs case, it's not just a reward if he's good, it's already been promised unconditionally.

    And that is a very important word to remember - unconditional.

    Some reward systems make the rewards conditional on future good behaviour - a coupon system for example, where coupons earned earlier can be taken away for subsequent bad behaviour. This is a HUGE no-no.
    I don't know if you saw the movie "The Black Balloon"? It didn't get a big airing in the US, although it's a major feature film starring Toni Collette and won a Crystal Bear at the berlin Film Festival in 2008.
    In that film Toni Collette plays the mother of a profoundly autistic teenage boy. She has a younger teenage son who is not autistic but is struggling with the problems of having an autistic brother, plus always having to move to a new neighbourhoods because dad's job is highly mobile. Because of our involvement with the film, I have met not only the writer-director but also a number of people on whom various characters were based.
    There is a scene in the movie where the autistic boy has done something he shouldn't. He is already a bit hyped up and excited, but when the mother takes away a couple of stars from his chart, he gets very upset and begins to rage. And he is already too big to physically control when he rages.
    From the point of view of the person with autism, what is earned should stay earned, even if it sticks in your craw. Don't fret that he will think he is being rewarded for bad behaviour in between - these kids have VERY organised minds and in his mind he knows what the reward was for.

    We have moved away a little from sticker charts. We still do have a reward system. For us it is a virtual token system, ticks on a scrap of paper type of thing - actually, difficult child 3 himself keeps a log of tokens earned by himself but he's so honest I can trust him to not cheat. Each token has a value of about $5 or one packet of Maltesers, he banks them and cashes them in on something he wants.
    But the best reward system we had for a while was my time. We did it for meltdown-free days - each time he had a meltdown-free day, he earned me for half an hour playing a computer game with him. I chose "Mario Party" to play with him because it can slow down to my ability to handle it, it can be fairly low-key and there is a strong chance element to it. We would have fun with this game and it also gave me a little more chance to teach him how to comport himself with good grace, so more social skill opportunities. And it really is good to spend time together.
    Sometimes I had to aks someone else to stand in for me - I would ask him if that was OK, and if he was really happy with whoever would play with him, that was accepted as valid reward time.

    reward always works better than punishment, because especially in autism, the message really sticks quickly and firmly. Punishment - they tend to only focus on "I have lost my [whatever it is]" and not on why. Things like "why" are more complex anyway.

    LadyM, there will be times when you feel mentally exhausted by all this. You are not alone. All I can tell you - it IS worth it. He will do better than people expect, because one ting these kids have in spades, is determination. You do not want tat determination focussed on how he can get around what you want him to do, because eventually, he will win. Not good. You need that focus to be working WITH you. And you can quickly point him in that direction, by changing to listening to him, finding out what he wants, let him have it if it's not really a problem, because ten he is more likely to give you what YOU want at a later time.

    Example - difficult child 3 is a teenage boy. He gets hungry and raids the fridge. We have agreed to let him do this (although some parents would be horrified - "he will spoil his appetite!" - nope. This boy seems to have a permanently empty tummy). BUT - he must tell us when he takes the last of something. Some items, we need him to always leave one (tomatoes, cucumbers). I also moderate what I keep in the fridge, to only healthy food, fruit & vegetables, cheese, cooked meats. I just lay in extra supplies and keep my own eye on the number of carrots. If this boy fills up on fruit, vegetables, cheese and cooked meats, then so what if he spoils his appetite? All he ate, was his meals anyway.
    We chose to let that one slide by, because actually it's teaching him to listen to his body, something he's still not very good at. Generally we find he needs to be reminded to eat. If husband & I are out for the day, we generally call home at 2 pm and ask difficult child 3, "Have you had lunch yet? Then stop what you are doing, and go eat." We tell him what is there for him to get. Sometimes he will cook himself something simple.
    Last week a typical day - husband & I were out for our wedding anniversary. We rang home and told difficult child 3 to get himself some pasta for dinner. He's good at cooking pasta. We got home an hour later and difficult child 3 said, "I'll eat in a minute. I'm nearly there..." playing a computer game, of course. That's right, he still hadn't eaten.
    It happens. If it hadn't been a computer game it could have been anything - a ball race, a book, electronics - anything. It's the ability to get absorbed by what he is doing. That ability can be a great advantage in years to come in the workplace, once he learns to channel it correctly.

    Terry suggested you work on one behaviour at a time so you both don't find it too overwhelming. That is exactly right, but one important thing - make sure that you choose something he is easily able to change. Just because they can hold it together in some areas for a short time, does not mean good control in that area. If what you have chosen to work on doesn't seem to be easily responding - switch to something simpler.

    Hang in there!

  15. LadyM

    LadyM Guest

    I know what you're saying, but it's SO difficult.

    Earlier today I caught him playing his sisters game that she bought with her allowance money. She told him she didn't want him to play it. I didn't think this a major issue but I did remind him that he wasn't supposed to play it. At some point in the conversation, he blurted that if I told his sister, he'd embarrass me in a store. I didn't take kindly to being threatened and told him as much. To which he replied "it was a promise, not a threat". By this point I was torqued and said "you know, I hadn't planned on saying anything to her, but now I believe I will", which as expected, mad him angry.

    Fast forward to bedtime. I had asked him to bring down his sheets and school clothes earlier in the evening. He failed to bring down any of his mattress protectors and I didn't notice it. I gave him his sheets to make his bed and he started going off about no protector. I told him that I washed what he gave me and he started ranting about not having it.

    Now I'm not new to this game. This is the Autism kicking in as far as something having to be the way it's supposed to be. I told him that the mattress had plastic over it, for tonight, just but the sheets on and get to bed. Even if he has everything, he will often be difficult with the issue of making his own bed (and yes, I have shown him how). A lot of this is laziness and insisting that it is my job, not his (another source of contention between us). I'm tired and I just don't feel like hearing it. Long story short, in the end we are yelling at each other and I'm telling him I'm sick and tired of his lazy behavior. Now, I know this is not the correct way to handle him, but I'd had it by that point.

    To make matters worse, while I am making his bed, he has the nerve to tell me that when his friend comes over to stay the night next weekend, I'm not to embarrass him (i.e. correcting him). I told him not to give me a reason to correct him and I wouldn't. This AGAIN escalated the conversation and I ended up AGAIN taking something from him.

    I absolutely see your point, but I can't agree with tolerating bad behavior because he is Autistic. I'm open to new ways of dealing with him, but I want him to understand that his behavior is not going to be accepted and that I am not his lap dog that will jump to do everything at his beck and call while he sits around fixated on video games.

    Sorry if this sounds harsh. I love my son. but I'm tired of the constant attitude. I go out of my way for him and don't deserve the disrespect I'm constantly assaulted with...
  16. LadyM

    LadyM Guest

    What would be really helpful is to hear some ideas about what you all would have said if you had been me in the situations I mentioned below.
  17. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You did well up until that point. He really needs to be able to trust you. But he also needs to learn what is reasonable and to take personal responsibility for his own actions. You telling his sister is what he asked you not to do, and I infer from his response that he at least believed you would not. Then you chose to punish him with, "Now I think I will."
    This ramps it up for two reasons -
    1) he doesn't want his sister to be told; and

    2) he is again afraid that he can't trust you.

    You don't need his last one, it is really damaging your efforts.

    A better way (and remember, I know that this is difficult right now because it is involving you changing your mental gears and needing to be really on the ball) is to throw it back into his court.
    "Son, you know she asked you not to play this game. Now think about it from her point of view - if this were one of your games..." [think of something special to him] " would you feel if she had been playing it after you asked her not to? Now it's OK, I'm not going to take your stuff away or anything like that, I just want you to think about it. You did the wrong thing, didn't you? And you do know this. Why do you think you did this?" Keep this as non-judgmental as possible, you want him to try to think, really think, from someone else's point of view. Not easy for him. Then you continue.
    "Now what do you think would be appropriate in this situation?"
    Let him think and suggest. You might be surprised at how harsh he expects you to be with him. But the best 'punishment' needs to be something he accepts or even suggests - he should himself tell his sister. Confess. With you holding his hand if he needs it. And then he needs to see her reaction.

    YOU don't do this. HE has to. Then it's not you doing this to him, he did it all to himself and has to wear the natural consequences.

    No punishment you could divise is as nasty as this one.

    Now to evening and the mattress protector - these hassles will happen. There will be times you don't notice things and his loud reaction was again primarily anxiety and stress. The best way to handle this is to keep telling yourself, he isn't choosing to be rude or defiant. He is panicking. He is behaving like a mother who sees her child run onto the road in front of a truck. If you were the truck driver pulling up just in time, you could expect a tirade from the mother even though it is not deserved. Once she calms down she would (maybe) be apologetic. But if the truck driver gets upset with her, nothing is achieved. The truck driver needs to remind himself, she is not angry at him but merely trying to cope with the sudden rush of adrenalin and panic over her baby. You shrug and move on, maybe deal with it by talking about it later when he is calmer. Again, this is where we choose what to deal with and when.

    The problems are worst when he is tired (and mentally exhausted from holding it together as best as he can for the day) and you're also tired and fed up. I do understand, truly I do. I'm feeling a bit like this at the moment, dealing with concerns over mother in law (who's been very difficult child-ish) and difficult child 3 being more than usually a handful. An aside on this - difficult child 3 had a very bad day yesterday, I was horrified by some of the things he said and did, I had thought we'd been making great progress. But late last night he came in to say, "What has been wrong with me today? Could it have been that cappuccino slice I ate this morning? Or maybe my medications just aren't working so well lately."
    So he is aware of it and doesn't like being this way. A good start.

    You say "I can't agree with tolerating bad behavior because he is Autistic."
    Read this statement of yours through again. Can you see the unfairness of it, from his point of view? It's like you're saying you can't agree with tolerating clumsiness and falling over the furniture from a blind child. Maybe that blind child manages to manouvre around the place sometimes without falling over, so she should be able to manage all the time, even if you've just rearranged the furniture.

    Sorry, that's not how it works.

    You need to keep remembering - your child is not normal. His brain is wired differently and he needs to learn a different way.

    Maybe a better way for you to think about him in this, is to picture him as a Martian, a creature from another civilisation. He can speak your language but that's about it. Everything is alien to him and he has a great deal of difficulty understanding local customs. He is highly intelligent and learns very fast in some areas, but other issues are difficult for him to grasp because the differences which seem subtle to you, seem so very different and complicated to him.

    Now stop and think about how you have interacted with him. When you end up yelling at each other, you are teaching him that this is how to communicate. He probably cannot comprehend the subtle status difference between adult & child, parent & offspring, teacher & student. Instead it's easier for him to simply use you as his model. And one thing you can't do with your alien from Mars, is give him the "do as I say, don't do as I do" routine.
    Interesting that he has said to you things like, "it was a promise, not a threat," and "don't embarrass me again." I strongly suspect that you yourself have taught him these phrases. So when you hear them, please remember that he is using them NOT the way you did (in other words, he's imitating you because he needs to, he's not doing it to mock you). Now I'm not critical of you for saying those things - crikey, I say them myself! But you WILL hear your own words coming back at you. Sometimes (when you look back years later) it can be amusing. But at the time it can be frustrating.

    Thinking back to the evening and the mattress protector - if this had been any other kid, it wouldn't have been an issue. But your son 'knows' that the mattress protector is important and also worried about its absence. with both of you tired, it just was a recipe for disaster. And there will still be disasters, this does take time.

    Now you wanted alternative scenarios, so here is what I suggest.
    When he first began to ramp up because the mattress protector wasn't there, you say, "whoa! It's OK. We have two choices. Slow, take a deep breath and listen to them. We could go without for tonight because the plastic sheet is in place. Or we could go back to the laundry and get the clean mattress protector. It is there, it will only take a minute. So what would you like to do?"
    You give him the choice. If he is too concerned about doing without the mattress protector, it is still less hassle to go get it (or take him to go get it together) than to let things get out of hand. If either of you ends up yelling it's a time waster as well as an energy waster. You use less energy going to get the mattress protector than you do arguing over it. Don't give him bad labels (such as lazy, good-for-nothing, difficult, bad) because it ramps up his anxiety. Your aim is to keep him calm. In doing this, you are laying the ground work for him to learn to keep himself calm.

    YOu are right to not want to "be at his beck and call and jump when he says" (or what you said). But there are better ways. If you feel he's simply making excuses about it being "too hard" because he wants to get back to his video game, then make it clear (gently) that if YOU have to go get the mattress protector, he needs to come along too. "So you can see where it is, because you need to learn how to work with me."

    Keep pushing the "work with me" and "we'll do it together." Your ultimate aim is for him to learn to do it for himself, but this intermediate stage does seem to take longer with the autistics (including the high-functioning ones). So with the bed - work as a team. Get him to hold one side while you hold the other. Keep the mood as light as you can. If you're tired, say so.

    And if he says anything tactless (and crikey, they sure do, constantly!) then handle it with humour. You can even say, "I'm glad that was me you said it to, because I understand. You need to learn to not say things like that to other people, who are less likely to understand."

    Treat it as a lesson, always. So he's not getting away with it, but tis is not the same as the average kid being cheeky or deliberately insolent. This is a kid who simply doesn't know the right thing to say. This isn't "attitude" although it so closely resembles it. You need to keep gently reminding him of the right way he should have said or done something. And if it all gets too much, clam up, go silent and walk away. Find yourself somewhere to put yourself where you can get right away from him until you calm down enough to handle him without screaming. I think there should be a market for padded cells for parents like us - our own personal refuge where we can throw things, scream and get it out of our systems, so we can go back and give our kids what they need, instead of what knee-jerk instinct says they should get (which just makes these kids worse, because it give them examples of how NOT to behave).

    It's amusing - you asked us for suggested alternatives of things to say to him. But this is what you need to do for him - role-play the alternatives for things he should have said instead. You help him learn in a gentle way, and you will get what you want from him behaviour-wise sooner than you otherwise would.

    You can do this. Read the book (Explosive Child) because I think it will help. Your husband needs to read it too, esp being ex-army (so is mine). If he can't read it, you need to explain it to him because you both need to be on the same page to the finest detail. Get him to lurk here or join here, it can help. Mine did this and then joined some time later. So your husband won't be the only male, not by a long shot!

  18. Autismkids

    Autismkids Member

    The very first thing you have to do is accept his life long disability.

    There are days when my dauughter is very "normal," but it never lasts long. Then it seems, out of the blue, she's "acting autistic." Wait; she IS autistic, just had a few really good days. Maybe the stars were all aligned with her mood. As the adult, I have to remember that her brain is different. She will always have issues with socially appropriate communication, and social skills.

    When my son has bad days I try really hard to remember this as well. Yes I lose my patience with him, but I never expect a lesson learned when *I* didn't react appropriately.

    So my advice; Accept him as is; Autistic. After you've done this 100%, you can start shaping his behavior.
  19. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Teens are a challenge and AS teens are more of a challenge. been there done that. Finding the "right" way to handle your family is the biggest challenge of all. From experience I strongly believe it is necessary to have your family on a schedule that is in effect for everybody. I also strongly believe it is necessary to accept that AS kids mirror behaviors of others, particularly the parents. The strain on parents is a real issue as Moms and Dads have always presumed that they can do and say what they choose because they are the parents. Therefore having to change their lives in order to raise a child properly somehow doesn't seem fair. Fair or not..that's what works with most families. Chaos, spur of the moment decisions, loudness, lack of neatness etc. can work with "normal" kids but it won't work with the AS....they mirror adult behavior. Hugs to you. I know it is not how you wanted your life to be. It's proven, however, to be the effective way to foster maturity and the concept of mutual respect. DDD
  20. LadyM

    LadyM Guest

    Thanks, that's some great advice and I do plan on buying the book (explosive child).

    It does make sense. I have to re-wire myself to understand that when he is saying those things, he is not always intending to be disrespectful.

    It does seem to fit. When I accused him of threatening me with embarrassment, we went back and forth with him insisting that it wasn't a threat, it was a promise. At the time, I thought he was being a smart ass, now that I've had a chance to rethink it, he didn't know how to deal with the possibility that I might tell his sister so he pulled some memory of me or dad and copy/pasted it to this conversation without realizing that it was totally inappropriate.

    Additionally, he is probably under a lot of stress about embarrassing himself in front of his friends (due to the autism) and the thought of me yelling at him in front of them for his behavior probably compelled him to make that statement (of course when I heard it, it immediately rang the “he’s disrespecting me again” bell).
    It makes sense, although when he says something that does come across VERY disrespectful, I feel that while I can certainly stop and correct him on what he should have said, he needs to understand that what he did say was unacceptable and not to repeat it.
    For example, here is a VERY common argument between me and difficult child:
    Me: difficult child it’s bed time
    difficult child: No it isn’t
    Me: Yes it is, it’s past bed time
    difficult child: (getting louder), no it isn’t, you’re lying to me, I don’t see a clock anywhere!
    Me: (now angry because he called me a liar), I am NOT lying! It is bed time, stop messing around and hit it!
    difficult child: You don’t tell me what to do!!
    Me: The hell I don’t, I’m the mom here, you’re in my house, do what I told you and GET TO BED!

    Another common scenario after difficult child does something he shouldn’t (say, knocks the laundry door off the track for the umpteenth time running through the house).

    Me: difficult child, what is wrong with you? Are you trying to destroy our home?
    difficult child: Don’t Care
    Me: You’d better damn site care!
    difficult child: You don’t cuss at me!
    Me: I wasn’t cussing AT you.
    difficult child: Mau-Mau said you can’t cuss! (mother in law, big enabler, doesn’t live with us thank god).
    Me: Mau-Mau doesn’t run my house. I’m an adult and if I want to curse in my own home I damn site will, now why were you running through this house!
    And it disintegrates from there…

    Sound familiar to anyone?