How Can I Get difficult child to Understand that


New Member
Not everything that is in his head necessarily has to come out of his mouth?

We have been working on this for years. I know that he has about a zillion thoughts going on all at once, but jeesh. We can be having a conversation about something and I'll ask him a relevant question about that topic and he'll answer me with something else that he's been thinking about (usually a Pokeman or Sonic the Hedgehog reference). I have to redirect constantly.

And, if difficult child is even the slightest bit annoyed or agitated by someone or something, he announces it. It might be a crying toddler in a restaurant (:blush:) or our neighbor children, who are 4+ years younger than he is. difficult child will announce to the parents of the "perpetrator" that they need to 'get them away from him' - or that 'your son is annoying me', etc. At the Memorial Day parade, he yelled at a little guy (3 years old) for talking loudly and annoying him. I had to intervene so the situation would not escalate. The little guy's Mom actually apologized <u>to me </u>. I didn't even know what to say to her. I just told her that it was fine - her son was fine, etc. At karate, he will tell a black belt that he doesn't need another lesson in tying his belt - and that he wants to be left alone. :surprise:

I want difficult child to know it is normal to be annoyed/agitated, but to be able to deal with it in a better way - if only I could figure out what the better way is. Because, quite frankly, if I expressed my innermost thoughts all day long at work, I'd probably be fired by noon. :crazy:

Anyone have any ideas??


Jamie, I'm no expert, but this sounds like the "social cluenessness" that could go along with AS. Has he officially been diagnosed that way? Have you considered social skills therapy?


Active Member
Jamie, we live with this constantly. We put it down to the autism factor. We've really worked hard to change it but nothing sticks. Absolutely nothing.

While we were away in NZ with easy child & BF1, we found we had some assistance in BF1. Whenever difficult child 3 said something 'random', BF1 would say, "What colour aerial did you order?"
difficult child 3 asked why BF1 was talking about aerials and BF1 explained, "It's a random comment. You made a random comment and I answered with another."

Since then we have begun to answer difficult child 3's random remarks (and yes, his are also about various intricacies of whichever computer game he has been thinking about) with references to aerials. We vary our response but include the word "aerial" and refer to ordering or buying one, or attaching one to the house. It's becoming a code for difficult child 3 to recognise that he's being 'random' again. And it's not just difficult child 3 who this is reserved for - ANYONE in the family making a random comment is copping it. For example, I know how husband thinks. We can be driving along, talking about schoolwork for the kids and as we're driving we might pass some beehives. husband, mid-conversation about schoolwork, might then mention something about his co-worker (who happens to keep bees). To anyone else, this is random. I know how he got to it, but it's not relevant to the specific conversation and the kids would begin to talk about aerials.

I'm hoping that with time and regular reference to aerials, difficult child 3 will learn to think before he speaks and to listen to ongoing conversations. he's a lot better than he used to be - not all of his responses are random now. Once, ALL of them were random, you couldn't hold any sort of conversation with him. Now, with time and practice listening to people, as well as being asked his opinion every so often to keep him in the conversation, we're getting more social appropriateness.

But you can't punish this - it just won't work. You have to handle this consistently but gently, with mild humour and a lot of love.



New Member
Wow, you could have explained my 11 year old with your post. Just this morning he made my middle easy child cry because he was humming, asked to stop, started talking non-stop, asked to stop, then started hitting his brush on his knee. He can't help but make noise in one way or the other.

AS huh? He has a psychiatrist appointment next week. Who would be an expert in this? The psychiatrist or another doctor? You have me wondering now.


Here we go again!
The social cluelessness and impulsive "expression" of thoughts goes hand-in-hand with ADHD as well :smile: husband and difficult child 1 suffer from that when not medicated, and difficult child 2 is back to having significant problems with this since his impulsivity is not yet being addressed by his current medication... we're working on a new trick for it since stims suddenly now wire him tighter than a spring...


New Member
My difficult child is 12 and has always done this too. We have not found a trick to make him understand but we can sometimes see it coming and stop it. It means you can't relax, you have to try to be a step ahead of difficult child.

His new thing these days is when we are in a public situation and someone is smoking, he starts fake coughing like he's going to die from the smoke. I don't agree that you should smoke in a public situation with kids around, but he takes it to an extreme, they can be 30 feet away and he still does it.


New Member
Well, I guess I'm glad to know that it's not just me.

I know that difficult child cannot help himself - that it's something that hopefully will come with time - we do not punish, but in some circumstances, I try to use a story from our own history - such as a particular time I had to leave a restaurant with each of the munchkins - difficult child and easy child on separate occasions when they would not quiet in a restaurant, etc.

I like the "random" response idea, Marg. Perhaps I will try to come up with one and give that idea a shot.

smallworld, when we first started out our journey with difficult child the very first doctor evaluated him and suggested AS. Then, that was discarded along the way for several years - psychiatrist & therapist have just begun revisiting it as a serious possibility. He has many of the tendencies.

TrishBC - our difficult child does that with smoking, too - and with drinking a beer or two. He says loudly something to the effect that he has no idea why anyone would do that, etc.

I think part of it is just frustration on my part. difficult child will say these things to toddlers, easy child, peers, teens and adults. He's absolutely an equal-opportunity comment maker. His tone is so inappropriate - and disrespectful when directed at adults - that he comes off as a rude punk sometimes. On the other hand, it makes me feel bad for him because he is not like that, really, at his core personality.

Thanks everyone for posting.


Active Member
It is true that you can also get this in ADHD, and it's difficult for me because our kids have a combined Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)/ADHD diagnosis. Where does one stop and the other begin? I've also been told (not sure how much credit to give it) that ADHD is perhaps also on the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) scale, right up one end, and that the ADHD signs in my kids are more part of the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) that they also have.

With the noises - we've given up trying to stop them. It's a stimulant, in my opinion. They do change with time as the child himself tries to change, but if you suppress one, another will emerge. You just have to decide which is more acceptable - a quiet growl in the throat, or a loud sniff, or the sounds of the Battle of Britain being reenacted (THAT was difficult child 1, on a long car trip!).

Another one I've noticed - it doesn't just run in our family, it gallops - is the DESPERATE need to finish a sentence, even when what they're saying is no longer needed. For example, "Don't put that - (*crash*) - dish on the corner of the bench, it will fall off and smash."
Most of us would change what we were saying, adapting to what happened mid-sentence. "Don't put that - (*crash*) - OK, too late. You broke that dish because you didn't plan ahead." But in my family, some just can't do it - husband, easy child 2/difficult child 2 and difficult child 3. difficult child 1 isn't so bad with it. easy child & I don't do it, although I think I've now taken this characteristic on board as well, purely by long-term osmosis.

I've tried to change them over the years and I just can't. Trying to change this makes them angry and frustrated because they don't feel HEARD. husband especially hates people finishing his sentences for him or assuming they know what he's going to say. But from my point of view it can be frustrating, standing and waiting until he or easy child 2/difficult child 2 have finally finished what I knew they were going to say anyway, and meanwhile the pot is boiling over on the stove. It also means I have to work hard to both listen AND remember what I needed to say, because so often what they say also side-tracks from the topic and getting off topic is a BIG family problem. Hence BF1 being able to say to a number of us at various times, "What colour aerial were you planning to get? One with pink polka dots?"

I think one of the most frustrating things is having to listen to (or referee) a conversation between any of the three - husband, easy child 2/difficult child 2 or difficult child 3. I just want to bang their heads together sometimes.

And husband, I know you're reading this - I'm right, aren't I?

<span style="color: #FF0000">Yes - Unfortunately</span>


New Member
Ah yes. difficult child really needs to finish whatever he is saying when he is saying it - a real sort of physical need - I understand what you're saying. It funny, but he also makes noises I have described as "explosions" whenever there is a lull in conversation or if he is alone in his room, etc. We abandoned trying to curtail that long, long ago. I have just suggested to him that he may want to attempt not to do that in the bathroom at school because he has been talked to about it by peers and staff.

I guess the main issue for me is that he just always has to have a flippant comment - no matter who he is talking to and what the situation is. When his karate Master takes him aside to talk to him (usually it's an encouraging coversation), I hold my breath until they are done talking. He just does not realize - or take into account - the consequences of his words and tone of voice.

Once in a great while - and this is just recent - he will say "I was going to say something just now, but I know it wasn't appropriate, so I won't". Even then, I find it funny that he feels the need to announce that he made a decision not to say something. It's like he really is an "open book".

His new psychiatrist has also mentioned Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) in the last month or so. Guess we're looking at a whole bunch of new things to research.


Active Member
When he announces to you that he modified his conversation, thank him for being vigilant.

I go through this with difficult child 3. I've had to keep telling him (gently) that sometimes saying it after all, even when he's explaining that he chose his words carefully, he has undone any benefit. it's like explaining the punchline of a joke - if you have to do it, you've wasted the joke. You may as well have not said it.

We worked on joke-telling first, so he could learn to tell a joke without having to hear a loud laugh or some other obvious response. difficult child 3 is still learning to NOT explain a joke but to move on if he thinks people have missed it.

From there we can go back to, "I was really good, mum, I didn't tell that lady that I thought she was fat. I didn't, did I lady?"
When that happens, I take him aside and invent something similar with him as the focus. "Well, difficult child 3's mum, aren't I good to difficult child 3? I really had to try hard to not say how ugly I think he is but I succeeded. I'm doing well, aren't I?"
and I ask him how he would feel if his friend said that to me IN FRONT OF HIM. Would difficult child 3 still feel his friend had been a GOOD friend? What sort of response/action would he prefer?
Another example, perhaps less hurtful (although difficult child 3 knows he isn't ugly - people keep remarking on what a handsome boy he is, but he's not vain about it) is to say, "I did really well, Dad. I didn't tell you that we hid your present in the box under the stairs. And I didn't tell you that it was a new set of golf clubs - aren't I good?"
I then ask difficult child 3 what is wrong with that. Can he see that by loudly congratulating himself on keeping the secret, he has just NOT kept the secret?

We handle it with a humorous example and he copes better. And if we have a key word that I used in the example (like golf clubs under the stairs) I can use that next time he embarrasses me in public.

Our worst lately was while we were on holidays in New Zealand. There were times we had to eat out in a restaurant. difficult child 3 has very specific likes and dislikes and would refuse to even try anything with a sauce. He would loudly exclaim, "Yuk!" and act like the chef was trying to poison him. We scolded him and told him (repeatedly) that this is bad for business. The chef was NOT trying to poison him, he was trying to please him with good food - the chef had no way of knowing that difficult child 3 likes his food plain. Most people like their food fancy and the chef was trying to be kind. By making an unpleasant fuss, he would hurt the chef's feelings and probably also upset the other customers, who liked the food. And they would think, "What a bad-mannered little boy." We know he's not normally bad-mannered, but behaving that way, other people wouldn't know that.

So we modelled it for him. When ordering his food he should say to the waiter, "Please, sir, I don't like creamy things and I like my food plain. May I please have my steak without any sauce, and my vegetables plain like that too?"
He's still learning, but he succeeded on our last restaurant meal of the holidays. He began to say, "Yuk!" as he read the menu but we successfully shushed him. We were able to coach him in what to say before the waiter came up. Of course, our smallest family member ordered the largest main meal of the menu (when all I can manage is one entree as a main). He ate the whole thing and still had room for dessert, but since all dessert options involved sauce, or hot puddings, he was beginning to get annoyed until I reminded him, "Ask the waiter - they may be able to do something just for you. Ask for exactly what you want."
And he did. "Please sir, would I be able to have just vanilla scoop ice cream in a dish?"
The waiter replied, "I'm sorry, we don't have vanilla but we do have chocolate."
difficult child 3 replied, "Chocolate is OK." and then remembered, "Thank you."
The waiter then asked, "Would you like some sauce with that?"
difficult child 3 amazingly didn't shout, he managed to stop himself, but he did say, "Oh no, nothing else. Just ice cream please."

We really praised him after the waiter left - he finally got it! And, of course, his reward was ice cream the way he wanted it - and he enjoyed it very much.

Mind you, it will probably be so long before we eat out again, we'll have to start over!


Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful

It may or may not be social cluelessness. Nichole has always done this. And she certainly has no trouble with social clues. But whatever she's thinking and feeling gets blurted out. Doesn't matter where we are or the circumstance. I've noticed my son in law has the same issue.

If you ever find the secret to getting them to think before they open their mouths let me know. :hammer: Sheesh. Travis does a better job at tactfullness than they do. :rolleyes:


New Member

I love the restaurant success story. :wink: Made me smile. We have the same frustrations in restaurants. difficult child has learned how to order, too, for the most part. He doesn't like anything on any of his food either. Plain potatoes. Plain chicken. Spaghetti with NO sign of meat, thank you. He does not eat ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish, etc. None of it.

It's funny too, but we also congratulate difficult child when he has avoided a flip comment - and tells us about it.


You are right - I know several adults who are the same way - if the thought is in their heads, it's coming out of their mouths.

I guess by posting and reading all of the replies, I see this is a common problem - and it has helped me to better see the 'big picture'. difficult child has really improved in this area over the years - I just guess I didn't realize it.

I tend to get frustrated because it's a fairly constant problem - and can be quite embarassing for us as well as for difficult child, but since it doesn't seem to bother him I'm not sure we'll ever get him to completely see it as a real issue. Guess all we can do is continue to work on the skills in situations such as restaurants, etc.

Thanks again, all! :angel:


New Member
Yeah, that's Dylan, too. Sometimes, it doesn't bother me.

So, when he gets agitated by, say, a crying baby in the restaurant (because his cues and triggers are SO obvious anymore), before he can open his mouth, I'll lean over and say "aww, Dylan, you know, that mommy is probably feeling so bad because her baby is crying". And he'll say "yeah" ~ LOL, and give me a look like "darn I was gonna say something bad, but I guess I won't now".

I think alot of it is impossible, because if you're in a situation where you're not specifically watching THAT child, what are you gonna do, you know?

So yeah, I spend every second of my life, outside the home, when I'm with Dylan, waiting for the next trigger. I'm a winner :hammer: But I think I can say those instances of him mouthing off in public have slowed down alot (but not diminished yet).

I'm trying now to teach him more empathy. He's 10. I dunno maybe he wasn't wired with it. Sometimes it doesn't seem so.



New Member
I am so glad I'm not te only one wit a difficult child that does this.
Mine's 12, almost 13, and he will embarass you all the time.
Good advice as how to help it.