How do I deal with my girlfriends 15 year old son with Asbergers?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Biohazmat, Jul 10, 2012.

  1. Biohazmat

    Biohazmat New Member

    I just recently moved in with my girlfriend knowing full well of her 15 year old son having Asbergers. I have been trying to connect with him but it is hard to get on his level.
    He wont go to school and the school officials are absolutely no help whatsoever we tried to get him to go to school and the cops had to be called because in his mind he wasn't going and that is it and he got violent. They send him to a center for about a week and then tell her to come get him. All he does all day while we are at work is watch TV playstation and netflix.
    We have 2 cats and they are so scared in the house that when I walk past them they just run because he chases them down and forces them to come to him and he is suppose to clean out the cat box and empty the dishwasher but just makes a mess.
    He has zero contact with his father so it has been up to my girlfriend and her mom to raise him and all he does to them is bully them till he gets what he wants and I wasn't raised like that if I wanted something I worked for it so I am lost.

    1)How do we discipline him?
    2)How can we make sure he is ready for society on his own?
    3)How can we get him to do chores around the house?
    4)Do I with hold things when he acts out?
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Hi, and welcome.

    I don't have an Aspie kid... but mine has "traits". Others with full-blown Aspies will be along...

    Meanwhile... keep in mind that transitions are not something an Aspie handles well... and you being added to the picture is definitely a major transition.

    How much research have you done into this disorder? Reading, on-line research, etc.? Because... approaches that work with a "typical" kid, do NOT work with Aspies. They thing different, they react different, they perceive different. Somehow, you need to figure out where HE is, because that is the starting point.
  3. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello and welcome!

    You can pretty well take any insights you have about "normal" parenting and throw them right out the window. Any of that "Well, I was raised to...." is not going to help.

    Aspies are very, VERY literal and they do get stuck in certain patterns. Changes/transitions are a big problem for them and that is where you are likely to see difficult behaviors, up to and including violence.

    Very clear communication is key. Say EXACTLY what you mean. A phrase like "Knock it off!" means nothing (knock what off of where???). And if you say something is going to happen, you must be prepared to make sure it happens. No - Oh well, we had to change our plans...

    Others will be along with more advice - but this is a start.
  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Oh, my, if your girlfriend won't/can't discipline him, you're in for a tough ride.

    I would take away the Playstation and only let him use it as a reward for chores and good behavior (that's what we do, which doesn't mean my son doesn't still try to bully me or misbehave, but it's a start).

    Find something he likes ... a food, a game, whatever, and make him work for it. "I'll make you gluten free brownies if you turn off the Playstation in 5 min." That sort of thing.
    I know what you mean about the cats. My son still does mean things to him but has finally figured out that they will only cuddle with-him at night if he lies still and then pets them gently. I guess your Aspie hasn't figured it out yet. Can't believe he hasn't been bitten or scratched.

    How far will your girlfriend let you go with-discipline?
  5. Biohazmat

    Biohazmat New Member

    We have been dating for over 3 years now so I have been in the picture for a while.
    An example of something I did to discipline him was I brought some steaks home to grill and and he asked what I was making and I said steaks he said for who and I said for me and your mother and he asked what about me? I asked him if he emptied the dishwasher and cleaned the cat box and he goes "ARRRRG" The girlfriend told me she wasn't hungry so I threw 2 steaks on one for me and one for him but i didn't tell him that I was making him one. His grandma was over so she starts to leave and she says to him that he needs to do his chores because I was making steaks and he goes that he didn't want any because he ate before we got home and he just walked over to his grandmas.
    So should keep doing this or change my tactics? On weekends I make waffles and he loves them. Should I just not make any for him till he does his chores?
  6. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Personally I doubt there is anything resembling a quick fix available. Fifteen years of "getting by" with-o hands on professional help for a child with needs most often, in my humble opinion, determines alot of the future. Asperger's is an odd syndrome that requires a very consistent set of daily goals and patterns. If the school system has not helped him begin on a path of independence and achievement that is very sad.

    The question is not whether he will accept discipline...the question is how can experts help him function at his best. It truly takes the patience of a Saint to share life peacefully with an Aspie child/teen/adult. What experts have been involved trying to properly diagnose his needs, capabilities and abilities? DDD
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Oh, Biohazmat. Wrong approach... simply because it isn't "logical" - to anybody.
    What on earth is the relationship between "supper" and "chores"?
    Some chores, yes.
    We can't sit down and eat supper until the lunch dishes are put away, for example.
    We also can't eat supper until supper has been cooked.

    Forget the concept of punishment. This kid needs Logical Consequences - applied with 100% consistency.

    For starters... have you ever seen the book "The Explosive Child"? (R. Greene, I believe) It's a different way of looking at "our" kinds of kids.
  8. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    An Aspie would never understand that you were just being tricky and really DID intend to give him a steak. He asked who they were for - you answered and as far as he was concerned....that was it. It wouldn't occur to him that there was an opportunity to "earn" a steak with chores.

    You are better off trying to establish a chore 'routine'. As in: 4:00 is time for chores. Every day at four we vacuum the carpets, sweep the floors, and put away the dishes in the dishwasher.
  9. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    I think my husband is an Aspie, and he was at his best in the military because of the constant routine and clear knowledge of what's expected of him. He's highly unorganized and will sit and play video games or look at stupid stuff on the computer without any kind of schedule. He's a SAHD, so like during school days when there is nothing else going on. He'd never think "oh, I know she wanted the house cleaned for next weekend's party, I'll do this today, and that tomorrow, and this other thing the next day" (it's my daughters birthday in less than a week, he needs to clean the kiddie pool, the backyard, etc, not complex stuff but I will have to beg him to get it done, and he'll end up doing it Saturday morning, totally p*ssing me off). He recently got a paper organizer, he never used the one on his phone, and this way he can look back at his past notes and write them down again and actually get things done. Sometimes I feel like I need to schedule a grid for the week of what he needs to do. I can beg and beg for him to do things to help me, and he just puts it off, procrastinator of the year. When I get mad because he didn't do them, he says sorry, but that doesn't fix anything. I just wish he'd make some money so we can hire a maid!

    I don't ever use food as a punishment, ever. husband does it and I get mad at him about it. My daughter is skinny and needs every calorie she can get. But I will use what she views as rewards or things she really wants as a barter. She's not aspie, just High-Functioning Autism (HFA), but is very literal. I was able to use this kind of thing yesterday. She lost my grandma's bracelet when she was playing dress up. I was super calm about it, knowing it was in the backyard somewhere. I wouldn't have pulled this if it was lost on the street. I told her no birthday presents unless she found it. I could have followed through too, as I haven't gone shopping for her and she knew that. The party could have been it, or maybe just socks and undies as presents, I was serious as it was something special to me. I repeated myself when I got home about her finding it, went out and helped her focus on where to look, and she found it. I do the same thing about going to the store, she loves to go shopping and run errands with me (just to spend any time with her and me) and that's one of the few ways to get her butt into gear.

    So if your stepson has a favorite, I would 1. learn more about it so you CAN talk to him. Aspies are sometimes big talkers, if you get them on "their" subject and 2. use that as punishment or reward. For example, if he likes baseball, tell him you'll take him to a game if he goes to school for an entire month without any ditching (not including real sickness). Make the time period smaller if that's what it takes to reach the goal. Get him to reach it so he'll feel good, and then make the goal bigger. But if he's on a baseball team, don't take that away because it's one way to let him have some catharsis and hang out with peers in an organized and routined setting.

    And hide or take with you the PS3 controllers. It's something he likes that he doesn't need, so use that to your advantage.

    And if he's having rages, he needs further help (unless your girlfriend already has him on something). What kind of place did he go to for a week and what did they put him on when he left?
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm surprised he's not in special services from school or the community. From your description of him, like many aspies, he may never be able to be 100% independent and will one day need assisted living. My son has had services since before age three and is nineteen now. He isn't independent and will need some assisted living, but he is well behaved and likes to do chores, especially for some sort of reward. I have no idea why this child never got any help, but that won't help him in his life. He needed it before and he needs it now. And he needs it from professionals. In the meantime, I suggest reading about Aspergers. You don't seem to really understand how Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) people think (not that they all think alike, but you seem to expect him to act like a typical teenager and that isn't going to happen).

    There is no way for you to apply the parenting methods you knew or are familiar with to a child who has such different wiring as an Aspie. It won't work. In fact, since you are just the boyfriend (no offense) in my opinion you shouldn't be parenting him at are not related to him.

    I think both you and your girlfriend could use counseling to learn how to parent an Aspie (you'll be parenting him longer than you'd parent a typical kid because they mature much later and often never 100%.) He will be a part of your life as long as you are with girlfriend and probably a big part. If you expect him to want to go off on his own and get a job at eighteen, you probably need a different romantic relationship situation. He will probably need help finding a specialized job (maybe with a job coach) and not full time. If he can't or won't take care of his needs, or can not find a decent paying full time job (many Aspies need job help, as stated above) he will need some sort of assisted living. Aspies tend to be very naive and need looking after or others can take serious advantage of them. It does not sound as if he is especially high functioning and it does sound like somebody dropped the ball in his early years so he is way behind his typical peers and other Aspies who got services.

    It is EXTREMELY common for Aspies to have very limited interests and videogames and Netflix are totally typical obsessioins. Aspies have very limited imaginations which makes it hard for them to amuse themselves so videogames and movies help them have something to do. We force son to play sports (he actually likes them), and he is active in other activities for young adults with special needs (and he enjoys them). So he is out some of the time, but, really, his favorite thing to do is play videogames. Most boys like videogames, but Aspies tend to be obsessed with them (and often movies). And I find that forcing him not to play doesn't stop him from thinking about game strategy 24/7 nor does it get him to develop new interests. We let him play videogames and don't monitor him, however, at his age, he also goes to a special work place six hours a day and, of course, baseball practice. So he's pretty busy and your Aspie can be too, if Mom steps up to the plate. It's really up to her if she wants him to be a productive person or just a disabled adult who has no life at all. These kids can't take the lead on their own.

    I think this kid should be in school with an IEP, but, hey, that's me. There must be some alternative school that would take with small classes.

    Good luck, whatever you decide to do!
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2012
  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Great ideas! Best of luck.
  12. keepongoing

    keepongoing Guest

    Here is how I would have done the steak/chore. I would have let him know that he first needs to do the chores (which would take about 15 min) and then he can have a steak. First...then statements -for kids who tend to have tunnelvision about the things they want (like steak)- it is helpful to bring things in a predictable order.
    Also-kids on the spectrum do not understand that people might say one thing but think or mean something else. If you said that the steak is not for him, it is not for him. The way he sees it is that you laid into him about chores (totally unrelated in his mind) and made steaks for everyone but him and the only thing he understood is that you are mean.
    Honestly - be very concrete and specific in what you want from him, you need to spell it out. "First I need you to empty the dishwasher and clean the cat box and then you will get a steak."
  13. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Every person on the autism spectrum is quite different (Asperger's is on the autism spectrum, sorry if that is obvious but wanted to make sure I wasn't assuming something you might not know) so, we can give ideas, but please know that you need to learn about him, and while he has to learn the world does not revolve around him, in a way it does. He literally can't change how he thinks but can learn skills to do better and to learn ways to cope and get things done.

    I'd encourage you to look and see if there is an autism society in your area or even anywhere within an hour of you. There are often introduction to autism classes which can really help you understand that to many people with autism, it is difficult to understand other people's perspectives, they dont infer meanings well, thinking is very rigid/black and white, and they do really well with structure and routine. Setting that up takes patience and kindness even when they are upset with the change. CHANGE is very very hard for many people with autism. So, for my family, I count on the first time or the first few times we do something to be awful but after that it becomes comforting and he is upset if the routine changes. I stick to the routine as much as possible even if it means that someone in my family or some activity I want to do is inconvenienced.

    Try very hard not to take things personally. Remember, even in families with "step" parents when there are no disabilities, the biological parent needs to take the lead in discipline. It is very helpful to have an autism professional to help with these issues because typical psychologists do not understand how to work with autism. The skills they learn have to be directly taught (that is, they may not get it thru trial and error, or thru watching what others around them do....that includes social niceties). There are tools to help, and for many people visuals like "social stories" that explain what needs to happen really help.

    While some here have success using the high interests to motivate or reward, for me and for many kids the high interest things or things they really LOVE are way too powerful to use as a motivator or threat. If I told my son that he can't watch NASCAR unless he does X that would not go over at all. As may have said, it is better to just set up a routine, preferably even have it in writing and do it together.

    He is at an age when transition is important and there are programs that can help teach independent living skills. Does he have an IEP in school? If going to school is an issue, the entire program is needing to be analyzed. He likely needs home services and the county may be able to help if he has a diagnosis. There are often services through counties to help find programs for people with these kinds of disabilities. Might be worth checking out. This is not a mental illness, so sometimes the mental health profession can make things more difficult because the strategies are quite different if Asperger's is not part of the picture. But if he has issues (which are often symptoms of Asperger's or sometimes additional diagnoses...either way they need to be addressed) like anxiety or depression or other behavior disorders, then he may need medications and additional therapies. But the Autism/Asperger's is always under it all and needs to be considered when any type of therapy or behavior plan is developed.

    My best to you, it is a huge undertaking and you are to be credited for wanting to learn more so you can truly be a support to both his mom and him.
  14. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I couldn't follow your logic with the steaks, so there's no way a kid with Asperger's could.

    Your girlfriend's son is 15 years old chronologically, but not emotionally. I'm not telling you to treat him like a 4 year old, but think about how you would explain something to a 4 year old and go from there. (I always think of the line from the movie Philadelphia with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, where Denzel would say, "Explain it to me like I'm a 4 year old."). There was a point in time when if I told my daughter to empty or unload the dishwasher, she would and I'd find all of the clean dishes stacked on the counter. My fault because I didn't tell her to put them away in their correct spots.

    An example of a logical consequence: If clothes weren't in hampers, they didn't get washed. I wasn't going to go digging around for dirty clothes. 15 minutes before I started laundry, I let my kids know (my NT and my Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kid both) that I was going to do laundry and to make sure their dirty clothes were in the hamper. If they weren't, they didn't get washed until the next time I did laundry.

    My daughter is 17. There are still times that I have to help her clean her room, although I no longer do any of the physical work. I sit in her room and tell her to do this. After she's completed that task, I tell her what to do next. And how literal these kids are cannot be emphasized enough. I get caught all of the time using expressions like, "We'll just play it by ear," only to have that lead to a 30 minute discussion on what that really means, and most of the time I'm left realizing how silly our expressions really do sound.

    These kids generally like structure, which is hard for me because I am not a structured person. But they like to know that at this time that happens, etc.
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Actually, I'd guess most Aspies would just rage if kept from their special areas of interest and in a way I think it's cruel to do so. It's not t heir faults that they are different and no matter what we do they aren't going to become "typical." Depending on how high functioning they are, some can learn to live alone without assistance. My son will live alone, but he is going to have a caseworker come out a few times a week to take him shopping, make sure he is taking care of his medical needs, etc. As for money, I'm his legal guardian. He simply can't refrain from spending every dime in his bank account on stuff he likes, no matter how much he is taught. He would spend his rent money. Yet he is very capable of keeping his room clean, cooking, doing chores, driving (a big victory!) and controlling his temper. Again, he had a lot of interventions. I think 15 needs to have them too.