I LOVE autistics' honesty!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Marguerite, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I've had several examples today of the great advantages of the honesty you get with an autistic child.

    Today was going to be busy. difficult child 3 had an appointment in the city with therapist. We were also to drop in t husband's work to collect stuff and I also planned to drop in at the Cancer Centre to get some tubigrip for dressings. Jut difficult child 3 & me,, I planned to get him to do some work on his assessment task while we were in the car. I knew it would be a log shot, but with just me, I felt sure I could get him to get something done.

    Then mother in law broke her glasses, needed new glasses because otherwise she sees double. So I rang around, got her in to the optometrist halfway to the city where she had the glasses made (some years ago). It was right on the way.

    We set off. I got difficult child 3 to talk through his work with me in the car, but mother in law was immediately putting her oar in, saying things to me like, "He's going to be stubborn," which I know coming from her is a self-fulfilling prophecy - difficult child 3 hears a remark like that and shuts down. I did say something like, "He and I are dealing with this, it is under control," and I also had to verbally smack difficult child 3 down for saying to grandma, "This is between me and mum, you're not helping, so shut up."

    Despite this, we got the task talked through ("Read me the question; now, what do you think it means? OK, write that down in point form", then I let difficult child 3 lose himself in his PSP; anything to stay below grandma's radar. Grandma & I chatted happily (well, chatted) and we made good time. At the optometrist we parked right outside, they said, "We can fix these in five minutes." Five minutes turned to 45 and we had to go without grandma - as it was, we were late to the therapist.

    At the therapist came the first really obvious blessing. Because difficult child 3 himself doesn't know (because I'm not telling him) I hadn't had the chance to tell the therapist of the English teacher's accusation that I wrote difficult child 3's assessment task for him. At the therapist we talked about how husband is so similar to difficult child 3 probably because he's Aspie but was never diagnosed as such because it wasn't understood back then; and also that Grandma's method of upbringing was "never talk back; always respect your elders" even when the elders behave badly. We talked about how difficult child 3 has to learn to put up with the unfairness of grandma trying to 'discipline' him because frankly, she is too old to change. But his dad IS changing, but when he's tired and stressed, he tends toforget and 'snap back' to old habits. As does difficult child 3 himself.

    Then the subject of the assessment task (computing) came up, the one we had been talking about this morning. difficult child 3 said, "It was OK for you to ask me to read it to you, and for you to ask me to talk about it, but you're not allowed to help me. I won't let you; this has to be my own work and I always make sure that it is."
    He was even saying that he won't look up references, because then it won't be his own work. I was saying, "You can ask your teachers questions about it, it's OK. If they're not allowed to answer that question, they will tell you but won't penalise you for asking. And it's OK to look stuff up and use it, as long as you cite the reference. That's actually a GOOD thing because it shows that you're trying to find out more.

    The thing is - difficult child 3 was independently saying, without prompting, that always his Assessment Tasks are his own work.

    I slipped the therapist a note as we left, explaining the problem in more detail. So when it comes to next term and the need to resolve the problem with his English teacher, we now have one more witness to verify difficult child 3's honesty.

    We left, dropped in on husband then headed back to the optometrist to collect mother in law (now with repaired specs). There were other things we wanted to do; mother in law wanted to drop in on a nearby shop for some sweets for sis-in-law when she arrives on Thursday. difficult child 3 wanted to go to the mall; so did we, we had shopping to do. So as I drove round the block, I said, "Maybe we can send difficult child 3 in to get the sweets, it will be quicker."
    difficult child 3 said, "But that will take too long, don't ask me, it's not fair, I have things I want to do too."
    mother in law immediately said, "Typical - always thinking of yourself!" but I realised difficult child 3 had misunderstood. I said, "Not the mall; I meant here. If you do this for us, it means we get to the mall quicker."
    But as it turned out, I decided to go get the sweets myself, so I could choose. Explaining what we needed to difficult child 3 would have taken too long.

    Now, apparently after I left the car, there were words exchanged between mother in law & difficult child 3. Neither of them said anything to me when I got back. Which tells me now - guilty conscience, the pair of them.

    We got to the mall, difficult child 3 went off to do his stuff while mother in law & I did our shopping. mother in law lent her phone to difficult child 3 because she would be with me and not need it - I had planned to simply give difficult child 3 a time limit, but was grateful for the loan of the phone.
    I was back at the car loading the shopping when difficult child 3 rang. "Grandma's alarm has gone - she needs to take her pills."
    Grandma arrived at that point so I told her difficult child 3 had rung to remind her about her medications. Again - nobody told me anything, I as unsuspecting.

    We got back home. Dropped mother in law off. I asked difficult child 3 to help get her bins in while I got mother in law's shopping in. No arguments - he helped. But as we got home (just me and difficult child 3) he said, "I don't want to have dinner at grandma's tonight."
    I said, "Why? Because she was needling you a bit today?" (I was thinking of the couple of comments I had heard).
    I told difficult child 3 that I was cooking one of his favourites, he needed to come down for dinner. He didn't want to. I said, "You don't need to talk to grandma much. Talk to your cousin instead, she won't be here for much longer."

    So he reluctantly said he would.

    I went down to mother in law's to begin cooking. By the time I got there, niece and her friend had finally arrived back from their own visit to the city.

    mother in law said to me, "Is difficult child 3 not coming down to dinner? I thought he would be sulking."
    I said that he might be playing with his new purchases, he was having trouble with one of them (true). mother in law then told niece that difficult child 3 had got upset with her. I thought she was referring to the times I had heard, but I finally realised that there had been a scene in my absence. I asked mother in law what had happened. By this time, husband had arrived.

    mother in law's version: "You got out of the car, he muttered something, I said, 'There's no need to be like that,' and he went to town on me. I'm not used to being spoken to like tat and I said so. That got him even angrier and he said, 'Just for that I won't go to the mall and I won't come down to dinner tonight.' I suppose I shouldn't have said anything...[too right] ...but maybe if someone says something he will learn not to talk to his elders with such disrespect."

    mother in law then continued to niece and her friend, "I know he has a problem, I get that, but he has to be told and he has to learn somehow."

    I had got up to leave the room to attend to dinner; I knew better than to try to talk to her, I was angry but I needed to hear difficult child 3's side of things. I also knew that mother in law reacts to anything unsettling with more attack, or 'teasing'. It rapidly can escalate, then she tries to backpedal out with "I was only joking, " or "Don't talk to me like that; don't be disrespectful."

    husband quietly rang difficult child 3 and talked him into coming down to dinner. We ate dinner, mother in law was a bit prickly but trying not to be. Any distance form difficult child 3, mother in law was taking personally and being alternately huffy, or conciliatory (as if to show, "Se? I am making concessions here.")

    I found a reason to go home early. I'm tired anyway, I've had a big day. husband decided to come home with me, I wasn't leaving GF3 there without us. difficult child 3 said, "You don't have to ask me twice." [we usually do]

    On the way home I said to difficult child 3, "OK, what happened when I was in buying sweets?"

    difficult child 3's version: "Grandma said, as soon as you were out of the car, that I was only thinking of myself as always. So I let her have it,she had been saying little things like this over and over, and I'd had enough."

    Putting it all together, plus what I had heard immediately before I left the car - mother in law's comment that difficult child 3 had muttered something and she had said, "Don't be like that" doesn't fit. It makes more sense to me that the comment she had made to me, which I thought I had successfully countered, of "He's being self-centred," when in fact difficult child 3 had misunderstood what I had asked and thought I was asking him to forgo all his own errands merely to go do our grocery shopping while we sat in the car. And instead of talking it through while I was there, mother in law waited until I was out of the way so she could administer the kind of parenting and strictness that she "KNOWS" that our son doesn't get from me. And, of course, it backfired. And she must have known she stuffed up badly, because she said nothing when I came back to the car. difficult child 3 would have been feeling guilty because he knows he shouldn't, ever, talk back to mother in law whatever the provocation. But mother in law said nothing. And if she really felt in the right, she would have said to me, when I go back, "I demand you tell your son to apologise to me."

    And yet - the stories don't match. But when I listen to both, it is difficult child 3's story which sounds much more continuous with what was happening immediately before.

    Once sis-in-law arrives, things will get worse. When they get together, sis-in-law and mother in law seem to conspire to "teach difficult child 3 how to behave" by the same little interferences. difficult child 3 gets confused and upset, but it is very difficult for us to defend. Of course difficult child 3 doesn't behave like a "normal" kid You try to teach a normal kid to knuckle under to authority and at worst you'll get silent, sullen resentment. But difficult child 3 doesn't have that sophistication.

    So twice today, I have felt confident in relying on difficult child 3's truth. It fits the reality, it was guileless, it was refreshing and it was extremely helpful.

    I can't ever say to mother in law, "You didn't tell mete whole story," because the last thing she wants to do is go back and deal with it. She is hoping we will sweep it under the carpet. But we do have to equip FG3 to cope with the coming onslaught of elderly female relatives hounding him to "behave" according to standards he can't handle.

    Autism brings a lot of headaches at times. But today - I have twice been very grateful for the good qualities it brings.


    PS and yes, we gave difficult child 3 a gentle talking to about how NOT to react to Grandma's brand of discipline. It achieves absolutely nothing. Justas she achieves absolutely nothing. Most of the problems today came about because she only heard half of what was being said, then she drew her own conclusions without listening any further.
  2. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    It makes me feel better to know I'm not the only one with brooms for in-laws, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with.

    I've taken Two Brooms to a couple of the kids' activities recently because the first time I asked went fairly well. I will be stopping that now, tho, as she is getting "comfy" again and starting to parent Wee, much as you describe.

    Not for nothing, she has high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, and eats at least a candy bar a day, and she feels the need to lecture Wee on how he eats...uh, no thanks. lol

    I do love the honesty, tho, you're right about that! Sometimes, they are embarrassingly honest.
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Shari, I normally get on well with mother in law. But when she's stressed for whatever reason, including her own health, she deflects a great deal and her behaviour can go out the window.

    At the moment, with niece and her friend staying there, both girls are about 21 and sis-in-law is apparently constantly calling and asking, "How is my daughter? Is she OK?" and then niece takes the car out for the day, goes into the city with her fried, mother in law worries about them when they're getting home after dark (and at the moment it gets dark at 4.30 pm). Niece is doing well, mother in law freely admits this, but I know she worries.

    And because she knows that she shouldn't be stressing about niece, she starts in somewhere else, somewhere she feels she has more chance. Or more latitude. Or something.

    difficult child 3 has to get work done on his Assessment Task. This morning I've promised to go down to mother in law's to help niece and her friend make pasta. difficult child 3 probably should come with me, but if I can say that he's doing schoolwork, he can get out of it. But I'll tell him this, and tell him my alibi has to be honest. That could work for me, to get him finally getting schoolwork done in the holidays (always a difficult task).

    Thing is, I'm going to mother in law's this morning, knowing she distorted yesterday's incident badly, as well as tried to hide it from me. My response is going to have to be NOT dealing directly with yesterday, but with the difference in her methods vs my methods. And my methods have more chance of working. hers have only caused conflict between them with no lesson learned. Whereas I had a long talk to him afterwards (husband also there, putting in his two cents worth very effectively) and I think we have managed to get across some very sophisticated (for difficult child 3) concepts, on how to put up and shut up, when there is no point speaking your mind.

    I do still need to emphasise with difficult child 3, to come and tell me the details, not to simply sweep them under the carpet.

    It was sad to have to hear husband say about his own mother, "Sometimes when people get old, their behaviour can get really childish. Kindergarten childish."
    We then reinforced, "But in grandma's world, you respect your elders and do not speak harshly to them, no matter how much you feel they deserve it."

    Very sad. But sis-in-law these days is a younger version, and the two together egg each other on. I'm not looking forward to this.

    I used to get on well with sis-in-law. I should, still. But years of emotional abuse from her passive-aggressive husband have taught her some bad habits. She has two lovely daughters, but they have their own problems. They are also younger than my kids (difficult child 3 excepted - he's the youngest of them all). I've done a great job with my kids, considering the issues we've had. She's done a good job too. But none of us should criticise the other's parenting in such an underhand way. I don't undermine her parenting of her girls.

    I think, if the crunch comes this time, I am going to have to come out and say this.

    The problem is catching them in the act, because saying it at any other time would be met with blank stares and "I didn't do it!"


  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Aaargh. What a mess.
    At least you can teach difficult child 3.
    It is so hard to explain these kids to people who just don't get it.
    I hear you!
  5. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Amen! If people could just respect this one basic rule.....
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I got to mother in law's to find her kitchen a hive of activity, the mixmaster going. Mixmaster? to make lasagne?

    Turned out, that despite the girls planning to begin working on this lasagne for days, giving mother in law plenty of notice, that mother in law chose the exact same time to begin making a batch of biscuits. Niece's younger sister arrives with their mother tomorrow evening, and asked grandma specially, for her home-made biscuits. Frankly, the biscuits could have and should have waited - the oven will be on this evening cooking the lasagne, it's easy to use the same hot oven to bake biscuits then. The girls had booked time at a spa early this afternoon and needed to get the lasagne assembled before they left; I had an appointment at midday but had promised to begin helping the girls make pasta sheets from 10 am. But it took until 11.30 am (when I should have been leaving) before we could begin on the pasta.

    When I arrived, mother in law began talking to me over the sound of the mixer. She has serious hearing trouble and didn't realise she was speaking too quietly fort me to hear. But I do lipread fairly well and as soon as i realised she was trying to say she had not slept properly, and I looked like I hadn't slept properly, all because OBVIOUSLY we had both been upset by difficult child 3's appalling behaviour the day before and "I've never been spoken to like that before..." - I shouted over the mixer, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU, THERE IS TOO MUCH NOISE; I DIDN'T SLEEP WELL LAST NIGHT BECAUSE MY SHOULDER IS BAD. THAT'S WHY I'M SEEING THE PHYSIO AT MIDDAY."

    I know if I had let her engage, especially with the noise, the argument would have escalated but she would have not heard things properly.

    While waiting, and to get away from both the girls making a hash of the lasagne and also from mother in law stressing, I went out to do some garden weeding for her. One less person to clutter the kitchen. When I came back in she acted upset that i had left the house, tried to hug me as if she had upset me again. It's the closest I will ever get to an apology. I then made the pasta with the girls, got it to point where they could continue without me and dashed off to my appointment. Luckily, the physio was running late - her previous patient was someone i dread being around too much, she's another passive-aggressive plus attention-seeker. My treatment kept getting interrupted by this other patient (wrapped up with hot packs by this stage) asking for "another blankie". I'm not kidding! I felt, "I can't get away from this!" I'm OK sharing treatment with another patient who is really in need of the attention, but this was ridiculous. I know as soon as I tell husband who it was, he will get it.

    Interestingly, when I went back to mother in law's after my appointment to clean up, I found she already had cleaned up for me. The house was quiet, the girls had gone to their appointment at the spa, she had ample chance to sit and talk. But she didn't bring the subject up. She did chatter to fill the silence - she does that when she's upset and feeling guilty.

    As I said before - re-hashing the incident won't help in any way. We need to work on the issue at the most basic level - in order to get respect from difficult child 3, you first have to set the example and show him how to respect others. You can't accuse him and disrespect him, then expect him to not lash out. He's not a normal kid, his brain does't work normal way. He learns by imitation, which means it is vital that we do as we want him to do, and not rely on "do as I say."

    Such a pity I don't drink any more. A double vodka feels very tempting right about now...

  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    What a day!
    I hope your shoulder is feeling better. Sorry about the wigged out patient. You just can't get any peace!
    Glad mother in law is at least feeling guilty.
    If you can't have a martini, have a biscuit.
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I'll have a Tim Tam. We had a case of them arrive last week...

  9. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    What is it with some women? So many seem to have a need to judge other women's parenting style. You would think we would be accepting that not all children can be parented the same.
    From the sounds of most grandmothers, their children were perfectly behaved with manners that would impress a finishing school instructher and they were all born potty trained.
    I used to remind myself that grandmothers had their turn and I will ask for input when I want it. It's each mother's turn to raise their own child.
    I stopped thinking about badly behaved kids as something the parents failed to do.

    Marguerite, I believe our kids should advocate for themselves even to grandparents. Of course, teaching difficult child's how to advocate with respect and less emotion is a trick but I know most of us are working on it.
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It's difficult when there's a house full of people all talking at once, and mother in law is hard of hearing. Tonight I only got the edge of it, but I gather mother in law didn't hear difficult child 3 properly and asked him to repeat himself. And again. And again. difficult child 3 got frustrated and finally said, "It doesn't matter."
    mother in law, probably believing he was saying something that he shouldn't have and chose not to repeat it, began to insist. It began to escalate and niece intervened and I later heard her say that both were misbehaving.
    It was just too hectic and noisy for me to also keep insisting, and chase it up. I did get the chance to talk to niece about things, she also told me a few things she had observed (such as mother in law's behaviour yesterday when I left the house to work in the garden for a few minutes, to plant some broken-off bushes as cuttings. Apparently mother in law got very distressed because I went outside, was wailing that she had offended me again. It does account for her behaviour when I came back inside.

    Interestingly - the plant I was trying to salvage, was one I blamed niece for hitting with the car. When I came back inside and mother in law was asking me where I'd been, I said, "I was tidying up the plant that niece hit with the car."
    Niece said, "I didn't hit it," and I replied, "Well, I was tidying up the plant that someone hit."
    I know mother in law heard me. And it's her plant - her driveway, her home. But she was happy to let niece take the blame from me. Niece told me today what I was increasingly suspecting - mother in law herself drove over the plant. Now, it makes no difference to me. But she hid it. Even when I had mentioned it to her already a day or two earlier, mother in law acted surprised. But the more I thought about the timing, the more I realised it had to have been done before niece was allowed to drive mother in law's car. Niece confirmed today while she & I were out, that mother in law did it on the day she was driving niece to catch the boat.

    It's like mother in law is paranoid about being blamed for things, even when it's her own things and therefore absolutely doesn't matter. She's increasingly anxious about how she's perceived but also increasingly insistent on everything as she wants it, so she feels safe. Having young people in the house is something she loves, it seems to buck her up, but I'm wondering if she's cracking under the strain a bit.

    I think husband & I are going to have to have another talk to difficult child 3 and we need to develop a strategy to help him cope with her deafness. "Yes, repeat yourself. Or ask someone else to repeat what you said, if she still doesn't understand. But she's not asking you to repeat yourself just to be mean, she really didn't hear you."
    Again, this is the relativity problem again - difficult child 3 can hear perfectly well, so he can't understand how other people can't. So Ill try to explain this to her also, but the problem is - she's also increasingly egocentric (Aspie-style). Plus I think convinced difficult child 3 is saying mean things under his breath, knowing she has trouble hearing. And she is determined to know what he said, even if he said nothing. So - more accusations.

    If nothing else, I'm hoping difficult child 3 can learn some much-needed patience in all this. Because he's not the only difficult child!