my child refuses to listen to me

pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
No, not the surly teens with whom I live. They are more or less on an even keel for now; subject to change at a moment's notice.

I am referring to my charge at work. I will call him Jack out of respect for his privacy. Jack is bright, but he prefers to be in his own world. He enjoys stimming all day, every day. I understand how calming it is for him, so I mostly leave him alone about it. I step in if he is disrupting other students.

The problem is that Jack's father does not grasp that his child has no interest in school work. Jack is capable enough, but lately he is refusing to do anything for me. I mean that in the most literal sense. Jack was moved to a class in which the children are required to take the state standards of learning tests. This means that the teachers have to cover a lot of material rapidly.

Jack CAN learn, but he learns everything slowly. Today, he was supposed to be working on math problems only 2 pages of them. I asked him to complete 4 of them. It took him an hour and a half. I made him miss his social skills class (which he loves) to work on math problems. Before you guys state the obvious and say, "send the work home with him," that won't work. Dad may want his boy in the more strenuous class, but homework rarely returns to us completed.

So, Jack is frustrated because these teachers at school want him to learn a bunch of stuff that he has no interest in and no use for. Now, he is becoming defiant. I ask him to sit, and he refuses. He refuses to do his work. He is getting in my face, pushing me, and shoving my arm. My coworkers have told me that I can force him to go to the conference room and do work all day, but what good will that serve when he will only sit there and happily stimulant all day long?


Well-Known Member
Oh dear. I see kids who have different agendas from their parents quite often. In my district, it's usually parents who are very achievement oriented (achievement according to their standards and expectations) and the kids are often placed in classes that aren't meeting their needs. And we, as the professionals who spend 6 hours a day with them, are expected to make it happen, even when we see that it's detrimental. I'm all about high expectations, but this child is pushing back. It must be hard for you.


Crazy Cat Lady
Could it be that he's not being taught in the way he wants/can learn? I know that kindergarten was an absolute disaster for me. I could read and write at the 4th grade level in kindergarten, and the rest of the kids were counting and stringing wooden beads, and learning to write their names.

I spent my time wandering around class and getting into trouble, or staring off into space and stimming. Thankfully, in first grade, I was skimmed off by a program called "Access to Excellence" and allowed to learn in the way I could learn. Not only that, I was taught at my level and encouraged to go further whenever I was ready.

It was like placing a starving person in front of an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Perhaps Jack would benefit from an evaluation that would not only check for autism spectrum disorders but would also look for learning disabilities/superiorities/differences, so that an IEP could be set up mandating the best way to teach him.

pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
Yes, Jack is suffering from his father having far too high expectations for him. GN, I've thought a lot about the fact that Jack learns differently from the other students. He is in a self-contained classroom for children with autism. Even though I've worked with him for about a year, it is tough to know what he needs. He reads and writes beautifully, but cannot/will not answer questions about what he has read. I know he knows how to do those math problems we were working on yesterday. He simply did not want to do them. When he is tested, he guesses at the answers.

He was in a different class at the beginning of the year for children with intellectual disabilities. The pace of the class was much slower, and Jack was happy and somewhat bored. I think he is one of those children that fits somewhere in between the classes that the public school system offers. His father wants us to push him but isn't cooperating by doing his part at home. This boy is stressed. It stinks.

I also think the boy NEEDS more physical activity. If he were my child, I'd be taking him for a walk every morning. He is always more focused after P.E. class. His behavior is always worse on days that he doesn't have P.E.

There's an IEP. That's how I entered the picture. The problem is that I can't MAKE him do his work. I've noticed that the other children who also have autism WANT to learn. I can help them and then back away, and they will work independently. This boy would rather be in his own world; he's happy there. I think the adults are like so many flies buzzing around his head, asking him to do pesky tasks, constantly irritating him.


Well-Known Member
There are vastly different severities and levels of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). He really is his own person and what other asders do are not relevant to him. Some can be motivated (my son is very) and some dont have the ability to do independent work nor the drive. I hope jack gets interventions such as Occupational Therapist (OT) and pt at school. You cant do it all!!

Remember this too. Just because he can read doesnt mean he understands the words. Another problem with thinkers on the spectrum is that they tend to focus on little details and miss the big picture. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), at its core, is a.communication and social disorder. He may feel he has to memorize the story in order to explain what he read.

Work is taxing for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids. Many can only do so much then their brains can overload and they shut down. Not their fault.

Discipline such as missing a much NEEDED social skills.class will not make jack able to do more work than his brain can take in nor enable him to do it faster. I have always felt that schools need to educate their workers/educstors on autism. Too often they get blamed and punished for things they can not control.

My son had "no homewotk" in his IEP. I forced it it was too.stressful for.him to prolongue the he needed down time. I would have been a force to wrecken with if he EVER missed his social skills class. It was more important than math or reading to his life and that would have never happened. I stayed very close to.what.went on in school with him and now as a young man he is.doing well. Im glad they knew I was watching. They need to educate school personal a lot more. Not your fault.they dont.

Jack sounds like a typical average functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kid whose brain shuts down and takes him into his own world when he is differently wired brain is overstimulated and needs a rest.
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Well-Known Member
I so agree with this. Being out of step, can mean something wonderful, too.
He reads and writes beautifully, but cannot/will not answer questions about what he has read
There is another thread currently about a teen on the spectrum who is it risk of not graduating from high school, because she will not turn in her homework. She is performing beautifully in all other ways.

This sounds similar.

It is the responsibility of the school to accommodate the child, not only that he learn but that he be evaluated in a way that corresponds to his learning style.

The responsibility of the educators is to come up with a manner to evaluate him that he can do. It is not his responsibility or yours. It is theirs. (I am assuming you in in the USA and in a public school.)

I agree with Serenity and GN.



Crazy Cat Lady
I never cared about grades or academic awards. Needing to KNOW was like an aching void inside of me.

I tolerated school for years as a means to know. When school could no longer provide that, there was nothing to sit on the balance against the bullying I endured and I dropped out.

I am nearly 56 and the need to know hasn't left me. I have just learned how to feed it on my own.

Something else to be aware of. Depending on Jack's age, the severity of his autism, and how well he has learned on his own and with help to compensate for it, they may not be able to classify him beyond Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

When I was diagnosed via multi-disciplinary evaluation in my 40s, I scored fairly high on the tests and exams, but from what I was told, I had learned to compensate so well, that they couldn't decide whether I was an Aspie, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), or just High Functioning Autism.

I have had no treatment for the autism. my mental health team is very aware of it, and takes it into consideration when managing my care, but the general consensus is to not fool with how I've compensated as I've come out functional. Weird, but functional.

All this is to say that the type of autism might not be the most important thing.What is most important for Jack is that he learn coping mechanisms so that he can cope in school and in life.

The not doing/handing in work sounds much like he has overloaded and shut down.

The math? Believe it or not, he may be able to do the work in his head, but not be ABLE to show his work. I have this problem with math as well, plus, I do not arrive at my correct answers in the usual way.

I also cannot do much math at all unless I have something, such as biology, to apply it to. Then the math pops out of the deep, dusty, crevasse in my brain in which it hides.


Active Member
Pigless, do you have a reward system in place to incentivize Jack to work. J was diagnosed on the spectrum when he was younger. He loved to do jigsaw puzzles. So, the teachers set it up that when he completed his work, he could have jigsaw puzzle time. I don't know if this would work for Jack, but perhaps something along these lines?

pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
Yes, there are incentives for Jack. He loves music. One of the teachers is good about rewarding him with a song, but he has to do his work and listen to instructions from me in order to earn that song. The second teacher will not provide that reward reliably. I keep Jolly Ranchers on hand and always give him one at the end of class if he has done his work.

SWOT, I hear you about missing social skills. I was at the end of my tether and out of ideas. Jack loves social skills class and being with his friends. It was the only reasonable consequence for his behavior. Jack refused to do his math work for the entire math period. His father is the one pushing the school to teach him beyond Jack's tolerance. Jack has one of those "my son will be an engineer" types of fathers. That means that Jack, like it or not, has to complete much more math work than he can comfortably handle. Jack learns at a much slower rate than the other children. Ideally, he could do 15 minutes of math and take a 15 minute break. Sadly, school is too structured to accommodate his need.

On Friday, I was attempting to only get Jack to do 4 math problems involving the Pythagorean Theorem. The teacher left him with about 30 problems to do. She was in a meeting. GN, I did check to see if he was doing the problems in his head. He also knows that I will do all the writing for him as long as he tells me what the steps are. He guesses. It is pretty much like that with every subject. He is not motivated to learn all this crud which must seem like so much mumbo-jumbo to him.

I am also working with a second student who does understand the problems and can work them out with minimal help. The difference is that she tries to do them. Jack is now standing (won't sit for me), stimming, and often repeating nonsensical phrases. Yep, he's shut down all right. I wish there were a way to get his father to understand the stress he is under. What is the point of making this child take an exam that he will fail?


Active Member
Where is mom in all of this? I'm not a teacher, but I have been through all of this with J. It would seem to me that an emergency IEP meeting needs to be held to discuss Jack shutting down. Obviously, the IEP in place isn't working. Plus, if Dad is unwilling to do his part, then I don't see why the school should push Jack to the point of breaking. I agree we need to encourage and challenge our children, but if we're pushing the child to the point of meltdown or shutdown, then I think it's too much and is not in the best interest of the child.


Well-Known Member
It is pointless, even cruel, for jacks father to try to make him do what he cant do, either due to slow processing, inability to understand, high stress or all. He will probably sadly be disappointed in his son. This makes me sad.
Im sorry you have to deal with a father in denial. Autistics do not think, process, learn or handle frustrstion like neurotypicals. His dad is in for a bitter disappointment. His child is not capable or interested in copying him and its too bad that the unconditional acceptance doesnt seem to be there.
No child should ever be pushed into a meltdown.


Well-Known Member
He reads and writes beautifully
the other children who also have autism WANT to learn
Given that his reading and writing are so developed he must have wanted to learn at some point.

You know I was a normal student as far as I know, but I hated math and felt unable to do it. Until I began to take self-paced courses where everything I needed to understand and perform was within my control. I had set a new educational goal for myself as an adult, and I was newly motivated. Then I loved higher mathematics and consumed it. I could not stop. I wonder if such a thing as self-paced math is available for youngsters.
It would seem to me that an emergency IEP meeting needs to be held to discuss Jack shutting down
Yes. I was the kind of parent that this Dad seems to be. Stressed and over-burdened myself, I did not have the time to supervise my son with his homework to the extent that was optimal, and I relied too much on teachers. And my expectations of them were unrealistic and unfair, now that I look back.

If you call an IEP the Dad will be defensive, I think. But no reason not to do it.

Personally, I think there is no reason that Jack should have to conform to the demands of standardized testing. It sounds like if left to his own devices, he learns. And if he loves the social skills class (not to mention music), isn't that a really good thing?

Nobody is going to change the Dad. I have compassion for him, not blame. Most of us struggle to be the best parents we can. Nobody makes a perfect grade.

I see the worst outcome as pushing up against Jack so that he becomes resistant and oppositional, that is, making a problem where none really exists. And really, what I hear you saying is that the parent and the standardized testing requirement are the issue, not the child.



Well-Known Member
Shutting down is the childs overstimulated brain saying "too much." Autistic brains are different and each Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) child has different tolerance levels. My son fortunately was, as he aged...yes that can help, not tolerate more. At the same time, he has never adspted to crowded rooms of people and, like the majority of those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), panics when in sensory overload.
Jack is in a class for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) children so his dad knows that he processes life differently. It would be best for jack if he loved him for who he is. That worked magic for sonic. Honestly, he is the happuest, sweetest, most beloved person around. No, he will not and has no interest in college. College is not for everyone. Most on the spectrum cant do college, but they can still be so happy. I know Sonic does not judge worth, his or anyone elses, by high work achievement or monetary achievement but by character. Im with Sonic there.
Autism is poorly understood right now, just as schizophrenia used to be (and oftrn still is).
I know I would not have liked SOnic in a class full of autistic kids. I think he benefitted by diversity. He was in a mixed Special Education class for a few classes and mainstreamed for others and the kids at his school were used to differences since they saw "different" kids all the time in the halls. Sonic mnever got teased and had some neurotypical friends. When people hear thatbSonic, who is well known in the community, is my son, I almost always hear them rave about how kind and special he is and thst they LOVE him. I beam, even though he did the hard work to be this person, not me.
Jack may be doing the best he can considering his level of ability and sensitivity to stress or sensory surroundings, in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) pushing only leads to the brain shutting down for protection or for meltdowns. And they dont like who they are.
Sonic was accorded timed accomodations for standard tests. If they became too hard or long "I just put down anything,"
Sonic was not defiant. But he knew his limits and would always take good care of himself, which was encouraged,
We need to take good care of ourselves, and our kids need to learn to love themselves too, I think. I know I had trouble learning to love/accept me. Thankfully. Sonic knows how and has good self esteem. Jacks dad is unlikely to get the child he wants who is like him. Its too bad. Jack will feel he let his father down and father will never accept that jack is differently wired. He does know it but seems to think it will go awsy if he pushes the teachers enough.
I see this more with men than woman. Ive been in a large group of parents with autistic kids since sonic was young. Ive seen autistic lids grow up. None are engineerd.
Very very brilliant aspies can do that, but jack doesnt seem like one.
Keep trying. These kids need gentle shoves and lots of praise. My son always responded well to positive rewards but they are all so different.
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pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
Mom moved to a different state and has no contact with Jack. I suspect Mom was jetting from Dad who likes to verbally explode on women. I had to take Jack to the clinic when he suddenly had red splotches on his hands and face. He was having an allergic reaction to an antibiotic. The nurse called Dad, and Dad proceeded to ream her out for the time she called him when Jack had head lice months ago. Dad carried on for 15 minutes about the head lice while the nurse was trying her darndest to get it into his head that the child was having an allergic reaction. Dad is a horror.

There was a meeting with Dad just last week. I am never a part of these meetings. I really like the teachers that I work with, but standing up to Jack's dad is tough on them. No one has been successful at getting Dad to accept the child he has instead of the child he dreamed he would have. Dad expects us to force Jack do the work. The teacher asked me to start rewarding Jack with a skittle every time he completes a small portion of work. I tried that, but when I give him the skittle, he plays with it. The skittle becomes yet another distraction in a long list of distractions in the room. There is blowing his nose, using the restroom, making cow eyes at his girlfriend, repeating nonsensical phrases and stimming.

Jack has no issues with noise or crowds. I'm the one getting a migraine, and he is perfectly relaxed and having fun. He is extroverted and often introduces himself to new kids. The general population all know who he is, like him and high five him. Even some of the "rough" kids know Jack and greet him. His favorite class is P.E. He loves to go outside, so if any P.E. class is outside, we go out. During the winter, he was perfectly content to dance around the gym while the gym was full of gen ed kids playing various games. Jack floats between them dancing, spinning, and gyrating to the music completely at ease. My job is to let him know if he will be in the way. For example, they often have to run a timed test on one half of the gym. I let Jack know when they are doing it, and he dances on the other side of the gym. Sometimes he runs along with them; I let him choose.

The other amazing thing about Jack is his uncanny ability to read facial expressions. We had a surprise lockdown one day. We were in P.E. at the time, and the teachers were scrambling to get the kids into the gym. The teachers became understandably super serious, stern, and tense. Jack behaved well during the drill, but the next day he was afraid to return to gym. He was able to tell me that the teachers "had mean faces." He witnessed the change in them and it scared him.

It is pointless, even cruel, for jacks father to try to make him do what he cant do, either due to slow processing, inability to understand, high stress or all. He will probably sadly be disappointed in his son. This makes me sad.

It makes me sad, too.


Well-Known Member
You are a gifted loving person who appreciates jack and are an asset to this special young man. Sounds like the father has issues, which is too bad.
Keep up the great work. It is people like you in school who helped my boy have good memories of school and jump up on the spectrum. You did a great job with your own kids so this does not surprise me.
You are a true mom hero. I remember your amazing story and now you are here for jack. Just keep being you. Jack will benefit :)

pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
Many of the kids play with their hands. They wiggle their fingers around and stare at the movement. Jack does that, but he also waves his hands around (hand flapping), rocks his body back and forth, clacks his teeth together, and sometimes loses himself staring a his thumb which is pulled way back.

When he is completely let loose in P.E. class he spins his whole body in circles and does a lot of skipping around the track. All of these movements he finds calming. He never stops moving. Some of the teachers try to get him to stop rocking. I don't bother him as long as his rocking is gentle. When he rocks so hard that the chair and desk are sliding around and the other kids are distracted, I will go over and massage his shoulders. That seems to help calm him.

That's why I think he should get exercise every morning. He never stops moving. Sitting is torture for him. We tried having him stand at a podium for awhile, but his movements were too distracting to the other kids, and he wandered away from the podium. I've asked the Occupational Therapist (OT) if we can give him a bouncy chair from the teachers' work room.

I suspect that when Jack repeats phrases over and over that that is also stimming in a different form. Those verbal choices seem to be a pattern with him. The zanier the phrase is, the more likely the other kids will find it funny. Then the others laugh, and he likes that. Last week's phrase was "Sam's soap." Sometimes I can figure out what the phrases mean, sometimes not. He spent a couple of weeks saying the name of his favorite restaurant; that was an easy one. My personal favorite was "blue chocolate letters."

Thanks, SWOT. I'm feeling particularly ineffective these days. After writing all this stuff about Jack's dad, I realize that Jack needs me to be angry with him. I can't do that. I can't spend my whole work day angry at someone. I do have a coworker with a shorter fuse, so I think she and I can switch kids for a few days. That might help with some of the work refusal.


Active Member
I realize that Jack needs me to be angry with him.

From what I'm reading, Jack seems fairly low functioning. Is that correct? Repeating phrases, rocking, he a candidate for a group home in the future? If that's the case, why be angry with Jack? He probably has enough anger directed at him from his father alone.

Or is he high functioning? Will he be able to live independently? You wrote that they had moved him to a class that is required to take standardized testing. To me he would have to be high functioning for that to occur. If so, is he just being lazy or is the curriculum just too challenging? If he's being lazy, I don't know how being angry at him is going to help. That might make him even more defiant.

Poor kid. Sounds like he's in a heartbreaking situation.

pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
I cannot envision Jack living independently. He needs me at school with him because he lacks the focus to do simple tasks like put his papers into his binder, login on the computer, and carry his belongings between classes. Actually, he carries everything, but I have to remind him to take them and tell him where he needs to be. Everyone at school understands that it is a Herculean effort for Jack to participate in classes. His father is the one who insisted that he be moved to the fast paced class.

Last year, Dad moved Jack to our school in May. MAY. Dad was unhappy with the other school in his district because he wanted Jack to take the standards of learning test at the end of the year. None of this made any sense at all. Jack was in seventh grade, doing his best, and Dad just jerks him out of one school and plunks him into another. In May. Needless to say, Jack was very disturbed and angry with the change. We saw a lot of what I now call "predator faces." Essentially, he gets upset and makes the worst face you can possibly imagine a human making. He whacked himself in the head a lot. He licked door frames. He became frightened a lot.

I was happy for him at the beginning of the year when I discovered that he was in class with the kids who are intellectually disabled. He was happy. He loved the teacher, the class moves at a snail's pace, so Jack always knew the answers. He was successful and at ease.

One of my tasks is to write down what Jack is doing in each class every day. I know we stayed on the "continents and oceans" for a long period of time. That's what we were doing in social studies class. Jack learned those quickly. I suspect that Dad took a look at what Jack was learning and thought, "he's capable of more than this." He is. BUT, the other class moves at a pace that is far too rapid for Jack. We were working on the three branches of government. I wrote them down in different colors. We did numerous worksheets where the kids were exposed to the material in different ways. The other child was able to grasp the material and memorize it. (I personally think learning about how the government uses checks and balances is fairly complex and abstract.) Jack could never seem to remember that the Supreme Court is part of the Judicial Branch. Let alone remember how the Judicial Branch checks the other two branches.

What Jack really needs is a tutor to work with him at his speed. I predicted he would quickly fall behind after he was switched to the harder class. He has. It is simply too much work for him thrown at him way too quickly. He needs a medium class at a medium speed. That class doesn't exist.

I suspect that Dad can get more work out of Jack by getting angry with him. I've watched Jack push the limits of his behavior at school until someone gets angry at him. This happens multiple times during the day. I've noticed that some children become habituated to having an adult mad at them. Instead of behaving so that the adults are not angry, they purposefully try to make the adults angry. Anger is an intense emotion. I think sometimes kids learn to feel most loved when someone is yelling at them. Jack is one of those kids. After hearing what Dad does to the teachers and nurse, I can understand why.

I won't do it. Jack doesn't make me angry, and that doesn't feel right to him. He adores my coworker who is often fussing at the kids. I'm thinking if she is working with him more that he may be more cooperative.