New here and at my wit's end with Aspergers male teen (sorry. its kind of long)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Angela1626, Oct 12, 2010.

  1. Angela1626

    Angela1626 Guest

    I'm new here and am thankful I have a place to go now when I need some help. I moved in with my fiance, his mother, and her adopted son 2 years ago. Her adopted son, Cameron, was recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. A year ago he was diagnosis'd with ADHD as well. My fiance and I also have ADHD, so we understand that aspect of things.

    As you can see from my post title, I am truly frustrated. Although I am not Cameron's parent, myself and my fiance are a large part of his parenting in conjunction with his mother. All three of us have tried many different methods to get Cameron the support, discipline, and understanding of his world around himself and us. At times we think that we have breakthroughs, but our hopes are quickly dashed when he behaves defiantly over and over.

    Let me give you the most recent example. He has decided that when he leaves the house, he is going to slam the door. This has been and on again, off again behavior. My fiance and I sleep in an apartment off the side of the house, but the door to leave is right at the foot of our stairs. Cameron wakes me up each time he slams the door at 7am. My fiance and I are self employed and our business can have us up very late (sometimes until 4 am if we are working on our websites and planning our next day). I have asked Cameron repeatedly to stop doing this. He has a bad attitude and lies when confronted. I seemed to get some temporary success by taking something he likes for the night, explaining to him why I'm doing it, letting him know we can be friendly again and he'll get the item back when he doesn't slam the door.

    He also lies A LOT. Even when he's caught, he will just repeat "No I didn't" over and over, as well as faster and louder with each repeated response. He also has been blowing off his homework and he had a huge science project due, which his mother and my fiance ended up building for him (don't ask me why) because he left it until the last minute. He's in a gifted program so I realize these tasks are difficult, but he expects to get out anything he sabotages from help from his mother (and many times she gives in out of exhaustion or because she feels bad for him). He ended up getting a grade of 64 on the project (it was an excellent project by the way) because he didn't turn in project steps required before this was due.

    What can we do to get him to stop behaving like this? These behaviors occur daily (the list is very long). I'm infuriated with him. I wake up shaking in anger after he slams the door and I've considered returning some of his most loved video games in order to get him to understand. I've tried rewarding him by playing video games with him (his favorite thing), by talking to him about his interests and friends, and also by listening to him when he brings up Aspergers so we can connect and also so he can see tha when he's behaving in a cooperative, considerate way, there is a reward. He doesn't seem to have any regard for this when he's interested in defying people. I just don't GET IT.

    Thanks for reading and I appreciate any help you can give.
  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Welcome Angela,

    I'm so glad that you found us. While it would work wonderfully with a neurotypical child, to be honest, I think your way of trying to correct Cameron is adding to the problems. You cannot punish him into 'getting' it.

    I would strongly recommend the book "Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships" by Grandin and Barron. It is a great look into the mind of someone with Aspergers/Autism.

    WRT the lying, he may truly feel that he is not lying. He is likely very literal and he also may take different parts of the interaction to be important. For example, if he was told he could have something later and a little way later he took it, you may accuse him of stealing it because you hadn't told him he could take it (but you did --in his understanding--by saying he could have it later. He didn't get that he would need to ask again later...)

    WRT taking the games, he is likely only seeing that as random meanness from you. I use to do that with Eeyore until I figured out that he wasn't connecting me taking the games with the behavior I wanted him to correct, so to him I was random and mean. And the behavior did not get corrected.

    As far as slamming the door, have you asked him why he feels the need to slam the door? Sometimes with annoying behaviors, if I can get Eeyore to explain why he is doing them, we can find an alternate behavior or an environmental accommodation that works for everyone.
  3. TiredSoul

    TiredSoul Warrior Mom since 2007

    Re: what JJJ said:
    An environmental accommodation could be he uses a different door to leave the house.
  4. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I agree with those above. I have a son with Aspergers and he does not "get" it all the time and often repeats behaviors although told not to do it. I'm not so sure he is being defiant although autistic kids can seem defiant when they are not. They have extremely poor social skills. I think having him leave out another door is a good solution. If he was adopted, as my son was, he also might have been exposed to drugs/alochol in utero and that only muddies the diagnostic waters and makes it more difficult to diagnose the child correctly. He is not a typical kid and is not going to respond to regular discipline. Plus he's going to puzzle you as his world is very different than your world. May be best to let Mom work it out. I'm assuming she gets interventions for him and is learning how to parent a differently wired child.
    If you can't handle living with a child who is different, perhaps you two should find another place to live, if possible. I'm not saying this to be mean, but it sounds like you're getting really fed up and he isnt' going to change fast or soon. It takes years...sometimes they need help even as adults. This is a serious disability and unless you are learning about Aspergers yourself (there are many books out there about it) I think you should distance yourself from trying to discipline him. These kids do not normally respond to regular discipline. They just get angry and frustrated...not good for them or you.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2010
  5. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    I don't have time for a long response now, more later. I just wanted to weigh in with a few comments from the "Aspie" perspective.

    1) Cameron may not be aware of the intense emotion he is generating in you and your fiance with his defiant behaviour, for example the door slamming. He may have no idea that slamming the door makes you angry. "Angry" may mean something completely different to him than it does to you, and he may just not see why it's a problem.

    2) It's possible that he's experimenting, in order to learn the different degrees of anger so that he can establish boundaries. One thing to keep in mind with Aspergers is the literal-ness that JJJ and MidwestMom have mentioned. "Don't slam the door" might be interpreted as "Don't swing the door as hard as I can", but it might not mean "Don't close the door loudly". Have you tried showing him how you would like him to close the door? "Close it this way" is far more effective because it tells him what you want him to do, rather than what you don't want him to do. If you only say "don't", he has no idea what he's supposed to change in order to fix the issue.

    3) Regarding the defiance, the same issue may be at play. If you don't provide enough concrete, specific information, then a lot of confusion results. Here's an example from my childhood.

    When I was in Gr. 7, I had a substitute teacher who was much stricter and spoke with a much louder voice than my usual teacher. One day I was a bit late getting to class. He yelled, "Trinity, sit down THIS INSTANT!" So I did. I sat down. On the floor, because I hadn't yet made it to my desk. The other children in my class were howling with laughter, the teacher was furious, and I had no idea what had caused either reaction. The teacher told me to sit, I sat. I was following his instructions. I didn't understand that he meant. "Go as quickly as possible to your desk and then sit down in your chair". To me, "Sit down this instant" meant exactly that. Cameron might have the same literal-minded view, and need more information than he's currently getting.

    Just want to add, welcome, glad you found us, but sorry you had to.

  6. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    forgot to mention, with regard to slamming the door...I found that installing one of those little hydraulic hinge thingies worked wonders. Can't slam a door at all with that type of closure.
  7. Bluemoon

    Bluemoon Guest

    I'm loving the info on this thread...and am lmao at the advice above. Don't get me wrong...I think it's brilliant...but I got a mental flash of what my difficult child's reaction to such a thing would be the first time he tried to slam the door (he does it when he's mad) and...roflmao!
  8. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    Bluemoon - now I am cracking up at the thought, too!!!! LOVE it!!!
  9. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Hello. I'm back. Just wanted to address a few more things that I didn't have time to respond to earlier.

    Have you ever analyzed your behaviour when you get positive responses, or negative ones? If you can identify a pattern of when it works and when it doesn't based on what you're saying and doing, you might be able to identify the sort of reinforcement that he needs.

    Ambiguity is so very difficult for someone on the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) spectrum to deal with. You may need to provide what seems to you to be obvious or excessive detail.

    Example: "Little easy child, would you please turn the volume down on the tv to something lower than 8? Thanks." If I ask my little lad to just "turn it down", he might lower the volume by one increment, but it's still too loud. I have to be precise.

    This might be the level of detail that's right for Cameron. You're being specific, and providing a reason why you're disciplining him. So it doesn't seem arbitrary.

    Another example: "Little easy child, please don't lean over the rail of your top bunk. That means: no arms or legs or any other body parts not even fingers or toes (or thumbs) hanging over the rail. It also means not lying too close to the side, so that you might accidentally hang over. Please lie close to the wall, that way you're sure."

    It might sound ridiculous, but for Little easy child it provides the sort of information he's looking for. He knows what I mean, the questions he would have are answered, there is no guesswork involved. This is the sort of detail that I often require as well (although I've gotten better at filling in the blanks with age).

    Hope this helps,