Advice please – Autism and breaking through the barriers

Hi All. I’m posting this one with a flat out request for advice. I’m stuck and I don’t know what to do for my son. (Surprise!! Should be used to it by now, no?)

Right now Colt is in a mainstream school. He has kids around him who have been in his class since they were all four years old. The kids in his class protect Colt, take care of him in so many ways, and always forgive him for the rules he breaks. He can walk up to one of these children, scream that they are a “motherfucking asshole” in their face, raise his hand and slap them directly across the face and they will forgive him. They don’t even tell on him half the time. They are wonderful, caring, accepting kids (most of them) who are enabling Colt’s very bad behaviours. The things he’s doing aren’t detrimental at this stage because he’s only ten. He weighs less than 90 pounds and he’s only five feet tall. In about three years, a slap across the face is going to be a fist and noses will be broken if we cannot convince him that violence is not the way to go.

I talked to him at length last night, as did his father (without raising his voice once! yay Dayne!) We decided to keep going the way we have been…talking to him directly, asking questions he can answer without supplying any easy answers he can choose just to get out of answering more questions. (Colt would admit to anything to get out of answering more questions and you’d never be the wiser.) We tried, last night, to explain the things he was feeling to him as best we could….also tried to explain how other people feel in reaction to his aggression/bullying of late. Sometimes I feel like I’m condescending to him, repeating things over and over that I’m dead sure he already knows but seems not to want to demonstrate. I try not to do that…he’s not stupid by any stretch, but here’s a little story to illustrate why the explanation seems necessary:

Colt, for years, has been bowel trained day and night (he still wets the bed nearly nightly although we’ve not gone back to diapers, we may do so as laundry is getting ridiculous). He has always eaten well and healthily and has never really had any GI issues so, his bowel movements have always been…healthy. (Sorry, I do have a point here) He has always been able to clean himself up after using the toilet and we never had any reason to revisit his techniques until one day, a couple years ago, when he had a flu that brought diarrhea. Colt got himself in such a mess one day in the school bathroom that the (then male) principal had to come clean him up (lololololololol…I hated that principal – he’s the dude who used to try to push me around and ended up calling the CAS on us after I wouldn’t answer his call one day when he called dozens and dozens of times through my office line while I was on a teleconference!!) Anyway, the douchebag had to wipe Colt’s ass, and I loved every moment of it. When he got home and had another messy bm and got into a mess so we had the chance to ask him what he was doing…why he was getting it everywhere. He demonstrated his technique for his dad. He pulled off a decent piece of toilet paper, wiped, wiped, wiped, wiped….smearing it everywhere. He didn’t think to drop the soiled piece of paper and take a new one so he was just redepositing it and getting into a huge mess.

“Ooooh, Colt!” his dad said. “Buddy, you have to drop the dirty piece in the toilet and take a new one when your poop is messy like this.”

“OHH!” Colt cried, sounding surprised and very relieved.

And that was that. He’s never had a problem again. Now, you’d think that sort of thing would be logical/instinctual but not for him…he wouldn’t have thought of that unless we directly showed him. So, we’re taking the same track with his emotions as we did with the poop. (giggles…this sounds ridiculous right about now. I’m so tired). We think that if we explain things better, he’ll fare better when trying to cope? I don’t know…maybe I’m backwards on this.

After talking to him, Dayne got the same story we always get. “X had a ball and I wanted the ball so I tried to take it but he wouldn’t give it to me and I got mad and swore at him then hit him”. It’s not a true story…it’s one that was true one time and it worked to explain why he did what he did so he’ll use it every time until he finds something better. When I talked to him using my knowledge of how to handle his dad in stressful situations, he nearly immediately explained that he wanted to play with this kid who is always so nice to him at recess. The boy had sat with Colt at lunch and they had fun…after lunch, the kid decided to play some soccer with some other boys and Colt wasn’t invited because he refuses to play games with rules. If he can’t direct it, he doesn’t want to do it. Because this boy choose his other friends over hanging with Colt, it hurt his feelings and the only way he could think of to discharge that hurt was by swearing at and hitting the kid. He was sad that his friend didn’t want to play with him…that was all. I get how that can hurt, especially when you’re different.

So my question to you guys: how do I explain to my son that it’s okay to feel these huge, big things that seem to burn in the pit of his stomach without having to lash out on people? How do I explain that, although he is well loved in this world, sometimes people will not want to dedicate all of their time just to him and, more importantly, that’s its okay when that happens? How do I get him to see that he will alienate all these wonderful friends he’s got by behaving in a hurtful, spiteful way? What are the words to describe these interactions?

I need help here. I fucking suck at being human. I don’t understand relationships and I have struggled with this part of life since birth myself. What are the words? If any of my autistic followers have ANY advice, I would sincerely appreciate it. (I do read your blogs every day, by the way. The bloggers I have discovered who are autistic have helped in so many ways by providing their perspective on the world in a way I could never have seen on my own).

Thanks.

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About Grainne

My name is Grainne. This blog has been with me for years now and has served as a journal, a confessional, an outlet and a place for me to create and express my love of life. Thank you for stopping by and for becoming a part of this life long journey of mine. I appreciate every single one of you who takes the time to do so. :)

One response to “Advice please – Autism and breaking through the barriers”

  1. Ain't No Shrinking Violet says :

    My asd kid is only three, so I’m going to give you my perspective as a psych nurse (which I’m not anymore, but I was for 13 years). People who have brains wired a bit differently or injured brains often have enormous problems with impulse control. It’s not that they don’t want to behave properly or don’t understand the concepts behind it, it’s that the neurons in their brain controlling their impulses do not fire properly. Even if he showed good impulse control younger, as the brain changes over the years it can become a problem. Unfortuantly there is no way to “fix” this deficit, but you can try to work with it as you have been, using explanations and behavioral rewards and such. However, it can’t always be fixed and sometimes you have to change the environment the child is in to keep other people safe. This is not ideal under any means, but as you said, serious problems are going to ensue when Colt gets older.

    Now the question: where do you put an autistic child who has impulse control problems? Answer: no idea. You might need to consult a social worker to see what your options are.

    My point in writing this is to let you know this is not necessarily a parenting problem (though sometimes it can be). If Colt’s brain is changing and misfiring in impulse control, you might never be able to curb the behavior completely, and it’s NOT even Colt’s fault. That doesn’t make it any less difficult to handle. I’m so sorry you have to go through this.

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