Just shouting will do.

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As a Mum of a special needs child or children, we seem to have to be all-knowing and all understanding about our  children conditions.     The reality of the situation is, that I am not.   I fumble my way through each day hoping that when we are all tucked up in bed we haven’t done too much mental, physical, or emotional damage to each other.     It’s a big ask to do that some days, especially during the summer holidays when their heads are already screwed up with the lack of routine their school life brings to them.

I see my role in life as one of teaching them how to act in this world that has difficulty excepting anyone that sways from the norm.     I have to make them aware of what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour above and beyond what a parent of a neuro-typical child would have to manage.      I repeat myself again and again to try to make them understand something.   I know they aren’t refusing to grasp a situation because they are just being awkward kids but because information needs to be properly processed before it has any chance of adhering to their memories.    I continue to do this on a daily basis until hopefully they have grasped the idea of a situation.

At the end of the day though, they are kids.   They are 8 and 6 year old siblings, and their diagnosis’ have nothing to do with that.    What is it that siblings do best?    Wind each other up.    It is what we are pre-programmed to do.      M and D might have problems with understanding some basic behavioural traits, but this is one that they can both do with very little effort!    I would go as far as to say they really enjoy it.

D can be a total bully to M.    He likes to be in control, and M having quite a subservient manner lets him to the point D is walking all over him.     It isn’t pleasant to watch, and when you remind D that bullying isn’t acceptable when its done to him, and it definitely isn’t acceptable when he is doing it, then he will go off on the most impressive of tantrums.     He has the flaunt out of the room with a door slam down to a fine art.      Tantrums always result in time out to think about behaviour, and he will usually return ready to apologise, but soon return to his negative attitude towards M.

It is therefore not surprising that M can be both physically and verbally abusive to D.     He must hear things when he is out and about, as phrases he uses to put D down are not things he has heard within the home environment.        It is horrible to witness.

Some days I let the physical behaviour ride as I think maybe if they are getting as good as they give it might teach them something.   I do however put a stop to it if I think one of them is going to get hurt.     I believe a little rough and tumble can help in bonding but they have to learn there is a line and which side to stay on.

While with all discipline we do take into account their  ASD’s we also take into account they have to learn right from wrong as a priority.    We have never been parents who excuse bad behaviour just because of their diagnosis, but we have met parents of special needs kids who think they can let them do what they want because of that piece of paper!        Bad behaviour is bad behaviour and they have to learn it is not acceptable.

Today I tried a new tack with discipline.    They have been winding each other up since they got up.   It has been dripping away all day.      They have been to the stairs by themseleves at various points for different misdemeanours.    They have been separated to stop the niggling, but finally I snapped.       I totally lost my cool and I screamed at them!    They both looked on in horror as I let rip about how their behaviour was not acceptable and would not be tolerated.     I am not proud of my out burst but sometimes you get to that point when you do explode.     I then put them on the stairs – together.        I told them to talk to each other and work out why they keep winding each other up.   I totally put the ball in their court.   Tell each other why they were being wound up by the other, and to also think about their own behaviour.   It wasn’t about one or other of them but both of them, and therefore it needed to be sorted out together.

After about ten minutes, they asked to talk to me.    They gave me a sweeping statement about how they weren’t going to fight again this holiday.  I told them to be a little more realistic about how they could maybe think about the way they treated each other.       They thought about this for a while, and I heard laughing and joking coming from the stairs.    They told me they would try to think about how they acted before doing so and then it should make life better.    Well, I was impressed they had worked out that they couldn’t change each others behaviour, only their own.

For about half an hour we had the sound of laughter and jolly play.

It then blew up again.   They are presently sobbing their hearts out back on the stairs, as they sort out their differences.   I have told them if they want to spend the next four weeks living there they could.

I think if we repeat the process a few times we might have some hope of at least getting some peace in the room the problem started so I can keep my cool.   Oh yes, and there is a possibility, all be it a very small possibility that they might last more than five minutes in each other company without wanting to kill each other, but I’m not holding my breath on that one!!!

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8 responses »

  1. In order to have them interfere with their own process of winding up, give them strips of paper to carry in their pockets (or on a keychain and put through one of the loops on their pants). The colors on the strip are in this order….blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Teach them that blue means that they are cool and happy and ready to play. Green means they are pretty good, maybe a little bit less relaxed than blue, but still ready to play. Yellow means that they are feeling a little like they need some time alone for a bit before they are back to green or blue and ready to play. Orange means they really need to stop playing and get some time alone. Red is when they are very, very stressed and not at all ready to play.

    by working with this “Temperature gauge” your children can start to stop conflicts before they occur. They also will need a set of specific instructions about what to do when either of them is yellow or above (i.e. Go draw in their room alone for a little, go read a story or look at picture books.)

    It is crucial to their entire lives that they find a way to break and relax before more social interactions.

    • I like the idea, but with 2 children who don’t understand emotion I think it wouldn’t work for them. The problem is finding a way for them to understand their behaviour and how it effects others. Their violence is only every shown in the house at the moment which is something ! As an aspie, D’s emotions are in check a lot of the time, so when he does let them out, they come out big time which is what confuses and sets off M who is autistic.
      I never have a closed mind of ideas though and will think about how your traffic light style system might work for them.

  2. I know that each child with a disability is an individual. You as their mum knows better than anyone whether or not certain ideas will or will not be successful.

    I am a professional consultant for parents of children with disabilities. I have worked with students with mild to severe autism.

    The fact that their violence is only in the house IS something wonderful which tells us a couple of important facts. 1) that they understand that their behavior is not acceptable everywhere. 2) that they are aware enough of their surroundings.

    I think for those two reasons that the idea I suggested might be a workable one for your little guys.

    The key is careful attention to the beginning instruction on how to use the charts. At first, YOU have to recognize when the moods are beginning to escalate. At that point, you have the children point to or name the color that describes where they are. Once they do that, you interpret for them where and what they need to do to get to green or blue levels. It takes careful work at first, but is essential for their schooling later.

    • I just imagine this as another thing to stress them out. When a child is on the verge of a full flung meltdown calmly asking them to talk about what colour they are feeling like seems a little unrealistic and with D particularly he can be placid and loving one moment and a micro second later be going for it big time – no warning or build up.
      I’m not being rejecting of your idea out of hand, I am just looking at it practically rather than theoretically. I’ll sleep on the idea.

  3. I lost my temper with my 14 year old last week. Felt terrible about it. He gets fixated on something and it just doesn’t matter what I say or do, no warning of punishment makes an impression on him. We apologized to each other later.

    • Sometimes we have to let rip, draw a line and move on. Didn’t someone say that no bad experience is wasted if you can learn from it – or something like that!

  4. Your kids remind me alot of me and my older brother. My brother was brilliantly smart, doubtless asbergers. I am probably Autistic, at least tendencies. Neither of us were ever diagnosed, we grew up in the 80′s and it just wasn’t on the radar yet. My brother bullied me relentlessly from birth (i have pictures) and I was just kind of programmed to put up with it. Until one day, when we were about 10 and 12, my brother was picking on me. I don’t know what possessed me but I told him if he didn’t leave me alone I would punch him in the face. His response “you wouldn’t da-” thwap. He clutched his now bleeding nose and ran away screaming “i’m gonna tell mom”. He told her, she told him he deserved it. He never picked on me again. Point is we were brothers, Asbergers, Autism. we worked it out. There was blood, and tears. But in the end we got through it and we were still brothers.

    • I think the point you make there is part of what I was trying to say that their diagnosis have little to do with good old fashioned sibling friction. Brothers (and sisters) enjoy nothing more than not getting on with each other and while one is usually more subservient than the other in their relationship that one can only be push so far. My brother and I fought like cat and dog. He was academically brilliant, and I was a I’ll get there in the end type. I was bullied and hated him for it,I still defended him to the end of the earth should anyone else put him down! Its just what siblings do. I hope my boys learn they can rely on each other and that we might not always like each other but it never diminished the love.

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