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!!!