Fine line between naughty and ASD behaviour.


There is a lot of advice out there for parents.     If you want to know about something there are more experts than you thought possible on every aspect of raising a child.      As an additional needs parents, I have often looked to other people who have been in a similar situation to get guidance of how to deal with a variety of situations that my friends of nuero typical children might have a little difficulty of comprehending – through no fault of theirs, just situations they are never likely to encounter.      There are forums about everything on the internet, and several of them I do belong to.     Sometimes I read what people are saying and I count my blessings because my children cope much better than many out there.     However sometimes I go looking for something that I just want to see how others have handled situations.      I am a great believer in listening to all advice offered, and then picking the bits that I think would actually help my situation, after all, many people have far more experience than me, but I always remember I am the expert on my children.

Recently, D has been a nightmare.     We thought it was to do with the build up to his birthday causing him stress – understandable if that was all it was, but it has crossed the line from him taking everything on his shoulders, to him become quite the vile child.   M is not much better, and his behaviour can only be described as typical teenager.   He is rude to everyone at every opportunity, and he give more back chat in a day than I dared to give my parents throughout my youth!

As I have said before, I believe the role of a parent is to equip our children with the knowledge to be able to function within society, and this is what I believe towards all children and not just those on the spectrum.     As for the boys, I think it is not just a case of them learning the rules every child has to learn, but they also have to be taught that some of their behaviour will not be tolerated by the big nasty world out there and we therefore have to develop strategies to help them to deal with these times.

I  went on the look for information of how to understand what was going on.     What I found at every turn was how torn on the subject of disciplining ASD children is.      Many people were saying children with autism can not help their behaviour and so should be excused most misdemeanours.     I found this a frightening attitude.     I remember the first NAS club we went to there were parents who let their kids run riot, and for some of them, it literally meant terrorising other kids, and they were just allowed to get on with it, because of their condition.       I was horrified then, and I think I still am by that mind-set.      Then on the other side of the argument was the idea that treating the kids as every child and disciplining according was the way to go – I had believed the attitude that an autistic child was just badly behaved had vanished from those who actually dealt with autism, but sadly it seems not.

It is very difficult sometimes to work out if behaviour is automatic because of the way their minds are wired, or if it is just a child pushing boundaries and taking it too far – I think all children should push as hard as they can, so they grow, but they also need to know at what point those boundaries spring back into place because they are pushing too hard.

Hubby and I spend a lot of time talking to the boys when behaviour isn’t acceptable.    We have to teach them to understand why certain things can’t be done, and ways that they might be able to avoid situations in future.     I think this is the best way to deal with behaviours that are automatic as it lets the boys know they are not in trouble but that there are better ways to handle situations.     It is however the learned bad behaviours that are harder to deal with.

Earlier this week, they were both being so nasty to everyone, and exceptionally violent to each other.    I therefore hit them where it hurt and removed all electronics – computer, telly, tablets, games machine.      It was the end of the world for M who screamed as if I had physically hurt him, but once he was calm, it was explained to him that if he started to think before he spoke, and therefore less nastiness escaped his mouth, then he would earn things back.     D on the other hand just got ruder at the thought of loosing thing.    He was put to the stairs to calm down – he spends a lot of time on the stairs, but mostly because they are cool and dark so when he needs a calm time they are the best place.    He shouted abuse at me for almost half an hour until he was physically as well as mentally exhausted.       It was at this point that the lines became very blurred.    His bad behaviour needed to be punished but being punished had sent him into a mammoth meltdown that he just didn’t know how to stop.         He needs hard holding to bring him back after a situation like this, but it’s so difficult to do this at a time when he should be being punished.    It is so difficult to know what to do.      When he came back too, he was talked to about why he had been punished.

And this is why parenting is so hard!      It doesn’t matter how many experts you talk to, every situation is different, because every child is different.   We will carry on trying to pick our battles as we workout the difference between naughty and ASD behaviour.    For now though, we will just learn to live with boys that have turned teenagers way too early!



5 responses »

  1. Excellent article, Jane, with some very good observations.
    I’m interested to see you writing about “hard holding.” I assume you mean what Temple Grandin talks about where people with ASD feel comforted by pressure, but how do you balance that with time out? Have you considered holding your son tight, but making it clear to him that it’s a time out? This can sometimes work because the child knows it’s discipline, but feels the comfort of the hug at the same time.
    It still isn’t easy, and it still takes time. But because you are also sitting there, everyone calms down and it does, eventually, rub off on the child. At least, that’s what we have found.
    Either way, you’re doing a very difficult job and thanks for sharing your experience which helps us all to have a better understanding of life with children with ASD.

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