In an Autism household things are just different. I like to say that we have a completely different reality from most folks. Every once in awhile something happens that drives that idea home. It usually upsets me because most of the time I like to think we are pretty average. But the truth is that we are not average. We are Autism. Since we are Autism, some rules or truths simply don’t apply here. Like this one:
1. Punishment Corrects Behavior.
Definitely not true for us. I have to work diligently for months, sometimes years, to erase bad habits and poor behavior. Punishment initially results in lots of push back and poor behavior outbursts. At one time, I dreaded punishing because I knew it would result in lots of negative behavior outbursts. Our entire day would be ruined. This is because of something in Autism we call splitting. My son is not able to distinguish between a mistake and being a “bad kid.” Punishment tells him he is a bad kid, and he reacts the way he believes a bad kid would react.
2. Teach a Child to Love the Rules.
I almost laugh at this one. A parent actually told me this one. In my home, my children are taught to obey the rules in spite of the fact that they don’t like or agree with them. My children, especially my oldest, vocalizes often that he would rather be an adult and in charge of himself. He has strong objections to both the rules and those who wish him to obey them. He doesn’t mind telling you this. I have no illusions to my parenting capability, and cannot imagine what it would take to teach him to love the rules. I honestly don’t believe it’s possible.
3. Use God as the “heavy.”
I see and hear of parents asking questions of their children like, “What would God/Jesus want you to do?” The children give appropriately meek responses like sharing, cooperating, etc. Every time I try to use that God gets the same response as the people in his life that are wanting him to change. This last time he threatened to stab God with a pencil if he tried to make him do something. This is a child who was raised in church. Once past my surprise, I have to believe God can handle a few threats from an 8 year old, even though I’d rather not make this a daily habit. So I save the WWJD for bracelets and t-shirts.
These are a few things that work for most parents. This advice is meaningful for most. I have even attempted all of these and more that simply didn’t work. D is difficult and unique and wonderful and intense. He needs a special touch. I am grateful that I’ve found some things that DO work for us. I’ll outline those in my next post.