Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Defiance and Respect in Autism Youth

This blog is dedicated to a question from Kimberly, who asked: "My teen who has Autism is overly dramatic and has a hard time with accepting no as an answer is this typical or is mine just out of control?"

First of all, it's likely a lot more typical than you realize. From age 9 where puberty starts kicking in, through the teen years, you are seeing a mixture of the autism and hormones. This can make your standard teen drama and angst look like a trip to Disneyland.

You can expect over-reactions to most things as well as snippy attitudes and excessive, "my parents don't know anything" attitude.

This is a LINK I posted on my Facebook profile recently. Scroll down and check out the advice given for a 9 year old (that's how old my son is too).

For a teen, I would suggest pretty much the same approach. Pick your battles. When given a consequence he's going to tell you off. Ignore it. Yes it's disrespectful, but the more you give it the time of day, the more you help create the power struggle. I've learned this the hard way. Since then, I've taken parenting classes at Boys Town (I think you can order their tapes, they were very helpful to me) and joined a parenting support group. Maybe there's one in your area?

Another thing to remember, is that our autism kids are delayed in emotional development significantly to a varied point of years. Add that to all those teen hormones and, well, you read what I said above.

Here are a couple other links with advice on dealing with autistic teens:

Conduct Disorders Website: Scroll down in the answers for what people had to say after you check out the lady's problems with her teen son.

Autisable website: An interesting blog article on parenting the autistic teen.

I like the idea of meeting an outburst with uncomfortable silence and a blank stare. My 9 year old has the tendency to tell me, just like the one teen boy, that I will not exercise what ever consequence I just informed him of. It happens anyway, without another word. If he throws a fit and breaks his toys, they are gone for good. Anything he throws that doesn't break is lost to him for several days. Currently it's 3 and that seems to annoy him down the line. He wants it eventually and I shake my head and tell him: "I can't give it to you because you threw it in a tantrum. You will get it back on Friday (or whatever day is 3 out)." This makes it appear a rule I also have to follow. It shows that rules are followed by everyone and actions have consequences.

Our kids need tons and tons of practice and there is no overnight solution. Just know that you are not alone in your struggles with your autistic teen.

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