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Obviously I’m inexperienced when it comes to autistic people, which is why I’m on these boards: to learn. Everybody lives in the moment, as you put it. And I find that most people have a great deal of difficulty explaining why they behave in a certain way, particularly with respect to things that they absolutely believe to be true. Imagine asking why a politician behaves in the way (s)he does, for example: (s)he wouldn’t even understand the question. But (s)he would have to think about it. Everybody’s beliefs are a fiction, based upon their own interpretation of the world. That much is clear to me. Given the success of the experts in providing an alternative, I don’t see the harm in treading on their toes, occasionally.
As to when the behaviour was discussed: I did write that I waited until my son had finished his attack, before asking, but while it was still fresh in his mind. Please understand that he never gave me a “good” answer, and I never really expected one, but he realized eventually that he could resolve issues with discourse, rather than violence. And that understanding was more valuable to me and to him than any excuse he may have come up with at the time. The timing is everything, I agree, and one has to be very careful about triggering behaviour, in the way you suggest, which is why a simple question, left hanging, as I suggested, is completely different from an interrogation, which is clearly inappropriate. And it’s completely benign.
I agree that introducing alternative behaviour is absolutely the way to go, but I think you underestimate the power of speech to introduce alternative understandings of what may be required. I think there may be a problem with presenting appropriate social behaviours, which, while ideal, are almost universally ignored by society at large, possibly even by the parent/carer, if they were but able to see their own behaviour. I know that my wife still won’t accept that I’m copying her.
As to parenting: I’m guided by my kids, which tends to really piss other people off. I explain things to my kids until they’ve had enough information. I look at others telling their kids that they must do things that they don’t wish to do, simply because the parent is in a position of power and able to introduce force to achieve obedience. In short, I’ve already turned parenting on its head, as far as I can see!
I understand that you have greater experience in the field of autism than I. However, please note, per my message to John, that I have been copying people for nearly forty years, and I have a bunch of generic understandings as to why people do what they do. Whether I can apply what I already know to autistic behaviour remains to be seen, but I don’t see any harm in trying.
Originally posted by Jayne
I appreciate what you are saying and this may be really good advice for a non-autistic person but it may be difficult for the parent of a child with ASD to ask him why he behaves in a certain way.
For children with ASD the world is generally very black and white - with little or often no grey areas. They 'live the moment' and may instinctively react without knowing or understanding why.
It would be almost impossible to discuss the behaviour while the child is still distressed or anxious as their ability generally plummets as their anxiety increases and they simply not able to process the question and find the right words for an answer even if they know the reason.
If you wait until the child has calmed down they may have 'moved on' and the behaviour and the cause of it are forgotten. To try to discuss an incident at a later date may cause the person with ASD anxiety and distress because they may not know what you are talking about or may be unable to process the question and find an answer.
The way we would try to modify this type of behavour would be to introduce elements of TEACCH - physical and visual structure - giving the young person clarity about what will be happening and what is expected of them and offering an alternative way to behave. With this information the young person's anxiety level will be lowered and therefore there will generally be less inappropriate behaviour.
Depending on the ability of the child we may also use Social Stories to teach appropriate social behaviour.
I think the trouble with ' throwing things at them that they aren't expecting' would be that children with ASD thrive and need predictability and sameness and a different approach that they are unprepared for may only increase their anxiety.
It's really difficult thinking about how to manage the bahaviour of children with autism - you almost have to turn everything you know about parenting on its head!