"I think the bigger issue was that it took me a while to understand that they didn't have the tools, the resources, or the understanding to truly help. They were working on an old and outdated behavioral model that really wasn't about my child's behavior. For them they thought it was about her behavior. But in the end, through Asperger Experts, I learned it wasn't the behavior that was the problem. It was what was triggering the behavior.
I feel like, if somebody would have knocked on my head, hit me in the head with a brick, and said, "Listen up, we are missing the point!", then that would have been great, so I am trying to do that now with the reader. I find other people with kids who are struggling and trying to get the help they need and they get frustrated, and say "My kid spends all their time playing video games.", or "My kid refuses to do X, Y, or Z", or "My kid has a meltdown over this.", or "I'm worried that my kid isn't socializing enough."
They're looking at the behavior. They don't realize it, but they're looking at the behavior, and then their anxiety starts to amp up. And now they are worried about their kid's behavior and then they start to panic, and they start making demands of their child that the child just is simply not capable of fulfilling, because of the underlying problem of the parent being in Defense Mode.
A great example of this, for instance, is that right now I'm trying to learn how to speak French, that way I can speak it with a few friends who are already fluent. They try to talk to me in French, and what happens? I immediately panic, and I can't remember even how to say, "Hello, how are you?" All of the sudden, it's gone. So that's an oversimplified version of what's going on with a kid who is shut down, or melting down, or refusing to do what they're being asked to do.
I've had to explain this to family members and friends who say, "Why don't you make her do it? Just take away the internet, or just take her devices away, or refuse to let her do X, Y, or Z?" They don't understand. That would work if she felt safe and secure and grounded, but she doesn't, and even then, I don't know if that's the best way to handle it. It's a great way to destroy relationships.
To put it in the most extreme example, I saw a news article recently that said the FDA has banned shock therapy in schools. Obviously, that's horrific but there were some parents that were angry because it worked and provided treatment. I'm thinking to myself, "Of course it would work!" If you have a kid who's freaked out and you say, "Do what I say or I'm going to give you a painful electric shock", then they're going to do what you say. It worked in the sense of it got you the result that you want, but you aren't looking at the bigger picture to see that it destroyed any sense of them having any trust in humanity ever again.
So when you're looking at a kid and you're saying, "Well, he's just refusing. He's being manipulative, or he's being whatever." remember: it's for a reason. They don't feel safe. They don't feel grounded. They don't feel secure.
Great For Parents
Great For Dads
Great For Starting Out
Great For Families
Dive into a greater understanding of life on the spectrum with these stories & explanation videos.
"My name is Jeff, I'm a dad of 3 kids living in southwest Washington state.
I started to notice that my kids were on the neuro-diversity spectrum early. Zack, my oldest, was slow in early childhood speech acquisition and there was talk that he might be mildly autistic as young as three.
Samantha is funny. Within the first six months of her life, one of the things that she would like to do is bonk heads with me. If I picked her up and held her, she would look at me and then butt her head against mine. And so from a very, very early age, I suspected that she was different, and in a different way than Zack as well. She's actually a lot like me, I feel for her in that regard.
Beth is probably right in the middle of the bell curve. She's about as in the middle of the bell curve in terms of development and in terms of social skills as you can get. Well, actually in terms of social skills, she's probably significantly towards the more social, prosocial side of the bell curve.
For Zack & Samantha, we suspected they were on the neuro-diversity spectrum pretty early on. Now as a parent, there was a push to pathologize immediately, to create my son's language issues as some kind of a disorder. I had done enough linguistic study when I was in college to know that early childhood language acquisition is incredibly variable from individual to individual. So although I went along with the speech therapy and that kind of thing, I resisted medication until he was in probably the fifth or sixth grade. And by then he had a diagnosis for ADHD. He's been on Vyvanse or Concerta, one of those two for a long time. Samantha is also on Concerta.
My perspective was that by applying a label like ADHD or Autism what we were doing is pathologizing a portion of the normal expression of two things. We're pathologizing a normal expression of human variability, and number two, we are internalizing behaviors that may very well have strong external factors, while not addressing those external factors. We only treat it as a pathology within the individual who's expressing it, as if having a person who had sleeplessness because they were in a room with a chainsaw, we gave them drugs instead of turning the chainsaw off.
The kids themselves have never really either embraced or rejected the labels that have been offered, although both of them are still on the medication, and voluntarily. Samantha went off for about a year and a half voluntarily, although I think she felt some pressure from me to try. But she struggled with school and decided she wanted to go back on, so she's been back on now.
I'm supportive of it either way and I was really self-reproving that when I went back and reflected on our past, I could see where she got the idea that I disapproved... and I don't. It's just medication is a difficult thing to get into because I had concerns."
Where To Start & What To Focus On
If you struggle with knowing the next steps, finding the right answer and understanding your Asperger child's behaviors, this course is for you.
We'll take you by the hand and give you a comprehensive, step-by-step plan that shows you exactly how to navigate the wonderful and sometimes confusing world of raising someone with Asperger's.
Meltdowns & Overwhelm
Perspectives & Problem Solving
Building Relationships & Trust
Understanding Defense Mode
Video Game Addictions
How To Say No