FROM WILLIAM: Recently we had a family come to our Son-Rise Program Intensive with their wonderful 9yr old son who was High Functioning / Aspergers. Two of his main repetitious activities were basket ball and talking about Dr Who (an English TV program) and all the bad guys the Dr has to overcome like Daleks, Cybermen, etc. He was wonderful to be with, fun and engaging, as well as peacefully exclusive as he bounced his ball and scored baskets.
He also had very dynamic and colorful behavior when he did not get what he wanted. For you parents with older High Functioning / Aspergers children or adults I’m sure you can relate. This boy would throw objects, kick, pinch and had quite a colorful vocabulary. This is not unusual, I have heard children use language such as “you’re stupid”, “you’re dumb”, “I’m going to draw on myself you idiot”, “You’re so ugly”, etc.
This particular boy in the height of a situation when he was not getting what he wanted told his mother in an aggravated tone that he ‘hated her’ and that he was no longer going to call her mommy but was going to call her ‘fucker head’ instead. At the beginning of her week with us she was very uncomfortable and would have a big reaction to this (lighting up like a Christmas tree!). She and her husband believed that the best way to get him to stop was to get angry and annoyed and talk to him in a stern serious voice, but this only escalated his behavior. They would get really good eye contact when he was acting this way – he was looking for a reaction, looking to see if this behavior will get them to change their mind.
As we worked with them they started to feel more at ease and relaxed about this behavior. They started to see that their son was doing the best he could dealing with the boundary that had been set. Even though he was so capable the world was still overwhelming for him (He got by but was not thriving. He still had no peer friendships, unable to socially connect and sustain such relationships.) They saw that he used this behavior because it had work in the past. They learned not only what to think and feel but how to act during this time and as the week went on their son did it less and less.
Regarding the colorful language – words are just words, we give them meaning. If your child uses language like this it is probably because it works. People tend to give in and changing their mind about the boundary they just set. Additional they may like to see mom and dad get upset – this maybe another way for them to establish some sort of control.
The key to helping your child easily handle the boundary starts with your attitude, staying comfortable, relax and remembering that getting upset and reacting will just make the unwanted behavior bigger. Try saying “It’s ok that you feel that way right now.” If you notice them reacting more every time you try to explain why you set the boundary, then stop explaining. Even try being silent for a period, stop giving them visual attention (don’t look at them), go to another part of the room and read a book. Don’t get into lecturing them to stop – again in most cases this will fuel there reaction even more.
If you have a similar situation and want help with the specific challenges that your child present please contact us we would love to help you.
Remember, like these parents who learned to smile and handle this type of challenge, so can you.
Love and smiles