Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Autism is not an excuse...

Xander was puh-issed at me yesterday morning. We made the decision that he needed to start eating in the kitchen (which he hasn't done in over a year). He kicked, screamed and then tried to injure himself, first with a pen, then with his toast and finally by hitting himself. Not happy in the least. He finally calmed down some and ate his breakfast while bitching the whole time. I was so happy when the school bus came. Thank goodness he has a wonderful bus driver who won't let him get away with anything.

One of my big pet peeves is someone using his/her child's autism as an excuse for bad behavior. There's a difference between misbehaving and autistic behavior. Xander was misbehaving when he fought, kicking and screaming, eating in the kitchen. He reacted with autistic behavior, which was self-injury. I'm not doing Xander any good by letting him get away with things because of the way he might react. I still made him eat at the table last night and today knowing he may have an adverse reaction. It can be very difficult because I hate it when he has a melt-down. I still stick to my guns.

I never punish Xander for sensory reactions. He can't handle certain sounds and he can't control that. I love that he flaps and spins when he's happy or excited. He can, however, control how close he gets to people or how loudly he speaks. I just need to remind him, nicely but firmly, that he shouldn't touch people he doesn't know or yell loudly about how the boy in the next aisle needs a time-out (which I think is hilarious, but I don't let him know that). I wouldn't let Spencer get away with such behaviors so why should I let Xander?

I'm sorry if this seems like a lecture; I live in an area with a large autism community and there are parents that allow their children to get a way with anything because they have autism. I understand it's hard, BELIEVE me, I do; however, letting a child grab people's food or throw things on the floor at a store because one is afraid of his/her child's reaction is rewarding bad behavior. A neurotypical child will do the same thing if they think they can get away with it with no repercussions. I absolutely agree with Temple Grandin that teaching a child good manners is one of the most important things you can do for him or her.
Xander ate dinner in the kitchen last night and for breakfast this a.m. with no fight. He was a little annoyed when we made him wait 'til everyone else was done before excusing him.


  1. This was a great blog. I giggled outloud about the "time out." You are very strong and I am very impressed with your ideals. No matter the autism he is still a child that needs to be molded and taught right from wrong. I think you guys are doing a great job! And just so you know, my daughter (near 5) pointed at a woman in a Target Rascle and announced that she was too old and fat to walk yesterday. I was mortified, had to turn head to try not to let her see me laugh a little... kids do "dumb" things and need to be told what is inappropriate. No excuses hands down THAT was so inappropriate... but she is so naive and simple, she just says whats on her mind... gotta teach her, as you are teaching your son, what is inappropriate. You got this mom thing down girlie--Good job!
    Much love,

  2. You are beyond awesome. =)

  3. Hi, I'm stopping by via the Special Needs blog hop. Nice to "meet" you.

  4. I agree with you it's good to teach children manners. I like the fact that you stick to your guns. I have to start doing that a little more often. I have a come along way in the last year. Thanks for joining us in the Special Needs Blog Hop I am now following your blog :)

  5. Getting my son to change a behavior is hard on everyone. When I decide to, I have to make sure everyone is consistent in reinforcing the new behavior. Hi from the Special Needs Blog Hop.

  6. Welcome to my little (very little) corner of the blogosphere ladies. Thanks for following!

  7. I so wish I could play the autism card sometimes, but you're so right, there's a big difference!!

    I'm stopping by from the Special Needs Blog Hop. Looking forward to getting to know everybody. :)

    I'm at http://yeahgoodtimes.blogspot.com or http://www.twitter.com/jillsmo



  8. Hi from the blog hop as well! I agree - there's autistic behaviors and bad behaviors. Sometimes there's a lot of overlap, and I have to take a step back and ask myself what is causing the behavior (usually something sensory related), fix the trigger, and address the behavior for next time. But there are certain things we never let our son do, regardless of what caused it (hitting, kicking, hurting one of his brothers, etc).
    Looking forward to reading more from you.

  9. What a great description of the difference between misbehaving and autistic behavior. I agree wholeheartedly. Although I'd love to keep my son from the pain he may feel when his sensory issues overwhelm him, the fact is that he has to deal with whatever's going on appropriately. (And then sometimes he's so close to a "typical" bratty 9 year old, it is just amazing, lol.) It's certainly a puzzle, and I am so grateful to be tackling it in the company of other moms like you! :)