Let me start by saying how much I love when people reach out to me with their stories about raising or relating to our friends on the autism spectrum. It makes me think about where I can help more or provide context to help every one of us.
Because I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I’ve lived it.
I’m a mother of two kids, one who has a different brain with lots of labels. I’ve been down this long and twisty road far enough to know what most of us are going through.
Let me also say I don’t love the word discipline, but I think it fits in this context as I want to share a few ways we can handle it when we disagree with how someone else is treating someone on the autism spectrum.
So a new reader wrote in this week about his difficulty with how other people are reacting to his brother, who is diagnosed with Asperger’s. He wrote that they seem either patronizing or disapproving or angry much of the time, especially when they try to discipline him.
This is such a common scenario.
Often times, people don’t have the education (hence, this blog and my dedication to sharing more about this journey with anyone who wants to share and learn more), patience, or tools to be effective in helping our Aspie friends. There are incredibly helpful tactics to help ease everyone’s anxiety and get everyone’s needs met, but most of us don’t have those yet.
Here are a few things you can do right now, or use a combination of all of them.
- Model the behavior you want others to do.
I think this is the most powerful tool we have, and I hope you know you can absolutely do this! I choose actively to treat my child with love and patience as much as I can. When we’re running late or I’m tired and hungry, you might not see my patience or kindness as much as on a slow and easy Saturday morning, but that is a core value I strive for in myself each and every day.
I work hard to model the behavior I hope the world shares for my children, my family, and my greatest hope is for our entire population to experience this kind and loving way of being. I especially work hard to act with yuge amounts of patience and kindness in tantrum situations. I will cancel my plans as needed and I will sit down with whatever another person might need in that moment as much as I can. It’s that important.
- Speak or show your desires kindly and clearly, and with enough backing to make a solid case.
Easier said than done, my friends. I know I gave The Discipline Book to someone that I felt was being incredibly hard on their different-brained child. Guess where I found the book the next time I visited? In the very top shelf of their bookcase, a place they were never going to climb up to get it. I got the message and so did they. They were not going to change, and I had incredible difficulty watching their treatment of their children.
I’m sad (and resolved) to report that we no longer see each other. It was too difficult for me, which leads to the next one:
- Remove yourself from the situation if that’s the only way to get relief.
We can remind ourselves that all of us are on our own pathways in life. If you are not the primary parent or primary caregiver, you may just have to send the child love and walk away to take care of yourself. This may sound like a tough stance, but sometimes it’s the only way to cope. And that’s totally OK.
- Remove the child from the situation if they are truly being hurt physically, emotionally, and/or mentally.
I feel so strongly about this, but we get one shot with our children. I’m an absolute advocate for making sure they live in as safe an environment as possible. My son has been in nine different schools because I felt there was more harm being done than help he was receiving. Not on my watch, so I found other schools that worked for him (and me).
- Whatever you choose to do, do it with love.
That’s all we can ask from ourselves as we navigate this difficult journey of raising and being in relationship with our different-brained friends. They don’t react the way many of us would, they have demands that are difficult to offer, and they can be loud and hurtful. It’s not easy, but we are all human beings on this path. Love can hold us all together. Love, with strong doses of awareness, acceptance, intentionality, intelligence, and moving toward the direction of the greatest good for humanity–accepting each and every one of us for who we are.
If I’ve missed something that you have done successfully when reacting to someone not treating your child they way you see fit, let us know in the comments below so we can be sure to share all of our experiences.
Thank you for being part of this community and please share this post or this site if you feel it will be helpful for someone. I’m on Facebook as well if you’d like to join us there.
Huge love to each of us,