Disconnect – Parental Edition

If it’s not bad enough that the Monster obviously has receptive and expressive language issues… it’s the fact that sometimes, as parents, we do as well.

I know that children are always going to be challenging.  I know this enough from dealing with my friends’ NT children, and seeing how they are on the verge themselves of tearing their hair out with the effort to avoid ending the problem.  (As I’ve said in other contexts – God made them cute to ensure their survival.)

One of the problems is avoiding our tempers, though, when the Monster is being, well, himself.

I’ve always had a short temper.  I’m usually good about finding other things to channel it into, but there’s times where none of those are available, and there’s really just a limit to what I can do to avoid having an explosion/meltdown of my own.

One of these times was on Saturday when we were driving to my sister-in-law’s – there’s not much you can really do when you’re getting increasingly frustrated with a screaming five-year-old with Autism in the back seat, especially when you’ve already tried (very hard) to be rational and reasonable with him.  Despite how I made it sound yesterday, I really was not all that calm with him.  Switching drivers was the obvious answer as I’d stated – I am used to him kicking my seat when I drive, so it’s easier for me to ignore it – but there’s a part that I left out, and since I try to be honest…

The honest part is that I get to the end of my rope in these situations and want to threaten him with things like leaving him at the park-and-ride when he won’t stop screaming/misbehaving.  (My parents threatened us with that on more than a few occasions, and I can recall one occasion where it was followed through on, for five minutes, in a safe neighborhood in the nice suburban world I grew up in.  On the other hand, I’m aware that’s a Very Bad Idea with him, since he’s not yet proven that he doesn’t know not to walk into traffic, for example, and between that and the wife’s objections to such, it was obviously not going to happen.)  I’m not proud of myself for that, but that is the truth at the heart of the matter – it’s hard, especially when he’s being difficult, to forget that there are significant differences between disciplining an NT child and one with Autism.  I’m sure that I’m not unique in that regard…

But the real problem inherent in all this is that I should know by now that I can’t treat the Monster as if he were a normal child when it comes to discipline.  He clearly doesn’t understand sometimes when he’s doing things that are “bad” or “wrong” and is getting easily as frustrated as we are with him.  I have trouble imagining that he’s trying to intentionally push buttons, or see what kind of reactions he can get, and I don’t think he’s the kind of child who is going to throw a fit to see if we’re going to give in, especially since I’ve already proven that I don’t cave when he’s throwing fits over what he wants.  And, for the most part, the only thing that really works with him is giving him Time Out when we get to his three-count, but that’s not always something that is available to us.

I think, as a parent, this might be the biggest challenge I have for the moment, figuring out what to do with regards to keeping discipline and making sure it’s something both that he can understand and that is appropriate to the moment, all without my own boiling over…

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