To force or negotiate. How to behave with an autistic child.
Good day! In the comments to the last article, where I told how I persuaded Alice to go to classes, I was recommended to force her to classes. I want to explain why I don’t use this method. My story is the experience of a particular mother of a particular child, each parent chooses the method of education that is close to him, so in no case do I claim that our method is ideal and suits everyone, and all the others are bad.
Due to the fact that Alice has practically no speech (there are several words), it is difficult for her to express her thoughts and desires. She expresses joyful and sad emotions with laughter and crying, but with thoughts it is more difficult. Of course, we have established communication, we use gestures and symbols, but the situation is far from ideal.
When we start some new business, usually it concerns some new classes, then Alice can try to push me a couple of weeks after the start and not go to them. For example, there was a similar situation when we took a course of Chinese specialists, where she really did not like it and after that she did not want to go to this building, but already to a speech therapist and other specialists whom she adored before. We were lucky that a specialist from Krasnodar came to the center and we went to her for 2 intensive courses in a row. She met us at the car and together we took Alice to class. Then she told me that it was important for Alice to walk by herself, let her cry, let her scream, but she walks by herself. I remember that very well.
Now, if Alice refuses to go somewhere, and we need to go, I give her the opportunity to “speak out”, but I repeat very calmly that we need to go and we will not leave here until we go to class. She can cry, scream, try to hit herself (I stop this so as not to consolidate this behavior, I just don’t let her hit me, I take my hand away), but I repeat like a parrot that it is necessary to go, classes are important. On average, it takes her an hour to realize that her behavior does not bring the desired result, then she calms down and we go to study. We go quietly, without tears and tantrums, with a good mood.
Basically, for now, I can drag her in my arms, while she will scream, squirm and try to get back into the car or run away, but at the same time:
- People around us will look at us, someone will give advice, someone will condemn, but in general the situation is unattractive when a big child (Alice is almost 9) is already yelling at the whole street, mom is dragging. It won’t make me feel comfortable. I’ll feel like a loser, a bad mother who can’t cope and then I’ll be nothing all evening. And now they can also call the police, it is not written on my forehead that I am a mother, but Alice has that she is autistic and they can easily think that I offend her.
- Another couple of years and I just won’t drag her anywhere by force. She is already a big girl and very strong, soon it will be just physically impossible. And if this is the only way to somehow force her to do what she doesn’t want, then I just won’t be able to cope with her.
- I agree with the mothers who wrote in the comments that when the child becomes bigger, he himself will use the forceful method in defending his interests, which will be unsafe for me and the people around me. I want her to understand that shouting, shouting or even worse aggression are methods that do not bring the desired result, which means there is no point in using them.
Therefore, the power method does not suit us. My word should be authoritative for her, so I try to behave consistently. If I say that she will receive cereal only after she eats, then that’s what happens. At the same time, she can cry, scream, if she wants to, but it won’t lead to anything. In this situation, I will make sure that she does not harm herself and absolutely calmly repeat the same thing, that only after she eats she will be able to take cereal. If she doesn’t want to eat, then it’s her right and she can take the plate away, but in this case I’ll just put the cereal away.
We had a similar situation when Alice asked her to take a ride in the car before going to bed. I agree once, we ride for half an hour and that’s it. At first, I rolled her several times, but my husband quickly realized that it was impossible. I was hysterical, I hugged her and repeated that I love her very much, but we won’t go a second time, only once in the evening. A few evenings and the rule is learned, we ride the car before going to bed once.
For me, in these situations, the main thing is to remain calm and friendly towards Alice, while remaining steadfast to my word, because if one day I give in, I will simply consolidate this reaction and she will understand that with the help of tears and screaming she got what she wanted. Next time the hysteria will be stronger.
Such situations do not happen often, which pleases. It’s getting easier to negotiate with Alice, she understands more and more, she tries to communicate herself. There is still adolescence ahead, hormonal storms and defending one’s opinion, but I really hope that the ways to negotiate that we are constantly looking for and building will be very useful to us in this difficult time.
Share how you negotiate with your children, which allows you to maintain parental authority while maintaining a warm atmosphere and trusting relationships.