Swearing --- not what you think

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ASDMommyASDKid
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12 Jun 2015, 4:12 pm

Background: I come from a culture that is fine with swearing done in contexts deemed appropriate by that culture. I now live in a place that has seemingly stricter (but not always) rules about swearing that I do not understand, so I don't swear when out and about. I am NOT trying to encourage my son to learn this skill, especially since I, myself, do not understand the rules where we live.


I don't really know all the negativity about swearing that my son has picked up while he was in public school, or from other places, on a third hand basis. He went through a point when he was two that he would attempt to say the f-word, and it was easily handled at that time, and we did not over-react to it. That is the extent of his swearing. i think the main reason is that interjections of any kind, are too emotive for him to understand, and honestly he doesn't even use g-rated ones, for that reason.

Here is the issue: My son now refuses to read books that have even the mildest expletive. I don't even know how to go about writing a social story on this, but I guess I have to? We went to see the movie, Home, and I thought it would be nice to get the book it was based on out of the library.

He complained to me that he could only read up to page 52, and something on page 52 ruined it for him. He got upset and told me I should not read it, either. (I don't listen to a 9 year-old as to what to read, so I read it, out of his sight, so he would not see.) Page 52 had the main character say she fell on her _ _ _ (Rhymes with grass, which she also fell on.)

If he does not want to read this particular book, that is not a big deal. What I am worried about is that he in addition to this has a fear of "inappropriate content" bolstered by kids telling him about ratings systems and other things. He seems afraid things will be taken away from him or no longer produced if they are deemed inappropriate. He saw something on the Internet about a digital clock at 7:45, upside down looking like it says the "s" word, and he freaked-out thinking clocks could be banned. Also, how can he handle more advanced literature, if he cannot handle the occasional swear?

edited for literacy



kraftiekortie
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12 Jun 2015, 4:47 pm

I get the feeling that all this is new to him, and that all this is shocking to him.

He's at an age where kids, even NT kids, are extremely moralistic. They tend to see things in "black and white." They haven't got enough experience to be able to discern the gray areas in between. They have to follow the rules to a game to a "T." The fact that he has an ASD doesn't help.

I would think that more experience in life will help him in the end. In the meantime, I would try to explain to him that certain kinds of swearing is (somewhat) okay in private settings, but quite inappropriate in public settings. The girl who fell on her butt was with friends, and she reacted to the pain she felt when she fell.

Are there "social stories" which deal with this issue? I'm sure this happens quite a bit with Aspergian kids who are between 6 and 12 years of age.



Waterfalls
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12 Jun 2015, 5:21 pm

In retrospect, I wish that when my daughter was younger I'd taken a more laid back approach when she got rigid as the issue usually was something adults sometimes insisted on and had serious consequences for (and swearing fits in there though not one of the issues she got stuck on). Because there seems to be no way to out-rigid a young child, on the spectrum or not, and still be reasonably adult in one's parenting. Both my kids did eventually loosen up.

I think it's hard for some kids to tolerate the confusion of seemingly ambiguous social rules, labeling as always bad works better for them. Just not functional for continuing long term.

You could write your own social story, as Kraftie suggested. In hindsight I think I'd focus on that swearing is often wrong because it sometimes hurts people, as does yelling in a loud voice, and rules are rules, and if I could go back and do things over (not an appealing prospect) I would let go of the struggle and go along but try to make the rules I want followed part of his solution so he grew in some way. Maybe no telling it's just like swearing, maybe no abandoning guests or demanding they must do everything our way, but something that could be useful....or a turnoff to staying rigid



ASDMommyASDKid
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12 Jun 2015, 7:12 pm

KraftieKortie,

It is not entirely new. I was thinking about it and remembered something. When he was much younger he liked to look up Microsoft Sam videos where people make Microsoft Sam say silly things. There were some I had to restrict because he had pretty severe delayed echolalia, and he went to public school ay the time. The last thing I needed was him repeating some of the stuff in some of the videos at school as we had enough issues there. Most of the videos were fine, and I did not restrict those. He was very upset about it, because he did not understand, despite my attempts at explaining that some of the videos used words people word think were offensive. He kept acting like all the videos were banned and all of that.

He is older now, his echolalia is more infrequent and, honestly, if he slips and says one, now I don't care that much other than if he meltsdown when I try to explain context.

Waterfalls: I get what you are saying about it being easier to have simple rules. Yes, it would be much simpler if I just banned swearwords, but it is already starting to restrict his reading and to me that is worse than if he swears. (Which as I say, I don't actually care about too much.) He really does, eventually need to understand the nuance. Eventually, he may associate with other kids, and they may swear. I don't need him getting upset in that case, either.



Waterfalls
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12 Jun 2015, 7:30 pm

I'm sorry I'm having trouble making my words make sense. I was trying to say that in retrospect my daughter took school rules for which there were penalties very literally and would follow them no matter what, because she needed the rules to make sense and they didn't to her.

I think back for example "don't talk to strangers" which she was taught in school (not by me she was too literal and I knew it would cause trouble....it did; she not only wouldn't talk to strangers, of any age including toddlers, she generalized the rule and tried to get me to not talk to strangers, either). Just arguing with her....it was exhausting and I regret that now

Do you think your son may be confused by school rules and penalties that are variably enforced related to swearing? I know my daughter took some of those rules very seriously and absolutely refused to do things that could get her in trouble....to the point of getting in trouble!



ASDMommyASDKid
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12 Jun 2015, 9:18 pm

Waterfalls wrote:
I'm sorry I'm having trouble making my words make sense. I was trying to say that in retrospect my daughter took school rules for which there were penalties very literally and would follow them no matter what, because she needed the rules to make sense and they didn't to her.

I think back for example "don't talk to strangers" which she was taught in school (not by me she was too literal and I knew it would cause trouble....it did; she not only wouldn't talk to strangers, of any age including toddlers, she generalized the rule and tried to get me to not talk to strangers, either). Just arguing with her....it was exhausting and I regret that now

Do you think your son may be confused by school rules and penalties that are variably enforced related to swearing? I know my daughter took some of those rules very seriously and absolutely refused to do things that could get her in trouble....to the point of getting in trouble!



I am sure you explained it right, and I interpreted wrong. :)

Everything they did at school was without nuance and without taking into account exceptions. It was what was easiest for them. I don't know if or how swearing came up, but I know they had very absolute rules even on using the word "stupid," to the point where my son is just starting to use that word now (and only because he has heard it on SpongeBob.)

I wouldn't expect them to tell a bunch of NT kids that sometimes swearing is OK, b/c it is not a message they would want to send, and honestly parents would flip out. NT kids do not need to be told that, I do not think,anyway. They just know when it is part of the expected patois.

I think I will try to write a social story. Right now, I am going to focus on swearing in literature and how it is used to reflect realistic dialogue because people do swear in real life. I am not going to try to address the whens and wheres because I really don't know how to articulate that. he doesn't have to know when to curse, right now. He just needs to know to tolerate it from others 9when not used to insult a person) and in books.



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12 Jun 2015, 9:27 pm

Maybe you could tell him it's okay if he hears or reads other people's swearing, but he isn't allowed to swear yet because he's too young or something. That's a fairly straightforward rule. If he's bothered by hypocrisy that might not work though...


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Waterfalls
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12 Jun 2015, 9:32 pm

I hope the social story helps. It's tricky because it's hard to think how to explain swearing that won't make it worse, as swearing is in a way hitting with words so as not to be destructive.

Thank you for being so nice. I ltry to say things so they make sense and sometimes it's hard.



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13 Jun 2015, 11:18 am

Haven't read the responses yet, but my son was like this at that age. He would not even be friends with kids who said a curse word. He would not like entire movies because of one curse word, and would be upset if he felt something "inappropriate" was found in something that was supposed to be for children.

He gradually moved to informing me that so-and-so said sh!t, and asking if he could still be his friend, to informing me which friends had parents who cursed and who were allowed to curse, to informing me which friends had "inappropriate" games in their home (anything above E) while reassuring me that he informed the parent that he is not allowed to play it, to asking me if he could play games rated above E in his friends home if I approved it first.

At 13, he has admitted that he occasionally curses at school, but will not do it at home in respect of our rules and the fact that his sister is 9 and should not be exposed. He uses good judgment about which games he plays, and we have discussed the ratings and what they mean. He will play games with violence, but he will not play games with sexual themes, drugs or alcohol. He explained why, and I am happy with his explanation.

When I look back at it, I think it is because he needed rules to be very cut and dry, black and white, at that age. He could not have rules that applied sometimes and not others. It was too confusing and too hard to keep track of. As he has grown and developed, he has learned how to discriminate better and is more comfortable using contextual cues to determine what is and what is not appropriate in a given context.

He does make mistakes. He misreads what is appropriate in which setting. The trick is, he never gets punished for this. We use it as a teachable moment to "fine-tune" his abilities.

I don't know if your son's path will be similar to my son's path, but I did want to offer that in our case, his initial rigidity with rules was replaced with more flexibility. It didn't happen naturally, though, but with lots of dialogue that I wove into every day experiences.


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ASDMommyASDKid
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14 Jun 2015, 8:30 am

InThisTogether,

Yeah, I expect there will be movement on this just like there was on using the word stupid. I just know there is so much nuance here, so I worry about it.



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14 Jun 2015, 8:45 am

I have been trying to reply, but I can't. It just keeps sending me to my profile page. Trying something short instead of typing out a whole long response.


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InThisTogether
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14 Jun 2015, 8:45 am

Of course, the short one goes through.


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