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Neanderthal
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13 Feb 2010, 5:31 pm

Hi, first post! Still feeling my way around, and learning a lot.

I have virtually zero communication with my 14 year old AS son. I can speak to him, suggest that he do certain things, and he clearly understands me, and jumps right to the task if it is something he wants to do, like get ready for a trip to Sonic, which is the ONLY take-out that he will eat. Otherwise, I might as well be speaking to the wall. Tone makes no difference, stern voice makes no difference, understanding voice makes no difference.

What puzzles me is that he communicates fabulously with his Sister, can rattle on for hours about how to play his video games, what computer tricks he has learned, how to draw certain characters. But he has gradually shut me out over the years, until now I cannot ask a question and get a response. If I ask him any sort of question, he turns away, or voices some frustration. He has nearly shut out his Mother as well, though Mom still can get a tiny bit of interaction.

This is going the wrong way, and if he shuts out his sister over time, he will have no-one with whom he can communicate.

What I would like would be a way to "get back in". I have set up an Email account, hoping that I can open some paths of communication, send some videos, etc. Hoping that might work, waiting for results.

Anyone have any suggestions?

To say that my son is very bright is an understatement, he was doing stop-motion animations with a video camera when he was six or eight or so. Figured out how to do it by himself, no help from myself, internet, etc. Currently he is designing Mario games with some program that he found online. Way advanced stuff, I can't imagine what his IQ is, but not sure he is testable, as there is no communication with anyone.

Anyway, any thoughts?



buryuntime
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13 Feb 2010, 5:40 pm

one of my parents voice really bothers me. Their tone of voice is terrible, and they are rarely serious. I can not respond to them without getting frustrated/angry. I don't agree with any of their views, either. The other parent is the opposite. I will talk to them about what I'm interested in or make lists with but this person's tone of voice is okay. I still sometimes get frustrated with them though, but they are more understanding.



Paula
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13 Feb 2010, 6:13 pm

What does the school behavior specialist say?



DW_a_mom
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13 Feb 2010, 7:06 pm

How old is his sister? Is she old enough to act as a go-between, asking questions that might help you understand his issue with trying to communicate with you?

There is always an underlying reason, even if the child himself has trouble remembering it - some of these things grow from seeds planted years and years ago (like my son's huge aversion to flushing toilets - we are JUST starting to make progress on the "why," and it goes SO far back).


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schleppenheimer
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13 Feb 2010, 7:11 pm

I wonder if you are on to something here with the email -- can you communicate THAT way? It's less emotional, one has to think a little more about what one says, etc. It just might be the one way to find a bond.



Neanderthal
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14 Feb 2010, 9:50 pm

Sister is 16 and NT, as are Mom and myself.

We homeschool, have no access to a school behavior specialist. The non support that we received from the school was the reason we pulled the kids and are homeschooling. Time will tell if that was the correct call or not, but so far it feels right, and I believe in instincts. Playing for high stakes though.

We are pretty much getting through this on our own, and I am trying to learn as much as I can, this forum is a part of my learning process.

No results with the Email so far, still working it.

DW, I can recall many instances that I wish I could get a "do over", that I got short with the son, etc. These instances have haunted me, and I am sure that similar demons plague every other parent of an autistic child. But what I have learned to date would lead me to believe that such incidents are more symptom than cause. This behavior did not happen overnight, rather it has taken years. I can not link it to any particular experience, not sure what I would do if I could.

Thanks for the responses, I am wide open to suggestions.



Mama_to_Grace
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14 Feb 2010, 9:57 pm

Can you connect with him in his special interest? Such as learn all you can about the video games, the program he is using, show an interest in his interest. Perhaps that would bridge the gap as long as you made this endeavor truthfully and honestly.

Good luck.



DW_a_mom
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14 Feb 2010, 10:43 pm

Neanderthal wrote:

DW, I can recall many instances that I wish I could get a "do over", that I got short with the son, etc. These instances have haunted me, and I am sure that similar demons plague every other parent of an autistic child.


Yes. So many things that everyone tells you "it's nothing," or, "they can handle it," and so on ... and you learn that no, for your unique child it really was a major thing. The sensory issues pervade so much of it, I've learned. And, yes, it rarely is one thing. It's a huge build up. I SAW it happening with my son right before we got his diagnosis; he was literally starting to turn off parts of himself in self-defense to life. We were lucky that the process stopped, we can never be 100% sure why, but it is one of the things that pains me when I see the big divide in the autistic community, and the belief that a high functioning child like mine can't have the same condition as a lower functioning one. I often wonder if so many of these things "trip" in the way allergies do: too much exposure to something the body has difficulty handling, and it starts to react extremely. Someone recently showed me some research that shows this same idea. That doesn't mean we could have done anything to prevent the process, I actually rather doubt there is, but I think there is a lot to learn from understanding how it all happens.

I really hope you find a way to turn the cycle on this one with your child.


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14 Feb 2010, 11:44 pm

One of the methods I have used with my 14 yo son, regarding communicating, is that I have clearly stated my expectations for communicating in the home, explained the reasons why communication with family is so important, and used consequences (positive and negative). Examples:

"When I ask you a question, I expect a direct answer without dawdling."
"When I am talking to you, I expect you to face me and not walk away until we both agree the conversation is over."
"It is important for you to answer me because some of my questions have to do with your health and safety. For example, when I ask how you are feeling it is because I need to know in case you are ill."
"You must answer the phone, because what if I am calling and there is an emergency?"
"If you do not answer me, X will happen." (X could be taking away the video game)
"Good job making eye contact!"
"Thanks for answering my question"
"Thanks for not walking away."

In general, I have found that explaining my expectations in very clear and literal terms, and the reasoning for my expectations, goes a long way toward improving behavior. Not saying this is a silver bullet that works with everyone. It has worked in my home. Best of luck!



Paula
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15 Feb 2010, 12:47 pm

Have you contacted your local autism chapter? (I totally get your homeschooling) They may be able to direct you. Also type in Autism Support Group in your area. You'll be suprized at how many are out there. I know someone who started a Aspie Support Group in Escondido CA. and it has grown quickly.



herbalmistress
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15 Feb 2010, 12:52 pm

I don't have any advice for you because i am hoping right now we don't end up going down the same path with my son (11) who we just realized is probably AS. We also home school, and have some communication issues, although they don't seem as severe as what you are talking about, yet. I know he can hear me, but whenever i ask him to do something he doesn't want to, or to stop doing something i will have to repeat myself several times before i get a response. Either that or he will say "Okay", but then not do it. Example: "It's time to get ready for bed now," he continues spinning a top, "I said it's time to get ready for bed," he says "Okay," and continues spinning the top. I start to get frustrated and talk louder and slower, "I want you to stop spinning the top, and get ready for bed now," he spins the top one or two more times. I shout his name, he yells "What!" I shout "I've told you to get ready for bed 5 times and you are still spinning the top!" At that point he will shout "Okay!" and start getting ready for bed, or he'll say "No you haven't, you only said it once!", which drives me freaking crazy. I realize we're not handling these situations correctly, but we just realized he has AS last week, and i always thought he was just intentionally being obnoxious or playing games with us. It's not just at transition times we have these issues either. He's like this a lot, i just used bedtime as an example because that senario just happened the other day between him and DH, and usually he's only like that with me. He usually listens to step-dad better than he does me. Luckily, he's not shutting me out in general though. He talks my ear off all day about his interests and asks me tons of questions. It usually only related to communicating about things he doesn't want to do, but i'd love to understand how to handle the situations better, so the communications doesn't start to breakdown more. If you figure out anything that helps with your son, if anyone else has any advice please let me know.

Peace. :heart:


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Neanderthal
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15 Feb 2010, 1:33 pm

Again, thanks for the replies.

As I get my head around this, I am going to do more speaking, and require less response, at least for the short term. I feel that my son understands very well, but is so very frustrated that he can not respond. Once that frustration sets in, he just shuts down, runs away, flaps, etc.

Mama to Grace, good point, I can see how that might help, I will see if I can do better. Of note, my son is very protective of his projects, he will not knowingly include me in them. I will have to find a way in. The other problem is his advanced level in these games, programs, etc. I find that his level is waaaay over my head. Not sure that I have the ability to relate to him at his level.



redwulf25_ci
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15 Feb 2010, 1:56 pm

DW_a_mom wrote:
How old is his sister? Is she old enough to act as a go-between, asking questions that might help you understand his issue with trying to communicate with you?

There is always an underlying reason, even if the child himself has trouble remembering it - some of these things grow from seeds planted years and years ago (like my son's huge aversion to flushing toilets - we are JUST starting to make progress on the "why," and it goes SO far back).


I know that when I was a kid my aversion was that the noise was very loud and it frightened me.



redwulf25_ci
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15 Feb 2010, 1:59 pm

DenvrDave wrote:
One of the methods I have used with my 14 yo son, regarding communicating, is that I have clearly stated my expectations for communicating in the home, explained the reasons why communication with family is so important, and used consequences (positive and negative). Examples:

"When I ask you a question, I expect a direct answer without dawdling."


I hope he's not much like me. I couldn't handle that because I often have to think of the answer then rehearse it in my head a few times before I say it to make sure I get it right and it's not going to come out misunderstood.



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15 Feb 2010, 6:30 pm

redwulf25_ci wrote:
DenvrDave wrote:
One of the methods I have used with my 14 yo son, regarding communicating, is that I have clearly stated my expectations for communicating in the home, explained the reasons why communication with family is so important, and used consequences (positive and negative). Examples:

"When I ask you a question, I expect a direct answer without dawdling."


I hope he's not much like me. I couldn't handle that because I often have to think of the answer then rehearse it in my head a few times before I say it to make sure I get it right and it's not going to come out misunderstood.


Let me clarify, I always give my children time to think things through and I never demand an answer "now!" Dawdling in our case is subjective, and I can usually tell the difference between intentionally avoiding conversation versus carefully considering a question before answering.



DW_a_mom
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15 Feb 2010, 7:46 pm

herbalmistress wrote:
I don't have any advice for you because i am hoping right now we don't end up going down the same path with my son (11) who we just realized is probably AS. We also home school, and have some communication issues, although they don't seem as severe as what you are talking about, yet. I know he can hear me, but whenever i ask him to do something he doesn't want to, or to stop doing something i will have to repeat myself several times before i get a response. Either that or he will say "Okay", but then not do it. Example: "It's time to get ready for bed now," he continues spinning a top, "I said it's time to get ready for bed," he says "Okay," and continues spinning the top. I start to get frustrated and talk louder and slower, "I want you to stop spinning the top, and get ready for bed now," he spins the top one or two more times. I shout his name, he yells "What!" I shout "I've told you to get ready for bed 5 times and you are still spinning the top!" At that point he will shout "Okay!" and start getting ready for bed, or he'll say "No you haven't, you only said it once!", which drives me freaking crazy. I realize we're not handling these situations correctly, but we just realized he has AS last week, and i always thought he was just intentionally being obnoxious or playing games with us. It's not just at transition times we have these issues either. He's like this a lot, i just used bedtime as an example because that senario just happened the other day between him and DH, and usually he's only like that with me. He usually listens to step-dad better than he does me. Luckily, he's not shutting me out in general though. He talks my ear off all day about his interests and asks me tons of questions. It usually only related to communicating about things he doesn't want to do, but i'd love to understand how to handle the situations better, so the communications doesn't start to breakdown more. If you figure out anything that helps with your son, if anyone else has any advice please let me know.

Peace. :heart:


I realize it goes deeper than this, but as a matter of practice ALL requests should include a suggested amount of time within which you expect compliance, that is reasonable in relation to what the child is doing at the time. When my son is on a computer game I start warnings 15 minutes ahead, then 5, and 1 (more or less). With a question, I may ask it and if he seems to need time to think about it I might add, "why don't you think about it, and I'll ask again at dinner." Stuff like that; opportunities to respond in their own time and own way.


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Mom to an amazing young adult AS son, plus an also amazing non-AS daughter. Most likely part of the "Broader Autism Phenotype" (some traits).