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Jimbeaux
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17 May 2010, 12:23 pm

My girlfriend's son, Billy, is a 10 year old aspie. They stay at my place on the weekends and at grandma's house the rest of the week.

Towards the end of the school year, he always has issues. In his mind, summer is right around the corner and he is just done with school. Had enough, doesn't care anymore. I remember being like that myself.

However, he has been getting mouthy with one of his teachers. Usually twice a week, he will get demerits. This past week, he received them, one, for screaming at his teacher that she was stupid and needed to leave him alone, and two, for arguing with his teacher over doing some school work, then calling her stupid.

First time he gets demerits, he loses computer privileges for the weekend. Second time, he loses PS3. Third, he loses TV. This past weekend, he got demerits three times and lost all three. This will always result in a stressful weekend with him throwing tantrums about having nothing to do, and mistakenly believing that he is somehow the victim. If he does well and doesn't get a demerit during one day, he receives one hour of computer time back.

This past weekend, I woke up, came out, and caught him on the computer. I was LIVID! Especially when he refused to get off, so I turned it off and his character on an online game he was playing died. He threw a major fit, screaming that we "just didn't understand how terrible it is having nothing to do". He also went off when he asked me "Don't you care that I have nothing to do?" and I replied "No, I don't, because you did this to yourself and this punishment is designed for you to have nothing to do!"

I am thinking, as punishment, of deleting one of his characters on the online game for his defiance. What do you think?

Also, having him whine and kvetch all weekend is getting old and making living with him stressful. I have a VERY stressful job, and I need the weekends to relax. Any ideas? We just can't get it through his head that these punishments are the results of his behavior.



mgran
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17 May 2010, 12:38 pm

I think that emotionally he would see deleting one of his online characters as a form of murder. Not saying that he would believe you were a murderer, but he would consider that you hated him, and would see the loss of his character as symbolic of your hatred for him.

I think you need to see a specialist for advice on how to deal with this. Although my son is aspie, I've never had these kinds of problems with him... it's possible that some of this is because he sees you as butting in on his mother time. Jealousy can erupt at that kind of age.

But most definitely I would say, don't kill his online characters. Because he won't see it as you taking away his toys, he'll see it as you symbolically murdering him.



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17 May 2010, 12:45 pm

I agree. Don't delete his online characters. He will never forgive you.


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17 May 2010, 12:51 pm

For an Aspie kid, when he misbehaves, rather than taking privileges away, make him play baseball with the kids in the neighborhood. If he REALLY acts up, sign him up for little league.


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17 May 2010, 12:52 pm

I know this is going to get some negative reactions, but ...

When I've had situations with my kids where school had trouble with their behavior, I was perfectly happy to support school, in terms of explaining to my children why their behavior was unacceptable, and trying to help them figure out alternative ways of dealing with difficult situations, but I was not willing to punish them for behavior that occurred at school. I needed school stuff to be school stuff, and home stuff to be home stuff. I don't expect school to deal with issues around messy rooms, refusing to brush teeth, or staying out past curfew; I don't expect to deal with their problems with school-related stuff, beyond, of course, making clear my expectations of responsibility and appropriate behavior.

If school has demerits, they no doubt have something that goes with those demerits - loss of privileges? If school is having a problem, school needs to deal with it. If school isn't dealing with it, they need to - maybe do an FBA and implement a BIP.

Why should your home life be made miserable because of something that may be a completely school-related issue? We were "taught" this by the LD school my daughter went to years ago. It was one of the best things we got out of the school!



Jimbeaux
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17 May 2010, 1:13 pm

Because as parents, ultimately we are responsible for helping him fix his problems. The school demerit system isn't effective at the end of the year. They lose the privilege of going on a class trip, but they have already had their final field trip.



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17 May 2010, 1:18 pm

How does your son feel about being "fixed"?


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17 May 2010, 1:20 pm

I don't think that you ought to automatically assume that an ASD child's behavior is borne out of defiance, or laziness, or any other long list of negative, manipulative behaviors. I agree with the poster above where they said you need to be sure the school is dealing with him properly. My son's behaviors are also getting worse as school as the year ends, because his tolerance level for their 'suck it up and deal with it' bs behavior plan is running him ragged.

After taking care of the school situation, then maybe you can come up with a behavior plan for at home. Preferably, a positive one. [You never, ever, ever want to use a special interest as a threat, or punishment. Though, it can work well in terms of a positive reward for desirable behavior. My son has a chart with chores on it, as well as things that he hates, like homework, and wearing his glasses. He gets stars for each of these things he does everyday, as well as he can earn extras for doing extra stuff, or if I catch him being extra good. After so many stars he earns a night sleeping on the couch, where he gets to stay up as late as he wants watching tv, and playing on the computer. It is very motivating to him to earn his stars, and it's done without nagging, or negative reinforcement.



Jimbeaux
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17 May 2010, 1:20 pm

Fixed as in helping him change his behavior so he isn't getting into screaming matches with his teachers.



Jimbeaux
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17 May 2010, 2:11 pm

Thank you for the great advice. I have decided I am NOT going to delete one of his characters, but instead, tell him that the next time he does that, I am going to make him start over at level 1 with the character. That way, he will know the consequences up front, which he really didn't this time.



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17 May 2010, 2:59 pm

I think he knows very well that eventually he's going to mess up again, and that when he does you may or may not delete everything he's done with a character (which is almost as bad as deleting the character, incidentally). If I were him, at age ten, I would have just misbehaved and gotten it over with, rather than the huge anxiety of having it hang over my head.

You have to understand that for an Aspie, taking away a special interest as punishment is more painful than being beaten until you are black and blue (and I know, because both have been done to me and I would choose the beating every time). Your special interest is how you relax. It's how you get your brain back on track, how you defuse anxiety, how you stave off meltdowns and temper stress. It has so many more functions than just entertainment. When it's taken away, things get very, very bad.

This is the end of the school year. If this is a typical Aspie kid, he is utterly exhausted and holding it together by a thread. That he told his teacher to "leave me alone" tells me that he is probably stressed out by demands, and trying to withdraw; but at school, he can't do it, so when he's cornered, he gets angry, frustrated, and desperate enough to demand that he be left alone--and when that doesn't work, he feels trapped, has a tantrum, and calls the teacher stupid.

If I'm right in guessing that his computer is his special interest, then I think you shouldn't take it away from him. You can tell a special interest by the way the Aspie tends to basically make it the center of his life--eat, sleep, breathe it, collect information about it, master the skill or become an expert on the subject. The special interest is a huge pressure-release valve, and he's going to need one.

If the school punishes him for stuff he does at school, let them do it; he doesn't need a double whammy. If it doesn't, I suggest something that doesn't touch his special interests, such as being assigned an extra chore; or something that directly involves making up for what he did, such as writing a letter of apology to his teacher.


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Jimbeaux
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17 May 2010, 3:09 pm

No, Dinosaurs and the DS are his special interest. Computer time is limited to mornings during the weekend.

And I like the idea of the apology letter to the teacher! Thanks!



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17 May 2010, 3:26 pm

Making the character start over at level 1 is the same thing as deleting it. I don't recommend either. You would be losing the carrot from the "carrot on a stick."

What about using a different type of punishment that would involve removal of the special interest? Pulling weeds for a few hours would suck enough to get the pint across. Then the special interest would allow for some defuse time after it's done.



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17 May 2010, 3:32 pm

Pehaps he really does need some alone time. I agree that making him start at level one again would be the same as deleting the character. NEVER take away a specail intrest as punishment or withhold acess to it.


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17 May 2010, 3:47 pm

Jimbeaux wrote:
Thank you for the great advice. I have decided I am NOT going to delete one of his characters, but instead, tell him that the next time he does that, I am going to make him start over at level 1 with the character. That way, he will know the consequences up front, which he really didn't this time.


I don't recommend that. Let him play on the computer or don't let him play on the computer, but don't tinker with the game itself. If you're going to allow him to play...just allow him to play. If you want to use the computer as leverage, simply don't allow him to use it. Don't let him play but then impose a baroque internal restriction as a punishment.

Other posters have given very plausible reasons for where the behaviour is coming from. On the one hand, you dont want to condone it. On the other hand you don't want to pile on even more stress at home or he will blow a gasket even more frequently. The goal is to bring him back down to a calmer place.

I like (and use with my own daughter) the sort of positive reward system described by another poster earlier. Although earning things is just a mirror of not losing things, it is percieved differently because it doesn't come with the "you are bad bad bad" cloud hanging over it. I also teach her techniques for managing stress and give positive feedback for stress well managed. If she says "I want to be left alone" and goes running off to her room, I let her be because that's a better way to manage stress (as opposed to lashing out). Later, when she's calm, I let her know that I think it's a good idea to go to her room and she should do that whenever she can rather than lashing out.

My daughter's school ( a special school, not a regular school) encourages retreat as a coping mechanism for kids who lash out under stress. There is probably no such dispensation at your son's school. Neverthless, it's worth talking to his teachers and to him to try to come up with some proactive coping mechanisms he can use at school when he feels near the breaking point. You never know. They may be ok with allowing some retreat too, a quiet place where he can defuse so he doesn't explode. When he's at the tipping point at school, the fear of losing computer time(or any other punishment) is unlikely even in his mind. At that crisis point he may not be able to think so clearly. The best thing is to teach him ways to avert that explosive crisis when he feels it's coming on. The school's cooperation with this would be best. Hopefully they will see the wisdom of preventing an explosion rather than punishing one.



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17 May 2010, 3:48 pm

The OP has verified that the computer is NOT the boy's special interest. I, however, don't think it's wise to mess with his character. It has nothing to do with anything about why he's in trouble, and nothing good comes out of deleting/diminishing levels.

I still stand by finding out if the boy's behavior at school is warranted before doling out punishment. It really sucks to be misunderstood, then punished for standing up for yourself, then further punished in the only place you feel safe, which is at home. My son yells at school, but it's from overload, and anxiety. The reason for his behavior needs to be addressed. You can't punish away sensory overload, and anxiety. Trying to will only make the behavior worse. Does your son have somewhere at school to go when he's feeling like he's about to have a meltdown? This is very, very important. This way he can responsible for his own behavior. If he feels overloaded he can ask to go to his designated take a break space. He needs the tools to help him be successful in managing his behavior, otherwise threats will do no good. You can't punish away a difference.