following directions...and why they cannot

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MMJMOM
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21 May 2012, 10:36 am

My son, 6 Aspergers, can NOT folllow a direction, ever, the way it is given. If I say go left, he will go right and then left and tell me thats what he did. If his schoolwork says copy these sentences, he will change them, when we read books, he changes the words like if it says, "the surprised boy jumped out of his chair" my son will say, "The surprised boy flew off his chair!" He is not guessing from looking at the picture in the book, he is reading hte sentence and changing it a bit.

I am at a loss, why cant he ever just once follow a direction as it is given? I dont mind him being creative and coming up with new ways to get things done, but sometimes you just HAVE to follow a direction. Expecially schoolwork. He is homeschooled, and is given plenty of creativity time, there are lessons he can change and make them different and still get the right answer...but I woud LOVE for him to follow directions, any directions. All day is spent with him trying to change the rules, change he directions, bargain with me about how things should be done, and it is EXHAUSTING to say the least.

I look at the big pic, my son will be an adult one day and if he can not follow rules at work or LAWS he will not make it in society. He is extremely intelligent, I think that is part of the problem, he tries to make everything a challenge and more exciting, or he tries to come up with new ways to do things. But isnt there something for just following directions as they are given? I dont want a robot of a child, I LOVE his creativity, but I would equally love if he, just once a day even, followed directions without changing them.

Anyone elses kids to this? Any Aspie insight as to the process of changing every rule or direction, words in books, etc...


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momsparky
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21 May 2012, 1:03 pm

We sometimes have similar things with my son that fall (mostly) into two categories:

1. Literal interpretation of the EXACT WORDING. DS actually seems to understand that our expectation is different than the literal interpretation, it's just that in his brain it is more important to follow the WORDS than it is the desire of somebody else. (This doesn't sound like what you're dealing with)

2. His own set of internal benchmarks for interpretation. When confused, (or bored, or annoyed) DS will focus on the part of the instruction that makes the most sense to him and ignore everything else. "Wipe your face with a napkin, please don't use your sleeve" gets translated to "Wipe your face" and he'll use his sleeve because that's his first impulse. I've found that turning the direction around and sometimes repeating the part he struggles with helps: "Use your napkin to wipe your face. Your napkin." This might be useful in some of the situations.

With the reading, it sounds like he is doing a very good thing: he's converting the words into an internal movie, and then describing what he sees - if I'm interpreting this correctly, he's actually understanding better than most kids, and his ability to put things in his own words is an asset. You might want to practice "Yes, that's what happens in the story, good job! You're great at understanding what you read. Can you tell me what the words on the page are now?" Just gently bring him back around.



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21 May 2012, 1:53 pm

I was practicaly labled as ODD as a kid because I didn't surrender to authority just like that like kids are supposed to. People seem to think that kids are supposed to be subserviant to adults and do whatever the adult tells them to do without questioning it. I never bought that. What if the adult wanted to sexualy mollest me? There's actualy evidence that kids who are taught to "do what they are told" are more prone to sexual abuse. I needed a clear reason why I should do something and "because I'm the adult and you're the child" never worked with me. My third grade teacher was very phycologialy abusive twoards me and was somehow able to brainwash me into believing she had every right in the world to do the things she did to me. I think I had even developed some sort of Stockholm syndrome. Once I was out of her class for good and in the fourth grade in special ed with two teachers, a morbidly obese pushover and a red-haired lady who would tottaly flip and practicaly have a conniption if you so much as accidently forgot to dot an I or cross a T. Because of my expirence with my last teacher, I wasn't so willing to mindlessly obey them.


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21 May 2012, 1:57 pm

This reminds me a lot of my son, too. He didn't like routines I imposed, only the ones that seemed natural to him and his brain.

He is not home schooled. but we did/do a lot of that stuff at home also. Home stuff has always been flexible, school work is not and he has had trouble adjusting.

Your child probably knows you -can- be flexible and so feels justified in making up his own rules. It is how he expresses himself. My child does not like rules for no reason. At home, I don't care what color he uses to say, underline a verb. At school, they routinely make rules like that, for the teacher's convenience and to teach rule following, and he doesn't get it it. It took him awhile to learn to suck it up, anyway, and it isn't perfect. He will still want to know "why," which is not a bad instinct. It just doesn't fit in with school.

At home it will be even harder to create "artificial" structure, but maybe start out with 10 minutes a day where you give him an assignment you want done exactly as required. Call it "android time," or something, maybe, tell him how long it will be, and use a timer. Tell him to pretend he is an android and can only do the instructions as written. Make it fun. Then maybe expand the time, each day.

I don't know if this will work, but usually making things into a game can be helpful.

Also, I don't think questioning rules makes him some future outlaw. I think he is learning and testing boundaries, and also likes the freedom he has and is resisting giving it up.

:)



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21 May 2012, 2:32 pm

ASDMommyASDKid wrote:
He didn't like routines I imposed, only the ones that seemed natural to him and his brain. :)


Isn't this what we all do? In some way, we like to be in control of our own lives. Your rules, are well rules that seem natural to you and your brain.
My son has taught me just how inflexible the real world is. I mean, if it was so flexible and accepting we wouldn't have to give people "labels" to describe how they can't "fit" into the world.
Things like aspergers syndrome, adhd, etc. wouldn't exsist. People would just accept that Joe Bob likes to move when he learns, not that he has some underlying disorder.

The resistance, I have found, is because they just don't understand something. My son also needs to know the "why" behind things. If he doesn't, he can't process the request as logical.
He also on several occasions has questioned his teachers, and found they really don't know what they are talking about. Which makes them mad, and in return he gets the brunt of their rath by getting lower grades.

He reminds me of Data from Star Trek. We started watching this and I pointed out how much he is like data. We now watch it, and I point out what he does. The others respond to Data, and my son on several occasions has said.. OH .. that is why people do that to me. eye opener (sorry side track there).



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21 May 2012, 2:55 pm

I never tell my son "becasue I said so" and I dont expect him to be a robot, I even TELL him I love his creativity and there is def plenty of time for him to do things the way he sees fit. But isnt there a lesson in following directions some of the time? I said in my OP, I would be thrilled with even 1x day him following directions as they are stated.

Again, my goal is the bigger pic. I would love for my son to get a career in some inventive field, or a supervisor, or his own boss, but there are zero guarantees that will happen. SO, I think its a great tool to be able to follow directions on occasion. I wil tell him beforehand that this lesson has to be completed as the book states. "Copy the sentences with the correct punctuation". He will copy some of the words and make upi new sentences. OK, it is interesting and fun to him, I get it and am pleased he was creative. BUt I worry about if and when he goes to school, or college, or a job....that his need to change everything will backfire on him. Maybe I am wrong adn he will be super successful and no issues, but it cant hurt to learn to follow some directions, some of the time.

Never did I say I wanted him to midlessly obey me or anyone. I just want him to follow a direction once a day, and I will call that a success. I want him to see the BIGGER pic, as why following rules and directions are important. And I tell him this stuff, I explain I am not trying to be mean by saying please follow the directions on the page as they are written, I am trying to help him learn to follow directions for when he becomes an adult, etc...and we go into all that.

Why do I want my son to follow directions? I want him to be safe, I want him to be a productive member of society, I want him to make good choises based on knowing right from wrong, knowing when you can be creative and when you just have to do what is asked, or follow the rule or direction.

I love the idea of telling him its "robot time" or making up something else so he thinks its fun and he knows he has to follow the directions.

Also family life would be better and we would all be happier if Jayden would follow some of our family rules, or any direction that we give him. Someone bargaining, arguing and complaining all day long gets old and wears down you fast.


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MMJMOM
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21 May 2012, 3:02 pm

momsparky wrote:
We sometimes have similar things with my son that fall (mostly) into two categories:

1. Literal interpretation of the EXACT WORDING. DS actually seems to understand that our expectation is different than the literal interpretation, it's just that in his brain it is more important to follow the WORDS than it is the desire of somebody else. (This doesn't sound like what you're dealing with)

2. His own set of internal benchmarks for interpretation. When confused, (or bored, or annoyed) DS will focus on the part of the instruction that makes the most sense to him and ignore everything else. "Wipe your face with a napkin, please don't use your sleeve" gets translated to "Wipe your face" and he'll use his sleeve because that's his first impulse. I've found that turning the direction around and sometimes repeating the part he struggles with helps: "Use your napkin to wipe your face. Your napkin." This might be useful in some of the situations.

With the reading, it sounds like he is doing a very good thing: he's converting the words into an internal movie, and then describing what he sees - if I'm interpreting this correctly, he's actually understanding better than most kids, and his ability to put things in his own words is an asset. You might want to practice "Yes, that's what happens in the story, good job! You're great at understanding what you read. Can you tell me what the words on the page are now?" Just gently bring him back around.


YES!! ! The last part about him saying what he sees in his head, I believe that might be it, and I always tell him that is a very creative way to tell the story but can you now tell me what was written?

So, do I just let him interpert it on his own? Or make him go back and read it. He is homeschooled, but might go to school at some point before he is 18, and I am certain a teacher wouldnt appreciate this...lol. Part of me wants him to be a little prepared incase he attends school one day.

My son is so creative, and he draws conclusions and brings in all things he knows into what he is learning, which I think is AMAZING. I dont want to stunt his creativity one but...I am just looking for an occasional compliant action, once in a blue moon.


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21 May 2012, 6:18 pm

MMJMOM wrote:
Never did I say I wanted him to midlessly obey me or anyone. I just want him to follow a
Why do I want my son to follow directions? I want him to be safe, I want him to be a productive member of society, I want him to make good choises based on knowing right from wrong, knowing when you can be creative and when you just have to do what is asked, or follow the rule or direction.

I love the idea of telling him its "robot time" or making up something else so he thinks its fun and he knows he has to follow the directions.


Have you told your son that in those exact words? I don't know, "robot time" might sound like a good idea now, but I can see it backfiring in the future and be used as a way for people to manipulate him.

I don't know. My parents only seemed to appriciate my creative streak when it was something THEY liked or agreed with.


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21 May 2012, 6:36 pm

MagicMeerkat wrote:
MMJMOM wrote:
Never did I say I wanted him to midlessly obey me or anyone. I just want him to follow a
Why do I want my son to follow directions? I want him to be safe, I want him to be a productive member of society, I want him to make good choises based on knowing right from wrong, knowing when you can be creative and when you just have to do what is asked, or follow the rule or direction.

I love the idea of telling him its "robot time" or making up something else so he thinks its fun and he knows he has to follow the directions.


Have you told your son that in those exact words? I don't know, "robot time" might sound like a good idea now, but I can see it backfiring in the future and be used as a way for people to manipulate him.

I don't know. My parents only seemed to appriciate my creative streak when it was something THEY liked or agreed with.


Yes, I do tell him all the time. I explain it so much that he told a kid at group who was running in the hallway that if he didnt follow the rules, when he is an adult and breaks the rules, which are laws, he may get arrested....so yeah, I dont tell him he is going to jail for not following the spelling word list. But I explainto him they WHY behind following some rules and directions, and that directions and rules are important and why. I explain that mom follows them as does dad, and all adults have rules or LAWS to follow, and some, if broken, will land an adult in jail. I tell him it is very important as a child to learn to follow simple rules, like not pushing or hitting, etc...so when they are bigger and the rules are bigger, it is easy for them casue they have been following rules forever. I explain that also, when you are bigger (an adult) the punnishment for breaking rules is bigger.

Now, I dont go into that huge speech every time, I try to keep it simple and concise, but he knows exactly why I ask him to follow a rule.

My son is creative in all areas. I am not a video gamer at all, nor do I understand them, but my son LOVES them to pieces. We indulge him in his roleplay of sonic and mario, I join in, make up stories, watch him play the video games when he asks me to, etc...He is not a mini me, I want him to be his unique self, and be creative and like waht he likes, and play what he plays, but following ANY direction once in a while added to his list.

I just had an idea writing this. I might tell him that he has to PICK what direction he is going to follow as its said or written. I might start this with schoolwork, but maybe if he is in control of it, he will comply, and eventually I can make it 2 or 3, etc...and then expand it from schoolwork to household rules, etc...

worth a try!


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21 May 2012, 7:21 pm

I somewhat agree with MagicMeerkat about wanting the reasons why. I was a lot like that as a kid too. ODD wasn't around when I was little, but I hated to do what I was "told" to do. I felt like it was disrespectful to me for people to tell me what to do rather than ask me what to do. I also did not want to just automatically show teachers, or any adult respect just because they were adults or the teacher, etc. I felt they should earn my respect by their actions and how they treated me. I told this to my teacher in one of my early grades and got in trouble for it. After she chewed me out and told me that I had to write sentences (I will respect my teachers) I told her that I would write them, but that didn't mean I would feel that way.

I also would do things like your son does because I felt like I had no control or power over anything in my life, and I was using any power anywhere I could get it, even if it was something stupid like turning right then left when I was told to turn left. In a way, I was showing people "You can make me do this but I'll do it my way".

I don't remember what made me change, and to this day I still have some tendencies like that when I feel that someone is trying to assert undue authority over me. If I were you, I would discuss with my son about feeling in control, power, authority, and respect. I don't mean give him the "You're gonna change your attitude right now" kind of discussion, but about the concepts of control, power, etc. Find out what he thinks' about them, and if he thinks he has power and control. Explain to him that he does have some, but that right now adults need to have more about certain things, and that the balance will shift as he gets older or becomes more mature. Talk about respect and asking him to do something vs telling him to do something. Let him know that just because you say "Johnny, take out the trash" it doesn't mean that you are commanding him to do it, it's just a way of saying it. I'd ask him to do things sometimes, rather than tell him to. I wouldn't go overboard and only ask rather than tell because that sets you up to be constantly trying to talk them into doing something. He has to know that you have the final say so and you have to be obeyed, but that he does have some choice in the matter sometimes.


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21 May 2012, 8:31 pm

i am sorry to hear you are having so much trouble. I remember my daughter being much the same way - though not as extreme. I wonder though it part of it is that he is bored. It is entirely possible that he has already mastered the skills he is being asked to perform and changing them is his way of making them more interesting.

I know with our family we don't have a lot of 'family' rules, but the ones we do have are mostly around safety. When my daughter would push back on wearing a seat belt or a bike helmet my response was it is a safety rule and not negotiable. Sometimes that worked and sometimes it didn't, but as she got older she pushed back less on these types of issues.

I read a book when she was in first grade and I wish I could remember the name, but I remember the author talked about how most kids are like horses - they do what the herd expects and the lead mare tells them to do. Other kids are like camels and they need a valid reason to do something. I remember thinking AHA - my kid is a camel and 'because I said so' isn't a valid reason for anything. At least it wasn't to her. If I could give a valid reason often she would relent and do what I asked.

Anyway, I hope this helps a bit. Good luck.


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21 May 2012, 10:12 pm

It's funny, this was an issue I could relate to with my kids. I very much remember an assignment when I was little where the teacher said we have to find pictures from magazines to illustrate a story. When I couldn't find the pictures I wanted, I decided I would draw them. After all, it would take more effort, and create a better product, so surely the teacher wouldn't mind. But she did, and graded me down for it.

See, it had never occurred to me that precisely following the instructions was part of the assignment. I figured the goal was to learn the material, stretch my brain, etc. That showing I could follow the instructions was important ... never occurred to me. Now, after the teacher explained it me, I understood it, and never again flourished an instruction without asking for permission or otherwise explaining myself first.

So one thing to do is make sure that he knows that following the instructions precisely is actually part of the assignment. It really isn't that obvious to a thinking, creative child.

He most certainly will question why it matters, and my line there was that (a) sometimes there is a reason you aren't aware of and (b) it is a life skill, all our lives we get asked to do things where simply following the instructions is crucial. But I have also told them that in most situations you can simply ask if your idea for a variation is OK. The key is asking.


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22 May 2012, 5:10 am

He could have his own ideas so he is being stubborn and wants to do it his way. I have some memories in my childhood where I didn't always follow directions. I remember in special ed, sometimes we would all be given this coloring assignment and each student had to tell us what color to color a picture and we would all get a stamp for following through. but sometimes I did not like the color a kid would choose because I thought the color was wrong for the picture so I color it my own way and I wouldn't get a stamp. To me being right was more important than a stamp. I also remember coming to school everyday when I was six and we have this coloring sheet on our desks to give us something to do before school started. But it took me a while to learn to put my crayon down when the teacher would say so because I always wanted to finish and would have a hard time putting down my crayon if I wasn't done.

Also I had ADD so giving me all these directions, I couldn't remember them all. I would only do one of them but not the rest so my mother had to tell me one thing at a time. Like she could not tell me "Beth, go upstairs and change you socks and find a pair that matches your outfit and then go get your shoes" or I would go upstairs and end up playing instead because I forgot the rest. To this day I still forget what people tell me so I appear to not even listen. Like the other day my husband told me to make something so I made it and ate it all not knowing I was supposed to save some for him. He then told me he asked me to make him some and then he asked me if I had eaten yet and I said no and he told me I can make this and he took out the Velveeta skillet and got me started on it and I made the rest. I had forgotten about hims saying he was hungry and him asking me to make him that. All I remembered was him asking me if I had eaten yet and then telling me to make that. I felt bad about it I bought another one of those while I went grocery shopping. But he told me he didn't care when I told him I got him another one to make up for what I did. So much for doing something kind. :roll:

I also remember I ended up doing things I was not supposed to do because I was told to do it. I was taught from a very young age to listen to whoever is in charge but I also remember being defiant towards other kids and baby sitters. I fought and argued with them and wouldn't listen.

I was also very argumentative in my childhood with kids and adults. Looking back I can see I could have gotten diagnosed with ODD because I liked to tease and provoke others, I argued, I had behavior problems my school called it, I always asked why and didn't always listen. But I was never diagnosed with it thank god and I am sure my parents would have ever bought it. Instead my school said I had behavior problems and my mother said I did not. But I think I did good listening to adults because I do remember listening to teachers and other adults. Just as long as they gave me the reason why and sometimes I also listened without being given the reason why because if I knew it would get me into trouble, I wouldn't do it because I hated getting punished and to me not doing it or else I would get punished was the reason why I should listen. I have read things about ODD online and none of it sounds like me because kids with it are a lot worse and mini sociopaths. Plus I knew a kid with it in my teens and he was a bully and very manipulative and a chronic liar. He was also very violent I think he had conduct disorder too someone on here once suggested through PM. I dunno what he is like today. I haven't seen him in ten years. I have read that ODD leads to conduct disorder if untreated and if the child doesn't outgrow it.

Also you son may get left and right mixed up. I used to do that all the time. My dad still gets left and right mixed up so i have to point when I tell him.

I also remember in high school when i was a freshman, in English the teacher would write a question up on the board and we had to answer it in our notebook. But the problem was we had to answer it using a complete sentence. We could not answer it how we would if someone asked us that question. I thought it was all stupid so I did it my own way by writing my question down for how I would answer the question if someone asked me it in person or if it were to be written on paper and we write our answer below it. So I didn't care if my grade got knocked down for it. This was where I was stubborn and nothing could get me to change my mind and follow the directions.



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22 May 2012, 8:06 am

So understand this. My 3-year old follows directions better than my 5-year old son. We encourage a lot of creativity and a lot of making his own choices. However, there are some non-negotiable things like--'put on your shoes, it's time to go to school' type directions. Or 'wash your hands. use soap.' He just does not seem to be able to follow anything more than a one-step direction, sometimes not even a one-step.
I think for him it is a processing issue. He is smart--he sat and listened to me read a 3rd-grade level novel and understood much of it. However, spoken directions in real life--when other stuff is going on--he seems to have trouble decoding. Hoping that speech/language therapy helps with this.
For what it's worth, my husband has trouble following directions or conversations as well. He has to see it WRITTEN down. Have you thought it might be a processing issue? Regardless of excellent vocabulary and speech, it's possible.
Anyway, I know the frustration!! ! Hang in there!



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22 May 2012, 8:07 am

thanks all, yes my son is EXTREMELY stuborn and inner driven. While he is very smart, verbal, etc..he is his own boss, and will listen to NO ONE but himself! He NEEDS to change everything, it feels to me almost like an OCD issue. He will do things his own way even if it spites himself. He HAS to change things, he cannot just do as he is asked, for any reason. Even if he will comply, he will say, "wait first I have to..." and he will do something first and then come back and do what he was asked to do. He can NEVER just follow anyting...

Before he got diagnosed Aspergers, I THOUGHT he had ODD cause he fit something like 8 out of the 10 criteria, and he did those 8 DAILY. Where the cirteria were something like several times a week. My son does then several times a DAY. But, I guess it is part of the Aspergers, casue he never got doagnosed ODD. But, if there were 2 words to describe my son, they would be Oppositional and Defiant. That about sums up my daily life with him.

it can be very exhausting dealing with someone who is oppositional and defiant all day long.


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J- 8, diagnosed Aspergers and ADHD possible learning disability due to porcessing speed, born with a cleft lip and palate.
M- 5
M-, who would be 6 1/2, my forever angel baby
E- 1 year old!! !