Deciding to take a step back or to be more authoritative

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mikassyna
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04 Dec 2013, 2:59 pm

League_Girl wrote:
My ex boyfriend who was on the spectrum also cared what people thought of him but because he worried so much what people would think, it actually affected him and me. There is a level of caring of what others think and not caring what others think. Some people do one of these too much it affects them while for most people, they are in between. Too much of anything is bad and too little of anything is bad. It's usually social anxiety when someone cares too much what people think.

My mom also told me what not to do or kids will tease me or think I'm weird. I never saw it as negative. Some here have called it blaming the victim because you are telling them what to change so they won't get teased or get negative reactions, etc. but I think that blaming the victim thing is being overused and thrown around by people like the word bullying is.


When I was a kid, I remember being angry when I was told to act a certain way. I thought it was just my mother being overcritical/mean to me yet again. Even if she explained to me (which I can't remember) that people would make fun of me for doing something, I still didn't believe her. Nobody else told me those things, and unless someone specifically and blatantly made fun of me over something I was doing, I simply didn't believe that what I was doing was wrong. So, I could chew like a cow with my mouth open, but unless someone OTHER than my family told me it was horrendous, I simply wouldn't believe it. I think it is still like this for me now. If my husband criticizes a behavior of mine, I get angry at him for it. After all he's supposed to love me warts and all, right? So unless someone else points something else out to me, I just don't believe my husband is being anything but self-interested and critical. I guess old habits are hard to shake. :oops:



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04 Dec 2013, 4:38 pm

mikassyna wrote:
League_Girl wrote:
My ex boyfriend who was on the spectrum also cared what people thought of him but because he worried so much what people would think, it actually affected him and me. There is a level of caring of what others think and not caring what others think. Some people do one of these too much it affects them while for most people, they are in between. Too much of anything is bad and too little of anything is bad. It's usually social anxiety when someone cares too much what people think.

My mom also told me what not to do or kids will tease me or think I'm weird. I never saw it as negative. Some here have called it blaming the victim because you are telling them what to change so they won't get teased or get negative reactions, etc. but I think that blaming the victim thing is being overused and thrown around by people like the word bullying is.


When I was a kid, I remember being angry when I was told to act a certain way. I thought it was just my mother being overcritical/mean to me yet again. Even if she explained to me (which I can't remember) that people would make fun of me for doing something, I still didn't believe her. Nobody else told me those things, and unless someone specifically and blatantly made fun of me over something I was doing, I simply didn't believe that what I was doing was wrong. So, I could chew like a cow with my mouth open, but unless someone OTHER than my family told me it was horrendous, I simply wouldn't believe it. I think it is still like this for me now. If my husband criticizes a behavior of mine, I get angry at him for it. After all he's supposed to love me warts and all, right? So unless someone else points something else out to me, I just don't believe my husband is being anything but self-interested and critical. I guess old habits are hard to shake. :oops:


Mikassyna, the thing is it's confusing for me as well. We're always told to be true to ourselves right. I don't get it.



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05 Dec 2013, 5:05 am

InThisTogether wrote:
I struggled with this for a really long time.

When my son was in 5th grade, we started a "things that make me a target" program. I really felt horrible doing it, but he was so clueless and so upset because he knew he was doing "something" but he had no idea what it was. I felt like a heartless b***h and I was really afraid it would destroy his self-esteem.

It actually had the opposite effect. He felt empowered by the knowledge that he could either choose to share that "weird" (not a bad word in this house---we own it) part of himself with others, or not. It often went something like "Doing XYZ is not typical for boys your age. There is nothing wrong with doing it. And you can do it at home as much as you like. But if you choose to do it at school, you must choose so with the understanding that it may make you a target." He has actually learned to blend a lot better. Not so much because he is a sheep and just following what everyone else is doing, but moreso because he is avoiding doing things that draw negative attention. Like wearing novelty t-shirts to school. Every day. Without fail. Or approaching kids he doesn't really know and talking about asphalt or some other completely random thing that no one seems to care about. Once I started pointing out some things that he did that were not typical of kids his age, he became much better at figuring it out himself. There are still some things that he simply can't see himself. Usually really subtle social rules. But he has curtailed many of the things that used to draw negative attention to him.

I'm glad I did it before middle school, if that helps you at all.
This appeals to me. I want her to be comfortable in her own skin and to do what she wants (within reason), but I also want her to be aware that other kids might not see it the same way and she could be laughed at or spoken about for it. The word 'weird' isn't used negatively in our house either. My daughter calls herself weird and doesn't see that as a bad thing. She's so much more confident than I was. I was a confident youngster, but had lost it by the time I got to her age. Her confidence will see her through - I really hope so anyway.


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Mummy_of_Peanut
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05 Dec 2013, 5:06 am

Thanks, everyone. I'm reading through the responses and mulling evverything over in my head.


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05 Dec 2013, 8:25 am

I'm of the "it could make her think you don't accept her" camp. But, really, it's probably best to gauge that balance day to day with your own kid.

My 6 year old AS son goes to a school where nerdy is cool, so he probably gets away with more socially than your daughter.

Instead of focusing a lot on helping her fit in with whoever happens to be at her school, what about finding a special interest club where she can build meaningful friendships? Being socially accepted somewhere will do more for her self-esteem than learning what elementary school girls expect her to dress like.



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05 Dec 2013, 8:57 am

cubedemon6073 wrote:
Mikassyna, the thing is it's confusing for me as well. We're always told to be true to ourselves right. I don't get it.


This advice is aimed at NT kids. They are the ones who are so sensitive to the pressure to conform to group norms that they can be afraid to be even a little bit different. It's too bad the message isn't more about finding a balance between smoothing interactions with other people and following your own interests.



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05 Dec 2013, 9:24 am

I've been in both boats-- not knowing or caring and getting kicked mercilessly, and caring so much that I drove myself to nervous breakdowns.

When you don't realize that you really can't suck your thumb any time your hands aren't busy, carry around a whole handbag full of books all the time, correct other kids when they're not following the rules (yeah, I was EXTREMELY unpopular in fourth grade-- that being the year I did ALL THREE of those things) without the other kids giving you hell...

...someone needs to point those things out to you. But that's what you do-- you point out the fact. You point out alternative behaviors. Maybe you even make a chart: "Behaviors That Will Make You Enemies/Safe Alternatives." In the end, though-- by the time they reach that age, they have to make a choice. Do they want to fit in with the majority, or do they want to let the freak flag fly, accept the crap that people give them over it, and hang with the people who don't care (even in a small town in West Virginia in 1986, there were people who didn't care, and I always had a little circle of friends who smelled like pee, lived on public assistance, had lots of siblings and no daddy, were the wrong color, had varying degrees of mental/developmental disability, belonged to families with fringe religious beliefs, and et cetera).

If it's not a direct violation of school rules or a health and safety hazard, you give advice so the kid knows what to do and in the end, you let the kid decide-- because the safety vest isn't hurting anyone, really, and being hypercontrolling over it really might turn into a bigger issue down the road.

In a perfect world, we'd teach other people to let the piddly s**t (like reflective vests, and ratty flannel shirts, and satchels full of paperback novels) go and appreciate the person-- but I ain't seen no sign saying "Welcome to the Ideal Plane." So, when the kid gets old enough to care, the kid has to make a choice-- and that's the way it goes for the rest of adult life.

OTOH-- I started really giving a crap around seventh or eighth grade. I'd gotten far enough ahead of my disabled friends intellectually that we didn't have fun together any more, my smelly friends and my welfare buddies and my friends from nontraditional families had gotten far enough ahead of me socially that we didn't have fun together any more, and my Independent Baptist buddy got slapped in Christian school. Suddenly I was an island.

So I took ALL the advice, and then some. I copied the mean girls-- found some kid who was more Aspie than I was, and started giving him hell. I was good at it, too-- I had years of insults stored up to use. Thankfully, that lasted for a few weeks-- and then one morning I looked in the mirror and made a choice (ie, "I want to be accepted, but not at this price.") I stopped ragging AsperBoy-- and I stopped having anything in common with the popular girls, and they stopped talking to me. I never did apologize to him for what I did (OK, I tried, but after a few weeks of merciless hell, he wouldn't acknowledge my apology, so it doesn't count); 20+ years later, I feel pretty rotten about it.

I started running all my clothes through my cousin, even letting her pick my clothes-- and I was never comfortable, and I ended up getting unwanted advances from boys that I really didn't know how to deal with. I started refusing to speak in class even if I knew the answers, and memorizing appropriate responses, and pretending to like things I didn't. Ninth grade was the height of it-- I wore contacts even though they gave me headaches 'cause glasses weren't cool, I wore makeup even though it made me itch 'cause girls wear makeup, I took two Vivarin every morning before I ran out the door even though they made my hands shake and my heart and mind race 'cause I was more afraid of snoring on the bus and getting teased for it than of having a heart attack at 15.

Welcome to Too Far To the Other Extreme. And I still didn't have any friends-- I wouldn't let anyone close enough to have a chance of seeing the horrible unacceptable person under the multiple coats of paint. I was a very tense, very nervous, very rigid, very unhappy young woman.

Sooner or later, I got tired of that crap too. After a year of having some stupid boy who went by the handle Fast Hands shove his hand down my pants in Physical Science all freshman year, sophomore year I wore bluejeans and men's t-shirts and beat-up flannels-- I didn't get asked out again, but after that debacle I didn't want to date. Halfway through sophomore year, I started dropping the makeup-- I didn't have anything to talk to the popular girls about any more, but they frankly bored the s**t out of me anyway. Junior year I dropped the contacts-- and the world didn't end. Halfway through that year, I started talking in Literature class-- I got a reputation for being a geek, but I really looked forward to Literature.

By senior year, I had a little group of friends-- a pretty good group, a pretty diverse group, people I enjoyed, who enjoyed me. They weren't the cool kids and the rising stars-- well, most of them weren't anyway, the reputation for geekiness did earn me a place in the "Brains Trust" and a friendly rivalry with two boys that I really enjoyed, remember fondly even to this day-- but they were good solid friends.

Some of them I left behind when I went to college-- but I imagine that, if I ran into them at the gas station back home, we'd have a cup of coffee and pass the time of day. I might end up friends with the girls again, might end up friendly acquaintances with the guys (maybe even friends with their wives). Some of them went with me-- one of them lived with me for about a year and a half when her life fell apart; if she'd do something about her bipolar disorder instead of berating me because my life has worked out better than hers, we'd be hanging out to this day; another one I actually keep her phone number in my wallet and called her up to chat yesterday. Some of them, well, a lot of the time with high school friends you go your separate ways. The Brains Trust broke up-- one boy went to med school and I chose the SAHM route and we lost touch, one boy married a girl from DC who wanted nothing to do with hillbillies and quit coming home and we lost touch, the other girl went to vet school in Colorado, stayed out West, and we lost touch.

I'm glad I didn't stay the thumb-sucking kid in the M*A*S*H shirt with a satchel full of books and tears in her eyes...

...but that kid was happier than the rigidly controlled rabbit-in-a-shooting-gallery-on-speed. I'm glad I found some middle ground. I wish I'd had the social skills training to find it earlier, and be more sure of it-- I'd probably be less likely to revert to the heavily painted rabbit in a shooting gallery or hide in my house if I had...

...but if I had had people stuffing it down my throat daily, I'd either have gone completely rigid and be Sheldon Cooper (or worse, my grandfather), or else rejected it entirely and be living in a shack in the woods or some crazy fringe commune or something right now.

That goes on for a really long time-- way to monologue, Rain Man-- but it's illustrative of both extremes (which don't work) and the middle ground (which does). You teach your kid what is going to make them stick out and what they can do instead...

...but if it's not a direct rules/disruptive behavior problem that you're getting calls about and it's not a health/safety/hygiene issue, you give the information (preferably without an explicit or implied value judgment), and you let the kid make the choice.

Hell-- right now, fashion seems to be revisiting the late 80s. I guess that means next up is a return to Grunge-- so my daughter's going to be digging out all those old Nirvana cassettes of mine, I'm going to have to give up my ratty field jacket and flannel shirts lest people think I'm trying to be cool...

...and Peanut might just find other kids COPYING that brightly-colored reflective safety vest instead of giving her a hard time about it.


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Last edited by BuyerBeware on 05 Dec 2013, 9:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mummy_of_Peanut
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05 Dec 2013, 9:28 am

screen_name wrote:
I'm of the "it could make her think you don't accept her" camp. But, really, it's probably best to gauge that balance day to day with your own kid.

My 6 year old AS son goes to a school where nerdy is cool, so he probably gets away with more socially than your daughter.

Instead of focusing a lot on helping her fit in with whoever happens to be at her school, what about finding a special interest club where she can build meaningful friendships? Being socially accepted somewhere will do more for her self-esteem than learning what elementary school girls expect her to dress like.
Funnily, my daughter has just started a new school, which is taking the overspill from the one she was at (it's a monster). We didn't have to move our kids, so parents have had to make the decision. I've found that the boys (especially) are not the run of the mill boy (the kind who play football in the playground, etc). They're all gentle and most are a bit quirky. The ones who'd miss their friends too much are still at the old school. These kids weren't too worried about that, as they don't follow the herd. Their parents moved them knowing the school would be small and friendly. So, she's probably in the best place for a little quirky girl. The girls are nice too, but slightly more cliquey (most have come to this school along with their friends). They obviously found the vest amusing. Secondary school will be different from this one, however.


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05 Dec 2013, 10:25 am

Heh...this thread prompted me to have a conversation with my son about how things are going in school. Pretty good, he says.

I asked him about how it's going with the figurative/literal language thing. He laughed and said that if he was a secret super hero, he would be Literal Man.

He then said that what he has been doing lately is exaggerating his literal interpretation of things, even when he understands what is being said. He said some kids think it is really funny and others just think it is weird and walk away from him. He is happy with the way it is going. He has always had a pretty good sense of humor. When he was in kindergarten or first grade there was a group of mean girls who always teased him. They would do the sing-song thing that little kids do "So-and-so doesn't have a partner! So-and-so doesn't have a partner!" or whatever the issue was. I one time suggested to him that he just join in and sing with them. He did. He said they stopped dead in their tracks, looked confused, and walked away. He experienced a certain sense of glee in their confusion. And it gave him control. I think he has found a new way to implement the same kind of coping skill, only this time he figured it out for himself. I am proud of him!


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05 Dec 2013, 10:45 am

MjrMajorMajor wrote:
Willard wrote:

So, at the end of the day, we follow our own drummer because that's all we can do. It is very literally, who we are.

We're here, we're oddball geeks, get used to it - not because we need your approval or recognition, but because we can't be anything else. :shrug:


Pretty much. If it's not a bother her now, then it's not truly a problem. My knee-jerk reaction is to think she might internalize your concern into thinking you don't approve of her. If it does become a problem in reality for her, then it might be more appropriate to address at that time. Just MOHO.


Yeah, I would worry about my mother's lack of approval than the other children. Having friends that it doesn't matter to will insulate her to some degree, never mind the fact that she seems to have some mental resilience of her own. Just don't prod her into thinking in that adult way of worrying about other peoples thoughts, once u get her going she wont be able to stop.

What's her father like? Did u choose him as a mate because he's less affected by the things that bother you? Isn't that the way it works? Find mates with traits we want for our offspring? She's like you but half her father too. Could it be she's better at dealing with situations that bother you through traits inherited from her dad?

I can't even remember what was like at that age regarding things like that. I don't recall ever being concerned with others opinions at all. I had my own side of things though, I was good at things and I had people to hang around with, it stopped the opinions of people that didn't like me being a concern.

At least wearing a jacket like that is still well within the realms of normal behaviour. Try not to transfer your worries to her.



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05 Dec 2013, 10:49 am

InThisTogether wrote:

He then said that what he has been doing lately is exaggerating his literal interpretation of things, even when he understands what is being said. He said some kids think it is really funny and others just think it is weird and walk away from him.


Ha, that's exactly what I do irl. Its the healthiest way to be. Not denying and hating yourself and trying to imitate others, directing your nature into positive directions.



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05 Dec 2013, 3:21 pm

woodster wrote:
Yeah, I would worry about my mother's lack of approval than the other children. Having friends that it doesn't matter to will insulate her to some degree, never mind the fact that she seems to have some mental resilience of her own. Just don't prod her into thinking in that adult way of worrying about other peoples thoughts, once u get her going she wont be able to stop.

What's her father like? Did u choose him as a mate because he's less affected by the things that bother you? Isn't that the way it works? Find mates with traits we want for our offspring? She's like you but half her father too. Could it be she's better at dealing with situations that bother you through traits inherited from her dad?

I can't even remember what was like at that age regarding things like that. I don't recall ever being concerned with others opinions at all. I had my own side of things though, I was good at things and I had people to hang around with, it stopped the opinions of people that didn't like me being a concern.

At least wearing a jacket like that is still well within the realms of normal behaviour. Try not to transfer your worries to her.
Interesting thought - that she would be more concerned that I thought she was odd than what other girls thought of her. You're probably right on that, as she definitely doesn't really care what peers are up to or into. I don't think she's odd and she knows that (I think she's being sensible and really approve of the high vis vest). I was just concerned at how she might react to girls laughing at her. I was right in thinking that they would laugh, although it seemed to happen behind her back - they were sniggering and smiling at each other and looking over at her, when she left them, so I know for sure they found it amusing. I'm not sure how she would have reacted, if they had been more open about it. I suspect she would have been angry at them (for being 'childish' and lacking in common sense, it was dark afterall and she felt clever for wearing the vest). I don't think she'd be hurt. But, if she acted angrily, from my own experience, that's power to the other person. They'd know how to push your buttons next time (if they were that way inclined). I just don't want her to be a target, either through them inducing an angry response or tears. As I said, these girls appear to be very nice and mature, but I don't envisage girls at her high school all being like that. In fact, many of the other girls from her old school, who will be going to her high school, will definitely not be like that. They would laugh in her face, in front of me too.

Her daddy is a shy sensitive type, although, in a small group, he comes across as confident, just as I do. We're actually very alike, except he's got excellent executive functioning and normalish sensory processing. He's like an Aspie without any of the downside, with dyslexia, a bouncy walk and a tendency to monologue, thrown in for good measure.


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05 Dec 2013, 4:47 pm

Mummy of Peanut, how old is she again? To me, the age makes quite a bit of difference. Once pre-puberty/puberty hits, things change. That has definitely been my experience with my son and it has been the experience of others I have known who have kids on the spectrum.

As I said before, I am glad that I started working with my son on this stuff while he was in 5th grade (he was 10 at the time). Before that time, he didn't seem to care so much, and I think if I would have waited until now (when he is 12), he would have lost a lot of valuable learning time.

I am glad he has a choice. The truth is, when I was a kid, I was subtly odd (as evidenced by the way other kids treated me) and to this day, I still don't really know what I did "wrong." I just know that I was a target for kids inclined to find a target. Sometimes I feel that if I would have only known what I was doing that was "weird," I might have embraced being weird at a younger age instead of trying for so many years to fit in. It would have saved me a lot of heartache. It was very hard to have no idea why certain kids didn't like me, even though I felt like I was doing everything right.


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05 Dec 2013, 4:57 pm

InThisTogether wrote:
Mummy of Peanut, how old is she again?
It was her 8th birthday on Saturday.


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05 Dec 2013, 4:57 pm

Here are some more things to think about:

What are acceptable limits on what you'd like for your daughter to change to fit in?

When I think of this for my kids, I realize that I want them to be polite, caring individuals, who follow prosocial rules. It wouldn't bother me if they wanted to make small superficial changes IF it came from them. (So, I think open lines of communication would be invaluable here.)

If they made a lot of changes, it would bother me.




Does fitting in help your daughter meet immediate or long term goals?

I do not mean manners--they should be taught regardless. I mean, in regards to the small superficial changes you mention, like clothing. Let's not lump together wearing a sensible vest with poor social skills (because they aren't the same!). Is "fitting in" necessary for her?




How do you think your daughter will respond to these small corrections/information over time?

For now, she seems to brush it off (great for her!). I can't answer that for you. You know your daughter. Do you think it would build her up, break her down, or be neutral?



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05 Dec 2013, 5:19 pm

InThisTogether wrote:
I am glad he has a choice. The truth is, when I was a kid, I was subtly odd (as evidenced by the way other kids treated me) and to this day, I still don't really know what I did "wrong." I just know that I was a target for kids inclined to find a target. Sometimes I feel that if I would have only known what I was doing that was "weird," I might have embraced being weird at a younger age instead of trying for so many years to fit in. It would have saved me a lot of heartache. It was very hard to have no idea why certain kids didn't like me, even though I felt like I was doing everything right.
I think we're very alike. I had no clue what I was doing wrong, still don't really. I have a kind heart and would never do anything to deliberately hurt anyone, but kids used to take exception to things I'd said or done and would get really angry with me. I think part of it is that I missed hearing things that were happening in their lives and a simple question like, 'How are you?', would be responded to with an angry, 'How do you think I am?'. Maybe their gran had died and I wasn't 'in the loop' and only found out months later. I didn't know how to respond and never understood why I got such a negative response. It made sense when I did find out, but months later was too late. What's odd is why they didn't think to just tell me what was up. Why did they assume I should already have known? I think some of them were so full of their own self importance that they couldn't conceive someone not knowing. I would have been a good shoulder to cry on, but never got the chance. I also had my appearance judged and laughed at on a daily basis.

My parents were oblivious to what was going on and didn't know what to advise (or that any advice was needed). They still think I'm just perfect and my mum in particular appears to be in awe of my intelligence and knowledge (which is lovely but misguided). The only thing I ever remember my mum feeling the need to help out with was when I told her some kids were laughing at my shoes (brown ones that my aunt had bought for herself, but they didn't fit well). This had gone on for a couple of weeks before I told her. She immediately told me that I wasn't going to be wearing them again. But, I was picked on and treated disrespectfully every day and they never even knew about it.


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