The joys of raising a pre-teen boy on the autism spectrum


This last week has been a rough one. My son has become rather used to having it easy this summer, which I will admit, is my fault. I have not really put in place a schedule nor have I really enforced chores. And now I am paying for it. My son is considered to be “high functioning” on the autism spectrum. He has issues with controlling his emotions, saying what he’s thinking, transitioning from one activity to another, and dealing with difficult situations, among other things.

Well, this week, my normally very adorable son screamed he hated me…. twice. Both times happened when I told him no. See, I set myself up for this. I let him slide this summer with very few rules and then when I tried to put some rules in place, it bit me big time.

Kids on the spectrum need consistency in their lives. They need a regular routine to be established and maintained. They need rules in place so they know what is expected of them. These kids only think in black and white. There is no gray area. It’s either this way or that way. Period. I KNOW this and I still let it slide. ugh

Here’s an example: Cody loves technology, whether it’s the iPad, laptop, or wii. He is pretty much addicted. I let him on these because they encourage him to think and enhance his reasoning skills. However, I don’t like him being on them every day ALL day. And there lies the reason for our discontent. He doesn’t understand why I tell him he needs to put it away. I have learned to even give him a countdown. I will tell him when he has 30 minutes left. And again at 15. And at 5. So it’s not like just all of a sudden, I say “Cody, put it away.”

The first time he told me he hated me this week was one of those times. He had been on the tablet for about two hours. His sister wanted to go play at the park. So I went through the countdown. Then when his time was up, I told him it was time to put it away. Yep, you guessed it. I’m the bad guy.

The second time was yesterday morning. He asked to get on the tablet “real quick” to check on his crops on Farmville. I said he had five minutes. I got busy with one of my businesses and stopped “tuning in” to what he was doing. When I tuned back in, I realized he was NOT in Farmville, but was in fact watching some guy play a video game on YouTube. I told him his time was up. He screamed he hated me. I told him I didn’t appreciate being lied to or being told that he hated me. I told him to go to his room and think about what he had done. Well, things just snowballed from there. He went into a full-blown meltdown. It ended with me escorting him to his room, planting him on his bed and telling him to stay put until he had calmed down and was ready to calmly talk about his behavior.

I went back to the living room and cried. I love my kids, but days like this are such a challenge. When we both had calmed down, we discussed what happened. Then I found the graphic at the top of this blog post. I read it out loud to both Cody and Christina. Neither one had anything to say, but they both came over and hugged me. Cody started crying again and told me he loved me.

Today, there has been NO technology. He has been quietly working a jigsaw puzzle for the last half hour. Before that, he was coloring. No battles. Christina has been reading most of the day. She is addicted to the Shannara series by Terry Brooks. No battles.

The biggest challenge for me is that I am the type of person who has to FIX everything. If there’s a problem, I will do everything I can to fix it. Well, guess what? You can’t fix autism. You CAN learn how to adapt and adjust your lives to make your child’s life easier. You can get them professional help to help them learn how to cope in social settings, how to express themselves, and how to adjust the way they think so they can excel in an academic environment.

Patience is definitely something you learn when you have a child on the spectrum. You have to, or you will go crazy. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to get frustrated too. It’s okay to get help. It’s okay to take time for YOU. Don’t expect to automatically know everything there is to know about autism. It’s okay to educate yourself. In fact, I recommend becoming your child’s greatest advocate! Read up on autism. There are many amazing books available for parents and teachers. Here’s just a few.

My personal favorite books on the subject are:

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew: Updated and Expanded Edition

1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism or Asperger’s, Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition

The Autistic Brain: Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed

I am currently reading this next one and it’s very interesting. It discusses how autism, ADHD, asthma and allergies can all be interlinked. I definitely recommend this one.

Answers for the 4-A Epidemic: Healing for Kids with Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies

And I also recommend the following books since many kids with autism also have sensory perception disorders and ADHD. My son has both.

The Out-of-Sync Child

All About Attention Deficit Disorder: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment: Children and Adults

You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!: The Classic Self-Help Book for Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder

Hope these help you if you have someone in your life who is coping with one or more of these issues. Please feel free to touch base with me any time!

Let me know what you think! :)

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