This is something I tell people all the time and my wife summed it up rather well the other day: “Autism is not an excuse for failure, it’s a reason to try harder to succeed!”
Too often I hear about people not going out because they don’t want to deal with the meltdowns or judging glances, or I hear about them just never trying to feed their child anything but what they will eat without a fight, or even worse… they let them get away with being rude or even bad behaviour because it’s easier than dealing with the backlash from discipline.
This child is still YOUR child! Your child is still YOUR responsibility. And no matter how violent, non-verbal or even how incredibly smart they may be… you are the parent and should be parenting your child. No it’s not easy sometimes, especially with Autism in the picture but no one said it would be.
I’ve written before about a comfortable rut, where you just continue along with what is easiest but in this case, I mean more than that.
I cringe every time I hear “sorry, he’s Autistic” come out of the mouth of a parent as an excuse as to why their child does something wrong or rude. It’s fine to explain that they’re Autistic and may be attributing to their behaviour, especially if it’s due to sensory overload or something of that nature, but it’s still not an excuse.
Practice makes perfect
The simple fact of the matter is, if you never take your child out because you don’t think neither of you can handle it, then your child will never go out… ever. How can you expect your child to develop coping mechanisms, or to learn how to process all that information or learn how to deal with it within themselves… if they’re never exposed to it?? They can’t. They won’t.
Avoiding the problem does not solve the problem.
So your child hits others, maybe a sibling… do you just accept it? Put oven mits on them so it doesn’t hurt as much? Or do you sit at your computer as long as it takes to find some possible solutions? Do you pound the pavement looking for doctors/therapists that have possible solutions of their own? Do you work with your child to find other outlets? Do you take them aside every single they do it, or just once in a while?
Being tired is not a reason for giving up.
Autism is not easy, even for the most gifted savants, they have issues that you and I couldn’t dream of… and life is not easy. But that’s not an excuse for failure. That’s not a reason for an apology in place of dedicated determination.
You have to try harder. Your child has to try harder.
I give my son no exemptions. He needs to be told every single bath time not to put the water in his mouth, so I tell him every single time. And every single time he gets disciplined. One day, he’ll stop.
He is not allowed to hit, no matter what his sensory processing disorders may be telling him. It’s simply not acceptable and no matter what his mind is telling him, I won’t allow it. It makes things hard and probably interferes with what his mind is telling him but that’s just a reason to try harder at finding a way to stop it.
There are always exceptions to every rule, there are times when circumstances mean removing your child from a situation instead of disciplining… also it’s important to note that when I say ‘disciplining’, I mean anything ranging from time outs to simply talking to them about it.
You don’t have to be the bad guy (mean parent) all the time, you just have to realize that you can’t allow yourself to be a pushover and let your child get away with things they normally wouldn’t… just because they’re Autistic.
No matter how severe or high functioning your child is, there’s no easy ways out. You have to go into the public and face the meltdowns so that you can both learn how to handle and even avoid them better in the future. You have to stop them from hitting, whether it means constant talks, time outs or doing more research than you ever thought possible.
You have to do more, your child has to do more. No one ever got further in life by giving up. Autism is not an excuse, it’s a hurdle. A much bigger hurdle for some than others but a hurdle just the same. The bigger the hurdle, the harder you have to try to succeed…. it’s not fair, but the alternative is to accept failure, for now, for always.