Autism is not an excuse for failure, it’s a reason to try harder to succeed

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.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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12 Responses to Autism is not an excuse for failure, it’s a reason to try harder to succeed

  1. outoutout September 30, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    All I can say is “A-MEN” and good on you for fighting the good fight. As I posted on your other entry, I believe autism is no excuse for rudeness or bad behaviour. Unfortunately, I’ve met quite a few adults who were never taught this – the result is not pretty.

    Regarding taking your child out & facing meltdowns – there’s a method that many of the people in my autistic parents community (that’s parents of autistic children who are also on the spectrum themselves) practice which involves exposing their children to difficult situations a little bit at a time. For example, you can start by taking the kids to the grocery store for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, however long til they begin to fall apart – then leave. Do it again and again. Eventually, the children will be able to tolerate the situation for longer periods of time One parent is now able to take her children grocery shopping for the better part of 2 hours.

    Another method is called “Sabotage”. This involves driving different routes each time you go somewhere – home, school, the store, etc. The theory is that eventually the children will come to expect the unexpected.

  2. jay September 30, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

    have you considered a beating? I don’t mean for your son, i mean for you. Sure, he needs to be taught, but being so harsh about everything all the time is going to lead to the next Charles Whitman…and yes, your son is perfectly capable of making choices like that all on his own.

    Lighten up…your son will thank you for it.

  3. Mark October 1, 2010 at 5:22 am #

    well said Jay. Stuart Duncan, in Scotland, we would call you a FUD. life is too short. lighten up selfish little man

  4. Stuart Duncan October 1, 2010 at 7:48 am #

    You guys are cute. So I need a beating but need to lighten up? That’s a bit contradictory.

    Anyway, the fact is, I don’t expect perfection out of my kids, and I don’t push them to do anything.

    I simply don’t roll over and let my children become completely unruly and throw my hands up and go “oh well, he has Autism, what can I do?”

    But you two are right, I’m wrong. It’s far better to just never be a parent and assume he’ll always be a failure so I just shouldn’t bother trying. He can figure out life for himself, he is 5 after all.

    You guys are obviously contenders for parent of the year awards, so I’ll concede to you and give up on my kids… thanks for helping me lighten up.


  5. outoutout October 1, 2010 at 12:44 pm #

    LOL indeed!

    Seriously.. Mark and Jay, please crawl back under your bridge before I send the billy goats gruff after you.

  6. Carol January 21, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    My son is 8 and is autistic. He is also visually-impaired and has a hormone condition in which he takes medication daily and will have to for life.

    I agree with you on some points. I know what you mean about parents using that as an excuse. So if their kid hits someone, its ok because they’re autistic. Um, no.

    The way I see it, special needs children need to be treated as normal as possible. They need to be disciplined just like any other normal child.

    But you do have to keep in mind, that not every parent is as strong as you. I commend you for being so strong and positive. If I have to go out and run errands and my son is not in his best mood, it makes me think twice about going out, especially since I also have a 2yr daughter. And I think it also depends on the severity of the child. My son does not talk AT ALL. It’s like I have a deaf child. Some kids talk and that makes it much easier for the parent to communicate with them.
    I have my strong days but I’m human and have my days when I know I can’t deal with a tantrum in public so I won’t go out. But again, I agree with you when it comes to disciplining. 🙂

  7. mumsa January 28, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    to outoutout….the key is not wait until the “fall apart” to leave the grocery store or event or wherever you are…the key is to go for a planned predictable period of time and leave. If the child has had a successful behavioural experience the child is rewarded with praise, a pat on the back whatever…but leave when it’s successful. The next time, go a bit longer – leave with the trip being a success. If you leave when the child falls apart in my mind that is teaching the child to “fall apart” because then you’ll leave – especially if they don’t want to be there in the first place. To be successful is the goal you have for the child….then they’ll begin to see success as a goal for themselves.

  8. Momma2two August 12, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    As a tired, exhausted, sleep-deprived, near-the-end-of-my-rope, unnecessarily-superfluously verbose parent of a nine-year old with autism my gut reaction to this blog is to say, “Go to hell.” Your right, of course, but only in a perfect world. Having a child with autism does not mean every moment in life can be a teaching opportunity, but the underlying message here is a good reminder: we can’t allow our children to misbehave BECAUSE they have autism. Still, sometimes we have to “let it go” for the sake of survival and sanity. To say otherwise is to be unreasonably unforgiving of parents who deserve a little more patience than what you have offered here, IMHO.

  9. pgrwales November 29, 2012 at 7:42 am #

    as a single parent of a 20 yr old with autism and a dyslexic 18 yr old , both of whom are at university . I urge parents of autistic young children to try try and try again. It is hard and you must try to follow some system of desensitisation ,, i used to take my child out every day from the age of 18mth first to very quiet places and then over the years for longer periods and to different places. i gave up my career and lost my husband and friends and turned grey haired but i never gave up .
    It will take many many years ,, but please please don’t give up . I promise you will reap the rewards in the years to come ,, your children are a long time as adults and mine fill me with so much joy now its unbelievable how well they both are .

  10. James palmer April 30, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    Yo stuart duncan man I know you write some hard philosophy toting anti-kindness to your unique kids fast blazing bullshit….think’s it makes you seem like a skillful and “proper” parent kissing ass to this american and british politically correct and safe society….dogg I got news….I have autism myself and I choose not to work for any God damn worthless piece of shit teamwork company like Walmart who expects that you respect other people….Autism is a reason for bad behavior and I live in sacramento where I can gang bang and scheme with the rest of them…truth is your social skills devotion isn’t worth anyone’s time…everybody deserves money and praise handed out to extraordinary levels….I get ssi and I work free lance computer jobs…I told my 75 year old mentors at Walmart to fuck themselves….cause I am a big muscular man!! what now nigga??

  11. James palmer April 30, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

    I bet your little sissy man lips could suck some dick though for a professional job that men would respect lol

  12. Jim August 17, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    Sorry to hear I’m autistic. I am 56 years old and I just found out I am a high-functioning autistic. I’ve had it all my life and didn’t know it. Even with my savant gifts I’m incapable of making my own living. Science is my hobby and I’ve been an amateur scientist all my life. It was my dedication to empirical evidence that forced me to conclude I have this malady. The psychologist confirmed it. It looks to me like some borderline sociopaths left their cranial excrement on your blog. It wouldn’t be the first time. I am here to come forward and challenge their knowledge of science and psychology. If it helps you feel better I have NEVER had any of them send me their scientific abstracts. As for me, now I have the autistic syndrome puzzle to work out. There is something you might try. Put Cameron on pure oxygen for about an hour a day with deep full inhales without hyperventilating. I’m wondering if are neurons are starving for oxygen. It seemed to help me.

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