Today we care going to discuss the oft overlooked issue of sassy mouthed aspergers kids. Boy oh boy, when they get going its like no holds barred. Forget the eye rolling, which as a parent drives you crazy to begin with, or the body-slump of the teenage boy, this is down and dirty. Almost like you are fighting in a honky tonk mud or jello pit.
The discipline problem here (because discipline is so important when you deal with these children) is parceling out whether the child is really being nasty or that this is just how they commuicate. It’s not that it shouldn’t be corrected but it is the approach that is important.
My oldest does ot even recognize at times, that his intonation is offensive. He just says what’s on his mind in the way it pops into his head. In fact, when he is being snotty is when he starts making that hand talk motion while I discuss issues with him. That is his moment. Unfortunately it is then really hard to keep a straight face.(I do but laugh in another room) His problem is that when his anxiety does get the better of him then his intonation can be taken as rude, and disresepctful. It is trying to get him to hear himself. Also helping him get a handle on his anxiety and how to deal with it is an ongoing struggle. There are programs where the therapist actually videotapes the child and then plays it back and lets them see themselves. We have not been able to get to one of these yet. But it is on my list. I hear it is very helpful. Once I send him, I’ll let you know. But in the interim its just a matter of calling it to his attention. In fact, what has been nice is that the people he deals with (the adults, not the students his own age) know about his disability and actually correct hm. Of course he gets defensive, but after awhile he sees what he did wrong. I know eventually he will understand how to help himself, and catch his tone when speaking to others.
Now the younger one is another issue. He actually talks to people just fine when he wants. He does not have alot of patience though. That is his problem. We are trying to get him to see his tone and how he talks to people, especially me and his father. (Yes, very age appropriate, as his therapist and school keeps telling me) But with these kids its more intense. It harsher and it does him no good. We try to catch him in the moment and correct him which he rails against and sometimes eventually he does loose his computer for awhile, just so he can think about what happened and we can then point it out. The school is also good. They point it out to him as well. He just seems to accept the corrections from them better. Luckily he is still getting speech services and they are helping him with pragmatic language. Along with his patience issue is a control issue, very typical I know. It’s when he wants the talking to stop that his sassy mouth appears. It is at that point when he openly tells you that you are annoying that he tends to get in trouble. We try to teach him how to say "leave me alone" without being nasty. Sometimes these children do need you to back off and let them regroup. Again its all in the intonation and the tone. Practice makes perfect, and less computer or game time helps them focus on the issue.
This of course is not the only teenage issue I face with these boys, but that is a blog for a different day. Knowing when your child is sassy or when he is not recognizing his tone is hard. Actually ask them why they are being nasty and they may actually tell you they weren’t because they don’t see it themselves. That is a teachable moment. Try to point out the issue and model for them the tone they should use. It may not seem like they are listening but you never know.
Remember, they have to go out into the world. A nice tone and smile will always get you farther. It’s the adage, "you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." So when they roll their eyes, do the body-slump or completely sass off, take a step back, review the situaiton and choose a plan of approach. Are they just anxious, do they realize their tone, are they trying to be nasty,are they overwhelmed…..Then go teach.
Until next time,