I would like to take this moment to address an interesting issue. When is your aspie being an aspie and when is he being a brat? It is an interesting question because we tend to compensate for our children. The problem I think is that when they were little and noone understood what was going on they were deemed brats. So we reacted that way and now once we know that there is a neurological condition we tend to go the other way. Call it guilt for being too harsh when they were little, or guilt because we have given our children the autism gene, which ever guilt you happen to latch onto though remember, the truth is that if we don’t teach our children and hold them to a standard then we will turn them into brats.
Oh no, how could she say that. How could she be so horrible and cruel and so nonunderstanding. Well it is because I am understanding that I can see the difference. Now what is the difference. Aspiedom is something you cannot control and something that is inherent in your nature. It is how you view the world. It is how you process information and how you react to those around you. Being a brat is deciding that you and you alone are important. That you get to make the rules. That you run the house. That you can treat others anyway you want. That asking for something becomes a demand. That you think you have the right to be rude, nasty and obnoxious.
Now parents will say, he doesn’t understand. Well at first he may not. That is the social aspect of aspiedom, but by the time he gets into elementary school he should know that he must ask please and say thankyou. He should know that he cannot hit and kick or bite. He should know that the teacher is the boss and so are you. He should know that he cannot yell at you and hurt his siblings. He should know that the rules that everyone else has to follow apply to him also. Now does that mean it will always happen. No, of course not, he has aspergers. But if he tries and works at it, and it can be years in the working, if he practices and acknowledges his misteps then you have an aspie moment not a brat moment. You also have a control moment. Remember you must always control your home. If you do not you are in for trouble by adolescence.
Now why is this so important. Why are we so hard on our children? Remember that the older they get the less school and society will be willing to forgive. Plus, one day they will be teenagers and adolescence is terribly hard for an NT child,never mind an aspie. The crescendo of hormones, peer pressure and elevated schoolwork makes for a volatile combination. In the best of times, these children can loose it. But if you have a handle on who they are and have established some basic rules then you have a place to go to start. Now that does not mean you will not have the eye-rolling body-slump of "oh my God, my parents are such jerks", heck that would be great, just because its so typical. But you also do not have to take it. Also thinking that they are always right and everyone else is wrong, gets them in trouble in school and can and will hurt their future. Not insisting that they live up to the rules and allowing them to slack off because of their disability hurts their future.
You cannot learn to be a man(woman) at thirty; it is an ongoing process throughout their adolescence and early twenties. If they do not learn to take responsibility now it will be hard to change that in the future. If they are not kept on the staight and narrow now, turning around could be a very long and painful road. Rules are very important and discipline is very important and consequences are very important. You no longer have the luxury at this age to delineate between aspie and brat. There can be no leeway. They have to do what is expected of them, and if it means therapy, meds, tutors, more therapy, more tutors, more social skills, then so be it. As collegeman always asks "Do I have a choice?"and I say "No." Because we established the rules a long time ago, and even though it was hard going at times(sometimes very painful for everyone involved), we stuck to our guns and he knows we give no quarter to those who do not hold to their social/behavioral responsibilities.
Also it is important how your children talk to you. You are not their friend. You are their parent and it is your job to make sure that they become these beautiful, successful, self-reliant adults who can then become your friends. They must have respect for you and how one talks to another person is a sign of respect. Also remember just from a realistic point of view, if they are nasty to you, nasty to their teachers, then they will be nasty to their bosses, policepersons, and anyone else they come into contact with in their lives. This then becomes a sign of something far worse than being a brat. It is a sign of being a jerk. Now who wants to be around a jerk? Another reason for ostracism. What kind of life is that for your child? Only this time it would be your fault if you allow it to happen.
Finally, remember that aspiedom is a cause of behavior. Allowing them to get away with it, making excuses for it, blaming everything they do on their disability turns them into brats. But even worse, you also take away from them the chance that they are entitled to to become respected members of society. So off we go into another day of rules, discpline, responsibility. It is not easy for us, but it is for their good future, and that’s your job to make sure it happens.
Until next time,