Welcome to the 2018 series of the Louden on Autism Q & A . As many of you know, I receive questions every day, and I want to make sure that the answers to these important questions are being shared with all of you.
Please know that these are my opinions and my answers come from my research and my own personal experiences. Of course, each situation is different. All of us as people are different. And no two people with or without autism should be treated the same exact way.
This week, I received a question from grandparents of a child who is autistic. They were wondering how they can come across as loving, but still remain firm and provide discipline for their grandchild.
How do grandparents handle and come across as loving yet firm in handling verbal discipline? Our grandchild just goes home and berates us to Mom and Dad and then over and over again we are in the doghouse. What’s a grandparent to do?
This is a really hard question to provide good help with. For one thing, I’ve seen many times where a parent or grandparent is absolutely positive that a child is acting intentionally defiant, and knows what he’s doing, when the reality is he doesn’t. Of course, I’ve seen other times where he does.
What this usually indicates is a general breakdown of trust. Whether or not the child is being intentional, they’ll recognize that you don’t trust them anymore, and it makes it much, much harder to get to the bottom of where the real problem is, whatever it may be.
Unfortunately, with autism, simple discipline often just isn’t effective. In a world that’s scary and challenging, it can be really hard to distinguish between “deserved discipline” and “undeserved distress.” So discipline ends up not having the desire expected, and instead just makes the trust gap worsen.
The reality is that it’s sometimes important just to accept that things have gotten off the right track, and that you may have to let go of traditional ideas about how to straighten out a problematic child. What you may be looking for now are ways to rebuild the trust, so that you can have a conversation *with* the child about acceptable behavior, rather than trying to enforce it with someone who isn’t really able to internalize guidance in that form.
Just always try to remember that not every situation is the same. So even though I can provide advice about my experiences and the experiences that I’ve heard of and studied, each scenario and life situation will be vastly different. Give it time and see what works best for you!
Thanks for reading. Check back soon for another Q&A.