This is a post that I just made to my local UP yahoo group. I'm posting here as well in hopes that some of you might have some guidance or be able to point me towards some good resources.
I have been lurking on this group for quite awhile, but I don't post. Over the
last few years, my parenting ideals have been all but lost and my relationship
with my son (now 5) has spiraled into frequent manipulation, bribes, rewards,
threats, and bargaining. Now that I'm pregnant with our second child, I'm
starting to really think about what's important and where we need to be as a
family. I need help, but I'm not sure how to get it.
Two years ago I was exasperated, wondering why, regardless of how respectful and
gentle I tried to be, my child was so resistant, unresponsive, and out of
control. As he neared 4 it became more and more difficult to chalk this up to
toddlerhood and we began to suspect ASD. Sure enough, we had him evaluated and
confirmed his hyperlexia and high-functioning autism.
As I began researching autism and parenting, reading books, blogs, websites, and
talking to "professionals," the message was clear. There is no way to parent an
autistic child without using a very clear and stringent set of rules, a strict
schedule, and a system of positive and negative reinforcement. Granted, I knew
better than to accept this outright, but I still thought that my ideal of
parenting without manipulation might be unrealistic in my situation. To date I
still haven't been able to find any information or support for parenting a child
with autism unconditionally.
Whenever there's a problem I don't know how to handle, I have no idea where to
turn. Most parents have absolutely no idea what it's like parenting a child
with autism. But all I seem to hear from the parents of kids with autism is
"sticker charts work wonders," and, "he loves his computer so much, so we dole
out 10-minute sessions for good behavior."
I want to have a genuine, loving, unconditional relationship with my child, but
I need some "been there done that" guidance on how to handle the day-to-day when
every request, transition, attempt at communication seems to result in
resistance, struggle, delay, or anxiety. It's one thing to take a little more
time and come up with creative solutions for occasional roadblocks. But when
they are constant, how does one find the energy? And how do I draw the line
between letting him be who he is and challenging him so he can learn to live in
I'm hoping some of you might have some insight or know of people who are
successfully parenting kids on the spectrum unconditionally. I need to know
that it's possible and that I can do it.