Parenting a special needs teen
Hi Scootles. Welcome to MDC and the special needs parenting forum. I have a 13 year old who is on the spectrum. His main struggles at this point are social. I often have a hard time figuring out what is typical teen behavior and what is related to his social issues. I'm beginning to realize that a lot of his attitude is just typical teen behavior.
The way I have begun to deal with it is to pick my battles and keep them to things that are really important to his well being. In the example about standing in the rain, I probably wouldn't have bothered arguing with him. Getting wet and cold isn't going to hurt him, but he will be cold! That's a natural consequence of his behavior. I've noticed when I don't argue with ds1 about stuff like that, he often comes in and puts on a coat without me even asking.
It sounds like your son wants more independence. So maybe you could give him a little more on things that aren't all that important? As for the nasty tone of voice, it drives me nuts. That being said, I am trying my hardest to ignore it or to discuss it at a time where he isn't already worked up about something. I often won't even acknowledge it when he speaks to me like that. It seems to make him actually think about what he is saying or how he's saying it.
The teenage years are going to be rough!
Edited by QueenOfTheMeadow - 10/14/12 at 5:46am
It is scary! I have some of the same thoughts too. My ds will be going to highschool next year, and I do get worried someone will take advantage of him. The one thing I can say is that he has 2 good friends and I think they all sort of look out for each other. Does your son have a friend that you trust him with or maybe another adult that would be able to take him out? My ds is better behaved for other people than for me. I'm his mom, so at the moment, I represent his childhood, and he's not really wanting to be a child anymore, even though he still is!
Are there any small things you could give in on?
I like the idea of you calling the parents of this new kid your son has made. Is it a possibility that you or his grandma could go over with him so you know where the house is and get a chance to meet the parents? Also, does he have a cell phone? This has really helped me be able to let ds1 go a little further out of my reach. I feel better knowing that I can get a hold of him and he can get a hold of me.
Does he do any after school programs? Maybe getting him involved in a club or something he can hang out with kids his age under a more structured environment would help.
The bus thing would be something I'd discuss with the school. It should be on his IEP and the bus driver should be aware of the situation. The kids here are only allowed off at another stop if they have a note. That is certainly something that could affect his well being.
As for the drugs and drinking, do you think the kids he's hanging out with are doing this stuff? I'd be really careful about who he's hangingout with. Have the kids come to your place if you can so that you can keep a closer eye on them and get to know them.
Deliberately defiant, yup, drives me crazy. We haven't been able to get rid of it all together (I try to remember how I spoke to my mom when I was that age! It makes me cringe sometime! LOL!). But what has helped has been instead of just punishing for bad behavior, rewarding for good behavior. My kids have a specific amount of computer time they're allowed everday. They love the computer, so when they do something good, they get more time, something bad, they lose times. I'll give ds1 5 minutes if he answers me nicely, even if it's just asking him if he has homework.
I do think it's harder with teenagers who have special needs, because a lot of kids like that are less mature. They have impulse control issues that are above and beyond other teens. So the balance you need to find is even more difficult. I'd say, compromise in any way you can.
The rain thing for instance, you said that he has some immune issues. What about saying, sure wait outside, but take this umbrella. And, a win/win there have been studies that show that kids who spend more time outside, tend to get sick less often! I guess it has to do with the fact that the germs aren't trapped in an enclosed area, so kids are less likely to get exposed to the germs.
You could try contacting speech language pathologists in your area and see if you can find a social skills group for teens; I had my 8yo in a group this summer and would have continued if traffic didn't make it not doable during the school year.
I also recommend the books of George T. Lynn; you may want to start with Genius!
I have a 16 year old DD with autism and a typically developing 14 year old. It sounds like there are ongoing issues about him wanting more freedom. My thought is that finding ways for him to have more freedom and starting to develop the life skills necessary to safely use that freedom is the next step. I recommend getting him a cell phone, programming your and his grandmother's numbers into it, and then teaching him to use it. It may take some coaching on your part for him to learn to plug it in at night and remember to take it when he leaves the house. But then, if he needs you, he will be able to reach you. And you'll be able to reach him. Some cell phone plans have tracking where you can check where the cell phone is located, theoretically telling you where you son is located.
I also think that being more realistic about setting up a time to talk with him rather than interrupting what he is doing would help the relationship. This is a really normal teen thing, not a special needs thing. He is separating from you, which is what teens do. This phase of life is about independence and life skills, and yes, it is extremely worrisome with a special needs teen. None the less, being respectful of the fact that they are separating from us -- both in their interest/how they spend time AND in where they are/who they are with will start paving the way for him to be respectful back. It's not magic or anything, don't expect him to change overnight or without coaching. However, I think that without you taking those first steps of being respectful of him, he will stay stuck being rude at you because it's all he's got.
The friend from school is a sticky situation that comes down to how intense your child's mental challenges are. Typically, kids his age go over to other people's houses even when the parents haven't met. My kids take cell phones and would call me if anything were off. They are both pretty good judges of character.
Because he has challenges, it might be appropriate to call/email the special needs teacher ask about the teen and his home situation, possible for help is setting up a playdate. I don't consider a fear of drugs as appropriate for intervening to this level. This is a teen parenting thing -- if we hover too much, they just figure out how to sneak around so avoid the oversight. It sounds like your son is figuring that out already, so it sounds like it might be a situation where he could take a cell phone and be off. I think calling around and going over a 14 year olds head is appropriate ONLY if their special needs make it necessary.
However you decide to handle it, I think that part of our job with our special needs teens is to help them find their way in the world, and to help figure out a safe way for them to pursue the things they want to. He wants to pursue a friendship, so rather than "no," I think it would be best to figure out "how."
That sucks! My son was 11 when he got suspended for a day. He was so upset! What did your son do and how did he feel about the suspension?
Your son hates school and doesn't want to be there, so he did exactly what he had been told to do if he didn't want to be there. The foolish principal gave him instructions on how to get out of school, and he followed them.
That is completely and totally something my DD would do.
IMHO, you need to get to the bottom of why he hates school and deal with the root issues instead of having a power struggle with him (he'll win, not you)
I'd also check into other educational options for him. My DD hated traditional school, but does really well at an alternative school.
Social skills class was very good for my DD, BTW.
(also, please use paragraph breaks in your long post to make them easier to read.)
There is no Alturnative schools here either,and I can't afford a private school which is more acedemic challenging,so I see no other choice.
Yesterday we got in to a shouting match..withhim saying I won't let him do anything,I am over protective,he then listed things I won't let him do at the top of his lungs...wear colonge(I have allegies,and get migraines if the colonge/smell is too strong.He wants to wear Axe,and I think that is highly a strong colonge and got a head ache immediatly after he sprayed it,he smelt like a old woman at church!!LOL
His clothes,he said I won't let him wear what he wants to wear......many of what the teens wear these days,I don't approve of,and most of it is expensive.I have asked my son on a number of occassions if he wants to go clothes shoppping with me,so he can pick out clothing he likes as long as its not offensive and decent.He always says no and leaves it up to me to pick out. I also have to set up his clothes for school in the moring because he has no concept of matching/what goes togther.Something about his friends at school,think this was when I told him not to follow others because he will be the one who gets in trouble....balling up his fist,putting his middle finger up and trying to hide it,these are not good choices to follow.Television shows,I hate adult carttons,and I don't watch them,he wants to watch them as well as RAW and stuff that gives the wrong messages.I have explained to him that there are alot of mature/adult subjects that i don't even care to watch in those carttons and I wish they were not on the air,but this has been one of the things he continually brings up that he is going to watch when he turns 18.
I didn't know how to respond to him and chose not to respond to him because he was at that point yelling at me.Then the famous,"when I turn 18,I can do anything that I want "entered the match! (I hate this whole phrase at this point!I have heard it more then I need to)I said well,actually,when you turn 18,things change,but they get harder and the rules do not change just because your 18,you still have to abide by them,his responce was,then I will move out and get my own place,then no one can tell me what to do and I can do anything I want. (My daughter did this on her 18th birthday,no warning or plans or money,and she is still struggling with two children in tow)I don't want that for my son. I just don't know how to respond when he tells me things like this,and so I just shut down and fell under appreciated and O am doing everything wrong......
As for the "grounding"Now he thinks that if he does something good,he will not have to continue to be punished for being suspended.He is still not getting why he is not allowed to do anything for 3 days,and thinks what he did isn't serious at all,atleast thats the impression I have been getting.
I don't think he does this to give him ideas,but to scare him from doing it again...as I do..
yeah, the principal was trying to scare him, but it didn't work. It was just instructions.
I find your attitude toward your son mean spirited. He wants to put effort into his grooming, and you put him down and laugh. Even if you don't do it to his face, he's picking up on the attitude. It's just mean.
Mothering.com is an attachment parenting / natural family living / gentle discipline web site. On the special needs board, we try to figure out how to apply those concepts to our children who are different in some way. But the base is always loving kindness. Always.
You raised your daughter in such a way that all she wanted to do was get away from you, and now you are repeating the same things with your son. You could chose to change. You could chose to shift your attitude (and then words and actions) to ones of love, acceptance, and kindness. It could shift everything around in your relationship with your son.
But it has to start with you.
So Again,I am mean ,so I should let him just do what he wants to do,like watch the Adult Cartoons ectra,I don't know,alot of parents will not let thier kids watch those either....You say that I need to change as iw ill drive my son away like I did my daughter,my daughter met up with an abusive boy when she was 15 and she married himand he has tried to kill her a couple of times(it was his influence on her that changed her and he convinced her to leave,at 18. )Changing would of not made a diffrence on her at all but she would of took it as giving her permission ,as would my son.Your statement of what this group is about ,tells me you think I don't belong here,I came for help,thats why I am here.You said I need to change but you didn't tell me how,so do so then,tell me how you would handle my son...On conditions?You can have this if you do that??? You blast my parenting skills and basically tell me I am driving my kids away,so tell me then what to do,seems like you left that part out.
If I don't belong here ,I will not continue to post.I came for help and others have communicated with me without blasting me,I appreciate that and Thank you all for your help.
Here's the thing, you've been given a lot of good advice. You are refusing to listen or think about what has been said to you. Linda very clearly stated the principles of MDC. If you are looking for another type of advice, you are not going to get it at MDC. Nothing is going to change with your son unless you are willing to change your parenting style. It hasn't worked so far, so why not give something else a chance?
You said I need to change but you didn't tell me how,so do so then,tell me how you would handle my son..
If I don't belong here ,I will not continue to post.
I've made several very specific suggestions about things you could try, and you've ignored every single one.
It's up for you to decide if you belong here. There is a core belief here and right now you don't seem to understand or care what that is.
If you decide you want to figure out how to make gentle discipline a reality with your special needs teen, there are lots of posters here, me included, who are willing to help you brain storm on that.
If you are not interested in treating your son with love, respect and kindness, then you might not belong here. That's for you to decide.
I don't know if you are still reading or not, but….
I would make a list of all the things he wants, and see if you can give on any of them. I think it is natural for all teenagers to want to become more independent. I would allow him to make choices that are not going to greatly impact him or others. Hairstyle, most clothes, what he wants to watch on tv - these are choices he can make. Safety issue or things that are likely to cause behaviour/serious social issues - probably not.
As per the Axe - I hear you! Many in my family are scent sensitive. I find most deodorants only smell for the first 5 minutes - if he stays in his room for a few minutes post deodorant, he may be able to wear what he wants. Putting it on just before he leaves for school might work as well. If that does not work, a milder smelling one may help (which i know you said you bought) Deodorant crystals are smell free. If you want to vent here about him smelling like a church lady, or not liking the smell, that is Okay by me, just make sure to point out you are venting and not saying this to your DS. Lots of teens (and not only SN ones) struggle with remembering hygiene - you are actually really lucky that he wants to work on this!
Welcome to MDC.
I did not see it as that. It was one line - saying he smelled like an old lady at church. I have seen way worse. I won't argue on whether it is appropriate to laugh at your kids on MDC or on the SN forum (and you can laugh in a friendly spirit and laugh in a mean spirit - and which is which can be very hard to convey online).
I don't know if you are still on the boards or not, but I just want you to know that I don't usually sign up to comment on these boards, I usually just read the advice given to the other parents. This time I just had to register and stand up for you. I am a good, Christian mother to a teen boy with Asperger's. He also has other issues like ADHD, Anxiety NOS, and other bits and pieces that would fit with OCD and PTSD.
I tell you that I am a good mom, not because I feel like I am one, because 99 out of 100 days, I don't. But my kids (my daughter also has special needs) will tell you that I am. I know that because they tell me. The only reason they tell me is because I am disabled and ill. They tell me to make me smile. But the truth of the matter is, I am a good mom. I make mistakes. Some days they are doozies. And on my BEST day they are worse than putting an LOL at the end of a comment, made on a board that I, too, would have assumed was about camaraderie and offering a kind word, a shoulder to lean on, and good advice. I know that's what I come for. I, as a 40 year-old woman who wears perfume and attends church, and has been accused of being an old lady myself...did not take offense at your comment. The LOL was about the old ladies at church, not really your son anyway. Besides...I wear my son's Axe all the time because I love the way it smells! LOL! Too funny!
My kids used to get bullied every day. They have had a really tough go of it. I also home-schooled for part of their education and then went back to public school because I could not offer them what I felt they needed. I know that some thought Scooties was being unkind to her son. But after all of the bulllies, and truly horrible parents we have seen, whether it is on the news or in our personal lives, I think we can all say this was NOT the sentiment of a mean spirited mother who needed to be reprimanded. If she would have come on here and used the "r" word , I'd have been right along with you. She didn't. She said he smelled like the perfumed church women. Honestly, couldn't we all instantly smell what she meant and smile? It wasn't a mean comment. She wasn't hurting him. We as parents have a right to express ourselves, and if we are going to help her be a better parent, then it may be beneficial to be a place where we can offer her a more warm environment to vent and then explain that kids pick up on the stress of the parents (as I've learned with my illness). We could help encourage her to find ways to calm her fears (hot, very hot, bubble baths....a hobby she enjoys, reconnecting with friends she hasn't been able to see).
I think sometimes people also forget that not everyone is from a city or has the money to afford to drive to where services are available. I have no idea if this is an issue for her or not, but for a lot of people it may be. We were fortunate to get our son into a group therapy last summer, but it was only for the summer and we definitely don't have ANY behavioral classes offered anywhere near where we are from. My kids are in weekly therapy...my son for his Asperger's. Hopefully he is getting his behavioral adaptation needs met there. His doctor is amazing and I have seen great improvement. He has a lot of triggers socially that it would be nice if he could learn to cope with, but he hasn't been in therapy very long.
These teen years are tough. I just want all mothers with special needs kids to have someone to lean on...and your principles are great! But that teen boy needs help. And the mother, from all she was saying, was just frustrated right now. As I read her posts, I saw a mom who was doing really good things.
- Wanting to check out the new friends before he went over. Incredibly important - kids I never dreamed would do drugs are dealing them in our small town!!
- Not letting him watch adult cartoons. They are raunchy. I hate to admit that we watch Family Guy and American Dad. I see why she's concerned! GREAT JOB!!!
- Being particular about what he wears. There are all kinds of double meaning phrases. My mom could easily buy clothes for my kids that would get them in the Principal's office.
I guess my point is, where others might have thought she was doing one thing, I as someone who could totally empathize, saw something totally different. Maybe depending on where on life's journey we are, what kind of week we are having, something can look totally different. I just hope that Scooties is still around. I get what she was going through, and how a joke can be taken wrong. She wasn't picking on her son. I think she loves her son, or she wouldn't have taken so much time out of her life to come on your board, read through the posts, decide it didn't cover her problem, pose her question, and then press for help. I don't think she was ignoring your ideas, either. I just think she needed a friend...a friend with similar struggles. They can be hard to find if there aren't support groups in her area.
Sorry for the long post...I was just so hurting for her...and not wanting someone else not to post because they were scared to. I'm not a "poster". I just read what everybody else has to say. I mean no disrespect. Everybody has off days. Maybe mine is today and I will tick off everybody on the site for saying anything. I just have to do what I think is right.
Hope everyone has wonderful days with their loved ones!
4 My Kids
Congrats, you son is behaving as normal teen. I am not being sarcastic.
It is a good sign. It means he has the will to be independent and you need to lay off him. Pick your battles. Let him stay in the rain, if you do not care, he will come in 5 minutes.
Do not pick his clothes. Who care if they match? He will learn eventually.
You son has more abilities and talents than you suspect.
If you continues the way you are now, he will move aways at 18 and not have any contact with you for years. You can't get everything you want once they turn 15, this is prime age to learn how to be oneself.
My son surprised us in many amazing ways because we let him be. He took a test and finished HS at 16. It is really not that hard of the test . It is easier than GED. He is now in community college and has job.
I do not care what cartoons he watches at this age. Seriously. It does not worth it. He helps around the house. I do not care what her wears....he were a dog collar for a year but he also volunteers at a non profit.
Please, go to family therapy together. It can really help you both to find your way.