are the clothes he's required to wear to church different than the clothes he wears the rest of the time? The problems there could be related to sensory issues with clothing.
Originally Posted by crazytownmama
How do you draw the line between what is autism and what is bad behavior and how do you cope appropriately?
.... (I don't want HIM to think he's a label, and he can't do/isn't good enough because he's got a label... that is unacceptable to me... but am i thinking about it the wrong way? I don't think I've ever really processed/accepted the label myself........
I've been following the thread and trying to think of something helpful to say. I have a DD with autism, but the patterns for behavior tend to be different for girls than boys and I'm not sure how helpful I can be with the specifics of what you are going through.
It is hard to draw the line between bad behavior and autism. I think it can be helpful to remember that even if the behavior is related to autism, that doesn't mean that it gets to go unchecked forever, just that a different approach might be more effective, that progress will be slower, and that the goal may need to be a little different.
For example, if it's just a bad behavior, then pretty standard parenting should work to change the behavior to an acceptable behavior in a reasonable amount of time.
But if it is an autism related behavior, more time will need to be taken to figure the real cause of the problem for the child, to set a goal that is a step up but attainable for the child and more acceptable to the parent (and others), the tools used to get to the new behavior may be different, and the time taken to get there may be longer.
Either way, if a behavior isn't OK, it isn't OK. Kids don't get a pass on anti-social behavior because they have special needs. EVERY kid can take a step in the right direction. That step just looks very different for different kids.
My DD knows she is on the autism spectrum, and that she thinks and processes differently than others. She also really likes herself. If you haven't read any Temple Grandin yet, I recommend it. it really helped me understand how my DD thinks, and it gave me ways to talk to her about what was going for her. We talk in terms of figuring out what works for her, not in terms of what she can and can't do.
One thing that is super helpful to my DD that hasn't been mentioned yet is sensory diet. For her, when her sensory needs are met, she's much more together. Does your son see an Occupational therapist or have your worked on sensory issues yet?
Also, my DD found a lot of things really overwhelming for a long time. Noise cancelling headphones and music she liked got us through A LOT of situations. Your son going to church with no drama and acting like everyone else isn't a reasonable goal right now. I think its time to consider what you could live with. Could you live with him wearing noise cancelling headphones during church? Could you live with him sitting on the floor and using the pew like a desk and drawing during church? Right now, let go of what you really want, and start trying to figure out a middle path that might work for your son and that you can live with. Getting away from the meltdowns is really more important than anything else. Besides being very maladaptive, they are hard on your son and on you. Figuring out an option, any option, that keeps him from completely spinning out is the first step.
My DD's meltdowns were situations in which she could hurt herself because she banged her head into walls, tables etc extremely hard, over and over, as if in a trance. She had to be restrained. I have very thick skin about people seeing what my child, who could appear "normal" to people who don't know her, was doing in certain situations, such as wearing noise cancelling headphones.
As far as how much to change how you parent, I had to change a lot of things. I had to make sure my DD's sensory needs were met, and at times it seemed like my life kinda revolved around that. I also had to trouble shoot what was going wrong for her in different situations and then address them. My DD has a lot of sensory issues around clothes and finding clothes that work for her and look "normal" for her age was a huge deal for a long time. She didn't wear jeans until she was 18 and could get womens relaxed fit jeans with stretch fabric.
The one place I was a stickler was on stuff that affected her sister. She didn't get to boss her sister around because she had special needs. I didn't feel that would be healthy for either of them. So with a special cup, I would get another so it wasn't an issue, get rid of it so it isn't an issue, or create a system so it is shared evenly with no one getting to dictate. But I would find a way to put a stop to the dynamic without her melting down. (also, she never forgets anything, so getting rid of something she liked and hoping she would just forget about it wasn't an option).