I wrote the other day about how my son does things out of spite. @Celebr8nGenr8n left a comment that made me really start to think. She is an adult Aspie and she also tweets under @porterhouselife which is supposed to be her account about Aspergers. Both accounts worth following and really both have Asperger’s information since she isn’t all of a sudden an NT when she tweets at @Celebr8nGenr8n. Just saying.
Anyways I always value her insight for many reasons. As I mentioned she is an adult Aspie and so therefore the real expert on the subject. She is also smart (mensa!) and successful. And more importantly she has often told me that my son reminds her of how she was when she was younger.
She specifically responded the other day (paraphrasing) that she had no advice because she often does things out of spite and doesn’t see anything wrong about it. She did add she understood could be upsetting to a parent. I DMd her that it was in issue because was refusing school. But this really did make me start to think more deeply about what was going on.
The “experts” in real life have been talking to me about how he can’t just do things on his own time, or when he wants to. I have been told that if he refuses school and I let him it is setting up a pattern. I was also told that if he does this in relation to other things I should make him do the other things to. Like take him to the grocery store or to church just so he understands he has to do those things. I was also told not to let him control things. Specifically the other day the psychologist was talking about him picking out his own reward.
Wait a minute. First of all I am definitely “a pick your battle” kind of parent. I really don’t think dragging him to the grocery store over the weekend will accomplish anything but pissing him off. He actually doesn’t mind the store and could do it but being a teenager he would rather stay home and play video games. If we are out and I need to stop somewhere quickly he stops with me with no issues at all.
Second of all he does not just refuse things to refuse things. I have said that over and over again. If he is refusing something it is because there is a reason. Related to school he was having issues with school. We were working on it but it takes time. Prior to the pep rally & Thanksgiving he was there all the time and doing work. He was late every day but they adjusted his start time to accommodate him. He actually really likes school and we just need to work through what is going on. Not force him to go to school or the grocery store. IMHO
And finally and most importantly he should have some control over himself! Yes he is fourteen and needs to follow certain rules. In my humble opinion teenage years are for learning how to get through life knowing what rules to follow and knowing when you can make autonomous decisions. Learning how to feel that you are not being controlled by others but following rules. Let me give examples to make this more clear.
He was upset with his science teacher. He knew he couldn’t hit her or cus her out (thank God!) but he wanted to express his anger to her in an “acceptable way”. In his mind he decided that he would just not do his work. Telling him that it was only hurting him and not affecting her just got him more angry.
I figured out this was what was going on and sat him down to really talk about it. I explained to him that it was valid that it was upset. I told him I was thinking he wanted to be in control of something in that class. He nodded his head. I explained that was also a very valid feeling. I told him we just need to think of something to do that would not affect his grade but he would still feel in control.
This is a concept that comes up with him a lot. There are many times that he refuses things but I really think he is just trying to maintain control of his environment.
If I really take a hard look at myself I do it to. I bet most people do this. When I get mad at my work for something I can’t put my head down and refuse to work because I would get fired. But I can control other things that won’t get me into trouble. Sometimes it can be something small and stupid. Like when I worked on the floors as a nurse I had to wear a uniform. I was also supposed to wear white socks but I always wore mickey mouse or something like that. It was the one place I could express myself. I still wear funky socks to work because of this. Yep, I work as a lawyer with funky socks. My favorite right now are the monkey skull and cross bones ones. Can’t remember what they are called, doesn’t matter.
Point is it is okay for him to want to be in control of something. I am actually proud of him. It is people like that who become entrepreneurs or inventors or CEOs when they grow up. I don’t need to teach him to accept all rules. I need to teach him how to operate within the constraints of the rules that he must follow.