Trust, A Novel Concept

Our run in mainstreamed public middle school up until now hasn’t been what you would call… how you say… good. First it was overstimulated and overwhelmed then it was home work getting the best of us with a little bit of ‘I don’t wanna do this work because it’s eating into my free time’. We have supported, punished, stayed on top of, & more. Nothing has really solved our problems. I’m not saying I thought it would all be smooth sailing but I am saying I had a false sense of how good I was at dealing with all this.

When I worked in EMS on an ambulance and we would have what was affectionately called a ‘Come To Jesus Meeting’. These aren’t religious talks at all. Kids from the south know what I’m talking about, if mom says she’s going to give you a come to Jesus meeting it is a lot like an attitude adjustment. They could range from a sympathetic ear to a confrontational soapbox speech depending on what the person needed. After realizing my bag of parenting tricks was not only empty but it was inside out with a hole in it we figured we would try something new. Trust.

aspergers blog

One type of homework he never minds doing is band homework

When I picked him up from school, just the two of us, we talked about responsibilities & what they mean. We have these talks all the time but this time I tried to concentrate on my responsibilities & what the cause & effect was of me living up to them. Decide to work today like I’m supposed to equals money equals more income for the family equals the ability to vacation, buy video games, etc. After that I spun it in his situation as school work is done on time & turned in equals trust equals more adult like treatment. He was very receptive to this & after explaining that if I could trust that he did the right thing, the appropriate thing, the expected thing then that would equal adult treatment such as a cell phone & having a cell phone would equal the ability to venture on his own at times when the family is at the store & he wants to go look at electronics or something to that effect. (I’ve been fighting this thought in my head but I’ve also been encouraged by the fact that he at least wants to get out of the house & go places – small victories!) Just thought I would mention that since we are so close & sometimes he, I think, even blurs the line between us being best friends & father son (until something goes wrong & discipline is delved out anyway) I also put it out there to him that I wasn’t upset or mad at him but I was disappointed in the way he was letting me down by not trying harder to do what was expected of him. How he was being selfish & not thinking of how his actions at school effected his whole family. I wasn’t sure if that was in vain or not but I threw it in none the less.

This went really well but I’ve thought that before & have been slapped in the face by reality. A couple of days ago he brought home his progress report & much to my surprise from the day we talked he had turned in all of his assignments & got great grades on them. While talking to my wife she said something to the effect of ‘It seems like you have been doing a lot better lately’ & he replied ‘I’ve been doing what we talked about & I’m in a much better place at school’ (heart swelling… ego growing… Parenting LEVEL UP!

Needless to say:

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We started him off with a pre-paid Trecfone to be safe & leave room for improvement. Not only is it an instant gratification because it wasn’t a situation where, like in the past, he has had to stay golden for an extended period of time but now that he has it he is excited about it. Excited not just about the phone but we talked about how this phone just does talk & text so if the good behavior continues, the expectations are continually met, & get even been then so does his adult like responsibilities. Translation in to dad terms: keep doing good & we can maybe upgrade to a smart phone or do bad & I have something to take away as a punishment.

We will see! I’m sure all of you with kids on the high functioning end of the spectrum have been in this same place; feeling great about a parenting win like your on fire & then here in a week it will all come crashing down but HEY! If I’ve learned anything from autism parenting it’s that I’m gonna sure as heck enjoy the first week of that parenting win feeling for now & we will cross that sky is falling bridge when we get there! 🙂

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10 thoughts on “Trust, A Novel Concept

  1. Tina S.

    Our kids should be hanging out, for real. We are struggling on the phone/no phone situation as well because there isn’t a level of trust right now. For his 11th birthday this past June, we gave him a house key. Remember that as being a HUGE deal?!?! We had two rules for the house key. 1)Shoes on/key on & shoes off/key off, and 2) no playing with the key at school. Well, he lost the key after a week because he forgot it 6 out of 7 days, even though the key is *right beside* his shoes in the cabinet.

    We restarted it when school started back out of necessity. Now that he’s wanting to join into things after school, the phone issue is coming up again and it scares the bejesus out of me. I already found that if I step back, and just let him fly or fall, things continue to move forward regardless of how much information I know. I guess the phone is next in our agenda……*sigh* but I’m not going down without a fight! LOL!

    Reply
  2. Els

    I só get where you’re coming from… Inventing strategies everyday, enjoying victories (no matter how small) and picking my battles time and again. I love my kids, they are beautiful spirits…

    Reply
  3. Laura C

    I love the way you talk with your son. You treat him with respect and love. It is inspiring. Sometimes my husband and I get so frustrated with various situations, we forget to just sit down and talk with our son. We are so often in ‘survival mode,’ just going from one reaction to another, from one crisis to the next. I forget how smart my son is and that if I would only sit down with him and be proactive, we could mitigate the intensity of many of our problems.

    Reply
  4. Rebecca

    One of the benefits of not knowing my son has Asperger’s until now, at age 11, is that with his obvious intelligence level and my large family, everyone has a lot of responsibilities. I’ve had no reason to think he couldn’t manage any tasks that I gave him. He is the 2nd child, with an older sister and younger twin brothers. Everyone has to help carry their own weight. While he has lost his glasses, like less than 10 times in 6 years (and only once not in his own bedroom), he does damage them yearly. But in general, we don’t struggle w/lost items. I’ve worked very hard to make sure my kids are responsible for their own belongings, house keys included. He has a phone, but it is not activated, so he only uses it for games and such. He refuses to take it to school because the rule is, bring it at your own risk, they aren’t responsible for lost or stolen items. He thinks that is stupid to risk it. That makes me smile.

    While I am NO expert, I think the trick is to know what are roadblocks for your child, but act as if they can overcome them! My son has gradually overcome some sensory issues pertaining to foods, smells, and topics discussed during dinner because he has been slowly desensitized to them.

    Now that I know of his condition, I’m struggling to find the line between, “He can do this, he is intelligent enough.” and, “This is a real issue and challenge for him, maybe I should modify my expectations until he can gradually overcome it without coddling him?” (and the fine line between modification and coddling), and the ever question of, “Is this a battle I want to pick?” LOL New territory here! Before I only had to choose between the 1st & 3rd options and only questioned if the 2nd one really existed, followed by quickly dismissing it as, “He is too smart for this to be an issue for him!”.

    Learning as I go…

    Reply
    1. LauraC

      Rebecca, I respect your concern about not coddling, but I think respecting sensory differences and differences in executive functioning can be done without seeing it as coddling. My son loses stuff, acts impulsively, and reacts strongly to various sensory triggers. Rather than try to change him, I try to do “workarounds” and make reasonable adjustments. “Desensitizing” has been increasingly discouraged by researchers because of the pain and irritability it can cause, -and these feelings are often hard for Aspies to self-identify and express constructively. Another great blog, you could check out is “Musings of an Aspie,” which addresses these issues from the point of view of the Aspie.

      Reply
      1. LauraC

        I just re-read my comment and realized it sounded pretty smarmy. Rebecca, it sounds like you’re doing a great job. Sorry to sound judgemental. I’m trying to figure this all out as much as anyone. We had 2 major sensory meltdowns this morning. So, I think I need to reflect more and comment less!

        Reply
        1. Rebecca

          I didn’t read it that way. We are all just doing the best we can. My son has had issues off and on since he was a baby, but it seemed to start getting worse when I divorced his father. Or any other time we’ve had mass chaos going on at home. Then this year started the worst so far with the transition to middle school. I’m hoping to get some help and coping skills soon. Honestly before his school suggested Asperger’s, I thought he was just being difficult mostly out of boredom since he is SO intelligent.

          Reply

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