I’m right. (period). When Tucker decides that he is right about something. That’s it. There is no point in arguing. He is done. FInished. Complete.
You will not win. At least not at that moment anyway. Folks who have Autism often lack the ability to “see things” from anyone else’s perspective than their own. He is NOT interested in hearing alternative interpretations.
Many folks on the spectrum will dismiss information that they don’t already know. Often, this is a protective mechanism. Remember how people on the spectrum feel about change? Well, think of information as change. By learning something new or considering a different viewpoint they must change how they currently feel.
When we become a parents most of us begin to realize that life is most often lived in the gray area. That what is right or what is wrong is dependent upon the situation, the people in the situation, the history of the situation…there are so many complexities. Each person’s reality is just that, their own.
Parenting a spectrum child is certainly ironic. As a parent, we are forced to live in the gray – because their lives are incredibly situational. We know, in an instant, that something will set them off. It may not always set them off – but if x, y, z variables exist…well then…prepare for an explosion. They, however – don’t get the gray area at all.
To most of these children, life is factual, logical, and rational. The ability to live in the gray is the very thing that enables a spectrum child to develop coping skills and yet, that world is so far from their own reality.
While I understand all of that – the problem lies in me being unable to ignore Tucker’s inaccurate conclusions. So, what do I do? Well…in the 12 years I have been his mama I have learned a few strategies.
1. Never force any point. Period.
2. I have had to stop obsessing with being right. He has enough challenges – so I take time to examine whether the information will really make a difference.
3. If needed, I let it go in that moment. Once he is emotional about anything – I will NOT win. I am best off coming back to it at another time and use strategy #5.
3. Admit that I may also not know all of the details and certainly DO NOT pretend to know something I don’t. When he realizes that I am not arguing the point he becomes willing to ‘talk it through’ with me.
4. Be sure I have a ‘good’ tone. He already feels inferior – using a tone or language that would make him feel more inferior will NEVER HELP.
5. Most often, I let it go until we are at a computer (or at a location where the ‘research’ can actually be done). Then, we research it together. If he sees the proof in print he will read it and understand the differing viewpoint. Then, we come to a ‘new’ conclusion – TOGETHER. It’s not me telling, it’s us discovering (even if I already knew the ‘correct’ answer…it works best to pretend and honestly, I usually learn something new).
While these behaviors were incredibly frustrating at ages 4, 8, and 12 – I also know they are the very behaviors that will make him an incredible young man at 24, 28, and 32. It is my responsibility to not ‘squelch’ these behaviors, but ever-so-gently help reframe them in a way that is helpful and beneficial to all.