Demand Demand Demand…. by the age of 3, I was able to connect that the meltdowns were as a result of demands being put upon Aiden, so why didn’t I learn to stop demanding things?
I can only think it was because I thought I knew best! I was the adult, therefore, I was in charge and I wasn’t going to let a 3 year old rule my life! Even though indirectly, he already was! I guess this is what denial looks like!
From an onlooker ‘Aiden didn’t like being told what to do, and was only happy when he got his way!’
Years went by and the violence escalated, school for Aiden was unbearable, and he’d devised his own coping mechanisms. He’d cleverly learned how to play the ‘get out of jail free’ card. If he weed – yes urinated, on people, he would get sent home. Equally the same would happen if he threw tables, bit people or simply refused to move, he’d sussed it. I was his safe person and when he couldn’t cope he knew what he needed to do, to get back to me.
By the age of 6, he’d been kicked out of school and thankfully given a place in a nurture assessment unit and that’s exactly what they did – they nurtured him.
I think this was when the realisation set in that maybe there was something wrong, (even though deep down I had known all along!)
I began to relearned how to communicate with Aiden without putting demands on him. This was tough and something, even now 18 years later, we still sometimes get wrong. It goes against every parental instinct.
It involved minimising all demands and only requesting the absolute necessary ones. We changed the language and tone within a sentence so it was no longer a demand but a more open ended suggestion or we made the demand into a game.
“Aiden, go and brush your teeth now please.”
“Aiden, I’m going to brush my teeth now and I’m going to use the timer.”
“Aiden, put your shoes on now please”
“Would you like some help putting your shoes on?”
Sounds simple? Yes, it’s basic, but the hardest part is making it sound natural and not showing your frustration or anger when it doesn’t work. Aiden was and is far from stupid! He knew if I wanted him to do something and I knew it had to become his idea before he would even attempt it.
Accepting Aiden had Autism was easy but the realisation that it was me that needed to change as a parent was far far harder.
As I said in the beginning – ‘I am the adult’ and when I really thought about that phrase, for me, that was the light bulb moment. I realised, yes, I was the adult and it was me that needed to change if I was going to be able to help Aiden.
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