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Featured Growing up autistic - impossible to discipline?

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by SDRSpark, Mar 25, 2021.

  1. SDRSpark

    SDRSpark Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    (Content warning: mention of corporal punishment)

    This occurred to me in another thread but I didn't want to derail that thread, so here's a new one:

    As a child I was somewhat notorious for [being easily amused]. I clearly remember one incident where my mother put me in time out for some infraction, and when "time out" was over I refused to leave the "time out" corner because I had become so engrossed in tracing shapes in the wooden paneling that I sat there for a long time afterwards.

    Looking back, I was almost impossible to punish. It's a good thing I was mostly a good kid because none of the standard punishments worked at all. Either they didn't matter to me, or they were traumatic. There was no in between.

    As a teenager, my parents tried to ground me once or twice. The problem was, I never wanted to spend time with anyone anyway. I spent most of my time alone, in the woods, playing imagination games. I guess they could have made me stay in the house. But the once or twice a year I decided I wanted to socialize with one of my peers wasn't to be discouraged, so grounding was off the table.

    I didn't like talking on the telephone, so taking that away was right out too. Never played video games or any of that...as an older teen I did spend time on the computer, I guess they could have taken that away, though I needed it for schoolwork, and once I wasn't allowed to watch my favorite TV show for a while, but I don't entirely remember why.

    My dad of course resorted to the old American standby of corporal punishment but THAT didn't work either because I pretty much figured that, if he hit me and I responded by doing what he wanted me to do, that would teach him that hitting me is an acceptable way to get what he wanted. So I made it a point to do the exact opposite of what he wanted in order to avoid teaching him that lesson. (This was as a YOUNG child...lol too young to be generally thought of as well versed in behavioral psychology).

    My mother, wisely, almost never resorted to corporal punishment because she realized it was a bad idea all around. But I actually behaved for her, pretty much all the time. I think because she treated me like a tiny adult, instead of like a child. She respected me, and I respected her, so there was no issue.

    When it came to the "standard" punishments, though, that parents tend to rely on - none of them worked. I just...wasn't wired in a way that any of that mattered to me, or was effective. I was, however, generally a good kid who never got into any major trouble. I am wondering if this is a common neurodivergent experience or if this is just a "me" thing?
     
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  2. Neonatal RRT

    Neonatal RRT Well-Known Member

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    Agree. I grew up in the late 60's-early 80's. No such thing as an "ASD". I had "behavior issues" that usually meant wooden paddles, belts, and razor straps across my behind,...frequently. My parents were young,...late teens when they had me,...immature, really didn't have any idea of how to parent,...learned along the way.

    As far as corporal punishment,...or any other punishment,...I don't think it did much to "correct behavior",...maybe in some cases. As a child with an ASD, there was not much forethought before doing,...it was spontaneous,...and I never had a sense that what I was doing was wrong until after I was caught doing it. I was not a "bad kid" in the sense that I was intentionally naughty,...I was just blissfully unaware. I also didn't have any repetitive bad habits,...most of what I was punished for were "one offs",...and never did them again,...not because I was punished for it, but rather I was not put back into a similar situation to do it again.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2021
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  3. unperson

    unperson Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    yuh parents will always find fault with offspring, nt or nd, if they'd looked into their own faults, we might not have to put it with their presumptions of normality, but they don't.
     
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  4. Mia

    Mia Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I'm certain that I must have been a pretty hyperactive child. And that managed to get me into lots of difficulties; as I continually ran off somewhere, climbed trees all the time, burned off energy on my bike, running around. Once they found me at the top of the tallest pine tree in the area, and was light enough to stay up there in a windstorm while the tree moved me around.
    I thought it was fun, but apparently I terrified a lot of people that day. My punishment for that one was going to bed without dinner. Managed to get around the missing dinner by lowering the smallest sibling through a bedroom window on a rope into the back entrance to the kitchen to grab some food. While my parents were watching the news.

    And that was often the problem, every punishment was countered by me somehow. When my school called for something, passing notes in class for example, I would disconnect the ringing connection of the phone for two days. So that you could call out, but not in, no one knew that I could do that. And as both my parents worked, they never received the calls at home.

    In retrospect I think I terrified my parents, as they often did not know what to do about me. I was always one or two steps ahead. The sisters at the convent though, were immediate with their physical punishments.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2021
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  5. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    Definitely treated my daughter like a little adult. We never had issues and she never got into trouble. This basically puts responsibilty of doing homework on their shoulders without me micromanaging her. She is now in the university and l believe she is staying on top of her studies. I never punished my daughter as a young child, because they don't know right and wrong as young people. I was raised with corpal punishment and l decided to break the pattern and not continue.
    I agree about punishments not working on us. By high school, my father came after me with a leather paddle. In my mind, l was much to old for that. So l did fake act like l was going to do something dangerous to get away and that was the last time l saw that paddle. He had a very abusive father. l still remember a very hard slap when l continued to suck my thumb. Probably stimming. I later had braces for sucking my thumb so long. In my daughter's case, we tied her pacifer to balloons and had a going away party. And it worked.☺
     
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  6. Ronin82

    Ronin82 Dog Trainer Extraordinaire

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    I had a 2-year period as a young teenager where I was spanked every day for "attitude problems". To this day, I have no idea what the issue was. All I knew was, if I just shut up and did as I was told, I wouldn't get whacked. As much as I hated being ordered around, being chased through the house and beat on the butt with a 2x4 specifically made for the purpose just wasn't worth the fight. It definitely messed me up and worsened my developmental delays. Will be in therapy the rest of my life for that and other abuse.

    Still, its funny, it didn't solve any behavior problems. Just traumatized me and made me hate authority figures even more. So no, it didn't work.
     
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  7. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    Teena
    Teenagers go thru so much. l let my daugher hibernate as much as she wanted because my teen time was pure anguish of hormones, not fitting in, not having clothes because money went to house payment.Then l was extremely feminine and had way too much attention that l had zero clue how to deal with. Horrible time in my life so l left for Europe.
     
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  8. Au Naturel

    Au Naturel Au Naturel

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    That could be the story of my life. I don't think any punishments were traumatic nor were they particularly effective. I had little they could take away from me and corporal punishment just hurt. Physical pain wasn't a big deal, it was just pain. Confine me to quarters and I'd read a book or write something or go inside my head to amuse myself.

    I wasn't a bad boy either. I messed up on some things because I didn't understand what was being required and other things because the activity itself was more stressful than doing nothing at all. And then there were all the things I should have known but didn't because I didn't pick up on hints and pointed suggestions and implied meanings. That got me in trouble too.

    But alas! My mother was big on punishment and used to whack me with a yardstick every time I screwed up. She also constantly berated my intelligence because of all the "obvious" things I kept missing. My interaction with my father was ok but he wasn't around a lot.

    When I was up to something I knew I would be punished for, I was bright enough to make sure they never caught on. Like manufacturing muzzle loading guns from pipe or playing naked along the river in the forest.
     
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  9. Bolletje

    Bolletje Overly complicated potato V.I.P Member

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    My parents mostly treated me like a tiny adult too. And yeah, I relate, most discipline didn’t work for me.
    I remember when I didn’t want to finish my food I’d have to stay at the table until I had the agreed upon amount of bites. But I didn’t mind staying at the table, I would look at the patterns in the wood of the kitchen table and trace them with my finger. Being sent to my room for punishment wasn’t really punishment because that’s where my toys, books and radio were. But I was generally a good kid so I didn’t need to be disciplined.
     
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  10. SusanLR

    SusanLR Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    When parents have asked how to punish an Aspie, I always tell them YOU DON'T.
    Any type of being hit on the behind with a paddle or belt never worked.
    Being treated like a little adult and explaining in a none threatening way is what worked.

    When I was a kid, no one knew what ASD was and I don't remember doing anything intentionally bad.
    But, at home with Mom around age 8 or so, she was always trying to whack me with a belt
    on the butt.
    I think the things that annoyed her were some of my sensory issues that I would get angry over
    such as refusing to wear certain clothes she wanted me to.
    But, I couldn't stand the feel, it would make me grumpy, have what now I know were meltdowns.
    She thought punishment would make it stop.

    Stimming also bothered her.
    I wanted to rock in a rocking chair when sitting. Food issues like keeping the foods not touching
    on the plate. Wanting a certain chair to eat from, certain utensils, plates, glasses.
    Quite a bit of OCD I think and she didn't understand.
    I was a terror with the toothbrush.
    Punishments didn't help me control these things.

    And if I did do something I knew would get me in trouble, just like Au Naturel, I made sure I didn't
    get caught!
     
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  11. SDRSpark

    SDRSpark Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Some of you had at least one parent like mine...my dad was a jerk to put it mildly. There never seemed to be any rhyme nor reason for his punishments...it was just whatever happened to make him mad that particular day, which may not have been considered an infraction the day before, or the day after. So I never learned anything other than that dad is a jerk.

    I never thought punishment taught anything other than the importance of not getting caught. :p Some people are very, very good at not getting caught. Or at lying. (Reminds me of a cartoon I saw which is now buried: the character as a child is told to apologize, then to "say it like you mean it". In the next panel, as an adult, another character asks him "how did you learn to lie so well?")

    What I find interesting is that punishments are intended to teach "consequences". Of course a punishment is rarely a natural consequence of anything - it's almost always something that someone DECIDED to do, spurred by something you did. That's not a consequence. That's someone else's choice. :confused: (Driving drunk and getting in a crash, THAT is a consequence. It's a clear result of something you did. Dad kicking your butt, though, that's a separate choice made by dad. Not a consequence.)
     
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  12. Mia

    Mia Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Even as a young girl, I thought that punishments were more about the adult's fear or anger at the child for doing something that they didn't understand or was dangerous or it was about controlling all that they did.

    They often seemed to think they were protecting the child from doing something that had serious consequences. That the child could not comprehend.

    There is not a lot of cause and effect in a child's brain. When I climbed that tree to the top, I had an idea that the tree would keep me safe and protect me from falling, having seen a disney cartoon with walking, singing trees. And until I fell and hurt myself a year or two later (not badly), I began to understand that what I saw on television was not true.

    Think if I had been able to tell them about the protective trees, they may have been able to convince me otherwise. Not being able to express yourself verbally as a child, makes for all kinds of misunderstandings.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2021
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  13. Neonatal RRT

    Neonatal RRT Well-Known Member

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    Reflecting upon my own childhood, and as a parent, all I can say is that "the punishment should fit the crime" and that instilling a sense of personal responsibility for ones actions is often all that is needed. In addition, never threaten a child with punishment,...if you say you're going to do something,...you have to carry it out. If you can't carry it out,...keep your mouth shut.

    I had to purchase (with my own money) and replant flowers in the neighbor lady's yard,...after I was caught picking her flowers for my mom,...6 years old. I had to work around the house and yard to get that money,...never got a weekly allowance, per se.

    I had to pay for and install a new window on another neighbor's garage. Oh yeah,...I had to learn how to properly remove and install a window at 8 years old,...no joke.

    I had to learn how to repair a car transmission after I broke it while drag racing,...17 years old. I had to pay for the parts, get the repair manuals, the tools, and recruit a few friends to do the work. BTW, this was THE family car,...my parents were less than happy. "Done with that thing yet? We need the car." That was a rough learning experience. That was more than a few weeks of working wages to pay that one off.

    I had to learn how to do plaster repair on my bedroom wall after I punched a hole through it while angry,...12 years old. My dad got out the flashlight and was looking for any imperfections,...had to redo it 3 times before getting it perfected and absolutely flat before it could be repainted.

    As a parent,...I had to wash my son's mouth out with soap after I threatened to do it,...he was being a little brat in the grocery store. 2 hrs later,...not angry anymore,...had to do it,...felt like crap.

    As a parent,...After my son's toy plane smacked a nice hole in the neighbor's vinyl siding, I made him knock on the door, tell my neighbor what he did,...and later pay for the damages.

    Too many things to list,...but you get the idea. As a parent, you can't be "intellectually lazy" by using the same old "behavior corrections" and you have to allow your children to own up to their mistakes and try to fix the situation on their own. My parents could have simply paid for the damage I did,...but no,...I had to learn "a lesson". On the other hand,...I sure got my share of corporal punishment,...which I didn't do to my own children. I was more the "take responsibility for your own actions" kind of approach with my kids. I never went through this parental anger, of "What were you thinking!!!",...because I remember my own childhood,...I never thought before I did anything.
     
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  14. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    My one and only memory of kindergarten is of being punished. They sent me to sit in the corner where I calmed down and spaced out - I could hear this humming sound coming from somewhere, and it was actually quite calming.

    In primary school, the teacher tried to get me to join in an activity I didn't want to do, and slapped me on the legs. So I slapped her back. Got into big trouble for that.

    I made to stay in at playtime and write a story. I enjoyed staying in and did try to write something.

    In middle school, I got sent out of the classroom or got sent to the head or deputy head. The sports teacher made me do push-ups.

    The head just told me to wait in the corridor, which I did, expecting to be called back in and given a telling off. That never happened; the bell went and I went on to my lesson. So maybe that was supposed to be the punishment? Or perhaps he forgot about me, or was too busy. Anyway, it wasn't much of a punishment. I never wanted to go outside anyway, and spent all the break dodging the dinner ladies so they wouldn't chuck me outside.
     
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  15. Aneka

    Aneka Well-Known Member

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    I got sent to a corner in kindergarten a few times as well. I don't even remember the reason.
     
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  16. Au Naturel

    Au Naturel Au Naturel

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    One thing I just noticed about this thread. All the people who grew up when ASD didn't exist. And yeah, they were on the spectrum but it just wasn't a thing and it all got written off as behavioral problems. There are fashion trends in mental health. ASD started to ramp up glacially post WWII until it hit a critical mass in the early 80s and then the almost invisible growth in diagnoses started climbing exponentially.

    Once you start looking for something, you tend to find it. It doesn't mean it wasn't there all along. All the boomer and Gen Xers and millennial autistics diagnosed late in life are evidence of this. If it took me until 60 to get a diagnosis, I'm pretty darned sure most of us never got a chance to be diagnosed at all.

    Even today, in our local school system (which is a good one by most standards), there is a great reluctance to have a "problem child" see a professional for a diagnosis. When they do it is often a person with a clipboard (literally) who visits a class and watches the kid for a few minutes. Of course, the kid sees this and does their damndest to mask. See? There's no problem with them the teacher can't handle and no need for an IEP. IEPs are expensive and often a parent has to go to war to get one for their child.

    OTOH many parents become angry that a school might suggest one is needed, so they have to get parental permission to do the assessment. It implies their child has a problem, which oblivious parents REALLY resent. A school with a thousand students will have perhaps one classroom at half capacity to handle all the "functional" students with psychological issues. I don't think they caught most of them.

    When someone says 1% or 2% of the population is on the spectrum, they are probably just parroting a number they saw somewhere. That number itself is an estimate from some long-forgotten study, based on extrapolation from a small sample size. Or perhaps a researcher hypothesizing and that speculation getting quoted as a fact. It is very difficult to find the original study and check the methodology.

    If you are just looking at reported cases of ASD per unit population, the opportunities for those samples to be unrepresentative of the general population are huge. There isn't even an objective definition of what constitutes ASD. Until very recently female ASD was considered rare to nonexistent. Even today there are psych professionals who refuse to diagnose it in women.

    OTOH, ASD's increasing popularity means more people specialize in it. It becomes a growth industry. Money is to be made. Reputations to be built. Agendas to be pushed. And there is the old saying that to a man with a hammer, every problem is a nail. So there is a developing segment of the psych industry - and it is an industry - with an interest in maximizing the amount of ASD society perceives.

    And there's the slow evolution from the sense that psych issues are a matter of shame to the sense they are no different than experiencing a physical problem. You do not admit to what you are ashamed of - another reason for the increase in numbers. We even had a hit sitcom based on an autistic savant.

    IOW, ASD has always been with us, likely in the same proportions we have today. What has increased exponentially is our recognition of it, our attempts to seek it out, and our willingness to admit it.
     
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  17. Neonatal RRT

    Neonatal RRT Well-Known Member

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    Yes. Absolutely. The research would suggest this, as well. The human genome, has over 100 identified markers for autism. It didn't get there yesterday. Autism has been around a long, long time. Given the fact that science has been able to identify several risk factors and associations,...and not a single cause,...is also suggestive of the diversity within human genome,...and the diversity amongst the autistic population, which we are still learning.

    As others have thought, looking back into human history, the so-called "great minds" that propelled society forward in thinking, science, the arts, etc....these were unique individuals. These were not people who were followers, but rather "marched to a different drummer". Galileo, Newton, Einstein, Tesla,...more recently, Jobs, Gates, and Musk,...as examples. As others have said,...paraphrasing,..."If it weren't for autistic minds, we would still be living in caves." None of these individuals were/are confirmed autistics, but rather suspected, given accounts of their lives, their interactions with people, their intense focus upon their respective interests, etc.
     
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  18. Bolletje

    Bolletje Overly complicated potato V.I.P Member

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    Added to say I’m so glad my parents weren’t into corporal punishment at all. Both of my parents hit me once, before I was four years old, and I never forgot those incidents even when they weren’t anything bad. I don’t like thinking about how much of an impression actual physical punishment would have affected me.

    My dad hit me once, and it was an accident (I tripped and he tried to catch me but smacked me in the face instead. Yeah, I get my clumsiness from somewhere).

    My mom bonked me on the head with a baguette once because my sister and I were fighting and she couldn’t get us to stop. It was effective, because the baguette broke over my head and my sister and I both stared at my mom in confusion. My mom felt horrible for doing that, although it’s become a favorite story over the years.

    It did lead my mom to develop a strategy to deal with unwanted behavior: divert my attention and/or distract me. But no more smacking with food stuff.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2021
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  19. Bibliophile715

    Bibliophile715 Armin - system member - any pronouns

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    I related so much reading that. My parents just eventually figured out that no matter how much they punished me, even if it came down to physical harm which sometimes happened as I was occasionally hit when younger on purpose and not by accident, I always found a way to distract myself.

    I am extremely easily amused as well. So much so that even the one time I was grounded when I was younger (even though I never really had a friend in real life), and all my toys were taken away, I would still be amused by looking at details on the wall.

    Pain and loneliness are temporary. My mind is sharp enough that punishments don't get to me anymore. I can always think of a distraction or meditate if anything happens. My mom doesn't always respect me, but that's not necessary. They attempted multiple times to take my autism away, but they never succeeded so eventually I made them give up.
     
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  20. HappyHermit

    HappyHermit Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Uh... no, my parents were entire capable of 'discipling' me. I was a good child – knowing what I know now, pretty damned near ideal. No arrogance: never in my life did I set out to upset my parents. Good at school, followed the rules, did my chores and then some... My parents just hated the way I was, and therefore I was a bad child to them. And they most assuredly were able to punish me. They just adapted the punishment (freely given even for breathing in their vicinity) to me in a way nothing else ever was:

    I never got grounded in my life. I was demonstratively thrown out of the house. No telephone taken away because I didn't have one and didn't have free access to the family phone anyway (long, long before smartphones). Instead, I was ordered to go play with the vilest neighbourhood child – and it was later checked up on whether I had. If not (because not everyone is home or available all the time), further punishment followed. No television? What a laugh, I wasn't allowed to watch tv until I turned 16 years old. Otherwise, punishment included things like nonstop chores, the harder and dirtier the better. And it's not like I was left alone while doing them. Getting berated at least at regular intervals while working, if not throughout, was normal. There was no 'tuning out'. They also weren't averse to corporal punishment, which wasn't all that pleasant either.

    So no, I was most assuredly able to be 'disciplined'. To the point that I wonder just what would have happened if I had actually been the slightest bit difficult.
     
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