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Helping my autistic child over the phone

cjmungia

New Member
My son lives with his mom in another state. We talk through video chat. It gets very complicated getting him to stop what he's doing to pay attention to the phone. Of course, my options are limited since I'm not there in person.
The other issue I'm running into is that when he does something (like hit his sister today), how do I go about getting on to him? Of course I can't do much since it's only through the phone, but I can't let that stop me from parenting that. Help please!
 

Neri

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
It's hard to say from the little info you've given us, but, I would say, as an autistic person and one who's raised an autistic son with cognitive impairment, that trying to engage him by asking him questions might be a way forward.

I assume he is often playing video games? My son is very addicted to these.

It's often tricky on the phone for autistic people, but giving him plenty of airspace to put forward his side of the story will not only help to engage him away from other distractions but also give you more information with how to proceed with feedback.

Being reasonable and logical often helps, as autistic people often respond well to this approach. Being overly emotionally reactive does not.

He may struggle with impulse control and need a lot of reminders about what is fair and reasonable, in terms of expectations, but any sign of anger, disapproval or judgey harshness will likely cause him to dissociate and feel overwhelmed and may cause a shut down.

He, no doubt, will have his reasons for his behaviour and more likely than not, he is feeling disempowered and unable to verbally defend himself in response to perceived threats that cause him to lash out at his sister.

Siblings can be quite bully-y with autistic siblings and take advantage of their lack of social know-how and ability to process and respond in a timely fashion.

That is my experience, anyway.

My ASD3 son (as opposed to my other autistic children with higher intellectual capacity) is my second born of 7 children and I witnessed SO MUCH bullying and contempt leveled at him when he was growing up (he's 30 now and living in very kind, caring, supported accommodation).

Granted he was a handful, and strong boundaries and much patience and constant prompting have been needed.

Doing as much research about autism as you have time and inclination could be helpful for you. I recommend a book called "The Loving Push" if gaming addiction is an issue.

Restrictive practise causes a lot of back lashes and is further disempowering for autistic people but finding support in the community and offering different and fun activities can be fruitful and beneficial. Other than that, if life is feeling overwhelming for us autistic people we will want to do a lot of the stimmy behaviours that soothe and stimulate us and gaming is one such activity.

He may not respond emotionally like you would like him too, but asking him about his interests and what's hard and challenging and giving him empathy and advice that will help him stand up for himself and build some empathy, even if just an intellectual understanding of what is fair and reasonable to expect from him, and other's towards him, will likely help.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
Staff member
V.I.P Member
@cjmungia
Sounds like you are in a very tricky situation. I would encourage you to remember that any discipline you must deliver will be strengthened by the connection you have to your child. Your time with them is limited by the phone/video, so make sure that you are not only using this time to parent in a disciplinary way. If you only get 5 minutes of quality time on the phone and 2-3 of those minutes are used up talking about poor behavior, this leaves little time for building the relationship which can be so difficult to do from afar.

Can you get creative with how you spend your time on the video chat together? Instead of talking, could you listen to music together? Watch a short video? Can you send pictures and videos to them in between phone calls? Perhaps you can send a physical object to your child and then incorporate that into some kind of game or activity with them.

If you are comfortable sharing, you could get more relevant advice if we knew how old your child is and had some more details on their communication style and your dynamic with them.
 

George Newman

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
It’s my opinion that you need to move to the state where your child is in an attempt to manage a more effective coparenting situation. Thoughts?
 

Tom

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
It's My Birthday!
There used to be a saying in the military about long distance relationships (romantic) not lasting. Sooner or later there is mostly likely going to be a 'Dear John (or Jill) letter or phone call. I have a feeling trying to Phone In parenting is just not going to work well either. Especially with an autistic child.
 

cjmungia

New Member
There used to be a saying in the military about long distance relationships (romantic) not lasting. Sooner or later there is mostly likely going to be a 'Dear John (or Jill) letter or phone call. I have a feeling trying to Phone In parenting is just not going to work well either. Especially with an autistic child.
Not helpful at all.
 

cjmungia

New Member
That may be the point. Some situations are basically beyond advice or suggestion. But let me ask what is this really for? Your son or is it for you?
I understand your point, but I'm not going to give up. That's not an option. I love my son, and I'm going to do whatever I can to be a father. I just don't know much more than the basics when it comes to autism, so I want to understand better so I can connect with him better.
 

George Newman

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I agree, but it's not an option right now. Any advice until I am able to be closer?
I wouldn’t have any advice that would be valuable or understood as a poor investment when compared to being physically near the child.

I know this via my experience.

I’m not trying to be difficult or narrow minded. Make plans to move. We do and support what is most important to us.
 

Tom

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
It's My Birthday!
I understand your point, but I'm not going to give up. That's not an option. I love my son, and I'm going to do whatever I can to be a father. I just don't know much more than the basics when it comes to autism, so I want to understand better so I can connect with him better.

I guess I would say a start is do the homework. That is look up and read books that you think will best assist you. I can't suggest any. I don't read on the subject. One, I already know what it's like and I learn a lot from my wife who's a Special Ed teacher and BCBA (Board Cert Behavior Analyst). But there is a thread here somewhere on suggested reading and I know people post there.

Something I will share is that when Covid hit, my wife had to suddenly go to virtual ed only with no warning or prep. What a disaster! Some of the 9 students took to it ok, but with parent assisting much needed generally. Getting them in position taking away distractions, and monitoring them. But others it was barely functioning and a few would not do it at all for various reasons. So she had to create packages and do drive by drops to the homes for the parents to do with the students basically in homeschooling fashion.

Each kid is so unique, and solutions very tailored.

Have you btw talked with his teacher? They might be able to give you some guidence. Working with your wife of course would be helpful but I don't know how feasible that is.

Overall however I am with George. The best thing you could do would to be close enough to visit and interact personnally. It is btw a lifelong commitment, not just a school age thing.
 

VictorR

Random Member
V.I.P Member
I agree, but it's not an option right now. Any advice until I am able to be closer?

What are your current visiting arrangements? Do you visit at all? If not, is there the possibility of a custody sharing where every now and then your son visits and spends some time with you?

There's something to be said for in-person connections as others have stated, and as I've come across in my own work.
 

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