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Featured Need help addressing & reducing violent tendencies

Discussion in 'Parenting & Autism Discussions' started by sunfloral, Apr 3, 2019.

  1. sunfloral

    sunfloral Active Member

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    Hi, I am the older sister (19 y/o) of a child with autism (12 y/o boy) and was wondering if I could get some advice on how to best take care of my brother. My parents carry a heavy financial burden and don't have the time to truly pay attention to him/discipline him. I grew up taking a lot of that responsibility, but I've been away at college for the past 2 years and I just feel so helpless whenever I come back home because I don't know how I'm supposed to lead my brother in the right direction. I don't know how to parent. I don't know how to best speak to my brother in a way where he can understand me.

    He has so much potential and is honestly so smart, but it has just been an unfortunate reality that neither my parents, or I, have had the resources or time to advocate for him in school and provide him the attentive care that he needs. I've tried, but I'm also a teenager that is trying to graduate and move forward in my life, and sometimes I just don't know what I should prioritize.

    More recently, I learned from his teachers that he has been exhibiting violent (but not physically violent) behavior. He talks about guns a lot and uses finger guns. He makes empty threats when he is upset. He claims that particular people are in the hospital when he doesn't want to see them. I think that it has a lot to do with the videos he watches online, or maybe at school.. but I am not home to supervise that.

    I don't know what else to do but say that he shouldn't say or do those things, but he already knows that. He even acknowledges it sometimes. He stops when I tell him to but does it again the next day. I don't know how else I can somehow help him wean off these violent tendencies. I've tried negative and positive reinforcement, but neither really work.

    I really would appreciate some advice. I don't know what to do and I feel that I approach taking care of him too strictly, but I've been doing that to compensate for my parents' lack of supervision and because I don't know how else to parent.
     
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  2. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    What did he say when you asked him why he does these things?
     
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  3. sunfloral

    sunfloral Active Member

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    Depending on the circumstances, he says 'I don't know', 'I'm mad', 'Don't say that', or he repeats it again.
     
  4. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    "I don't know."
    "Any guesses?" or some other form of continuing to ask for an actual answer.

    "I'm mad."
    This leads to my suggestion, even if he doesn't say that I'd suggest this, which is replacement behavior, unless you've tried that already.

    Using mad as the example, together you'd come up with some alternative that he can try when he's mad. I'm not sure what it would be, but to at least have an example, when it comes to self-harm, cutting, burning, etc. it's often suggested to replace it with squeezing ice, snapping with a rubber band, etc. Choosing a less harmful behavior to distract yourself until the moment passes.

    Just talking about guns and pretending to have a gun seems like normal behavior for his age and basically all boys under eighteen, unless I misunderstood what you meant and it's a bit more serious than that.

    I'm not sure what you mean with the hospital one and not wanting to see someone. Like a therapist? I can't think of who he would be forced to see, doesn't want to see, and who isn't nearby to immediately disprove his claims.

    I admire you for your efforts! It's a burden you shouldn't have to bear, but you're choosing to because you want to help. Awesome!
     
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  5. Suzanne

    Suzanne Well-Known Member

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    First of all, it is NOT your responsibility. Yes, of course, you can help in keeping things stable in the home, but in fact, it is your PARENTS who should take responsibility. So what if they have financial burdens; their priority is to their two off spring, who they brought into the world.

    Your attitude is amazingly beautiful, for someone who has been thrust into this unfair situation.

    Your brother is angry and but is unable to explain his anger and thus, reduces to physical ways. So, one needs to find out why he is angry and go from there.

    I have to take medcine to calm my anger down, but it is not the best option, because of the side effects.

    In truth, you need to get together with your parents and talk about this situation, because it is their responsibility; not yours.
     
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  6. Iamnotarabot

    Iamnotarabot Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Is this so important?

    You just need to repeat to him that pretending to gun down someone is considered as a death threat, and ask him if he want other to threaten him.

    This is not up to his own choice , other understand what we signal in a certain way, and doing this is an offence.

    He needs to learn that he shouldnt do to others what he wouldnt not want others to do to him.

    And yes it can be for numerous reasons, simple as a "reflex" from the video games he plays.

    He is old enought to understand that, explain to him he can do that when he see a wild animal for instance, ,not people.

    Apparently you already told him that...

    Well I dont know how he reacts to punishement, but if my parent caught me doing things I shouldnt do at this age, I wouldnt be punished somehow.
    Bad behaviours deserve bad consequences.


    But realy there is no real answer for that...I personnaly always tried to hide my weirdness.
     
  7. Gracey

    Gracey Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Bring it to the attention of your parents.

    Insist on them paying attention to how your brother is expressing his anger (?)
    How he’s communicating it.

    Ask them what they’ve noticed and what they think is happening?
    Question whether or not they think that form of expression is acceptable?

    Your role as sister and daughter is assisting, not the full on responsibility of parenting.
    You have your own self and future to take care of.
     
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  8. sunfloral

    sunfloral Active Member

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    Whenever his response is "I don't know," I try different variations of asking him why he did it, whether it be "Any guesses?" or "Why did you do it?" or "What were you thinking about before it happened?" But he gets really frustrated with me for reasons I don't know, it could be because he doesn't know how to articulate it, or maybe he really doesn't know.

    I think that giving him something to distract himself with might be a good idea. I'll try talking to my parents about it.

    I've definitely thought about the fact that guns and pretending to have guns is pretty common among people his age, and especially since kids have started playing games like Fortnite, it's become a way bigger problem than it has in the past. I think that I have trouble differentiating when his behavior is unhealthy for him or if it's just a part of growing up. I definitely have fears that I may be micromanaging his life a bit too much out of worry and anxiety, but I've also been noticing that when I let him do as he pleases, he chooses to mimic violent/disruptive behavior because it excites him. And as he has gotten older, the magnitude in which his behavior is violent or worrisome increases -- I wrote this post because I received an e-mail from his teachers yesterday about how he recently took a headphone cord and wrapped it around his neck, pretending to hang himself. And while I am confident that he wouldn't and is not trying to harm himself, I worry that if this continues, he might actually harm himself accidentally.

    In regards to the hospital one, it really depends. He sees a behaviorist every day, so when he doesn't want to see her, he gets really upset and insists that she's in the hospital. Another example would be if a person's presence keeps him from doing what he wants -- an architect had to come by our house to talk to my parents, and because of that, my brother couldn't go to this event he wanted to. He responded by crying and saying that the architect was in the hospital. This isn't harmful behavior to the others around them -- I'm okay with hearing it at home, but it's when he is outside and he responds to people that way that I get concerned. People will not take it the right way and will misunderstand, and that often translates into people getting upset and angry with him, me, or my parents.

    Thank you for your advice -- I really appreciate everyone taking the time to read my long wall of text (lol). My family isn't too connected with the community of people with children w/ autism, so none of us really know how to best go about helping him in the ways he needs as opposed to what we think is right for him.
     
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  9. sunfloral

    sunfloral Active Member

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    I'm not really sure what to do because it seems like he isn't very responsive to having conversations about things that he does. I don't think it's because he doesn't want to listen, but maybe because he loses focus or interest in the conversation really easily and also doesn't understand what I'm trying to say.

    I think the hard part especially is the fact that he does understand why what he is doing is inappropriate. Sometimes he will say something inappropriate or do something unsafe and once he sees I'm in the room, he will immediately say that he knows it was wrong. We started a punishment system but he is also the type to hold himself accountable, and it has gotten to the point where if he knows he did something wrong, he will punish himself and take the consequences. But that's the pattern; whatever punishment it is, he will submit himself to it after he does something wrong. I don't know if it's because he doesn't mind the punishments.
     
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  10. Monachopia

    Monachopia ...spiral out... keep going. V.I.P Member

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    You're doing the best you can with a situation that is both frustrating and worrying for you. It's not your responsibility, but I guess no one really knows how to address this or has the resources to find out what the appropriate course of action would be.

    I think you're doing a good job asking as to 'why' and trying to find out the reason. But sometimes, being put on the spot like that only makes someone go inward. He could be embarrassed that he feels this way and has no words to put that frustration into a logical format for you to understand or even for him to understand. Maybe some ways that could help is to play out the scenario that made him feel that way. Take the pressure off him to explain himself and feel like he's done something wrong. Talk around the subject, talk about the setting this took place in, talk about someone who was involved "what were they doing?" - "what did they say" - "what else was happening around you"? Because that would enable him to relay factual occurrences rather than search for explanations.
    When you can find out the scenarios or people's actions/words that set him off, maybe then you can both work on ways that he can deal with them in a more constructive way. The main thing is for him not to feel like he's in trouble because clearly he's having a hard time dealing with emotions at this time, plus for a boy of 12, it's a difficult period of time to be with hormones going all over the place. It's good that this is brought to attention early before his reactions to scenarios really cement into unhealthy ways of thinking.
     
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  11. sunfloral

    sunfloral Active Member

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    I think the hardest part for my parents is that they are less equipped or I guess patient enough to sit through the times he is upset when he doesn't get what he wants. I noticed that when I left home, the frequency in which these violent behaviors increased, probably because there hasn't been anyone to hold him accountable. When he doesn't get what he wants or doesn't want to do what my parents tell him to do, he cries and repeats what he wants over and over until my parents can't take it anymore. For me personally, I just sit through it and stand my ground, but if there were any way to calm him down and not have it last for hours (or even across a couple days), I think things would be better.

    The problem right now is that my parents just give in once things get too loud, and it's also gotten to the point where my mom will reward him whenever he agrees not to misbehave for a set period of time. Personally, while I do agree that a reward system is effective, I also think that it can get to a point where misbehavior gets associated with reward, and also the belief that it is okay to misbehave because nothing bad happens when he does anyway.
     
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  12. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Its a difficult situation and not one that has a simple answer. In a general sense I think that your parents getting more involved and in consultation (that is working closely with) the behaviorist or any other professional involved would be most helpful. Parents being worn down by bad behavior and giving in is very common and of course just encourages more bad behavior. As a sister your opportunities and responsibilities are limited, other then being a good model for your sibling. In cases like where the teacher contacts you, try and redirect it to a parent. Not sure about what is available to your family but there are programs where a behaviorist comes to the house most days and works on that from inside the family situation, and in part teaches/models to the parent how to deal with things. Kudos to you for your effort and concern.
     
  13. Iamnotarabot

    Iamnotarabot Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Well then if its also about his lack of attention maybe you should lock into his diet and how much he sleeps etc...
    If punishement doesnt work maybe he should know that he can do that at home but not outside and with strangers, maybe he needs someone to play video games (shooting games) with, maybe he wants to play with others aswell.

    It reminds me off something, when I was a kid and teenager I would go to the beach with my parents and I always felt the urge to splash them, they always said they didnt want too be splashed but I always did it anyway, I guess I wanted their attention.

    When I am on the street I have numerous intrusive thoughts all the time, But for some reason most of the time I take everything within me , I internalize everything most of the time and this is why I passed as NT at school I guess.

    I dont know if he sees a therapist, but now that I think about it, It reminds me off intrusive thoughtq, your brother seems to have a harder time not acting on it when its unnapropriate.

    So my bet would be to stop punish him because it doesnt work, and make him act on this in a positive way, like playing with water gun.(dont make guns his specific interest lel)

    But others responses make me think otherwhise, its more complicated than a single issue I guess.
    My parents never keept punishement long enought for me aswell but because I was moaning a lot lol.
     
  14. the_tortoise

    the_tortoise Lost Soul V.I.P Member

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    That doesn't mean for sure that he actually understands why it's wrong/inappropriate.

    He might accept that something is considered wrong/inappropriate without understanding why.

    And it could just mean he knows that you think it's wrong/don't like when he does certain things (without actually thinking they are wrong/inappropriate, himself), and that he knows what you expect him to say or knows what to say to you to smooth over the situation or end any interaction with you about the behavior. (This doesn't mean he's being intentionally, maliciously manipulative....it could be just pattern matching and him doing what he thinks is expected of him, or his only way to cope with being overwhelmed or confused in an interaction is to try to get it to its end point as quickly as possible.)
     
  15. AloneNotLonely

    AloneNotLonely Well-Known Member

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    Flee the sinking ship. You are only going to get dragged down under with it.

    His parents refuse to help him so he's left to fend off all the psycho's at school on his own. The only way he can do that is by what he's been doing.

    There's no way you can really fix this, just cross your fingers and hope things turn out ok. I think you should focus on making your future better so you don't end up like your parents.
     
  16. BraidedPony

    BraidedPony Just Enjoying Survival V.I.P Member

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    Your parents will need to find the time and patience to take care of your little brother.
    It’s not your responsibility and if you help now, then it just puts off your parents taking the responsibility that belongs to them.
    Your parents have the time and patience to meet with an architect, so they can make time for their son and not burden their daughter.
     
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  17. sunfloral

    sunfloral Active Member

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    I think that your suggestion about talking around the subject is something I should try to do more often. With the headphone situation in particular, I had a lot of trouble because he just kept telling me he was on the computer at school.. I really don't know what gave him the idea of wrapping the headphones around his neck.

    I do think that I make him feel like he's in trouble too often. His behaviorists suggested that I give him alternative ways to express his frustration, but I just always have trouble thinking of them in the moment. For instance, my parents will want him to go to the dining table and eat dinner, and he'll respond with the hospital/gun stuff and refuse to go to dinner. The more appropriate response is, "I don't want to go to the dining table/I don't want to eat dinner," but I can't really tell him to do that if he actually does have to eat dinner at that time. I don't really know what other options he has because he just has to eat??
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    We've actually had a pair of behaviorists come to the house for the past 9 (??) years. They've had consultations and meetings 1-2 times a month with my parents -- my mom is the only one remotely willing to try to help my brother but she takes care of the entire house. Most of the time, she doesn't have free time until 8 or 9 pm and she isn't home on the weekend. My parents are also non-English speaking, so I feel like whatever the behaviorists say is always a bunch of jargon and gibberish to them. I feel like it's getting to a point where he needs to try some new form of treatment that works for both him and my parents, but I honestly didn't even consider medication, talk therapy, etc etc. because I didn't know about them until I went on this forum.

    As parents, if your work and home schedule occupies the entirety of your day, how do you navigate being able to implement that routine and structure for your child? I honestly found it hard for myself to be consistent about routine because I would be working on my school stuff and just forgot to check on him. I'd also like to ask if there's any way to remedy the effects of all the years my parents gave in to him -- it has gotten to the point where the only person my brother listens to is me. What my parents tell him to do holds no weight to him and he just ignores it. Now that I'm gone, he's starting to listen to me less when I'm back, too.

    As for the teacher ... they e-mail and contact my parents with the same info. Whenever they contact me, it's because they want me to help explain the situation to my parents. I never know what to do with this information because I'm not sure what we can do at home to address the problems they bring up.
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    You have a point about that. I don't know how to confirm or check whether or not he actually understands why. He does tell me why it is considered wrong/inappropriate but I'm not sure if he just knows to say what it is because it's been repeated to him so many times. For instance, he'll consider jay-walking without checking the traffic, but stop himself and say, "No, it's dangerous!" When he makes those hospital/gun comments, he says, "No, that is a threat!". He also knows precisely what videos he shouldn't be watching (object shredding/some hydraulic press??, dangerous tests with phones, gory cartoons, etc.) so he automatically shuts it off when I walk by. It gets difficult at times because I still have to check what he was hiding from me, and he yells while trying to pull me away from the computer. It really sucks because it's not that I want to be intrusive on his privacy and sometimes I wonder where I need to start drawing the line, but I don't know what else I can do.
     
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  18. sunfloral

    sunfloral Active Member

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    I just wanted to say that I've definitely written a ton of stuff on this thread and I really appreciate the support and advice that everyone has offered. And also the fact that people are reading these long walls of text, lol! It has really helped because I don't know any other parents or people with children/siblings with autism, and because of that, I feel like I'm just guessing all the time what I should do. And I've definitely felt pretty alone, confused, and lost through it all because I don't even know where I'm supposed to start. I tried reading articles, books, websites, etc. growing up, but its a lot of information that I don't understand. It really is a myriad of issues that I have to somehow work through with behaviorists that work with my brother and that's something I'll consider when I go back home but this thread in itself has been a really big help to me.

    I really appreciate you giving me the insight as to how thought as a kid because I definitely think that I have trouble trying to think in my brother's perspective a lot of the time. I do wonder if there's any way I could help him learn to express his thoughts. I don't even know if he has intrusive thoughts, and I don't think talk therapy would work for him because he wouldn't want to sit still or have a long convo. It has been difficult because I can't really get any information from talking to him and sometimes I don't even know if he has been telling the truth. I've noticed that he lies about his experiences to his behaviorists from time to time which is why I've started to double-check with his teachers when he recounts to me what he did wrong at school.
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    I definitely think that's something that I've learned to accept more as I've spent more time away in college. It just seems like every time I get back, I always hear that he has become more defiant and has started developing some other concerning tendencies. I really do think I made a post on this forum as my last-ditch effort to find some way to figure out a system to mitigate this issue and leave my parents with a way to take care of him the way he should be, or at least to keep the escalating at bay.

    I guess it's not that they don't have a presence in his life. They do spend time with him but they don't know how to parent him. As for the architect ... I also met with him with them LOL
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  19. BlueSky Aozora

    BlueSky Aozora Well-Known Member

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    I suspect one of your parents might be on the Autism spectrum too (please forgive me if I'm wrong). If so, then the responsibilities of everything (everything..) fall down on the other one of your parent - s/he might be exhausted his/herself, because of lack of help from the autistic spouse. ..Thus the lack of parenting.

    You are so kind, patient, have good instinct and disciplined - you're trying your best to educate your brother. I think you're on the right track somehow in how to educate him, but worry if you're exhausted. Please rest well yourself too. Take time for yourself too.
     
  20. paloftoon

    paloftoon Well-Known Member

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    This is too extreme for a reward system in terms of appeasement. It is, however, very appropriate to take a privilege away until the behavior changes, such as cutting off cell phone privileges. Go back and forth until he gets at right, while at the same time, seeking outside help immediately. More brute action needs to be taken with someone that cannot control their behavioral impulses. Maybe even call the Dr. Phil show for help.