People often ask, “How is it raising a teenager with autism?” Let me say that I am in the middle of this and I’m learning as I go. So here are a few things that I have learned so far.
Always respond positively to any question.
Last month my son came home and asked, “what do they mean when they ask me, ‘does size matter?’” No matter how much a question makes me want to cringe, I always tell my son, “I’m glad you asked me this.” I told him exactly what the question meant. Afterwards, I asked do you need help dealing w/ this? We then decided this is a stupid question that doesn’t deserve a response, so if they ask him again he will just ignore them.
Make sure you get all the facts before jumping to any conclusions.
One day G came home flustered and told me he needed help with a bully. As soon as I heard that I was livid. I took a deep breath, calmed myself and started to ask him all about his situation. Listen carefully, ask for specific examples: what did she say, what did she do, show me what she did. As he explained how the "bully girl" was treating him I realized this was not a bully situation, but a crush. Now there have been other times, when he has been bullied and we have needed to come up with a plan to deal with it.
Work with your child to come up with solutions to problems that he feels comfortable with.
There are lots of ways to deal with a problem. The way I feel comfortable dealing with a problem is not always the way G feels comfortable. At one point a bully in one of his classes started harassing G w/ sexual statements. G didn’t know how to respond and became embarrassed and flustered, this caused the bullying to escalate. I wanted G to tell the bully, “I don’t appreciate the way you are talking to me. Shut up or I’m going to talk to the teacher.” G felt he couldn’t do that, it was too hard trying to talk when he felt that upset. So he decided to e-mail the classroom teacher, which was easier then talking to the teacher. The teacher moved their seats, and helped G to resolve the situation.
I could write a book on this topic, but these seem to be the best lessons I’ve learned so far.