Dec 21

Forcing Affection

Posted: under communication, socialization.
Tags: , ,  December 21st, 2011

Here’s  a great article on kids, relatives, and holidays, focussing on the issue of forcing “respect” and “affection.”    Although I think teaching kids about boundaries and their right to say “No” to unwanted touch is important for all, it’s particularly important–and difficult–to think carefully and clearly about these issues with kids who have developmental differences.

Many people expect children to be available to be touched, hugged, kissed, and cuddled at will.   Strangers will pat a child on the head or shoulder and expect the child to accept the touch without complaint–even to smile at the stranger.   Relatives definitely expect a greeting and some sign of affection, and expect to be able to show their affection by touch.    That was certainly true in my husband’s family–my mother-in-law simply refused to believe that our son did not like her tickling his toes or hugging or kissing him.

As the article I linked to suggests, it’s important to have conversations about expectations from visiting family before they arrive.  Long before and repeatedly, if possible.     The more resistant they are to the boundaries parents set–and the boundaries the child might set–the more you might consider whether the visit is really a good idea.    Yes, families are important–but they can be important bad influences as well as good ones.    If they’re intent on doing things the parents know are hard to impossible for their child to handle…then they’re no better than any other person, stranger or not, who won’t respect boundaries.

Respect is a two-way street.    Kids  learn real respect from adults who show real respect to them–they learn respect as an interpersonal skill by example.    And that includes asking before touching, accepting that a child is not a toy to be played with as an adult pleases.    What they learn from adults who grab them, muss their hair, insist on hugging or kissing when the child doesn’t want to is not respect or affection but that even in the family they aren’t safe.

Advocating for a child is just as important within the family as outside.  Early on, I didn’t do enough of it–in part because my own background had not provided me with a good understanding of boundaries and my right to set them.

Comments (0)

Feb 28

More Progress

Posted: under communication, education, life on the spectrum, socialization.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,  February 28th, 2010

At the end of the first exam period–six full weeks of classes–our son took his first “big” exam, in the pre-algebra class.   Since he had work hours this week on several of the days exams were given,  he had to take the exam on a Saturday (not a usual class day.)     He said he felt prepared enough for it…and though students had an hour and forty minutes for it, he finished in 35 minutes with a score of 89.   If that had been the only triumph of the week, we’d all be delighted…but it wasn’t.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (10)

Jan 20

Homeschooling pros and cons

Posted: under interventions, opinion, parenting.
Tags: , , ,  January 20th, 2009

Thirty years ago,  children with disabilities were not guaranteed education in public schools.    My state had residential schools in the state capital for deaf children and for blind children, but nothing for children who had other disabilities.     I remember the mother of a childhood friend fighting with the school board so her daughter–with severe hearing impairment–could attend regular classes.   (Her daughter is now a professor of chemistry.)    If they weren’t institutionalized,  disabled children were home-schooled, usually by tutors, like Helen Keller.

But now that federal law requires schools to educate all children, why would a parent choose homeschooling?  And why are the advantages–and challenges–of doing so?    Here are some things to think about, from someone who did it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (7)

Dec 21

Behavior Analysis

Posted: under communication, socialization.
Tags: , , ,  December 21st, 2008

Years ago I took a graduate school class in Animal Behavior.   The study of animal behavior had made great leaps forward in the decade before, after pioneer students of animal behavior learned how to analyze animal behavior in detail.   The study of human behavior lagged badly…it’s now catching up, but still bedeviled by the very assumptions we were taught to avoid when studying animal behavior.

All behavior, we were taught, is meaningful–it means something, it communicates something about the subject.  Probably not what you first think of, either.   For instance, most of us interpret behavior in terms of a critter’s conscious intent:  we think of a cow or a horse or a small child as “stubborn” when they don’t do what we want.  We may think they’re “trying to make me mad.”   In autistic terms, we fail to demonstrate a theory of mind–the understanding that reality, to the other person or animal, is not necessarily our reality.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (9)