Hi everyone and thanks for visiting our blog. My wife and I created this blog to chronicle our experience while raising a son with Asperger's syndrome. Since our son was diagnosed with an ASD at age 5, we've had a lot of questions. Lucky for us we have a great support network in place. And our blog gives us an opportunity to share what we've learned with our readers. We hope you find our blog informative and interesting. Thanks again for visiting.
"It seems that for success in science and art, a dash of autism is essential." Dr Hans Asperger 1906-1980
Wednesday, 29 February 2012
MAKING PROMISES TO A CHILD WITH ASPERGER'S
Jacob's been having a pretty good week at school. He's almost gotten all his stickers and in the past, his good behaviour has been rewarded with trips to Taco Bell for fries and Tim Horton's for chocolate chip muffins. But then it got me thinking about the act of making Jacob a promise. Making promises to children with Asperger's can be very tricky. Because let me say, that Jacob doesn't forget anything. So when we make promises to Jacob, we have to be ready to follow through no matter what. Even if I came down with the flu, Jacob would still expect me to keep my promise. I wouldn't even be able to name a substitute to go in my place.
Now I can take Jacob out on Monday or Tuesday, or even Wednesday or Thursday. But Fridays I have to take Jacob downtown regardless of how many times we'd went in the days prior. Friday is reward day and I have to continue with our system. I shudder to think what could happen if Jacob wasn't rewarded on a Friday. He'd probably feel betrayed by us for letting him down. Then he'd revolt at school because if we can't hold up our end of the deal, then why should he? When it comes to going out on Friday, Jacob doesn't care if it's:
1) Freezing cold. "Just put a hat on Dad, you'll be warm."
2) Pouring rain. "You can use your umbrella to keep us dry."
3) Late and I'm exhausted. "Come on Dad, your not tired."
The truth is if we promise something, we'd better come through. Or be prepared to face Jacob's wrath. In our experience, breaking a promise is not a good idea. In fact, we try not to make promises at all. Then at lunch time as I was taking Jacob back to school a conversation occurred between us.
Me: "Yes son?"
Jacob: "Since I've been good and I don't have homework, can we go downtown after school?"
Me: "Yes, if you have a good afternoon, do all your school work and get no homework."
Jacob: "Do you promise?"
And there it is. The old "Do I promise?" question. You have to be quick on your toes sometimes so I responded with "Yes I promise, but only if it's not too rainy or cold." Now if I hadn't added those stipulations and just answered "Yes, I promise." Then I'd have to come through. Jacob doesn't care if it's raining, windy, wet or cold. All he'll think about is my promise, so I'd better not break it. So after I made the promise with stipulations, Jacob quickly began counter measures to ensure we'd actually go. It was blowing rain right in our faces, my glasses were useless and we were both soaked when we got back to school. It was then that Jacob looked at me and said "Look Dad, it's not raining." If only you'd seen his face. Even he wasn't really buying what he was saying, but he still put his best game face on.
Why don't we make promises? Because breaking promises can be dangerous. I'd rather walk to the mall in this weather than break a promise and have to deal with Jacob stomping around being angry with anyone in view. So we just don't make promises, which can be difficult, especially when Jacob's sick. That's when he really suckers us into things we wouldn't regularly agree to. It's like he can sense our weakness or something. So the best advice I can give to parents is NEVER make a promise because anything can happen and you may not be able to follow through with it. And if your child is like ours, breaking a promise can come at a big price, and you'll likely only end up promising something bigger in return. And if you need further reminder, just picture the worst weather you could imagine. Then picture me walking in it.