Recently I took a ten month training in male female relationships.
One of the key learnings was this:
“The opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference.”
This is going to be a two, or three or four part series.
It’s going to dance this new dance I’m excited to be exploring: to improve the lives of our autistic children, we are privileged and challenged to upgrade the way we DO all of our relationships.
Let’s start with an early breakthrough.
I once had this girlfriend who would yell.
Mistakes I made:
Telling her to stop.
Telling her she was bad for yelling.
Here’s a breakthrough I made:
You can go ahead and yell,
but it hurts my ears.
I want to stand about twenty feet away and listen to you.
I listen where it doesn’t hurt my ears.
Anger is a strong wish to communicate.
It’s primitive: the communication is
I’m not getting my way and I want to hit/ bite/ kill you.
But it is a communication.
Later: if the yelling or the anger or the tantrum “works”,
then the yelling becomes part communication
and part behavior modification strategy.
On their part,
the tantrum one,
the roar around the house angry one.
If they have you trained to
Do what they want
Make a big fuss ( thereby giving them attention)
then the anger can be a grooved in strategy:
I growl and
You give me attention
I growl and
You let me have my way
or even, (gad, human beings)
I growl and
You feel badly about yourself
( are punished)
What to do with the child, autistic or not,
who is having a tantrum
Listen a bit
Take a guess:
You seem to be angry because you didn’t
get your way about….
Or, if no guess…
I don’t have a clue about what’s bothering
it’s clear something is
Finish up your yelling and then come tell me
Communicate that you hear they want to say something
you’ll wait them out
in another part of the room
until they are ready to talk to, or act with you,
in a way that works as
more congenial communication
(Later, when they are teenagers,
or even earlier,
they might say:
“I hate you.”
“Good. You are angry. I hate you sometimes, for a few seconds, and I always love you.
What is the anger about?
I love you when you are angry. And if you tell me about it I’ll listen.
If you yell, I’ll get far away and listen.
And then when you are tired of that , come talk to me,
or come on around for a hug.” )
This is just a start.
But it’s a good start.
They love you.
They want love.
Tantrum, anger, roaring around will die
out if you pull out the
the giving worried attention plug
the fighting back against their anger plug
and the giving in to them plug
read a book, draw a picture, be chill
( I’d advise against getting on the phone or the computer,
but talking to another real person in front of them is great as a counter example of real non-yelling communication)
You aren’t perfect.