Some people are clearly not trying hard enough; I just know that there are autistic children across the world who are simply way too happy.
Yes, there are some who are struggling with all sorts of issues, some related to autism and some not, who are not so happy. But this post is about how to *make* an autistic child stressed and miserable; to be the cause of that misery, you have to start with a happy autistic child!
Let me reassure you, if you’re thinking that you’re not up to the job & it’s all going to be complicated and require huge effort; it’s not. It’s actually so easy that you’re probably doing a lot of it already & just need to hone your skills a little.
So, here goes. You can apply many of these techniques singly or in combination.
1. Interrupt their concentration. Wait until they’re concentrating on something, give them a few minutes to get deeply into it, and then interrupt them. If they’re reading, try talking to them or near them, or asking them what they are reading about. If they are watching TV, simply talk over the dialogue (but not often enough that they give up trying to concentrate & stomp off somewhere else).
ADVANCED LEVEL TIP: make this really effective by repeating the technique every few minutes. Increase the frequency to find that sweet spot where you interrupt them just a few seconds after their concentration has returned.
2. Drag them away from an endeavour. Wait until they are creating something (building a Lego model, sorting a collection of something into order, sketching out plans for something, writing something etc) and find an excuse to stop them doing it. Visiting relatives for example. Get them out of the house and into a different environment. No, they can’t bring it with them.
ADVANCED LEVEL TIP: for great effect, wait until they are almost finished and starting to think about tidying up and testing / playing with / admiring the result. Tell them they can finish off when they get back. Alternatively (or in addition) do this on a Sunday evening and make sure you get home just after their normal bed time, so that they won’t be able to return to what they were doing until after school on Monday. Genius!
3. Make them switch mental tasks. Again, wait until they are concentrating on something (you usually won’t have to wait long) and ask them about something totally unrelated, like have they remembered to get Gran a birthday card? Remember to chastise them when Gran’s birthday comes round and they have forgotten that you asked them.
ADVANCED LEVEL TIP: Build on this one by criticising their poor memory, or asking how come they can remember the full names and rank of all of the characters in Star Trek but forget Gran’s birthday. Ask them if this means that they don’t care about Gran. Even more genius: ask them how they think Gran feels now! (Works especially well with children who have some cognitive empathy, as they will try to answer the question).
4. Minimise their dislikes. When they tell you about something that they don’t like doing (touching chalk, feeling cold, bright light or whatever) simply say “Don’t be silly!”. This works on so many levels! Not only does it discourage the child from sharing their world with you, it plants the seed that they *are* silly. Out of this little seed you can grow a whole TREE of misery in their psyche, branching into poor self esteem, self doubt, feelings of being different and odd, etc, etc.
ADVANCED LEVEL TIP: encourage this one along by telling them that their classmates would laugh if they knew what they had done or said. Ask them if they would like that?
5. Make fun of their tics. Says it all really, just use your genius to refer to their verbal or physical tics humorously. Perhaps imitate them or build them into a greeting like “Hey, Sniffy/Grunty!”
6. Take them shopping for an entire day. Go to a really busy shopping mall in another town and spend the day there. Preferably, find one that doesn’t have a single shop that they might be interested in – so, nothing even remotely related to their hobbies. When they complain that they are bored, tired, overwhelmed by noise & colour & smells etc, tell them that they should be grateful(*) that they have loving parents who can afford to take them places.
(*) this clever little “injunction” will add some lovely growth to their inner tree of misery that will last a lifetime. They will chastise themselves often when they find that they don’t like something that most people seem to like! It really is a gift that keeps on giving!
NOTE: If you’ve done number 4 above correctly, they probably won’t explain anything to you about how they are experiencing things & the first you will know about it is when they have a shutdown or meltdown or swear at auntie Flo when she suggests “popping” in to her’s for tea on the way home.
That’s it for now – more handy tips when I think of them. Happy parenting!