You should teach him some manners
Nicole Fornabaio/Rd.com, enterlinedesign/shutterstock
It can be incredible difficult to “teach” a child on the spectrum manners, such as saying “please,” “thank you,” or even keeping his elbows off the dinner table. As Jones explains in his book, Look Into My Eyes, “Social skills are something that most people learn unconsciously as they grow up, through copying parents and older siblings.” Children on the spectrum don’t typically have the same ability to mimic social skills as others do. Rather, they have “very limited awareness that there are different ways to treat people, or that different behavior has different meaning.” Although consistent therapies can help some children on the spectrum develop manners, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Here’s what to say instead: What should I do to help him develop manners? What are you doing at home that works?
He won’t be so picky if you make him eat what you eat
Nicole Fornabaio/Rd.com, enterlinedesign/shutterstock Autism and picky eating usually go hand-in-hand, but it’s caused by much more than a parent simply not making a child eat certain foods. A clinical study focused on sensory processing and eating problems in children on the spectrum estimates that about 80 percent of children with developmental difficulties, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), struggle with selective eating. Developmental delays can impact the ways in which children on the spectrum view, and enjoy, food. For some, extremely limited interests can make every single meal a battle. Sensory processing difficulties can make a child on the spectrum feel as though a well-balanced meal is a punishment, rather than a pleasurable, nutritious experience.
Here’s what to say instead: What foods are her favorite? Maybe I can give you some new ideas of ways to prepare them that she might like.
Autism is an excuse for bad behaviors
Nicole Fornabaio/Rd.com, enterlinedesign/shutterstock Autism is a clinically diagnosed disorder. Many parents of children on the spectrum may explain certain negative behaviors, like aggression or meltdowns, as autistic behaviors, because they absolutely are. It doesn’t mean that they are trying to downplay their severity, though. It’s easy for parents to feel helpless when it comes to challenging behaviors in children on the spectrum. Dr. Hagerty explains that seemingly simple, every day tasks for other children can be extremely challenging for those on the spectrum. “Parents should choose their battles. Avoiding the word ‘bad’ and sticking to the word ‘fair,’ instead, will save a lot of energy for both the child and the family.”
Here’s what to say instead: I’ve heard that autism can present a lot of challenging behaviors. If you ever want to vent, I’m here.