Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Extremely Controlling Parents and Autism

Reading posts of the parents of autistics is sometimes scary. Look at some quotes from just one post:
I’m caught between looking out for her safety, and trying to loosen the leash a little.
Because she isn't really a child, you know. She's a puppy. This is about a little friend her daughter tried to make:
 This little girl, let’s call her Angie, is about a year older than Julia, and gives me a bad vibe.  I know it seems ridiculous to get a bad vibe from a 7-year-old girl, especially when her mom is like the sweetest woman on the planet, as are her older siblings, but  I can’t help it.  First it has to do with the things I see her do when Julia’s not looking.  She makes faces and rolls her eyes at Julia, and such.  Then it’s the way she often checks to see if I’m watching.  She makes me uncomfortable.
And more about the poor child's attempt to form a friendship. Note that this is an autistic child who might not find forming  friendships to be all that easy in the first place. Just observe the attempts at programming the girl: nobody is your friend, you are mistaken if you think they are. Also pay attention to how the mother has already figured out what the child's emotional reaction should be. The girl isn't even entitled to her own emotions.
 She has absolutely no idea that this girl isn’t her friend.  None.  And the really heartbreaking part is that if she were to discover that fact, it would devastate her.  
 And the culmination of this ode to pervasive control:
 It’s not enough for me to just tell her to trust her instincts, and to not let people fool her into breaking the rules, or doing something dangerous.  She needed me to tell her she can’t walk on the handrails.  Well who the hell would’ve thought she’d do that?  I have no way of anticipating what the next little manipulator will try to get her to do.  So, right this second I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to keep my girl safe, and still let her explore her world a bit.  
Is anybody wondering what it is that the little girl is escaping from through her autism? I know I'm not.

P.S. Please don't try posting anti-autistic crap. I will not let it through anyways.


FD said...

Er, being dared to / spontaneously trying to walk on hand rails is the kind of thing the neurotypically normal kids that I know do. I mean, they're kids, they do dumb stuff.

Reading the original post, it's not even like the kid was dared to do something the darer wouldn't - the other kid was climbing the handrails too.

Same with the eyerolling and face pulling - sounds like normal kid behavior to me. *sigh*
I know children on the autism spectrum face and present special challenges, but honestly, sometimes a kid is just a kid. They need to be more than their disorder and parents and caregivers need to remember that. (Disorder for want of a better word because I honestly believe it's inaccurate for many aspies. Any preferences Clarissa?)

Patrick said...

"...what it is that the little girl is escaping from through her autism?"

Am I interpreting this correctly? When did autism become a choice?

Clarissa said...

It's not a choice. It's a neurological condition that can either be exacerbated to the point where a person is barely functional or negotiated and corrected to the point where many of the "symptoms" become a lot less noticeable.

Clarissa said...

FD: I call it a way of being. :-) I agree with everything you say in the comment.

dragoncrazy66 said...

Did anyone else notice that the other girl walked on the handrails first? Clearly, her mother hadn't talked to her either.

As such, I agree with FD.

Clarissa said...

Why are we all suddenly in agreement? is there anything in the air? :-)

Pen said...

Oops. I accidentally posted my first comment without realizing that my friend was logged in instead of me.

I think we're all in agreement because it's just unreasonable to be suspicious of everyone. The mother just comes off as paranoid. After reading the post, I suddenly recalled my psychology teacher's words on "nosophobia," a condition common among medical students, who read about something and automatically look for it in other people.

KWombles said...

"In one of the books there was a story illustrating how trusting, naive, and gullible we can be. It was a warning to parents to know who your children’s friends are." Did you miss the WE?

The mother you castigated has Asperger's. The blog title makes clear that all of the family members are on the spectrum. The concern for her daughter, that her daughter be able to make friends and not be taken advantage of, are ones all parents can relate to.

As parents we live daily with the fear that we might not have clearly indicated all the possible variables that our children will face, to arm them with the tools to make the right decisions when they face that situation, so that they will successfully navigate the wider world.

For those parents who have walked through similar experiences as children, it adds an intensity the experience of trying to equip our children at the same time we protect them.

I read a post written by a loving mother surprised by a completely unexpected situation that could have ended much worse, with a child who could have been badly injured while the mother sat chatting, completely unaware.

Clarissa said...

Asperger has absolutely nothing to do with this. There are tons of controlling parents among NTs who also police their child's every breath. I'm kind of insulted that you would make the desire for control over others into an autistic trait. It's not.

It's sad that you - and the post's author - confuse love and control.

KWombles said...

I'm pretty sure neither the author of the post nor I made that confusion; it was not a post about control nor was I making her Asperger's an excuse; there was no need to excuse since you read something into that post that was not there.

You appear to have read a completely different post.

Clarissa said...

Please read this thread. Several people have read this post and find the mother to be very controlling. She might not understand that she is extremely controlling and stifling - many such people do not, but she is.

Poor poor child.

Clarissa said...

If you didn't attribute this controlling behavior to Asperger's, why did you start the comment with "thee mother you castigated has Asperger's. The blog title makes clear that all of the family members are on the spectrum."? Why mention the mother's Asperger's in this context?

KWombles said...

I didn't consider it controlling behavior nor that the author's Asperger's contributed to controlling.

This wasn't about controlling what the child felt, nor controlling behavior, but about empathizing keenly with the daughter because of a familiarity with what it is like to be overly literal and susceptible to being manipulated in a desire to befriend others. It was about being scared of all the other things that could occur that we'd never expect could put our child at risk of harm.

The author wasn't trying to control her daughter's emotions but to protect the child from the emotional distress of being hurt by another child.

I've read the thread here. I've also read every single post on the blog you quoted out of context. It isn't about control; it's about finding a balance between helping children achieve success in the wider world while preventing the child from being unduly hurt.

Some hard knocks are necessary, some skinned knees, too. But protecting our children, all children, from unnecessary harm is the responsibility of parents.

If you have an overly literal child who needs to have all the angles covered, then to not think of those things that pop up unexpectedly and help our children prepare how to handle and extrapolate into other areas is irresponsible, don't you think?

Who would think to cover that particular thing? We can't see all the possible ways a child can be injured, and when we have a close call and it comes while interacting with a peer, the emotion behind the post is reasonable.

I maintain, based on my experience with this blogger, that you misread her post. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion.

Clarissa said...

The only person who is manipulating the child is her controlling mother. She is manipulating her right into a life-long loneliness, an incapacity to connect with others, and an intense fear of reality.

Let's not create any extra drama. There was no "harm". A child tried to make a little friend. Nothing bad happened. Children played. The overprotective Mommy decided - for no reason whatsoever other than her whim - that the little friend was "bad" and her daughter needs to prevented from having her as a friend. So she manipulated the child into feeling bad for having a friend. Like an Aspie child needs any more of that in her life.

In case you aren't aware, dictating who a person's friends are is controlling.

What a horrible, selfish, irresponsible parent!

Autism Mum said...

I only just started blogging today and I was looking around blog land for some other blogs about autism and I have to say that I was dumbfounded when I stumbled upon this.

I see that you are obviously very smart, well educated and fiesty, but let me ask you something.....do you actually have any friends?

Because from what I just read...you are outright nasty!

I'm not so sure I want to blog anymore if this is what other bloggers do to people just trying to describe their lives, pain and emotions,

You are very harsh.


Clarissa said...

"I'm not so sure I want to blog anymore"

-I'm sure this will be a huge loss for humanity.

A little hint: only an idiot asks autistic people if they have friends. Get yourself a brain, lady.

Autism Mum said...

So basically, anyone that doesn't agree with you or worship your opinions is attacked ?
Very mature.
Only those without a solid argument resort to name calling and character assassinations.
Just sayin'

The brainless idiot.

V said...

Autism Mum,

First, Clarissa does have friends. I know. :)

Second, please do not mistake Clarissa saying something in her own blog for her going to the blog in question an bashing the author there.

Finally, about the subject matter. So the mother saw her daughter's friend making faces behind her daughter's back and climbing on the railing. What is awful or abnormal about that? Kids do that all the time. My teenage daughter is doing that behind my back sometimes. :) Kids do things which are much worse. Haven't you ever done anything like that when you were a kid? Then kids grow up... And what does it have to do with autism? The only thing it has to do with autism is that autism provides an excuse for the parents to "protect" their kids from absolutely normal experiences.
Do not get me wrong, as any normal parent I also get an impulse to protect my daughter. But it is a grown up's job to evaluate the situation and stop oneself from overreacting.

Clarissa said...

Thank you, V.

It's especially disturbing to see how autism is now used as an excuse to control a child. Of course, if the girl wasn't autistic, there would be something else to justify the mother's policing of her every move.