Are they “Naughty” for Attention?

Peter (11yo with Asperger’s) said today “Mum, do you think that people with autism make other people mad on purpose?”

He went on to say that when you make someone angry, then the world becomes predictable for a few minutes.  When he feels he is about to be in crisis and nothing makes sense and everything keeps changing …… then making someone angry stops all of that. Then everything feels safe because it is predictable

 It doesn’t matter what the consequences are because when you are in crisis your sole purpose is to feel safe and this over rules all other factors at that moment in time.

He said “I think I do it when I call Lily (his little sister) Little Pig”.

Little Pig It is a sort of love / hate thing.  She loves it and it is meant affectionately but she pretends to hate is and flies into “Piggy Rage”.  He says it helps because he knows how she will react and that he does it on purpose.  He triggers Piggy Rage when he feels his anxiety rising.

I know of others whose children spend hours and hours in a state of absolute and complete exhausting rage.  It is confusing and highly stressful.  Understanding the underlying reason, the purpose, what the child gains (to help us to understand the unmet need) has proved to be impossible no matter how hard we try to work it all out. 

I think peter may have stumbled across a little golden nugget.  The interesting thing is, that he doesn’t act out in this way at home, and only has a school for one period of 4 weeks.  He has however watched others in the sort on curious non-judgemental way we could only dream that professionals would do.  This quality in combination with his “insider view” of the autistic world means his reflections can be incredibly insightful.

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2 thoughts on “Are they “Naughty” for Attention?

  1. A very interesting perspective. I sometimes wonder about this myself, as at times it seems as though an entire interaction with my son in imminent meltdown is almost scripted, and I know I’m not helping but I can’t put my hand on an alternative strategy as I am myself too tired/stressed/in pain to think straight (I have fibromyalgia and am usually exhausted at the end of the day). After the inevitable row, we all start to calm down, and it can feel as though this was a necessary?? stage in the process. I hate it and wish it wasn’t, and wish I was stronger and calmer and always able to keep my reactions in check. But I also know I’m only human, and don’t beat myself up about it too much; instead I try to minimise my own exhaustion by making sure I don’t do too much, making ‘me’ time and finding strategies like anti-anxiety medication. I’m sure some people would see this as lazy, selfish and incompetent! I try to be honest and empathetic with my son, and explain that I am similar to him in many ways (though I’m not autistic) so that, like him, sometimes I can’t help myself and do the wrong thing, but that I am sorry and always love him. It’s not ideal, but it seems to help; and sometimes, when I ask him to try really hard because I’m not coping, bless him he can and does! (Not asking him to try not to have a meltdown, btw, I want to make that clear, that would be totally unreasonable – I mean asking things like could he be a little quieter or help me by fetching something from upstairs.)


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