He's starting to internalize his behavior, and now said to me this morning that he's a bad boy even though no one tells him that, not us, or his teacher. I worry about his self-esteem as he grows older. We praise him when he's good, but he gets a ton of negative feedback: “Don't do this… don't do that, etc… you need to go to your room for hitting your sister"… I constantly feel like I have to micromanage him. But he knows he's in time-out or in his room a lot, and I do that so he can calm down or to protect his siblings. Any advice would be helpful.”
Unfortunately, for some teens on the autism spectrum, aggression may become quite common when reaching adolescence, and this may be clearly influenced by the parenting styles of the teen's mother and father. In fact, one of the key factors in determining an AS or HFA youngster's tendency to develop aggression later in life may involve the presence of a maternally sensitive woman who can also balance the discipline and aggression in life.
In many of today's American families, it is not uncommon to find that both the mother and father are relatively absent from the youngster's life (e.g., due to work-related issues). Because a youngster's mental health is often greatly influenced by (a) the presence of maternal nurturing and (b) the balance of a father's discipline, when either of these are absent in the life of an AS or HFA youngster, confusion abounds and aggression usually develops. If you are the parent of a teenager on the autism spectrum, it is important to provide this balance to your child-rearing efforts.
If you are a single mother, and your child's father is not present, you can expect your youngster's aggression will undoubtedly be present as you provide the maternal sensitivity your youngster needs while also attempting to be the disciplinarian. Because Asperger's kids have trouble differentiating social cues, and are confused by discipline when expressed by their mother, the authoritarian type of parenting is often met with aggression. For this reason, having a male role model (e.g., uncle, grandfather) who can provide that discipline while you provide the maternal sensitivity will go a long way in your youngster's long-term development.
Conversely, if you are a father who is raising an AS or HFA child alone, you will want to be sure that you find ways to be sensitive and nurturing to your youngster's needs. Because fathers are more likely to be the authoritarian, a woman's sensitivity will be important in your youngster's mental health. Often, this role can be filled by a woman who is an aunt or grandmother, and does not necessarily mean that a step-mother has to be in the picture.
Asperger’s is a developmental disorder that affects many kids by resulting in abnormal social development. For parents, offsetting the risk for development of aggression is most likely achieved by first identifying your parenting style - as either disciplinarian or nurturing - and then finding someone who can fulfill the role as the opposite parenting style. Trying to manage both the motherly role and the fatherly role often leads to confusion in the Asperger’s youngster, which may exacerbate Asperger’s-related complications in adolescence. Of course, it is not always possible to find a co-parent, but the ideal scenario would involve such an individual.