HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

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Aspergers Children Who Abuse Their Siblings

Question

How can I help my youngest child age 4 cope with my 12 year old Asperger child’s sneaky aggressive behavior toward him? My four year old loves his older brother but is constantly being manipulated and abused. He does this very sneaky and tries not to get caught.

A typical example: My Asperger child will appear to cuddle with my child on the couch while he's secretly smashing the air out of him until the 4 year old screams. It's hard to watch my loving four year getting hurt every time I turn my back.

Answer

Research reveals that 53 out of every 100 kids abuse a sibling (higher than the percentage of grown-ups who abuse their kids or their spouse). What some children do to their sibling inside the family would be called assault outside the family.

Here are some important facts related to sibling aggression. Researcher suggests that:
  1. A younger sibling who is very aggressive increases an older sibling's level of aggression.
  2. An older sibling who is very aggressive increases a younger sibling's chances of being aggressive too.
  3. If mothers/fathers show hostility in their family interactions, their kid’s level of aggression increases.
  4. Parental hostility related to economic pressures has an impact on kid’s aggression.
  5. Just having a sibling influences a youngster's level of aggression.
  6. Aggression runs in families.
  7. Although parental hostility is a risk factor for childhood aggression, marital conflict between mothers/fathers is not.
  8. Other family risk factors that increase the likelihood of childhood aggression are economic pressures, single parenting, violence in the home, and maternal depression.
  9. Boys are more physically aggressive in sibling relationships than girls, but girls can be just as aggressive in non-verbal ways.
  10. Sister-to-sister relationships have less fighting than brother-to-brother or brother-to-sister combinations.
  11. Having a nurturing older sister protects younger kids from becoming aggressive and even protects them from developing substance abuse issues, but having an overly aggressive older brother has the opposite effect.
  12. Kids tend to show more aggression toward siblings at younger ages, and then outgrow it.
  13. Kids learn how to be aggressive by watching their older brothers/sisters.

As moms and dads, we may be tempted to ignore fighting and quarrelling between kids. We may view these activities as a normal part of growing up. We say, "Boys will be boys" or "They'll grow out of it." However, thousands of adult survivors of sibling abuse tell of the far-reaching negative effects that such unchecked behavior has had on them as kids and grown-ups.

Sibling abuse, as all forms of human abuse, may be sexual, physical, or emotional:
  • Sexual abuse includes unwanted touching, indecent exposure, intercourse, rape or sodomy between brother/sister.
  • Physical abuse ranges from hitting, biting, and slapping to more life-threatening acts such as choking or shooting with a BB gun.
  • Emotional abuse is present in all forms of sibling abuse. It may include teasing, name calling, belittling, ridiculing, intimidating, annoying, and provoking.

Kids often abuse a sibling, usually younger than themselves, to gain power and control. One explanation for this is that the abusive youngster feels powerless, neglected and insecure. He/she may feel strong only in relation to a brother/sister being powerless. The feeling of power kids experience when they mistreat a brother/sister often reinforces their decision to repeat the abuse.

How can you identify normal “sibling rivalry” versus “sibling abuse”? Here are some useful guidelines:
  • How does the abused sibling respond? Victims often respond to abuse from a sibling by protecting themselves, screaming and crying, separating themselves from the abuser, abusing a younger sibling in turn, telling their moms and dads, internalizing the abusive message, fighting back, or submitting.
  • How often does it happen and how long does it go on? Acceptable behavior that is long and drawn out may become abusive over time.
  • Identify the behavior. Isolate it from the emotions associated with it and evaluate it.
  • Is the behavior age-appropriate? Remember that generally you should confront fighting and jealousy even if you tend to think it is "normal."
  • Is there a victim in the situation? A victim may not want to participate, but may be unable to stop the activity.
  • What is the purpose of the behavior? If it tears down another person, it is abusive.

If you suspect abuse, it's important to act quickly to stop it. An effective parental response involves the following steps:
  • As a parent, you play a critical role in teaching kids how to mediate disputes without aggression. By setting rules and expectations for how your kids interact with each other, they are more likely to find ways to resolve their differences without aggression throughout their lives.
  • Be a good role-model of positive and esteem-building behavior.
  • Bring all kids involved into a problem-solving process.
  • Figure out alternative solutions to the problem.
  • Get enough fact and feeling information to assess the problem accurately.
  • Help kids to arrive at a child-set goal (goals set by moms and dads often become rules that kids will not follow).
  • How you handle aggression between siblings is critical. A common complaint among kids is, "He started it!" If you continually punish one youngster, and do not properly address issues with another youngster who could be instigating aggressive situations, you will likely breed resentment between siblings that could result in even more aggression. Assuming the older youngster is the aggressor could mean that you are missing a younger child's aggressive impulses and letting them go unchecked.
  • Minimize the violence your children see on T.V. and in the movies.
  • Reward sensitive, positive behavior among siblings.
  • Specify appropriate ways of acting and consequences should abusive behavior occur in the future.
  • State and restate the problem to make sure you understand it clearly.
  • The most important role you play with your youngster is that of a model for behavior. Your kids are more likely to do as you do, not as you say. If they see that you handle stressful situations by becoming aggressive or belligerent, they will learn this behavior. It is important to be aware of the behaviors you are teaching your youngster. Do you drive aggressively while screaming angry insults at other drivers? Are you rude or aggressively demanding toward others, such as restaurant or other service workers? Your kids learn through these interactions.
  • Work together to set up a contract which states the rights and responsibilities of each youngster.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

14 comments:

Maggie said...

As always you provide awesome advice and encouragement to parent's of children with Aspergers! Thanks and God Bless!

rick said...

This article was one that we was very much needed. Your topics help with VERY functional advice. Thank you for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

I will be reading any suggestions... I have a little similar issue with my son being aggressive towards his cousin. He's so nasty to her & she just loves him.

Anonymous said...

my son does the same thing to my 2 yr old daughter, I will also be reading up on this.

Anonymous said...

My oldest non aspie child does this to her younger aspie brother. Its been going on since I can remember.

Anonymous said...

I have a 13 aspie and 6 neurotypical and we battle the same stuff. It's tough because it's hard to know where to draw the line between normal sibling fighting and abuse. :(

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, the sneaky behavior...

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I really was starting to think we were alone in this. The therapist actually told me to ignore the abuse since it was normal boy behavior! (We don't see the therapist anymore! )

Anonymous said...

My son does this at time not only to his younger brothers but even uses his aspergers to manipulate his teachers! Its a hard & blurry line, Whats 8 year old kid? Vs. Whats Asperger's? Grrrr! Happy to know as well, we are not the only ones who struggle with this!

aspiemom said...

My 12 year old Asperger's son is very aggressive towards his neurotypical (like that PC term!) brother. So much so that I wonder if he is capable of drawing the line. So far, he hasn't seriously hurt him, but has gotten close. At what point do you have to do something more serious as a consequence? We have done all of the suggestions. It only seems to be a temporary solution. A professional only tells you to do the same thing you have already mentioned, and gives you a list of activities to support the same things already listed.

zed mcgovern said...

This was no help at all useless

Rachel McCann said...

Please help, I just caught my 12 year old daughter choking my son who is 4. This is not the first time I've caught her being violent with him, I've done everything I can and at this point I don't know what else to do.

Quty said...

Squeeze his neck just enough to let him experience how uncool it is...

Unknown said...

I was psychologically abused for years by an autistic sibling 9 years older than me. He would regularly whisper nasty things to me so that no one else would hear, try to tickle me inappropriately etc but always when no one else was nearby to witness it. When I would complain/yell for help, our autistic father would charge into the room and I would get in trouble for making a noise (Dad was highly noise sensitive, and I only found out he was autistic in the last year - he is dead already). Mum would say that my brother didn't mean it, and so he got away with it for years.

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Click here to read the full article…

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Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

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Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes. The hardest part is you feel like you’ll never actually get to know your child and how he/she views the world.

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