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Aspergers Children and Bad Language

Bad language (i.e., cursing, name-calling, rude statements like “I hate you,” etc.) and the Aspergers condition often go hand in hand.

Bad language displayed by a youngster with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can follow him into adulthood if he isn’t shown the proper way to respond to situations.

Here are some very simple – yet very effective – tips to prevent bad language in Aspergers and HFA children:

1. Keep control yourself. If you, the parent, over-react to something, then your youngster is going to see justification in the way he behaves. Therefore, you too must limit your use of curse words, as well as “near-curse words” (e.g., freakin, crap, bull, etc.).

2. Positive reinforcement focuses on rewarding your Aspergers youngster for good behavior. In this way, the parent does not have to wait for bad behavior to take place before the youngster is recognized. With positive reinforcement, you may reward the youngster for going an entire day without using a curse word. Negative reinforcement can be used in conjunction with positive reinforcement, or they can each be used alone.

3. Establish a “Cursing Jar”. If your child curses, he has to put a quarter into the jar. If money isn’t readily available, a note with your child’s name on it can go into the jar, and every note might equal 10 minutes of an extra task or chore. NOTE: Doing his regular chores shouldn’t be a consequence; you should give your child extra things to do. If you make your child do the dishes because he cursed, and then you ask him to do them again on Thursday night as a regular chore, he’s going to ask, “Why? I didn’t do anything wrong.” He’ll feel like he’s being punished, when all you want is for him to do his normal chores around the house. So it’s an extra chore you want to add on. Also, the sooner you issue the consequence after the cursing – the better!

4. Negative reinforcement can be useful for controlling bad language. An Aspie usually has obsessions. Thus, if you take away time from his obsessive activity, it can reinforce that when he uses bad language, he loses the privileges to do his favorite things. Have a visual schedule for your youngster. Then, when he says a bad word, demonstrate that this behavior is not acceptable by marking off an hour of his time that would be devoted to doing his favorite thing (e.g., playing video games, watching TV, reading a book). Even if his favorite activity is a rather “productive” way for him to spend time, withhold the privilege for a period of time (anywhere from one hour to one day works best).

5. Some Aspergers children will swear passive-aggressively, under their breath. But let’s face it, even if it’s under their breath, it’s the same thing, and you should give your child consequences for it. They may say, “I didn’t say anything. That’s not fair!” You can come back with, “I’m sorry, but that’s what I heard you say. In the future, speak more loudly, or there will be consequences.” In other words, don’t let muttering curse words under his breath become a way for him to manipulate so that he doesn’t have to develop self-control.

6. Role-playing can be a useful technique in controlling bad language in Aspergers kids; however, most Aspies do not empathize with the feelings of others since they don’t understand them. Therefore, role-playing is helpful. Find books (online, bookstore, library) that demonstrate how people in similar situations use appropriate actions and how they feel.

7. Discuss with your Aspergers child that you do not find cursing acceptable. Help him to find other, more appropriate words – and ways – to express himself.

8. Set household rules against cursing. Establish consequences that will be used if the cursing rule is broken.

9. Do not be a pushover. If you let your Aspie break the rules without following through with a consequence, he will continually break the rules in the future.

10. Know that most kids with Aspergers do not respond well to being “punished.” However, “discipline” can be quite effective. Discipline teaches the Aspergers youngster how to act. Discipline should make sense to him, and should have something to do with what he has done wrong. Discipline helps a child feel good about himself, and gives him the chance to correct his mistakes. It puts him in charge of his actions. On the other hand, punishment only tells a child that he is bad. It does not tell a child what he should do instead. So punishment may not make sense to the Aspie. Punishment usually has nothing to do with what he did wrong.

Below are some examples of what your Aspie can do wrong. Some types of punishment and discipline are given. Can you see how they are different?

Example 1: In a tantrum, your four-year-old Aspie throws his crayons all over the floor.

Punishment: You say, “That’s a bad boy” and slap his hand.

Discipline: You say, “You can choose to pick up your crayons within the next five minutes, or you can choose to lose coloring privileges for the rest of day …what do you want to do?”

Example 2: Your seven-year-old Aspie refuses to do his chores.

Punishment: You spank him and send him to his room.

Discipline: You say, “You can do your chores and then play your favorite video game, or you can go to your room without any privileges …which one would you like to do?”

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns


Anonymous said...

I am a single mom with 4 kids (20,15,13,11) living at home - all boys except the 13 yr old. The 15 yr old is the one with aspergers. I am unemployed and homeschool them due to living in Baltimore City, which doesn't have good public schools. My husband of 20 years and I have been separated for 15 months and don't expect to reconcile - I believe he is also on the autism spectrum, even though he won't admit it. My son with aspergers won't admit he has a disability either (even though he's been diagnosed - he believes I misguided the doctors who diagnosed him into thinking he was disabled when he is not), so that makes everything more difficult to identify properly to him and deal with correctly. The other kids have a love/hate relationship with him because of his extreme moments of kindness and violence. It's like Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde - yet he doesn't notice the difference in behavior or, when he does, justifies it as necessary to get us to understand how wrong we all are. He really is a kind, loving person and that is why I'm so concerned about him. But when he is obsessing about something, watch out! Verbal and even physical outbursts are frequent. Private specialized counseling is out of the question due to finances (there aren't any doctors here that I know of who are specialized in Aspergers that take the medical assistance my kids have).

I cannot get him to 'break' until emotions have cooled down; as a matter of fact, he will follow whoever he is upset with and will harrass them (for hours if need be) until he gets what he is after. In his mind, he is trying to resolve the conflict to bring about peace in the home and a time-out will just procrastinate what's necessary. Actually, when he was much younger and I'd send him on time-outs, he'd obey, but he'd be angrier than when he was sent to his room. He just cannot process any rational thoughts by himself during these stressful anxious times, yet he is not listening to reason either. I feel stuck, wanting to help him, yet feeling like I can't do anything to help him see reality for what it is. He doesn't trust me and doesn't even see my authority as necessary in his life.

How do I follow-through with the consequences of a contract with a kid that won't take a consequence unless he sees it necessary?? Most of the time, he thinks that arguing and problems are my fault because I simply won't agree with him. The abilility and willingness to accept and submit to the consequences has to be there and a defiant kid is not usually willing and a kid that can't be reasoned with won't even be able to.

I am frustrated, confused and plain tired of getting books that don't really address all the different variables that are involved in my situation ( I haven't even mentioned yet that he is dyslexic), yet unable to afford personal one-on-one counseling! The older he gets, the more afraid I get for him because he is getting so stuck in a mentality that is gonna get deeper in trouble, pain and struggle - for himself and those that love him.

Thank you for reading my 'venting' email & if you have any insight/resources regarding what I've addressed, I'd like to know about it - I can't quit!

Anonymous said...

You have really interesting blog, keep up posting such informative posts!

Anonymous said...

This sounds just like my 6 yr old Aspie!

Anonymous said...

Omg so true, my 14 year old can be terrible. Thankfully she can just about control herself out of home but with family at home she has the mouth of a sewer! I'd appreciate any comments on how to respond to her outbursts, I tend to try to ignore her which is proving very difficult at times.

Anonymous said...

I wish my hubby read this last night as my son was calling him every name in the book .

Anonymous said...

My 7 yr old son is just starting down this road of really mean comments. The other day he said, "I'm going in my room and NEVER coming out!!!!!!!!!!" Then, he came out. (lol)

Anonymous said...

My 8 yr old son was only diagnosed two weeks ago. He has been telling his 6 yr old brother how much he hates him for about a year now. We've tried explaining to him how hurtful and mean the comments are but it falls n deaf ears. This now explains where these comments are coming from. Obviously this is all new to us to any suggestions would be gratefully accepted.

Anonymous said...

My son is 4.......I have tried it all. Now, after trying, soap (recommended by Dr.) corner, time out, take toys away forever (this has lasted the longest) & I do mean forever. I drove him to the homeless shelter to give them up....only had to do 3 toys. But they are gone. He has been home for winter break & has siad it & I have ignored it, so he isnt doing it now...did it for 2 days. You have to try it all....together, something different after a while......

Anonymous said...

my five year old started saying she hated her sister about a year n a half ago and last night as i am putting her to bed i took her glasses of her face like i always do and she jerked back and screamed, I HATE YOU!. i looked at her, calmly said thats ok hun, bc i love you still.

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone glad to be at this forum.

tinytinatoons said...

the swear/curse jar is a great idea, but my nt daughter is asking me what would happen to the money, I can't think of anything logical enough to help my aspie son to accept the presence of the jar. Oh the joys, he stretches the bounds of my brain.

Unknown said...

my daughter is 14 and I'm going through the same thing always cussing and beating on her sister who is 15 and pulling your hair and telling her she hates her that she hates me in the whole family and she wants to kill me and punch me in the face and she wish I was dead I'm at the end of my rope I don't know what to do I'm sick myself with bone cancer I could barely get out of my bed and not getting the middle of them to fighting and really need some help is there anyone out there that can tell me anythingbecause I swear jar come on she's 14 when there's got to be more help out there for people like us I'm about to lose my mind and do something horrible. I'm even thinking about putting her in a foster home but I know she'll be dis treated worse than at home cuz her sister hates her everybody hates her hell I'm starting a tour please help swear jar is not going to get it and I don't have the money to get help either my husband is a piece of s*** he doesn't help either anybodyis there a doctor out there that can help is there anyone that even cares there's got to be help for these kids in the parents have to go through this autism is a government believes she was fine till the 18th month shots you turn into a tyrant please help 803-679-1932 to anybody that would like to help I have cancer and I don't have much time I need help......

Anonymous said...

All those comments makes me cry 😢
Most of them dealing what i am dealing daily with my 14 years old boy.

Anonymous said...

My 4 year old granddaughter recently started using curse words all the time.I can't believe my ears.She is very aggressive anyways so when she acts out which is at least a few times a day, between screaming, swearing, hitting, throwing anything she gets her hands on, it's so chaotic.Nothing I do works.I babysit her everyday while my daughter works and by Friday I'm emotionally drained.It is so hard taking care of her.In one breath she can be the sweetest soft spoken child, then in a split second here is the out of control version.When she is like that look out.I can't believe what I see and hear.Im at a loss as what to do.I just don't know.

Anonymous said...

What I find most upsetting is the reactions from other parents who don't have children with HFA. My 11 year old son is coping quite well in the home, we are tolerant to his needs and try to correct him when he gets it wrong but other children don't understand him and he always ends up fighting and hurting them. He has been in isolation at school so many times and has recently been excluded. The problem is other children physically and verbally pushing him until he reacts. The other parents think he is a bully but he never starts it, he just over reacts. I am thinking I might have to home school him.

Anonymous said...

so sorry about your son and his troubles at school. You are not alone. He has an IEP and everything is planned out for him for the year. I've never heard of isolation before. That sounds cruel and he's not learning how to work through the problems. I worked in special Ed for 25 years. I would request a meeting with the principal, teachers, psychologist, one on one aide, if he has an aide. Know your rights and request free services which you are intitled to. Speak up for your rights and expect more than just putting him in isolation.

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

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 ASD 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."

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...