Disciplining An Autistic Teenager

Disciplining An Autistic Teenager

It was bound to happen.  My little boy is a teenager.  He’s not just a teenager, he’s an autistic teenager.  I have had to learn a lot of new things with my autistic teenage boy.  I think that one of the hardest has been disciplining an autistic teenager.  My son is tall and strong. He is also very stubborn.  When he wants something, or doesn’t want to do something, I can no longer physically direct him to something else.  And, he can now hurt me when he gets really frustrated and grabs my arm.  He doesn’t mean to, but he is still very limited in his communication.  When he wants something that I won’t get up and get him, he will try to pull on me to the direction of what he wants.  He’s communicating the only way he can in that moment.

The other week, my husband went on a week long camping trip with the Boy Scouts.  My son couldn’t go.  He had just had his ear surgery, and was recovering.  The first night was so hard.  My son wasn’t happy, and wanted to leave the house.  He got physical with me, and I ended up spanking him.  It was just a couple of swats on his behind, but I hate spanking.  I was so close to tears, I just wanted to call up my husband and have him come home.  But I couldn’t.  My husband did not have a way to come home by himself.  The rest of the week went better, but I was so happy when my husband got home.

Last weekend, I had the chance to watch my husband deal with the same kind of behavior.  We were visiting my mother-in-law, and my son was bored.  He wanted to go somewhere, do something.  We walked out to the car, the three of us, to put a bag of cans in the trunk.  My son went straight for the car door, determined that we were going to leave.  My husband pulled him away from the car.  It wasn’t easy.  My son is very stubborn, and he really wanted to leave.  I watched, and I could feel my stress level rising.  Then, as I watched, something amazing happened.  My husband, struggling to pick up and move my son, grabbed him into a big bear hug.  He then walked him away from the car, all the way to my mother-in-law’s apartment door.  And my husband was laughing.  What was an extremely stressful situation for me, became the most hilarious moment of the weekend.  My son might be stronger than me, but he still isn’t stronger than his dad.  He’s also lucky to have a dad with an amazing sense of humor.  And I’m lucky to have a great husband and father of my kids.

As my autistic teenager gets older, I’m sure he will get even taller and stronger.  I don’t know what this will mean for us.  I don’t even want to speculate on what could happen.  I’m going to take things a day at a time.  If I spend my time worrying about the future, I might miss out on some great moments happening now.

2 comments to Disciplining An Autistic Teenager

  • Thank you for your post. It helped me get an additional idea. An autistic person may throw tantrum or behave aggressively when he is disappointed or frustrated as others do. But he is not doing it intentionally, because as an autistic teenager, he is unable to understand that other people have thoughts and feelings. Punishment must fit the crime. Whenever possible, the only punishment should be experiencing the natural and logical consequences of an undesirable action. If an undesirable behavior happens repeatedly, and neither incentives nor disincentives seem to curb it, you should look closer for hidden causes. Behavior analysis techniques can be very useful in this regard.

  • It must be so difficult to deal with. I sometimes struggle to discipline my son and just end up getting so frustrated.

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