Asperger step-son...

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-05-2004
Asperger step-son...
Fri, 11-05-2004 - 11:19pm
Wow - it's so good to finally find this group. I desperately need support with this child. I really don't even know where to start, so here goes.

He's going to be 10 in December. His mom won't medicate under any circumstances. She's getting a degree in mental health and agrees with his diagnosis but doesn't believe medication would be any good for her son. Not that I disagree, but I'm open to hearing options. His bio parents split when he was 2 and I met and married his dad shortly thereafter. We have alternate weekend visitation. He has one full bio brother (8) and one half sister (3) and one half brother (1). They (he and his brother and mom)live two cities away from us and therefore don't go to school in our district. He is in public school, but he's currently in the BIP program. Can't remember what it stands for at the moment, but it's a locked down classroom for students with behavioral problems. There are 6 kids and 2 teachers and 2 paraeducators. At this point he is refusing to go to school about 1/3 the time and when he does go he's in the time out room 1/2 the time. He has no friends and very few social skills. He's sneaky and mean whenever he gets the chance. At his mother's he does nothing but play video games. We don't have video games in our home so he reads a lot and spends a lot of time being bored. He can't stand me because he thinks his parents would get married again if I were dead (his words). He's horrible to me - talking back, not telling the truth, hurting his brother, disrespectful. A couple weeks ago he threatened to get a knife and stab me while I sleep. He's lazy, he whines about everything you ask him to do. He thinks he should be in charge and everything would be fine. I know I sound horrible too. At this point I can hardly stand him. I honestly beleive in his diagnosis. I want to help him, but I also believe that he's a product of his enviornment and that a lot of his behaviors could be changed if his mom really wanted to help him. He has no chores - doesn't even dress himself or make his bed. He gets 20 dollars a week allowance which he spends on t-rated video games. I'm just at my wits end. I feel pathetic, but I'm so depressed about this and I don't know what I can do. Often when he's here his dad is working or busy with another child and I am just lost as to how to handle this kid that my brain tells me needs to go to boot camp or something (feeble attempt at humor). He hates me and I can't stand him so how do I convince him that I still love him. I know I have to start by changing myself and I swear I try to see the good in him - if you have any ideas I'd love to hear them. I don't get offended easily so feel free to give me your honest opinions. At this point I'm willing to listen to anything.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-03-2004
Sun, 11-07-2004 - 7:48pm
Dear Stepmom,

What a hard thing stepparenting is during the best of times, and as we all know here on this particular board, a spectrum child is very, very difficult. Do you have the support of his dad? Is the father actively aware and involved in diagnosis, therapies, etc.?

I don't think there IS an easy answer. Medication is tricky with our kids and there is no sure-fire medication that is guaranteed, anyways. Other parents can respond better to this one, as we are not yet in a place where we have to consider it. So, even if his mother were open to it, there truthfully might not be much help to be gotten from medication. Some Aspies do well with anxiety-lowering drugs, others not.

Have you been able to read up on Asberger's? There is a book by Tony Attwood (name of book?), many others out there that can really be helpful. Many of the behaviors you describe are symptoms of Asberger's, not necessarily products of his environment. Although being allowed to do nothing but play video games all day at his mom's is rife with problems for an Aspie kid. He is getting no help with self-control (my son is limited to 2 hours a day of any screen -- video, TV or gameboy) and is not learning to be in a world that changes from moment to moment, unlike video games which have static predictable boudaries, very reassuring and relaxing for spectrum kids. Everything he is doing sounds like his reaction to feeling horribly out of control.

I do wonder how effective his education and therapies are going, though. What seems to me to be very important, though, is that you need to have rules and predictable routines and logical consequences for your home, and his father will need to be instrumental in setting those up and supporting you in enforcing them. He needs guidelines. He also needs ways at your house to help him relax and lower anxiety. Maybe it will help you to remember that being him is no picnic, constantly confused and misreading cues and desparate to feel some kind of control ...

Brief ideas: Enroll him in small-sized or private martial arts classes, take him swimming often. Relax his body physically as often as possible by outdoors solitary sports, like sledding, skiing, anything else he can actually do. (Some kids are very resistant to this, however) Find ways to have him earn privileges -- like, could there be a gameboy under lock and key whereby he could earn a half-hour for good behavior, etc? Having something to work for always helps. Praise for good behavior, not too much negative reinforcement. Spell schedules out literally, use a timer that rings for changes. Would his dad be willing to find a behavioral therapist in your town that could work with him when he's with you? Might be covered by insurance ...

This is tricky. I don't envy you the situation. By the by, Aspie kids are literal. He's not trying to be mean by what he says about you, that's the way he thinks! He's not aware of what those words mean to you.

Maybe others here will have more actual practical advice for you!



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2003
Mon, 11-08-2004 - 11:00am
i will say the same thing as the other poster, get him into physical activity, anything, bike riding, any sports, anything to get his body moving.....spend the money on gymnastics or karate, swimming or ice really helps. does he enjoy any kind of sport?????????????????? it would really help with his behaviour.

good luck.

and just one more thing:

do not feel bad about your feelings. it's ok to feel angry and to want to scream. i think you really care about this boy, and the fact that you are stuck with him for the rest of your life..........tell him all the time that he is part of your family and that you love him and that his father loves him, and that you need him in your life....lie if you have to and keep telling him positive things about him.........praise works much better than punishment........

hugs, Julie.