Emotional Control

Sam is grouchy tonight.  Probably just being a teenager.  But it brings up a problem he has had repeatedly - getting upset with a teacher or other authority figure because they made a mistake, or he assumes they made a mistake, and losing control when they refuse to correct themselves.  As he inevitably insists they do.

Hours can be lost to this.

There are a host of reasons why he has trouble with this. 

- He needs adults to be right.  When they are wrong, his stability is in jeopardy.  How can he be safe, if adults don't know what they are doing? 

- Things have to be right, just they do.  Information has to be correct.  It is a rule. 

- He doesn't recognize his body signals that he is losing control, so the loss of control speeds down the rails until the inevitable crash occurs.  And he can't get back into control for a long time, once a total loss has occurred. Negative emotion packs a powerful wallop and causes that train to go so fast.

- People (adults mostly) around him get upset because 1. He is upset.  And, just like watching a fight between two strangers, tension is contagious and upsetting.  2. He is criticizing them.  God forbid you get criticized by a teenager.  3.  He is a distraction. 

Other people getting upset and out of control fuels his anxiety and tension.  Death spiral.

- He is hormonal, and more susceptible to irritation and upset.  People keep telling me this is pretty typical.  And I remember being irritable for no real reason as a teenager.  Even into adulthood.  Ok, even recently.  But I recognized it was for no real reason.  A small corner of my mind said 'This is unreasonable.'   But the rest of me went along for the ride.  But the small, reasonable corner of my brain was able to analyze it later, and I was able to learn from it.  Sam doesn't have access to that little corner of his brain.  We adults have to analyze what went wrong and relay the lesson back to him.

Doing this is no easy task. 

Part one is to discuss how to recognize tension in his body.  And then how to contain it.  When your method of containing your tension is to stuff it down, that can only be effective for a short while.  We all lose the battle to stuff our negative feelings eventually, and autistics have less of that ability.  However, autistics main way of coping with negative emotion is stuffing.  See this Stanford Study  The rest of us can reframe the situation. Perhaps she was distracted and didn't hear me call her in the hall.  Perhaps he is upset and that's why he snapped.  Autistics don't have this skill, it needs to be learned.  And I just found this out.  We are getting a late start.

Part two is asking him to stuff it, at least for now.  When adults make mistakes, as SURPRISE, we often do, we don't like to be reprimanded.  So please don't do it to teachers and policemen.

Part three is to teach the skill of reframing.  I don't know of a curriculum for this, so I'll have to make it up as I go.  There's another thing that mom pulls out of her ass and makes seem like it came straight from the Bible.  Me and the pope, we have shit in common.


  1. Yeah, teenagers gave us problems... NT or not NT... I just realised that our NT daughter although she cannot be yet in her puberty... acts just like it... Scary...


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Keeping it together


An Open Letter to the Psychologist Who denied my Son's Hours