Asperger Syndrome Support Group

Asperger syndrome - also referred to as Asperger's syndrome, Asperger's, Aspergers or just AS - is one of five neurobiological pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), and is characterized by deficiencies in social and communication skills, normal to above normal intelligence, and standard language development.

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Aspergers or teen-age disrespect?

How do you know the different between Asperger behavior and typical teenage disrespect? My 14-year-old son is very disrespectful in the way he talks to my husband and me. When we tell him this, he acts like he doesn\'t know what we\'re talking about. He says, \"I\'m just being honest,\" or, \"You\'re disrespectful to me too.\" I\'m afraid he will never be able to hold a job if he doesn\'t understand how to talk to people. Is there any way to get through to him?

Replies

deleted_user
deleted_user

Ask him to demonstrate or give an example of how you are being disrespectful to him. He may well be misreading -- and you know there's nothing touchier than a teenager -- or he may have a point. Ask how he would like to be talked to differently and do some problem-solving with him. See how much you can manage to agree on. If he's dead wrong, you can always explain what you really mean when you say thus and such so he can start seeing it differently.
harry3333
harry3333

you could try to work out5 if he has aspergers, get a list of symptoms from the net
I think some aspies never get beyond the teenage years in development and then have to pretend to be adults later, my dad and brother are like this, both prone to sulking, jealosy and temper tantrums
deleted_user
deleted_user

Personally I know I end up being disrespectful sometimes because I tend to think logically and am honest to the most point. But in time i learnt to incorporate emotions of others into my logic and how it will affect them. Ask him how you have disrespected him and find a way to tell him that white lies can be used for good, all to often parents stress the importance of the truth and then don't reinforce this as it is an impractical moral.
I hope that all made sense, good luck.
deleted_user
deleted_user

did he have these troubles before puberty? I'm not so certain that Asperger's is something that all of a sudden shows up.
deleted_user
deleted_user

He definitely has Aspergers - we've seen signs of that since he was 2 - but it is hard for me to know if he is deliberately being disrespectful, or if he just doesn't realize how inappropriate some of his tones and comments are. He also has this problem at times with other authority figures, such as teachers, which bothers me more. I want to try to understand his perspective but I don't want to make excuses for him. My husband has much less patience than me and gets really angry with him at times.
Thanks for your comments.
deleted_user
deleted_user

We have had this same difficultyy with our son, who is going on 15. We started about 2 years ago just explaining to him how what he has said is disrespectful and what would have been appropriate. He still says some things that seem disrespectful, so we just discuss it again. He has made progress and does not seem as disrespectful.

It is hard to tell, and I do think he knows some times. (he may get a smirk on his face or something) But I TRY to just point him to what is acceptable.
deleted_user
deleted_user

I think beckysy is right. Just continue to address the issue when something your child says come off disrespectful. Allow him to have his oppinion but there is a nicer way to get his point across with better results. My son sometimes confuses my need as a parent to scold him for an appropriate reaction for him to use. Most of the time when my son yells, smarts of or uses a tone that is inappropriate, asking him to repeat more respectivly, talking or just stearnly ask his "what did you say?" he will usually appologize or explain why he said it that way. Then we can come to a resolution. Hope this helps some.
deleted_user
deleted_user

My 16 yr old aspie grandaughter is the same way. She wasn't always this way. She acts like she hates me 24/7. I think she may have ODD too. Her parents are addicts & abandoned her so I know she has some anger. But why at me? I hope I can hold out until she's 18. I'm not living the rest of my life this way. I ask her how can we work on our relationship & make it better & she says she doesn't want to. We used to get along so well. She wasn't diagnosed until a year ago, I didn't know anything about asp but she definitely has it. I just don't know what to do anymore. She wants NO authority over her about school or anything yet really needs to be declared learning disabled & she is in denial that she has asp.
deleted_user
deleted_user

Oh, I feel so bad for you raising a granddaughter like this! It's hard enough when there is a stable family with 2 parents, which is the situation that my husband and I have. Even so, I feel like I'm losing my mind sometimes. It must be so so hard for you. I hope that some day your granddaughter wakes up and realizes all you've done for her, and appreciates it.
deleted_user
deleted_user

Hi Susan,
Yes it's heartbreaking & difficult. Sometimes I feel like I will just leave but I can't because I have legal custody until she's 18. She does the same thing your son does -- "what are you talking about??" when I confront her about her rude behavior, then she accuses me of being rude, which yes I have but only when my buttons have been pushed 50 times & I've had it. She claims she is always nice to me & always thanks me. NEVER! What universe is she living in?? There must be an aspie universe because it's certainly not in mine. I told her if she would just be a little bit nice to me things would be so much different in our home. I'm going to post my whole story on this section of the board if you wish to read it. If you have any advice I welcome it. You can email me too at laffstore@yahoo.com . Thanks for responding.
deleted_user
deleted_user

I'm 15 with aspergers and I don't act any more disrespectful than any other teen and it drives me nuts when people say that it's an excuse for me because or that I'm trying to use it as an excuse. When I got diagnosed ANY time I showed any signs of anger or irritation my family would yell at me saying that I can't use it as an excuse to "act up" and it's only a condition. I never wanted it to be one to begin with! It's like now that I've got a name to it I'm no longer a human who has emotions but somebody with aspergers who isn't allowed to have any because they think I get them because I know.
deleted_user
deleted_user

I think you need to look at the circumstances - I know that my 8 year old dd with Aspergers tends to get kind of mouthy right about the same time as she's about to have a meltdown. It's generally a sign that she's starting to lose control of her emotions and the situations (I react differently - that's the beauty of Aspergers NO two of us will ever behave or react exactly the same to the same situation or stimuli). Some Aspies tend to have very "out-there" meltdowns/tantrums, others tend to really shut down and withdraw. And some of us react both ways, depending on the situation.

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deleted_user
deleted_user

You know, when we're in meldown stage and you start yelling, it doesn't make things any better.

In my opinion, teenagers should act with NO disrespect at any time, Asperger or not. Allowing any child to act with disrespect to you at home is setting them up to act with disrespect to the general population, but then you have to respect them as well. It's figuring out what they need to feel respected as a human being that is the tough one.

Yelling at someone can be taken as a sign as disrespect although yelling generally happens when there is some communication disconnect and everyone is frustrated about not getting through to the other people.
deleted_user
deleted_user

I've got a twelve year old with Asperger's who'se been doing this for a couple of years. I think it is puberty, but complicated by AS ways of thinking.

The biggest problem with our son seems to be the same problem you're having. You seem to expect that he would understand that he's being disrespectful. If his Asperger-based level of Theory of Mind is lacking enough, he may not understand it. He may be totally honest when he tells you he's just being honest. Honesty can be such a strong paradigm for him he may think the typical ways most people demonstrate respect are not honest.

The key is in trying to help him understand that respect isn't always in the eye of the one who is supposed to demonstrate it. It is more often in the eye of the receiver, not the giver. It can be very difficult for an Aspie to conceive that you may experience what he's doing as something different from the way he perceives it. He's telling you it's honesty, and may not understand why anyone would see it differently. "Everyone thinks like me, don't they?" That's very typical Asperger thinking. Couple that with typical teenage drive for independence that Aspies are not immune to, and you get exactly what you're describing.

We try to explain to our son that respect may not be what he thinks it is. Respect is what the person demanding respect expects, not what he believes he should deliver. He may have a hard time with that concept if he believes what you expect isn't honest for him to do. Aspies can tend to have a powerful need to be motivated by their own principles and beliefs. They can have a very hard time doing anything just because someone else expects it. If what you ask him to do to show respect seems to him to be dishonest, you may have to ask him how you and he can come to some kind of compromise. What CAN he do that is acceptable to you that doesn't violate his feelings of being honest? If you let him become part of that process, he'll be more likely to "own" it as something he helped think of, and will be more likely to do it because it makes sense to him.

It helps to get to the core of what he thinks is right and wrong. You may even be able to help him see that something he is doing actually goes against his own belief system. That creates dissonance within himself, which is an extremely powerful tool in influencing almost anyone, Aspie or not, to do anything.

We try to ask our son to switch places with us and imagine we are the ones doing whatever it is he's doing that we find disrespectful. We ask him how he would feel and react if we treated him the way he is treating us. WATCH OUT THOUGH! If there is even a minute chance that he might feel you've been disrespectful to him, you're going to here it, and he will use it as the reason that if it's okay for YOU to do it, it must be okay for him.

You've already mentioned he says you disrespect him. You might not think that's true, but don't dismiss the thought. It's the worst thing you could do! Why? Well, if he dismissed your telling him he's disrespecting you, and you're doing the same, well isn't that just a vicious circle. You have to be the adult and be the first to listen. Listen first to why he feels you disrespect him. He MIGHT have a point! He is a child becoming an adult, and we as parents often forget that. Aspie or not, all kids need to grow up, and some independence has to be part of that process. Ask him why he thinks this, and then just sit and listen. DON'T ARGUE! Arguing with an Aspie about stuff like this makes about as much sense as banging your head against a concrete wall, and is just as non-productive. Just accept it. It doesn't have to make sense right away. The point is, you want him to try to see things through YOUR eyes, and trust me, he's NOT going to do it if you won't.

If his reasons don't make sense to you, it's okay to tell him that as long as you let him know you accept it. See, if you do that, he's going to be far more likely then to listen to you, and your reasons for feeling disrespected, even if they don't make sense to him, IF you point out that's what you're trying to do.

"I don't understand your reasons for feeling we disrespect you, BUT I'm willing to accept them if you will do the same for us. That is, listen to our reasons, and even if they don't make sense to you, accept them. We can talk about why the reasons we each have for our feelings don't make sense, and why each of us thinks they should afterward."

Then go on from there.

We've been using this strategy for a few years with our twelve year old. It's been working, but it's a very long process. For months none of it made sense to him, but it turned out he has been spending a lot of time thinking about it on his own, and over time, has come to understand it better and better.

Hope this helps.