Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Watch your language

So much of parenting a young child is explaining, redirecting, clarifying, and limiting, but I have to say - sometimes it's difficult to know exactly where I should be putting my energy.

I mentioned recently that Bud has been experimenting with "mean" words, testing their power and finding their most suitable contexts. But, as a child with autism, he doesn't always retain the specifics of a mean idiom or figure of speech. Case in point: Over the past several weeks, Bud's been doing a lot of back-talk when he wants someone to stop speaking.

Sometimes it's innocuous: The dog across the street barks, and Bud stands in our driveway and yells "Shut out, Jenna! SHUT OUT!"

Sometimes it's impertinent: Nana tells him it's time to turn off the computer and he turns to her and says, "Shut out, Nana. SHUT OUT!"

Sometimes it's just plain rude: The clerk at the supermarket asks him how he is today and he responds with a loud "Shut out, man! SHUT OUT!"

I'm never sure what to do in these situations.

Do I respond the way I would with a neurotypical child to this very developmentally appropriate behavior: "Bud, it is not nice to tell people to 'shut out.' It makes them sad."?

Or do I address the autism-related issue here instead: "Bud, you want Jenna/Nana/the man to shut UP, not shut OUT. You say, 'Shut up, Jenna/Shut up, Nana/Shut up, man.'"?

It really is a quandary.

21 comments:

Melissa H said...

Ironically, Conor told me "Shut up Mommy" tonight. (side note: I wasn't talking)
I chose to ignore it. DH chose to reprimand him for it and make him say "I'm sorry". Problem is, DH probably just reinforced the behavior by acknowledging it in the first place. (Ahhh, these words have some power to them....)

mcewen said...

If I said 'stoopid' at 50 decibels I know you [emphasis] wouldn't be offended.

It's a tricky one that we also battle with, so if you come with any magic tricks, let me know!

Best wishes

redhead said...

These are the posts that I love! I can totally sympathize and they make me smile. Been missing you and Bud lately. Hope all is well!

Susan said...

Oh this is tough. I would gently correct, on both counts. On the other hand, I'm the one with the son who likes to yell "penis!" for no particular reason.

gretchen said...

Kind of like when Henry told me "I don't like her" about one of his teachers. I had suspected as much, and was so proud that he was able to express that emotion. But then needed to tell him not to repeat that to anyone else!

Drama Mama said...

Bud seems like a reasonable, compassionate kid. Ms. M went through a similar thing, and I broke it down cognitively -what do these words actually MEAN - and how they make other people feel. We've even done little role plays (which my kid loves) about them. I also gave her times when angry words were okay - in her room, punching a pillow, say - and we found that she dropped the habit pretty quickly.

Her therapist told me to ignore these episodes, which did NOT work.

Jane Plane said...

What a sweet, expressive Bud! I would have a hard time not marvelling at his self-assurance, even with his malapropism.

To your question, how about a combination of your two approaches?

"Bud, it sounds like you want to say 'SHUT UP' which is what some people say when they are frustrated. It's not a nice thing to say, though. It can hurt another person's feelings."

Can you help him practice something different? Like, "I don't want to talk right now!" or "I need some time by myself!" He can be just as adamant and self-protective with some more polite words.

Mom to Mr. Handsome said...

Or maybe..please be quite...
Model back what is expected?
When we want someone to be quite we say, "Could you please be quite?"

Kristin

Mom without a manual said...

Oh...so much good advice!

We are in the midst of this dilemma right now. JP is busy telling everyone that "you are driving me crazy". I've tried explaining that this could be taken as "you are making me mad" but he just thinks he is being fun.

This language of ours is so much work!

Niksmom said...

Wow. Such a dilemma. I am clueless but think other moms have given some pretty good options. Please let us know how it all works? So wonderful that Bud is feeling confident enough to speak up even if it isn't quite the thing youwish he'd say...

Lisa said...

Jared's best example of eccholalia (which I have consistent trouble spelling) was when he pointed to a bottle of ketchup and used a phrase from Toy Story - "you go, I'll catch up"

Right now, Monsters, Inc. is coloring Jared's speech - he's gravitated to the line where Randall is berating Sully "you Stupid, pathetic.....". I remind Jared that words can hurt, and that it's not a nice thing to say. That's going to be my generic line, hopefully delivered in a calm tone of voice.

Steve D said...

My son - age 5 - is now routinely saying "Oh, settle down" in similar situations. We are trying to tell him that this is inappropriate, and then give him an alternative such as "It makes me upset when you do that."

Anonymous said...

Definitely gently correct, Bud doesn't need peer scorn by saying the wrong phrase, nobody says, "shout out" after all. "Bud, I think you mean 'shut-up' which is a rude thing to say but some people do say it when they are tired or angry. I prefer you say, 'please be quiet' if you feel angry or are tired".

Anonymous said...

PS Sorry I meant nobody says 'shut out'.

mommy~dearest said...

With Jaysen, he tends to get lost if there are too many words, or if the explination is on the lengthly side.

I wouldn't acknowledge that Bud said "shut out", I would just say "it's not nice to tell people to shut up." Give him the correct phrase, but don't overload him.

Now Jaysen will ask me "what's a bad word?" and I don't know what to tell him! I just tell him "stupid" and "hate" because he's already laid those lovelies out there. My effort is now to try to explain that you can "hate" broccoli, but you shouldn't "hate" a person.

Stimey said...

I LOVE the image of you telling him "No, you mean to tell him to shut UP." It's tough to encourage and correct at the same time.

Ever since going through a Yertle the Turtle phase, Jack will ask us to talk just so he can yell, "SILENCE!" at us.

Nicki Mann said...

Hmmm, maybe you could teach him the ASL sign for "be quiet" or even "shut up". (There really is a sign for shut up!) That way he could be expressing himself, and the people who know him (like you, and Nana, and whoever) will know what it means, but strangers (like the man at the grocery store, and the dog I suppose) will not know what he's saying.

kristina said...

Am fond of these sorts of quandaries. I would (this is me) try to explain why this is not the best thing to say and offer alternatives...

kyra said...

okay, quandry aside, this totally cracked me up!

me? i would say the former, explain that being told to shut out makes others feel sad. i might add as an aside that most people say shut UP but i've actually been known to say shut IT so, autism aside, perhaps is a bit of a style thing?

Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

I agree with Kyra that although this is a quandry it is also pretty funny. Scott has said some rather inappropriate things to people, including his grandparents. I've had some success with telling him to say "I'm frustrated" when these things happen b/c it rarely hurts someone else's feelings but does allow him to express what he feels. I struggle with, "OK, yes, your Grammy IS annoying sometimes, but you can't actually say that." It just gets too complicated.

kristi said...

TC's favorite word is STUUUUPID. He learned it from Spongebob. He used to say it in every sentence...we would tell him that it's not nice to say that word. Then we just ignored it and he now says it only when he is aggravated or very, very tired. This post made me laugh though!