Behaviour and acceptance

Good evening

I'm new on here so sorry for long post.

I have a 12-year-old who was diagnosed with Aspergers last year. 

He's not a ’naughty’ child but naturally pushes boundaries and continuously annoys his younger brother who is 9. They are two very different kids in so many ways. 

However, my son is not able to see nor understand he has ever done anything wrong. There is always an excuse or its someone else fault when it's clearly, his behaviour that's caused the issue, or it's his attitude.

His stepdad has ran out of tolerance and patience, and his brother is fed up too. I try my hardest to undersand, make allowances and explain everything to him over and over.....but I'm frustrated too, and it feels endless with little no support.

Any suggestions, please. It's really frustrating me, I'm aware I need to try something different but not sure how.

Thanks for reading 

  • Hi NAS36546,

    Sorry to hear that you're having a difficult time with your son. We have some pages here on the NAS site with advice about how to deal with challenging behaviour in children. The 'top tips' page here - - is for general advice about ways to try and minimise difficult behaviour and identify what might be causing it. There's also the 'challenging behaviour' page - - which has advice on more serious topics like physical violence or self-injury.

    Hope that some of this is useful to you,

    Best wishes,

    Ross - mod

  • First of all, I commend you, for standing by your son and doing everything you can to support him, even when it must feel like you’re the only one. 

    You have to try and understand that the autistic mind is different to the neurotypical mind, so what you see as him ‘pushing boundaries’ might not be that at all. For example, what you all see as him annoying his brother, may simply be his way of saying I love you, please play with me. 

    You will NEVER get your son to see that he has done anything ‘wrong’ because regardless of how it appears, he hasn’t. It might be ‘clear’ to all of you that it is his behaviour that’s caused the issue, but I can assure you, it’s certainly not clear to him. Explaining everything to him over and over again, is like standing in front of him on a daily basis and not only talking Japanese but somehow saying to him that it’s all his fault that he can’t undetstand Japanese. This makes him feel bad, because not only does he not understand Japanese, he doesn’t know how to go about learning it. 

    I would not only work on understanding your son (I’ll come to that in a minute), but I would also look at the truly wonderful opportunity your son is providing your family, the gift he is giving, so freely. For example, his step dad has run out of tolerance and patience. Really? How much did he have to start with? Is it in limited supply? When it has gone, has it gone forever or can he get some of it back? Does he have a separate allowance for each person? For example, it it running out with your son, but he still has some in the bank for other people? Why does he think he needs patience and tolerance? Has he ever tried love and compassion or is that in limited supply also? He could get up every day and try the same things he has tried every day, with the same results and say, I’m running out of patience and tolerance and ‘he’ has to change. Or he could get up every day and say, I love myself, I love my wife, I love my children and I love my family. What loving act can I perform today to make everybody’s life more loving, more joyful, more pleasant, more understanding? He could start each day afresh. Forget what he did yesterday, if it didn’t help, and consider what he could do today that might help. It may take a long time to figure out a way of living that nourishes all of you, but if you start each day like this, there is no need for patience or tolerance so no fear of it running out, no more living as if you are heading to a crisis situation if you do run out. Love is much more understanding and pleasant to live with than fear, and everyday is a new day to try and make life that little bit more pleasant, loving, kind, joyful, funny, relaxing, exciting and allowing instead of forcing. 

    Your younger son has such a beautiful opportunity to learn about love in action. He has an opportunity to learn that not all people in life will behave as you want them to in your company, no matter who it is, even your big brother. His big brother has got so much to offer, a different perspective on life for one. Using your imagination to help you get to know and understand your brother, may not be what your typical 9 year old wants to be doing, but there is nothing more valuable and useful to him and he will be so proud of his brother and become his protector. What does your younger boy enjoy doing? Start thinking outside the box. What would encourage your younger son to take some time to understand his big brother a little more or find ways in which they can have fun together, thereby learning to communicate with each other in a more effective, kind, gentle and loving way. There are so many things out there to help with this. Geocaching and painting, hiding and finding stones etc. 

    And as for your son. He’s trying to communicate with you. As a 50 year old newly diagnosed adult, with a back ground in social work and mental health, with a qualification in metaphysics and a long history at being an excellent communicator and in being able to really help people in all areas of their life. I now choose to be mainly mute, when being around  other people, although not when I’m around other autistic people. The reason being, it is just not possible to accurately communicate with the majority of people, particularly, but with anybody at all really, how I see the world etc, and at 12 years old I had no idea. I would scream and shout and throw things around and say I hated my family and I wanted to leave. But inside, I was saying I love you, I depend on you, please help me, I’m scared. Even to this day I couldn’t say that to them. My dad is dying of cancer and I can’t tell him I love him or let him even touch me let alone give me a kiss. And it’s not because I don’t love him, trust me, I do and I admire him greatly. I am so grateful to him for all he has done for me, but I could never tell him that. That’s autism. There is no logical explanation for it. 

    You will NEVER get your son to ‘conform’ to how you all want him to be or how you want him to ‘behave’. It’s just not possible. You can try and try until you’re blue in the face but it’s just not happening. It’s like trying to change a bird into a frog. It’s futile to try. Of course behaviour can be modified, like training a dog, with treats and punishments, but you have to be clear about what behaviour you are after and you all have to be consistent in your approach. Then you will get an empty shell of a boy who is compliant to all those around him. 

    There are no short sharp answers, and I would strongly suggest you get some support. Joining a support group for other parents, in your area, is an excellent support network. Get support and work ‘with’, other professionals involved in his care but be clear on your motives, because your motives with produce different outcomes. If everyone is not singing from the same page, at least you all need to be open about your motives. There are no right or wrong motives, each person will have their unique perspective but it is better for everyone that you are all open and clear about your motives because that way it is still possible to work together. 

    For example, do you want a boy who conforms to the norm, who goes along the same path as the majority of the other people do, regardless of whether this works for him or not, but because it might work for other family members or the school etc, so I’m that case, it may be of some benefit to him because if the people around him are happy, he’s got a better chance in life. 

    Or do you want a young man who is happy, creative, who feels safe and loved, appreciated for his unique gifts and talents (and I’m not talking rain man), living in a loving family, who also get their needs met and their potential for love and creativity, for giving, caring, laughing and all the good things, is also expanded. This type of life comes with a warning sticker. It may not look like other people’s lives, it might look very different and it might look similar, but if you compare your life with others, you will always lose. You will either feel worse because your not as good as them or worse because you feel ‘better’ than them which gives you a false sense of pride and superiority that will always cause you more harm than good. Or you can look within to your own self and your own family, and ask, what do I want for each and every one of us, individually and as a family group, because when you know, when you truly ‘know’ what you want, it’s as good as done, the rest is just the journey. But by living your life the way you want, it also has a social price to pay. Most people don’t live their lives the way they want so when they see someone who does, naturally they start to feel afraid. But those who have more courage than fear, will notice you and join you on the journey so you gather up friends and family along the way.