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Familial ASD and traditional parenting

(23 Posts)
zzzzz Sun 01-May-16 19:28:11

If ASD runs in families and the incidence of cases is increasing even allowing for broadening criteria, is it possible that traditional techniques of raising children are actually better at supporting them?

I've been pondering this on and off this weekend while some rather tedious stuff was going on here in the zzzzz house.
What do you think? If your own families parenting tradition has managed for generations to produce functioning members of society would it be sensible to emulate those techniques when dealing with your own children? What is it that allowed generations to just poddle along?

I'm aware that traditional schooling (ie rows of desks and rigid timetables) might be more suited to some, but what else did we used to do that we don't now? Or where all those effected actually miserable and just forced to hide it?

Melawati Sun 01-May-16 20:25:41

Interesting thoughts. I don't know anything about my side of the family really past my grandparents, but DH comes from a cultural background that is, generally speaking, much more structured in it's approach to just about everything: family life, relationships, education, the way society is organised.

There are a number of 'eccentric' individuals in the four generations I have first-hand experience of. But the adult members of the family are all functioning, productive members of society and their 'quirks' are accepted as aspects of their personalities. The multi-generational set up cushions them from having to confront their difficulties head on, as there is almost always another adult who can take on a task one family member finds difficult so each can play to their strengths/interests. Help at home is also cheap and easy to come by - even for not very well off families, which removes a lot of the stresses of managing daily life e.g. dealing with smelly, slimy food.

The highly structured environment with very clear, explicitly articulated rules and expectations for almost every aspect of behaviour seems to help our family members to get along in society. In this case we are talking about verbal individuals with no obvious spLD.

No one has a dx, apart from our DD. It has been hard to explain why we would want to 'draw attention' to her difficulties instead of keeping our private business to ourselves and doing everything in our power to smooth her path. I worry about my DN, who is 6 and has a severe S&L delay as well as other traits of ASD. They don't live in the UK, or in my DH's home country, so they have no family support around but are very 'traditional' in their outlook.

PolterGoose Sun 01-May-16 21:02:55

The cultural thing is really interesting. I was talking to a German colleague last week and how German cultural expectations are just generally a better fit if you're autistic. The book 'Isabel's World' makes some interesting points about autism and family/community.

I don't think my family (going back a few generations) has done a particularly good job of producing 'functioning members of society', depending what you mean by functioning I suppose. Lots of poor mental health (including severe MH), criminal behaviour (fairly serious stuff/prison), under-achieving...

I was certainly miserable growing up, but that's a whole other thing. Not for here.

PhilPhilConnors Sun 01-May-16 21:29:40

There was an article a while ago stating that there is no autism amongst the Amish.
There is of course (another article debunked it), but the lifestyle of the Amish means that it's possible for autistic members of the community to be supported and live within their routines happily.

There are some people I grew up with who I look back and think would probably meet the criteria of ASD. Whether they succeeded or not seems to have nothing to do with parenting.
Some well and truly went off the rails, of those some went on to find their niches and do ok, some didn't.
Some became incredibly successful down to following their own interests passionately and have continued to do so.

Of the people I know, parenting was fairly similar to parenting now. But maybe without smacking as a discipline, and without the gadgets and screens that children tend to have now (which prevent home from being an escape from socialising).
Classrooms are now often an assault on the senses (I can barely go into ds's classroom!) which must make school more difficult to cope with.
Lessons are less formal than I remember, and a certain amount of low level noise and disruption seems to be acceptable, which wasn't the case 40 odd years ago (at least not in my school).

Life in general is much faster paced than when I was young.

I was miserable too Polter, not that anyone really knew, I was so compliant and smiley, which was totally at odds with how I actually felt. Whilst I was being bullied I'd smile gormlessly, until I couldn't take it any more and went to cry alone. Although I can remember crying uncontrollably in the sixth form common room and my twin went to shout at a load of boys who were constantly horrible. I was 17/18 at the time.
I look back and realise that I did have MH problems, but at that time I think it was only serious MH problems that were acknowledged, as less was known than is now.

PolterGoose Sun 01-May-16 21:34:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PhilPhilConnors Sun 01-May-16 21:46:33

My psychologist thinks that having a NT twin was very protective for me.
From about the age of 9/10 I'm not sure I would have coped without her being around.

zzzzz Sun 01-May-16 21:57:10

A little mayhem here I am not posting a "dumpty dumpty dum......discuss". I promise.

zzzzz Sun 01-May-16 22:45:05

I think the same about my twins. There is a buffering effect. smile

I think what I find difficult is that there DO seem to be an increased number of individuals (verbal) who don't cope in school particularly.

The busy classrooms and insistence on bringing social interaction into every aspect of education is part of that problem, but athere are also massively more social demands in every area now.

zzzzz Sun 01-May-16 22:47:19

I do know that my children's anxiety is very familiar to me and I do remember just before we moved countries as a primary school child feeling compulsions to touch cars as we passed them etc.

Melawati Mon 02-May-16 07:38:40

The busy classrooms and insistence on bringing social interaction into every aspect of education is part of that problem, but athere are also massively more social demands in every area now.

This, definitely. Other spaces that used to be quiet and calm, eg libraries now also tend to be busier, noisier and quite social.
Buses and trains are far more crowded, noisy with people constantly on the phone or leaking music out of headphones, and smelly because so many people are eating.

I'm NT and I find it unbearable at times, I can't imagine how much more difficult it must be for anyone with sensory sensitivities.

AntiquityOverShares Mon 02-May-16 08:49:14

This is very interesting! I don't have time to reply right now but I would like to!

tartanterror Mon 02-May-16 09:21:55

Gah lost a post and don't have a lot of time to re-type. Basically in my day those who were academically able got praise for their work but many teachers shy away from this due to Carol Dweck's work on mindsets. DS gets criticism for poor handwriting, behaviour and group work etc but doesn't have the buffering effect of praise for his academic stuff. I Agree with the posters above about the sensory overload in classrooms now - esp in the younger classes.

DeadAsADildo Mon 02-May-16 09:31:09

The classrooms now are crazy. I'm at parent's evening trying to focus on the teacher talking to me about DD being 'shy' whilst trying not to read the shouty posters behind her head

DID YOU WALK TO SCHOOL?
What day is it today?
THE WEATHER TODAY IS..
Remember to wash your hands
Etc

I'm thinking- I'd be in the corner with a book too.

I'm supposed to be NT, too.

PhilPhilConnors Mon 02-May-16 10:19:15

I had to stare at the top of the desk (plain beige colour) to be able to hear what the teacher was saying at the last parent's evening, the displays were so "loud".
Was going to give feedback, but not sure how well it would go down.

Imaginosity Mon 02-May-16 10:41:27

I don't think the incidence is increasing - people with autism were always there - but maybe just seen as unsocial or having unusual behaved. Nowadays we are know what autism is - parents and teachers are more aware of it and identify traits and send children forward to be assessed.

I don't think 'traditional' parenting would help my DS to be more socially engaged with other children or would have helped with his motor skills or sensory issues.

I don't know for sure but I imagine outcomes for children in the past with ASD were less good than they are today. Some would have ended up in institutions. Others may have struggled for life, never really fitting in and never understanding what was different about them.

I'm so glad my DS was born now into a more understanding world. If he'd been born even 20 or 30 years ago things would have been a lot different.

zzzzz Mon 02-May-16 10:57:53

Imaginosities post is a huge part of what I imagine I am supposed to think. The thing is that the facts (ie my observation which I know isn't exactly the same thing! grin) don't really hold out.

I can't tell if there are more people with autism or not BUT I'm not sure the fact that there are more visible individuals means we are doing better or if in fact our children are suffering more in the present environment.
Traditional manners certainly are easier to navigate the world with. For example there were until fairly recently set forms of address when meeting someone, introducing someone, for eating and entertaining. These were so rigid that I'm pretty sure they are the gold standard of how to navigate the world without needing to think. smile I have fabulous book written as a manual for teaching children etiquette that details each interaction, who's name should be said in which form, who should shake hands, stand, make a pleasantry ( and what that should be), how to cover a sneeze or excuse oneself......I read it with eyes wide, because not only is it a Holy Grail of detailed instruction BUT it is also what I do though I don't remember anyone explaining it to me.

The truth is that it isn't really that much rosier is it? We are fed a line that inclusion and acceptance will bring us peace and place but has it? Does it? Will it? Because reading these boards doesn't lead me to believe it does. Many children are still institutionalised (or worse) and certainly many many more struggle in adult life, never fitting in or finding peace.

Sorry a bit grim there. brew

PhilPhilConnors Mon 02-May-16 11:25:05

Having met (online) several adults with ASD, I think there is peace in acceptance and being yourself, and mixing with other people who understand, not that that makes it easy, but for our children, it can be more difficult to find that, as they have to spend time in school with people who don't get it, support led by people who have read the manual (if we're lucky) but can rarely take the time to get to know the individual child, or listen to parents, so things are done in a "all autistic children need visual timetables, all autistic children need xyz" sort of way, when it's not as simple as that.
I also think that too many people making decisions are not knowledgeable or aware of enough facts to make those decisions, which leads to some awful situations (children being taken away from parents, young adults being institutionalised).
More information needs to come from people with ASD and their families/carers, who live with ASD day in day out, rather than relying wholly on experts with book knowledge but no actually experience of the day to day stuff, and are reluctant to see it from an autistic point of view, instead sticking rigidly to their opinions.

Ineedmorepatience Mon 02-May-16 12:22:48

Fascinating topic zzzzz, I cant really add anything other than there has been a catalogue of crap outcomes people in my family for at least the last 3 generations! The members of my family who can see that there is a high likelyhood that some of that crap has been caused by the effects of un diagnosed/ un supported Asd are the ones who have been most supportive of me and Dd3!

Marshmallow09er Mon 02-May-16 16:45:38

This has given me much pause for thought.
My Grandpa was clearly autistic (Although undiagnosed. It's thanks to him I know so much about Fibonacci and the Golden number as they were his special interests smile)

He was terribly 'difficult' as a child (so the family story goes) so they sent him to a really strict boarding school - however he used to tell me he loved it there; so maybe the whole routines and rules suited him. But he always had a very strained relationship with his mother.
And he had terrible mental health issues in later life.
I do wonder now if only autism had been understood better then how different his life might have been.

i'm glad DS has been born into a more modern, understanding age - even though school is so very hard for him. I can see for him in some ways a more 'old school' system of clear rules, regulations and a lot of learning by rote (my Grandpa LOVED learning by rote!) might suit him...

AntiquityOverShares Mon 02-May-16 19:00:07

Argh. I've actually written 3 responses and not posted them due to oversharing about family members.

So briefly I would say obviously traditional childrearing is dependent upon time, space, sex and social class and could work better for some presentations of ASD yet worse for others (this is not a verbal vs. non verbal statement either).

There could be protective factors of it being less busy and closer knit community, but of course one can also become a community scapegoat/joke and some children need lots of stimulating visual and physical input.

As for outcomes, I think my children will have better outcomes than dh or I. Or at least a firmer foundation with which to enter adult life. This is in part because I don't do traditional childrearing and because I have and will remove them from unsuitable school environments. Dh and I lived in enough fear at school and home we will not have our children outwardly conform if it breaks them inside like we were broken.

zzzzz Mon 02-May-16 19:15:53

When I said traditional although we have been talking about trad schooling I didn't really mean that as such. What I meant was your own families traditional child rearing.

zzzzz Mon 02-May-16 19:16:50

I too feel massively constrained by the fact I can't in good conscience use examples grin

PolterGoose Mon 02-May-16 19:58:48

Me too. It's one of those topics which would be fascinating to sit around and talk about.

I too think my ds will fare better than previous generations.

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