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what to do about DH

(6 Posts)
yuckythingsonthefloor Mon 18-Jul-11 23:38:29

We have a son with AS who is 7. He has many of the typical traits of the condition - argumentative and defiant at times, poor listening and following instructions, dyspraxia, over-excitedness, obsessive behaviour, poor social understanding, as well as being gorgeous, very funny, affectionate and the light of my life. The problem is that even after 7 years, DH doesn't seem to be able to accept the dx and expects him to 'behave'. Lately he doesn't open his mouth to DS without saying 'don't do this' or 'be careful' or implicitly criticising. If there is anything that DS is good at he gets a constant grilling about how its going. If it gets bad he will say things like 'I'm sick of you' which appalls and amazes me. The consequences are that DS's behaviour becomes more and more defiant and chaotic and I usually end up flying at DH. Naturally DS hates it that we argue. I don't like it either but I only have so much energy and I can't just sit by and let him put DS down. Then after 10 minutes DH comes back expecting hugs from DS as if nothing happened. DS is becoming so resentful and I can just imagine how the teens will be. I don't know what to do. I have tried to talk to DH about being positive but he just doesn't get it. Its like he thought DS would grow out of it by now. Weekends are awful. Mealtimes are always stressful with DH glowering at him for spilling food or not using his cutlery. I've explained so many times about coordination. I've given him so many books to read about AS that he has barely looked at. I just don't know what to do and I can just see it going to hell. How do you convince a DH who doesn't want to accept that he has to change his behaviour too? Family therapist? Child psychiatrist?

zzzzz Tue 19-Jul-11 00:03:03


Video a meal or whatever, and watch it back yourself. You may be surprised that there are ways you are not helping the situation too.

It rarely works to criticize someones parenting, you are going to have to be more wily than that.

I think if the video is obviously awful, for instance with dh perhaps bullying ds about table manners and things disintegrating, I would probably say "I videoed it because someone says it is the best way to tackle the table manners thing and I know that is really worrying you". I would then go on to work through what exactly you both think is the problem and how you are going to tackle it.

He has issues with your ds's behaviour, so make him part of the solution. In effect you are teaching him how to be a great Dad, empowering him in his own home/role and helping ds to get better at things which are obviously an issue with his Dad. It's an all rounds win.

The single biggest and most important thing you can give your ds is a good relationship with his Father. It sounds like they are in a downwards spiral. Help them both, and make all your lives easier.

If you can get him to agree to focus on one thing at a time and be positive about everything else. On the whole most people feel much better when they are doing something about a situation, so hopefully he will calm down a bit too.

utah Tue 19-Jul-11 00:05:10

More of a question than an answer but could this be a bit of history repeating itself (parenting not AS), describing your son is very similar to describing you DS could this be that your DS parents where the same with him as he is to your DS if so could you have the conversation of how this is not good for his self esteem. Maybe just persuading him to use the postive parenting approach e.g. I like it when you try to use your cutlery. It sounds like he needs to come to terms with the dx, it just unfortunate that as parents we need to hit the ground running.

TooJung Tue 19-Jul-11 00:48:45

I tell my husband what one thing I am working on with ds2 and share my approach and my successes. I keep it to the point and factual. I explain briefly when I get it wrong and what the consequences were of my mistake. I do all this out of my sons' hearing.

I praise him when he handles a situation skilfully and offer to take over if things are going wrong. We have an agreement that we hand over to each other if things go wrong, as they do from time to time due to a short fuse or lost patience.

At the moment I am working on ensuring ds2 brushes his teeth every night. I like saying good things to my husband about how well my current plan is working and other good things about ds2.

I think I reduced contact time between ds2 and my husband when he was being nasty towards ds2. My approach may have been to create and manage a few successful interactions between them, rather than a series of damaging ones.

It's a few years in the past now, so it's hard to remember. Compulsory events like family meals were ditched and chosen spontaneous events were brought in: football in the garden, a ball game played up and down the stairs, a drive in his sports car, watching Top Gear...I had to be on hand to take over the moment things started to go pear-shaped.

I didn't ask him to make changes, I informed him, because I was in charge of the situation. Discussing it seemed to make everything worse, but taking executive decisions and being as professional as I could in my communications with him worked a lot better. Good luck.

One last thing, my husband really appreciated a 1:1 visit from the local Autism Support charity for our county. It was nearly an hour and he was changed by that visit. The lady told me she often did 1:1 visits with the fathers.

zzzzz Tue 19-Jul-11 01:05:28

Wow TooJung what a fabulous Mum. Well done.

yuckythingsonthefloor Tue 19-Jul-11 21:56:16

I'm totally in awe, also, Toojung of what you've achieved. I'm going to try to manage some happier interactions also, a bit of family tv time perhaps, stage a few games and keep DS busy to avoid too much contact for now. It's difficult to avoid mealtimes but I have been planning a focus chart for DS so that may give DH a clearer idea of how this can be managed and make him feel less bothered.

One of the problems I have had since DS was tiny is that DH doesn't ever seem to get that I am basically managing most of it he interjects all the time, often contradicting me totally while I'm trying to handle a situation. When DS was a child he would try to change the nappy while I was already doing it. I think this is possibly also an AS difficulty in itself of understanding 'your job, my job'.

But overall I totally hear you about being informative, factual and non-directive. It would be great if I could find an equivalent to your Autism Support worker. I'll look into it.

zzzz I have been thinking all day of getting DH on side and on your comment of the most important thing I can help with is the relationship with a father. I've been adversarial myself and I need to refocus on him more.

Utah - thanks for your thoughts also, I think yes, probably DH was shouted at and picked on knowing his mother ;-) who is also very critical. Hard habits to unlearn but I may raise it with him and remind him of how it made him feel towards his parents as a young man.

Thanks all for your comments, had a more successful day today.

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