Highly functioning autistic individuals might be described as “aware and can’t do anything about it” when it comes to certain areas of living. They are highly functioning in many areas but of highly functioning socially. The job of parents becomes not to teach social graces but to teach them responsibility so as not to put themselves in dangerous situations.
First, a little brain science.
The cerebellum has more neural connections than any other part of the brain. The cerebellum controls motor activity, sensory-motor activity, balance, memory, and facial expression to name a few. If your cerebellum is “overactive” you may experience involuntary movement. If your cerebellum is “under-active” your feet may forget to move. One can expand that idea of overactive and under-active to the various areas controlled by the cerebellum.
Second, internalized rules.
So let’s say as a family parents come with sets of rules. Parent #1 has her/ his family rules. Parent #2 has her/his family rules. I am speaking of internalized rules not formal, do this-don’t do that posted on the fridge type rules. We all com with internalized rules that are the result of our “internal mothers (primary caregiver).” These are things that we just assume to be true about how to live life in a family setting. Some have more than others. Some are well defined and “loud” while some are subtle in volume or tone and some are pretty muddy. We all have some. These are the things that we just assume to be true about how to live life in a family setting. We act out the internalized rules based on situations that come up day to day.
As a family grows the two parents have many experiences, opportunities to forge new family rules by combining , refining , getting rid of internal rules. Some times this happens formally, sometime almost by osmosis and sometimes, well “loudly.”
And third, new family member.
Along comes a new family member who is high functioning on the Spectrum. The internalized rules may no longer work. You know, those auto-pilot things we say, those auto-pilot responses that just seem to just happen. The internalized rules may not fit this new situation. “What we know is what we know.” And “what we know’ in this case probably isn’t going to work. Yet, here we are. We act out rules to solve problems. Therein lies the opportunity. This is the opportunity: to rewrite the family rules. This is the opportunity to make rules appropriate to the new situation, the new family. The family deserves and will need new rules.
Taking time to visit your internal family rules, your internal mother and to not allow her to auto-pilot how you relate to your child on the Spectrum. Take time to create new family rules together and verbalize them. Put in to action rules with flexibility that will address the social wellbeing and the safety of your child on the Spectrum.
More about rules in a future blog. For now I hope you find this to be food for thought. If you are struggling with “parenting on the Spectrum” and would like support please check out of Resource Page here at Connect Therapies LLC or give us a call. We are here to offer hope and support.