5 Things You Should Never Say to a Child With Aspergers

Hi there, I’m Lori Petro and you are
watching another episode of our weekly Q&A where I show you how to create
teachable moments with your kids and today I want to talk about Asperger’s. Now, over the last few months I’ve come
across several articles about what not to say to someone with Asperger’s or
what not to say to parents with a child on the spectrum but all of these focus
on what not to say to adults. So, it got me thinking about what not to say to
kids with Asperger’s. Growing up, I received a lot of feedback about my
behavior but it wasn’t the kind of feedback that helped me make better
decisions. It can be easy to see our children as being the problem – the ones
who need to learn a lesson or be more respectful, more caring, or more well-behaved. But, how often do we turn that pointy finger around and point it
towards our own hearts? How often do we look inside and say what do I sound like?
What do I look like? How do I come across to my kid? A pattern of harsh handling or
impatience can really erode your relationship and your influence, as well
as the way your child sees him or herself. So, not only will your children
believe what you say about them but they will act on it. I know kids on the spectrum can
frustrate your many neuro-typical expectations. I know because I was one of
those kids, but there was no Asperger’s back then, so my parents were just left
feeling confused. And, so was I. Why didn’t they understand me? Why did they say I
had no emotion? Why did they say I was rude when I was just trying to be clear or
accurate or helpful. I notice what remains unseen to you and whether you
see an exaggerated response from your kids or understand the reality of an
oversensitive system, please know that kids on the spectrum don’t intentionally
try to ignore expectations or aggravate their elders even when you think you
have said it enough, made it clear enough, or been gentle enough. Sometimes, kids on
the spectrum will just perceive more than you intended. We think and
communicate about things differently and all that ABA in the world will not fix
what’s not broken. The unique perspective of someone with Asperger’s is an
integral part of their operating system and one that I believe needs to be
respected and understood. If you want to better understand and communicate with
your child, here are my top five phrases to never say to a child with Asperger’s,
or let’s face it, any child really! And also, some alternatives for what to say
instead. Okay #1. My first phrase to lose is – “You are too sensitive.” or
“You’re overreacting.” You don’t even need to replace this one. Just stop saying it. This is probably the #1 phrase that will send an Aspie into a blinding
rage or a shamed sense of disconnection. Let’s just assume that the emotional and
physical nature of Asperger’s includes a hyper-awareness of the world what seem like ordinary sights, sounds, smells, and even movements to you – can be incredibly difficult to manage for a child with Asperger’s. I heard over and over, as a
child, “You’re too sensitive.” And, I’m not too sensitive. I am highly intuitive and
exquisitely adept at perceiving stimuli and that includes your inner world – your
pain, your stress, your worries. And I do that with an intensity that can short-circuit my central nervous system. You can’t hide
your emotions from your Aspie child. There is this myth that Aspie’s lack
empathy or lack the ability to understand another person’s emotions and
that is just the biggest load of BS. Only a neurotypical could make that
assumption. the majority of Aspie’s that I know are
extremely empathetic and intuitive – to the point of it even being physically
painful. We also happen to be really good at separating ourselves and distancing
ourselves from emotion, so we can look at a situation logically and analytically. But, that doesn’t mean that we don’t feel or notice the feelings of others. In fact,
we actually shut down because we feel too much. View your child’s tantrums as a reaction
to his perceptions of the stimuli rather than a choice that he is making to
interrupt your peace or cause you trouble. In those moments, safety, empathy, and your calm presence are what move your child from meltdown to maturity. My
next suggestion #2 is to stop saying – “You are so disrespectful.” or “You are just
being defiant.” It’s never constructive to be critical. If your child is being
disrespectful, he likely feels disrespected. If he’s being defiant, he’s
attempting to retain dignity – his sense of autonomy. I loved when Dr. Shefali
declared her love for the defiant child in her recent Oprah interview because
it’s so true. The “defiant child” won’t let you use your power to control them. Whatever hypocrisy or dissonance they sense, they will mirror it right back to
you loud and clear. Defiance is a request to be seen and
heard. It is a blanket of armor that is worn to protect the self. So, instead of
assuming your child’s intentions, can you inquire about his resistance by building
a bridge? Use words like, “I never realized how strongly you felt about this,” or “I
was clearly under estimating your passion,” or “I don’t like it when you tell
me that I’m wrong, but I respect that you have a different view than I do,” or “We
disagree, but I believe that we can come to a place of agreement where we could
work out our differences.” Disrespect is not something that we are born with. Defiance is not a symptom of Asperger’s. These actions are bred from a sense of
isolation, disconnection, or feeling unheard. Aspies will show you the respect,
cooperation, and loyalty that you expect and desire when you walk your talk with
honor and without using blame, shame, judgment, or guilt to try and change
behavior. Okay, #3 – the next time that you want to say, “if you would just…”
or “Why can’t you just…” Step back, and remember that your child is doing the
best that she can in that moment. Nothing makes a child who is struggling with
meeting the expectations of adults feel worse than when you assume that she
isn’t trying – to pay attention, to listen, to do what she’s
told. As a kid, I always heard, “Oh, she’s so smart but she doesn’t apply herself.” But
no one investigated why I wasn’t applying myself. They just assumed that I
wasn’t, that I was refusing to. Kids on the spectrum may need lots and lots of
repetitive practice and support to accomplish certain tasks. They are also
helped if you make your requests visual and break things into smaller step. Aspie kids are visually oriented, so remember to “show them” don’t “tell them.” Don’t give
directions from three rooms across the house and then expect them to be
followed. Many aspies cannot process verbal instructions. They need to
actually be shown the steps – and sometimes – over and over before those
patterns of expected behavior will take hold. It’s never helpful to presume that
your child is not trying or that she could do it if she would just try more. Your
child may actually be struggling with some aspects of the action and not able
to manage moving from point A to point B. Help your child reflect where she could
make new choices and evaluate outcomes, so that she can understand her strengths
and her weaknesses and see where she can actually apply new behaviors. You can use
words like, “Let’s try again,” or “This is a challenge. What could we do instead?” or “I
bet that there is more than one way to do this. What do you think? You have any
ideas about what we could do?” or “Let’s leave these instructions out. That might
help if we can refer to them,” or “Can we make a list of what did work and what
didn’t work this time?” Okay, I know that sometimes the reactions of your child
can baffle you. But the next phrase – #4 – that I want you to stop saying is – “Why would
you say that? What’s wrong with you? Shame on you.” Remember to help your child with
social interactions rather than interrogating him about his blunders. If
you ask your child why they did what they did, you will likely get a very
blunt response that might incite your anger or your child might shut down and
give you no answer – possibly frustrating you even more because you don’t
understand. A child who laughs when a friend gets hurt or who gives
unsolicited advice does not mean to appear to lack empathy. Sometimes, it’s the discomfort of not knowing what to say or a passion for “problem-solving logic” makes Aspie kids
react in ways that seem unkind or uncaring.Putting your foot in your mouth
is embarrassing enough for everyone and no one wants to be pigeonholed into
those kind of behaviors no matter how often they happen. So, if your child
responds with an inappropriate remark, give quality feedback about what to do next time. Inquire about your child’s reactions or point him to notice what
you really want him to notice next time. You can say, “Seems like you’re having a
hard time right now,” or “That was unexpected,” or “I’m not sure Jack understood what you meant by that. Let’s try telling him again.” Be straightforward, “It looks like you were
surprised when Kayla fell off her chair.” “I bet that hurt. Let’s ask her if she’s
okay.” Inappropriateness is not a lack of
empathy, so don’t assume that your child doesn’t feel for another person simply
because his expression is not delivered in the way that you were used to. And, my
final phrase – #5 – to give the axe to is, “Look at me.” Maintaining eye contact has long been touted by discipline experts as a sign of respect. But, it’s just not true –
especially for an Aspie. Making eye contact can feel like an anxiety-ridden
test of strength with no clear purpose. And, “no clear purpose” is just what an
Aspie needs to defy your request every time. First, eye contact has nothing to do
with respect. Since I was a child, I would look at people’s mouths when they spoke
and it happened unconsciously, I would catch myself looking at their mouths and
sometimes I would look up at the eyes but my habit seems to be to stare at the
mouth. No one ever commented and I never shared my secret gaze with anyone. And, I also had no idea why I did it until I was in
my late 30s, and I discovered that avoiding eye contact was common for kids
with Asperger’s. Looking into someone’s eyes tends to distract my focus, but
mostly it feels uncomfortable. And, when I feel uncomfortable my anxiety goes up
and my verbal communication skills go down. So, please stop asking your kids to
“look at you.” That may be driving them to a state of reactivity where their
ability to understand and follow what you are saying is actually compromised. If your child struggles with making eye contact, have them used the bridge of
the nose as a focal point – right between the eyes – and trust that your child will
look where it feels right and safe to do so. And, that looking at you doesn’t
necessarily mean that he’s hearing you. Okay that was my teachable moment for
you. I could probably go on, and on, and on with these but we only have so much time
in these videos, so I want to hear from you – moms, dads, adults on the spectrum, teachers, counselors. What was one thing that you think we should never say
to a child with Aspergers? Leave me a note in the comments and share your
thoughts because I would love to know what you guys think. And, if you want more
video trainings like this be sure to check out my website at teach-through-love.com and subscribe to my youtube channel because when you subscribe to updates, I
will send you my latest free training to help you create the family that you
deserve. Now, did you like this video? Because if
so, I would love it if you would pass it on to someone that you love or share it
on your favorite social media site because when you share the love – you spread the love. Thank you so much for watching. Until next time please remember,
it’s about consciousness – not perfection. That’s all for today. Bye!

100 Replies to “5 Things You Should Never Say to a Child With Aspergers”

  1. As first – it is not a disorder! It is a condition! One is born with it and there is no need for a cure or medication! One needs to see it as a positive condition, an evolution of humans of a sort.

  2. Having Asperger's myself, it was not easy growing up with parents who would overwhelm me with their heavy-handed discipline and criticisms on a daily basis, but conversely I do not deny my role as being the challenging child that I was to them as well. My point being, sadly, is that my relationship with them was rife with misunderstanding and resentment that could never be resolved, and with no love to lose in the end. At age 61, I now live reclusively and continue to steadfastly despise myself.

  3. I am high functioning autistic put up for adoption my adopted mother did not understand i found my birth mother 48 years later she understood

  4. There are some famous people with Asperger Syndrome Autism, like Albert Einstein, Anthony Hopkins, Dan Aykroyd, Daryl Hannah, and more.

  5. When my mom would say hurtful things to be as a child and I would cry she would say 'it's not like I hit you, why are you acting that way'

  6. As a grandparent found your suggestions helpful. Soon to be living with grandson and his parents as support so awareness of my behaviour as well as his is important. Thank you for helping me focus on these positive actions and to be mindful of how I can behave in a more supportive way.

  7. Very helpful video thanks for sharing makes me think more about how i sound to my lìttle girl an the spectrum.?

  8. I just wish women could have shown me love I’m getting older and older and my life is getting really dark and empty

  9. “What’s wrong with you!!” Not as a question to understand but as a statement that something is wrong with you.

  10. And everything that she said you shouldn’t say to an aspie, I have heard that my entire life. Nothing hurts more than when people doesn’t see the effort you put in just to try and at least fake fitting in to society’s social communication forms. It hurts as a child a lot to be constantly criticized for a behavior the can not change.

  11. All very good advice, but as you say, for all children and parents, not only for Aspergers. I have one thing to add. I am an aspie, diagnosed at 50, functioning very well (best 5% "adapted" according to psychologists). My parents were lower class, very loving and they put a tremendous amount of energy in me. But, they were pre-war and not well educated, rather strict in many ways and spanking was on the agenda. I still maintain to this day, that the combination of love, lots of effort but very strictly enforced boundaries saved me. Even more than "neurotypical children". And really, the reactions you promote (although good for any child imo), were not the usual reactions of my parents. They of course had no idea. I was only diagnosed at 50! I have a neurotypical son. I raised him differently. Far less strict and no spanking. But on the other hand, if I said something, it was law, whatever he thought of it. Later, when he got older, I discussed more with him. He is now 20 and not perfect (who is?) but I am 100% satisfied with him and I said him so many times! Asked what he found the most horrible mistake I made in his youth, he thought and replied that I advocated a bread with sprinkles as "a delicious cake" which to him, it was not and he was extremely disappointed in my judgement. Well, if that is the worst I did in my upbringing, I did well.

  12. Dude, eye contact makes me feel so uncomfortable. If I have to give a girl eye contact, I get uncomfortable because I unwillingly picture her naked, or me sleeping with her. Heck, I also picture violence. It’s not my fault feminists! Actually anyone for that matter! It’s just a mechanism in our brains.

  13. I love how when you give examples of phrases that work, you’re actually spot on. I always hated communicating with my dad because he speaks in halfs, horrible at conversation.

    “Pull it up.”
    “Pull what up?”
    “The lever!”
    “There’s 3 colors, what color of lever do I pull up?”
    “Just do what I’m telling you!”

    Is it SO hard for someone to talk precise and clear!? “Can you come pick me up at the airport today at about 3PM?” works, “pick me up at the airport later.” means nothing.

  14. More suggestions is: 1. That is so weird. 2. Throwing old weird behaviors in their face when trying to have a normal conversation. 3. Ganging up on them. 4. Talking about them as if they're not in the room. Forming a message board to bash them and spread ignorant misinformation. Horrible women from the AS Partners site. I'm talking about you. Especially btsn3

  15. Utterly speechless, i just recently had suspicions that i have aspergers, and every video i watch on the topic solidifies this to me, but after hearing this, i feel like i found my voice, screaming, YES EXACTLY!!!
    i always wondered how come i am expected to guve due respect to authorities who flagrantly do not hold up to the bare minimum of the standards they themselves are enforcing

  16. I did the same thing when I talked to people. I always looked at their mouths and if I had to would look between their eyes but looking at their mouths was so much better.

  17. Omg i used to laugh when people got hurt when i was a kid..i didnt ever mean to… it felt like a reflex..it just happened..took me forever to learm how to stop and even still..sometimes ill catch myself starting to and i still dont mean to…i watch people's lips as well..always have as well… is that specifically aspi behavior?

  18. "Intuitive to the point of physical pain" … Yes! You nailed it. I have wanted to find a way to express this myself. I am understanding my childhood better all the time. Thank you for helping me with this. I wish you well.

  19. Another thing to not say," You are so self-centered!.. I heard this on a daily basis from my family members. It really hurt. They may as well called me selfish. I got so tired of being ordered around that I quit listening all together. My Mom noticed that if I was being mistreated, I would make my feelings known. Especially if I felt it was uncalled for. The eye contact was only a problem if I was in trouble for something. I have a tendency to avoid conflict or anything involving shouting. Shouting is the fastest way to sent me into a meltdown or even shutdown.

  20. It's pronounced Asperger's, not Ass burgers. This is Ass burgers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu8p4J-y0jE

  21. My mum used to say "stop feeling sorry for yourself" when I was depressed.
    It drove me to pure rage.

  22. "Just try harder" – my mom
    Yes I probably could in somethings but that was in response a shutdown that I had.

  23. Thank you so much!!

    For me, it was terrible when they said on a daily basis that I could if I only wanted to/cared enough about them.
    Little did they know of my constant internal battle to get things right but never could live up to their expectations.

    The other thing was that I was labeled 'ungrateful' for all the things they did for this difficult and burdensome child.

    ** So I would ask parents to not constantly shame and blame their child for the way they are. **

    All the best to you!!

  24. This is amazing….Thank you. Brought tears from my eyes. Aspergers children can sometimes seem so typical it's easy to forget they can't undo their diagnosis

  25. I've had "I might never happen" when I looked "bored" or "disinterested" in working at a cafe in my 20s. Whereas actually I was concentrating so hard on what people were saying through the sea of noise!

  26. My folks for all these things and more xD.
    Needless to say, I failed as an adult… At everything except at being a waste of resources.

  27. Wait, so looking at the mouth doesn't count as eye contact? Are you actually supposed to look at the eyes???

  28. My friend has AS. She says she feels like a Vulcan. No wonder she identified with T'Pol, Saavik,and Spock. Their characters actually helped her connect to others somehow even though I had to remind her Lt.Saavik didn't have AS, but Vulcan/Romulan at first.

  29. I think all children should be brought up like this why are you separating people into stereotypes? Is there something l am missing?

  30. These are things that are said to me by my mom and I am 23. I just accept she wont understand how I feel and not say them so I just piss her off more on purpose while continuing to be as blunt as possible. If they dont want to learn I will pile on my logic and fuel the flame!

  31. Ahhhh, okay, I know this is dumb, but – (adult aspie here) – the transitions that you use in this video is making me feel physically ill. lol – I know it’s ridiculous, but I can-not-stand those transitions. Especially the one where it rotates from the bottom right corner, up and to the right.

    When you did a bunch of really quick cuts, using that transition over and over again, it set me on end and I couldn’t even listen anymore, till I closed my eyes.

  32. I’m so sad that I’ve only now come across this information, it sure will help me understanding my daughter

  33. DON'T GET DEFENSIVE! gets me defensive every-single time. how about a video targeted specifically to tyrannical teachers who just love to make you feel like unwanted garbage? WHY IS THIS NOT PART OF EVERY SCHOOLS CURRICULUM? MENTAL HEALTH SHOULD BE TREATED NO DIFFERENT THE SEX ED.

  34. "I knew you could do it!" I always found that so patronizing!

    " The only reason it's not working is because you're not trying hard enough or you never tried it at all!" I'm trying my best- it's just that many things that come easy to most people just don't come easy for me, and that's just the way things are!

  35. I wish my dad and step mom had watched this video when I was still living with them. They were told by my therapist many times that they would have to put more effort into communicating and understanding me. They didn’t like it. Instead they cut me off from my therapist and assumed that if I wanted things to get better then I would just magically changed. They assumed that because I wasn’t behaving and that I didn’t respect them as much as they wanted, that I did it on purpose and I didn’t love them. They pushed me into saying that I didn’t like them or that I did things on purpose because that was the only thing they would accept. Nothing I said could get through to them, and nothing I did was enough for them. When I told my step mom I was depressed and started marking my arms with my pencils, she handed me a kitchen knife and told me to cut myself. She assumed that because I couldn’t do it in front of her that I wasn’t serious enough about my depression and self harm. I almost drank bleach after having an argument with her while my dad and brother were out. She didn’t care… she just dragged me back to the couch and yelled at me again. I wished with all my heart that they would change, I hoped and prayed for that so much. But it eventually got to the point where I moved out before I graduated because I wasn’t safe and I wasn’t happy with them. They didn’t stop me, they didn’t care. That honestly hurt me more than I could ever convey to someone. There have been many times I hated having Aspergers, bc I thought without it my family would love me finally, I’d be accepted by them. But thanks to some of the few supportive people in my life I’ve started thinking having Aspergers isn’t terrible, and it makes my life better for me in some ways. I just can’t help but wish my family, and other parents in general, would be more aware about Aspergers.

  36. Hi I am an aspie and a kid and I have barely ever been treated fairly and I am nearly crying with happiness

    It is honestly sad that there are so many people who treat aspies like garbage

    But I feel that the worst thing ever to say to an aspie is
    "You are using it as an exuse"

    Six words
    Fuck ? off ? with ? that ? bull ? shit

  37. Maybe you belong in an institution was the worst and most painful thing I heard from my frustrated parent while trying to help me with math.
    I wasn't diagnosed until my adult years. This year, actually but I knew I was on the spectrum just as my son is and possibly my father.

    It's nice to have a name for what I've struggled with all of my life.

  38. Thank you for a great video.

    I've been guilty of saying look at me a few times but I also have hearing issues and it was more about needing the see the face and not so much the eyes.

  39. Being told to calm down by the person who caused my meltdwn is rather frustrating.

    Being constantly questioned is another.

  40. I was born with aspergers syndrome. I must say. I hate the term aspie. I have aspergers, I am not the syndrome. To me it would be the same as a person with scitzofrenia said that he or she is a schitzo. Aspie to me, is making fun of the syndrome. And elevating it to something it is not. It is just a mental handicap and nothing else.

  41. The thing is people usually kids use theyre lack of social skills and want ancexplanation for their own problems. There us some with mental problems but most are just bullshitting.

  42. This was a great video. Thank you for dispelling myths and offering tips for parents. I am aspie and verbally over-communicate. I was told as a child to shut up, stop talking so much. Also stop worrying and stop getting your feelings hurt (as if could control my sensitivity??)

  43. When someone tells me how to behave, or constantly reminds me of the rules, even when they know that I know the rules, it boils my blood

  44. As an aspie I can say that it’s the truth, aspies are extremely sensitive to high sounds or lights and can get terrible headaches like headaches where you think you might die or faint, we see the world differently. Sometimes it may be for us straight like from a horror scene and sometimes something beautiful, you see we have really high intelligence and imagination and we have the power to be able to play alone just in a snap of our finger cuz of our best friend imagination. But sometimes our sight confuses us like some pretty normal sounds to you may sound annoying to us and some annoying sounds to you may sound good for us and the same with what we SEE. Some people don’t bother being in a room with light but I personally close all my windows and put something on them while playing in my room cuz light just irritates me for my whole life.

  45. Wish this info was around 50 years ago. Wonder if the eye contact is something all Aspergers have? Thanks for the tips, I think this can even help when talking to NTs.

  46. When my mom yells at my dad and is angry at him I legit feel like my mom and my dad so I feel like I need to leave the room, and my mom does understand, but my dad is an aspie too so we don't really do much

  47. this is invaluable to me… just wish I'd known these things when my youngest was in school…..but none the less…this is still good super fantastic stuff. by the way, pretty sure Im autistic….maybe Aspie not sure…. but still, its good to know that you and others are wanting to educate. I work with persons with autism and this is all good. Thanks very much.

  48. I think my child has Asperger’s syndrome she is struggling in school and she can’t make many friends she gets into trouble a lottt for not doing the work although she says to me that she try’s her best should I take her to see the doctors

  49. Or when you tell someone you have Aspergers and they say it means nothing and I’m normal or there’s nothing wrong with me. They’re missing the point that I’m saying there is a gap between me and them that is causing me problems and stressing me out

  50. When i was about 8 we were visiting an auntie. She had a new piece of furniture which she thought resembled a coffin. She asked what i thought. I blurted out agreement . Of course as soon as we were in the car to go home my old man said what did i think i was doing. Nobody is interested in what i had to say. As usual i sat stunned. I am now 52 and He has sinse apologised but i dont think he gets it.

  51. I believe that parents should never EVER say verbally abusive and hurtful words to their diagnosed kids just because they may have done a bunch of mistakes; being hurt verbally hurts just as bad as being hurt physically because it makes you feel like your worthless, and you don't mean anything at all. Some kids could even hate themselves and hurt themselves like cutting, taking drugs, and even committing suicide if they have been hurt by verbal abuse many times, and they wish it would stop.
    BTW, great video because I have Asperger's but I have amazing parents! ?

  52. Here's some more things not to say:

    Your (name interest here) is the cause of all your problems. Give it up and get into something more "appropriate" .

    I'm going to send you to a mental institution if you don't change your behavior.

    Your siblings hate you because you took mom/dad away from them.

    It's no wonder nobody wants to be friends with you.

    Telling another relative that X has no friends.

    Saying if you don't apply yourself in school or whatever tell them you'll take them to Europe and have them marry someone Who is rich and has the mindset stuck in the 1700s.

  53. Don't waste my time, engaging me all those stupid pointless small talk, it really gets old.

  54. It is a neurological disorder and there are treatments. Patience and understanding are required until the treatments are successful, but change can occur.

  55. My least favorites are "Ugh! She's soooooo slooooooow!", "You stare at me, like I have 8 heads." And the ever so snarky "Are you trying to fly somewhere?"

  56. For me, growing up with undiagnosed Asperger’s it was the ceaseless criticism and the constant fear of “what did I say / do this time?!” Or “I’m going to hear about this later!”

  57. Yes no empathy with aspie is a myth. As an aspie I have excess of empathy towards people animals trees everything alive including plants. There needs to be further research on this. This could be comorbid condition existing alongside Asperger.

  58. I remember often getting Spanked seemingly out of the blue, without warning. I didn't learn "Right from Wrong" from this, only that Bigger People will Attack those that are vulnerable when they disapprove of what you are doing.

    My situation devolved into a scenario where I would Spank my mother back as I got older.

  59. My son has this and has strong emotional outbursts. I love what you said about all of this, it is so hard as a parent to try to get their teachers to understand. My son starts jr high and is so stressed. I love him so much and it hurts me to my soul that other people may assume he is a bad kid.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *