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Is it possible to teach an autistic child manners? adult content

i don't know the first thing about autism, so i'm not going to be arrogant enough to presume to know anything about it. my question is serious and not a jab at autistic children.

i encountered an autistic child tonight, probably about 4 years old, at our community pool. however, since we aren't labelled it's not like i knew beforehand he had autism. he came up to my 2 year old and took her toy away from her, which, sorry, i'm not going to allow, and took the toy back, politely saying "no, she had it first". his father was 5 feet away watching the whole thing and did nothing. so he swam away, and not 10 seconds later came back and took it again. now i was irritated, but only because the father was still watching and not doing or saying anything to correct his kid. so i took it back and simply said "no". after the second time his dad called him over and he was reluctant but he swam over to him.

the whole time i'm sitting there thinking this father was an ass and a lazy one at that. he should teach his kid not to just go up to people and take things from them. well, about 10 minutes after that, the boy was all up in my mom's personal space and she was with my 4 and 1 year old. she didn't say anything but the dad did intervene that time, with a big grin on his face, and said "sorry. he's autistic and doesn't know any better" and i overheard everything.

i did feel guilty for taking the toy back, now that i knew he had autism. but then i wondered to myself if i should feel guilty? should the same rules of mannerisms be waived when it comes to autistic children? do they simply not know better? if this is the case, i think his father should've been much more proactive instead of allow him to snatch things from other kids more than once and do literally nothing about it. i was more concerned over this father's lack of parenting skills than of the boy's lack of manners anyway.


Asked by tnm786 at 8:01 PM on May. 13, 2011 in Parenting Debate

Level 43 (159,608 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (11)
  • I am close to a family with an autistic child and i notice things like this too. Its almost like autism is an excuse tfor not correcting inappropriate behavior. I don't know what techniques are appropriate when dealing with autism but doing nothing doesn't seem like its the answer.
    You were not out of line when he took your kids toy. I would've done the same thing.

    Answer by Mel_in_PHX at 8:06 PM on May. 13, 2011

  • Sounds like the dad was using the autism excuse to be a lazy parent
    I have never allowed my autistic son to not have manners. If he was the type of child that was a wanderer,he should have been watched more carefully
    Yes,they can be taught manners

    Answer by butterflyblue19 at 8:07 PM on May. 13, 2011

  • Can you potty train an autistic child? Can you teach math to an autistic child? Can you teach an autistic child to read? Can you teach an autistic child to use a fork and spoon? Yes, yes, yes and yes. So...can you teach an autistic child manners? yes!

    Sure, it's harder like most other things are to teach them, but it sounds like he is using the autism as an excuse to not even try.

    Answer by hill_star03 at 8:15 PM on May. 13, 2011

  • Yes, it IS possible to teach an autistic child. I have a neighbor that is 10 and autistic. And yes, he does sometimes invade the hell out of personal space. And yes, he does act a little odd at times. BUT, he is also one of the sweetest, well behaved kids I know.

    If you invest the time, energy and patience you will reap some amazing rewards. Parents seem to have forgotten that in the fever to "kepp up with the Jones'"

    Adults spell love: L-O-V-E. Kids spell love: T-I-M-E.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 8:23 PM on May. 13, 2011

  • I have a cousin who has autism and something called Williams syndrome. I'm not quite sure what it is but I do know because he has issues his parents will not discipline him. He's going to be 11 here soon and has no manners, he doesn't listen, and he's even told his mother he wishes he could cut her head off they just say he's special and can't teach him.

    Answer by onemellowmom at 8:34 PM on May. 13, 2011

  • Very often parents with autistic children refrain from taking their children to social activities like a community pool. I'm so happy for this father who is making everything possible to integrate his child into de community.
    About the toy I just want to express what some doctors have concluded....some children with Autism lack of Short-Term Memory. This might be reason why the child kept insisting. Another thing that doctors would have said is that the child doesn't have the communication skills to "request" for the toy. And what could be most relevant fact is that some Autistic children will never develop the mechanisms enable them to feel empathy towards others.

    Answer by MMXI at 8:39 PM on May. 13, 2011

  • My oldest son has autism and he is very well mannered. Just because it takes more work doesn't mean it can't be done. He is a teenager now and he does still have trouble with some things, he always will, but he is corrected every time and told the right thing to do. He doesn' speak very well but he can try if it is my expectation that he does. He is also impulsive, it still doesn't excuse poor parenting. The dad should have been using this experience to teach instead of as an excuse for bad behavior or just ignoring it.

    Answer by t3dragonflies at 8:56 PM on May. 13, 2011

  • I agree with the thought that the dad is being lazy and blaming autism. Kids with autism can learn anything kids without autism can learn, I just might be more difficult to figure out how to teach it.

    Answer by Kitkat61277 at 11:36 PM on May. 13, 2011

  • My younger brother has mild autism and sadly I see so many examples of not teaching him manners. We went out for lunch with family a few days ago and he ate his lo mien by shoveling it out of the bowl into his mouth like he was trying to drink the noodles, constantly talked with his mouth full and lets out horribly loud belches at the table. He's not a child, he's in his 20s and these habits could be curbed if only someone would keep after him about them. Instead we are all expected to look the other way and ignore his obnoxious behavior.


    Answer by scout_mom at 12:21 AM on May. 14, 2011

  • My oldest has autism. Sometimes he will use his manners on his own, and sometimes I have to prompt him and then he will start in on manners (like if he burps and does not excuse himself I will say something to him and then he will say 'excuse me'). I do NOT allow him to pulll the "I have autism" card as an excuse and to get away with things.

    Answer by MizLee at 1:15 AM on May. 14, 2011