Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Parenting a "Step-Child" with Autism and my patience is wearing thin, help!

Posted by on Feb. 29, 2012 at 8:37 PM
  • 14 Replies
  • 23009 Total Views

I'm a 20 year old that has just moved in with my boyfriend and his 12 year old autistic son. The son is high functioning so he can talk and walk...

My problem is, I come from a family of high discipline. It worked on me and the rest of my family (7 childen). We're all well functioning members of society and know how to act properly in public. We all have table manners, except for some of my brothers, but some people are just a lost cause who still live in the basement of my parents' house at 28 and have no sense of hygiene... I, however, am not one of those lost causes. I'm very clean, efficient and know how to act in public. A person's first impression means a great deal to me as I care about how I am represented in public. However, I am by no means a snob, otherwise I would not be living in a household with an autistic child (who is close to being a teenager).

Here's my problem. I moved across the country from New England to live with my boyfriend in Arizona. I have been living here since October 2011. I love him to death and would deal with anything he throws my way, but his son is another story. My desire to have order, cleanliness, and my constant awareness of how me and my soon-to-be family is portrayed in public is under constant attack because of his son.

His son runs at people with a look of murder on his face and tries to either hit them or hug them. Complete strangers I might add. He constantly says, "I wanna sleep at somebody else's house." He's a disgusting eater, getting food everywhere. (I have to clean the dining room table on a DAILY basis now because it's constantly covered in maple syrup, ketchup, or whatever else he might drop on the table, be is solid food or condiments. It's starting to attract ants and becoming a real problem. His hands are always filthy, along with his face and clothing and there is often food in his hair and under his nails. Which has become quite a problem because his teachers at school have complained about it MANY times to his father but his Dad does nothing about it. Until I came into the picture, his son had never eaten with untensils before. That means that when we went out to dinner at restaurants, his son would be shoveling mashed potatoes and meat patties in his mouth with his bare hands like a caveman. It's a constant struggle to get him to eat with a fork and spoon because his motor skills aren't there enough to hold it correctly so that he doesn't get food all over himself.

Whenever he is corrected, he'll scream, "I wanna sleep at somebody else's house!" and back talk and yell and cry. I do not yell at him to eat correctly, I remind him to use his fork the right way or cut his food.

He has no chores around the house as his father has picked up after him his whole life and babied him to the point where he cant' even tie his owns shoes by himself or put on a belt. And he is completely capable of doing so. I know the kid well enough that he is capable to do that.

He is not disciplined at all. When he screams and back talks I just wanna wash his mouth out with soap. When he attacks strangers I just wanna spank him. When he finishes his dinner when we're out to eat and stands at the end of the table (while my boyfriend an I are stil eating) and says, "I'm ready to go" I just wanna yell at him and say, "Sit down and keep quiet. You're being a disrespectful brat." Because he'll stand there and refuse to sit until we're done eating and have paid the check. And if we do manage to get him to sit, he sits there and cries.

He has absolutely NO respect for authority whatsoever and thinks he's just gonna be taken care of the rest of his life. My boyfriend is not teaching him the proper tools to prepare him for highschool or life after he moves out (if he ever does. Which I don't know if I can handle). It's frustrating because even though I, myself, am not a mother and never WANT to be, give him advice for disciplning him or teaching him to act properly, if I never corrected his son, he would NEVER be corrected. My boyfriend would continue to allow his son to walk all over him the rest of his life.

I don't know what to do in order to get this hild under control. If he were a normal child, he would be acting properly and be easier to take out in public. But I avoid taking him out in public at all costs now because I don't know when he's going to run at someone and "attack" them. He's getting to the age where it's not cute anymore. Now it's just plain creepy and scary and I would be utterly humiliated if it happened on my watch.

I'm resorting to a forum because this is taking a huge toll on my boyfriend and I's relationship because I cannot handle his kid. I want to be with him more than anything, but I honestly don't think I would be sad to never see the kid again. If my boyfriend could afford the child support, I would ship the kid off to Minnesota to live with his mother.

This post makes me seem like a bad person, but I just need some serious help with handling this situation. I just want the kid to behave and know how to act in public. I want him to do what I tell him to do and be clean. Is that so much to ask?

Signed,

Confused, Frustrated & Fed UP

by on Feb. 29, 2012 at 8:37 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
artzone
by New Member on Feb. 29, 2012 at 8:56 PM
1 mom liked this
Well I know autism can be had to handle some times but with help it sort be so bad once u know how to handle the situations with out causing a seen. It may take time and some work a lot of work with him but it will be worth it. Autism kids seem to go thou mood swings very easyly. One min being calm the next kicking and screaming. My suggestion would be to either have a consler help wirrth your child work with him and to teach u things as well that will make life better for the best for all of u
U can also have him seen by a Dr. If his temper seem uncontrollable for there help u can also have the school help too with thearpy thou the school help him too with his ot(another name for helping him learn different feels and how to use certain things like the fork. I also know child with autism yelling or pushing as taking things away or grounding is hard for them to understand seen they really don't know what they did wrong. I simply use time outs to show I wasn't happy with what they did. That it was wrong. I also did a lot of reading brans and nobles has books on autism to give u more information on how to understand autism. I also have a child with pdd which is like autism but not as extem so I hope this was help full and I wish u the best of luck.

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
RedMomma4
by on Feb. 29, 2012 at 8:59 PM
2 moms liked this
As a parent of a child with autism I would suggest that you research the disorder as much as possible so you can get a better understanding of your bf's son. It is hard work and it never ends but can be extremely rewarding if you let go of your expectations of what a child his age should or could be doing and see them for how they are and what they bring to your life. All children with autism are different so I don't want to speculate on what he can or cannot do but if you ever expect to have a normally functioning household your in for a letdown. I came from a strict house, we did what we were told, when we were told without complaint or there were consequences. My oldest two live by those rules. Dd3 is just not capable (at this time) of behaving in the same way and following instructions is extremely difficult for her. We have expectations and there are consequences for certain behavior but it's based on her level of understanding instead of a normally developed 6 year old.

GL
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
speedyash2005
by New Member on Feb. 29, 2012 at 9:00 PM
3 moms liked this

being a step-parent in this kid of situation is hard.  My boyfriend is the same way.  He lets his son walk all over him and get away with everything.  I however am a lot stricter.  Kaden is much younger than your boyfriends son, but Kaden knows that I am the boss.  You just have to set your ground rules and keep reinforcing them.  It will seem like a never ending task that will get you no where, but it will pay off.  It's like teaching a toddler new things, you just have to be patient and keep repeating things over and over!  Kaden is far from perfect, he has his out bursts.  He at one time actually threw himself on the floor in the middle of the store and had an all out temper-tantrum.  I just let him lay there and have it.  People will always judge what they don't know.  Autism is one thing that is out there but not a lot of people understand what it is.  I am still learning, and you need to just ignore what people say, and repeat yourself like a broken record.  Let your stepson know you are the boss and this is how things will be.  Don't be violent or mean about it, just stay on your toes.  I wish you the best!  Hang in there.  Kids with autism can be the biggest handfuls, but they are the biggest lovers there are.  Just be patient with him, but be firm.  He will start to grasp that you are the boss and this is how things are going to be.  It's never to late to start

Apple1
by Head Admin on Mar. 3, 2012 at 12:10 PM
1 mom liked this

 

Wow, that would be a hard situation to be in.  But, understanding more about what Autism is will help you to understand him and be able to help him to get better in certain situations you have explained up above in your post.  Does your BF son receive any types of therapy's currently?  Also wondering if he is getting special help in his classes?  Occupational therapy, works with our children who have autism to help them with fine motor skills like eating with a fork, spoon, dressing themselves, bathing themselves etc.  They have many techniques that can help.  Joint compressions and brushing is one of these techniques.  This helps them to feel there limbs and be able to use there arms and fingers better.  I will attach how to do this at the bottom.  My son is 5 years old and has severe autism, BUT, through the last couple of years he has come a long way...staying calm and being encouraging and loving is one of the best ways to handle there meltdowns and frustrations.  Not always easy I know...for example, yesterday he wanted to go on a car drive, go out of the house...well, momma, had to get ready and it was hard for him, started getting frustrated and started to get fussy...I looked at him gave him a hug and a kiss and said to him, please wait for mommy it will be ok...he started to laugh, making things better, the fussing stopped.  This doesn't always happen, but I have realized the more calm and positive I am in hard situations the easier it is for everyone!  Rewarding him also for when he does try to use his fork when eating can reinforce him to want to do it more...such as saying how great of a job he is doing and then giving him a special treat...something he enjoys such as a favorite snack, movie, toy etc.  Hugs to you, this is such a tough situation....although it isn't helpless, it will take sometime, but, it can get better.  Also wondering if you you have tried the GFCF diet with him?  It's a diet free of gluten, (wheat, barley and rye) and no dairy...often times children with autism have a hard time digesting these proteins and cause behavioral problems...the diet can really help...also, epsom salt baths for calming them down, if he likes to take baths :)  you can find them at most local grocery stores.  It is best to start small and build your way up...starting with 1/4 cup per bath and then slowly increasing as you go to 2 cups per bath.  Big hugs!!!

http://www.ehow.com/how_2090234_body-brush-autistic-child.html 

Also, group here on cafemom that talks about the Diet is the biomed momma's group...

mogadishukim
by Member on Mar. 4, 2012 at 3:25 PM
2 moms liked this

Warning: Ok, I'm gonna give a dose of hard truth as I see it based on what you have shared.  You may not like it, and you may not find it helpful, but this is a painful situation for all of you so it is worth not just hoping and expecting for the best.

Because of your age, and lack of your own parenting experience, this enormous challenge will be a long learning curve for you.

One thing that will be difficult is your releasing the expectation that this life together has to look a certain way. Your family of order and discipline is one thing, but the application of structure for an autistic child is quite another. It is more strategic and informed than typical parenting guidelines.

If you are going to be a permanent part of this boy's life, it would benefit both you and your boyfriend to go to any classes on behavior management offered locally by agencies that work with special needs children and adults. If you are at all ambivalent about your future in his life, then your boyfriend at least better step up and take some classes, because he will need these skills no matter what your future holds.

If this was a typical 12 year old, you would still be having trouble, because of your age being so close to his and your status as "not mother".  So before you think that this is all about autism, you should understand that even under the best of circumstance, blending a family with children is difficult and emotionally exhausting work. Trust me, as a teacher I've had to handle entire classrooms full of other people's children of this same age, and typically you find that there is intrinsically rebellion, resistance, and testing of every new authority. 

Even the words that you use about "shipping this kid off", indicate that you perhaps are not ready to take on parenting a 12 year old anyway, for your lack of understanding and compassion for this boy as a child is evidenced by such a statement. Not really judging you, just making observations based on your words.  You are NOT a bad person, but you are not yet a committed parent to this boy, so you will not have the same emotional resources as you would if you had spent a lot more time learning to love and care for him first, then attempt to be an authority.

His behavior is his behavior and is not a reflection on you. Your choices and your behavior is all you need to be concerned with in that regards. The better your understanding of personal boundaries and responsibility the greater freedom you would have from caring so much about what other people out in public are thinking. Who cares what they think!!  Or as Dr. Phil 'You wouldnt care so much about what
people think about you if you knew how little they did'


What matters is a child who needs guidance and structure, but first love and acceptance. Without that foundation, you won't make any positive impact on his behavior.

So, if you are all in, then get schooled and get ready, because it is going to continue to be a bumpy ride.

If you are not all in, better to leave this relationship, than to make a child the enemy in this situation.

stillstandin246
by Member on Mar. 5, 2012 at 2:27 PM
1 mom liked this

 You have leaped into on an enormous undertaking.  First of all I want to say if you are hard on yourself about this, don't be.  You are young, and raising a child is not a task for the faint of heart.  Raising a child with autism requires nerves of steel.  You are not a parent of your own child so what you know about parenting is based only on the way you were parented, and in this situation especially, that is not going to get you through.  Not even close.  In fact, I learn as I raise my child that all bets are off.  What I thought was going to be in my life with her is all out the window.  You have to be 100% committed to this man and to joining their family, and willing to do what it takes to make it work, put aside your preconceived ideas about what should happen, and educate yourself, because it's a bumpy ride.  I have learned not to care what people think about me and my family.  What they worry about is their problem, I have enough of my own.  When we have kids we all have certain expectations and in our cases, that did not happen.  So now I have new expectations and new things to celebrate.  The fact that my daughter recognizes that she has no concept of time is a small victory.  At least she knows.  The fact that she is able to say "going to WalMart stresses me out" is a victory.  (she's 7)  Your bf's son is 12, and in the best of circumstances that would be difficult since you are closer to a friends age than a mother's age to him.  Studies show your own brain might not even be finished developing.   If you need to get out of this situation, do it now and realize its an enormous responsibility and requires enormous resources and discipline for yourself.  I don't think anyone here would condemn you for jumping out of the window in this relationship.  That would be preferable to sticking around and making things worse and giving up your life for something you are not ALL IN.  Now is the time.  People might look at my daughter and think she needs more discipline.  She gets away with stuff her sister never would have, but this is a new day and there are a new set of rules.  Sometimes I myself don't know what those are, and I am much older than 20.  I want to give you a hug my dear and tell you its ok if you opt out, but you need to make a choice.  And if you opt in, educate yourself.

luv4elephants
by New Member on Mar. 31, 2013 at 9:19 PM
I am in the same boat. It is a bit comforting knowing I'm not the only one to feel this way. I am having such a difficult time and it seems as if I am the only one who wants to instill some independence in my bf's son. I constantly feel as if I am the "bad guy" who runs a tight ship. I've done my research and know that structure and routine are key. Although it seems as if everyone else wants to treat my bf's son like a baby and give him special treatment just because he has autism. I don't see him as special, he is a child WITH autism. It doesn't define who he is. I refuse to treat him with extra care. Knowing that I will always have to take care of him, and put up with his ways, gives me a headache and I feel so stressed. Please don't ever stop.communicating how you feel. If he disgusts, annoys, irritates, etc you then by all means you have every right to share your feelings. Know that you are not alone girl. I totally understand how you feel. I too have no biological children of my own nor do I want any. We need more people to understand the "step-parents" pov. Good luck!
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
redheadstar
by on Mar. 31, 2013 at 11:04 PM

When my DH became aware of my autistic son and later moved in with us, it was a tough adjustment, but with time and patience it was second nature and 8 years later, he is a better parent than me!!

maecntpntz219
by New Member on Apr. 1, 2013 at 12:14 PM
1 mom liked this

Couldn't have put it any better. You have A LOT to learn my dear, not just about autism and step parenting, but about life in general, and if you are 100% accepting of what you are getting into by pursing the next step in your relationship, do yourself, your boyfriend, and most importantly the child a favor and move on. Don't stay in this relationship with a grudge against the child and try to mold him into what you *think* he should be. 


Quoting mogadishukim:

Warning: Ok, I'm gonna give a dose of hard truth as I see it based on what you have shared.  You may not like it, and you may not find it helpful, but this is a painful situation for all of you so it is worth not just hoping and expecting for the best.

Because of your age, and lack of your own parenting experience, this enormous challenge will be a long learning curve for you.

One thing that will be difficult is your releasing the expectation that this life together has to look a certain way. Your family of order and discipline is one thing, but the application of structure for an autistic child is quite another. It is more strategic and informed than typical parenting guidelines.

If you are going to be a permanent part of this boy's life, it would benefit both you and your boyfriend to go to any classes on behavior management offered locally by agencies that work with special needs children and adults. If you are at all ambivalent about your future in his life, then your boyfriend at least better step up and take some classes, because he will need these skills no matter what your future holds.

If this was a typical 12 year old, you would still be having trouble, because of your age being so close to his and your status as "not mother".  So before you think that this is all about autism, you should understand that even under the best of circumstance, blending a family with children is difficult and emotionally exhausting work. Trust me, as a teacher I've had to handle entire classrooms full of other people's children of this same age, and typically you find that there is intrinsically rebellion, resistance, and testing of every new authority. 

Even the words that you use about "shipping this kid off", indicate that you perhaps are not ready to take on parenting a 12 year old anyway, for your lack of understanding and compassion for this boy as a child is evidenced by such a statement. Not really judging you, just making observations based on your words.  You are NOT a bad person, but you are not yet a committed parent to this boy, so you will not have the same emotional resources as you would if you had spent a lot more time learning to love and care for him first, then attempt to be an authority.

His behavior is his behavior and is not a reflection on you. Your choices and your behavior is all you need to be concerned with in that regards. The better your understanding of personal boundaries and responsibility the greater freedom you would have from caring so much about what other people out in public are thinking. Who cares what they think!!  Or as Dr. Phil 'You wouldnt care so much about what
people think about you if you knew how little they did'


What matters is a child who needs guidance and structure, but first love and acceptance. Without that foundation, you won't make any positive impact on his behavior.

So, if you are all in, then get schooled and get ready, because it is going to continue to be a bumpy ride.

If you are not all in, better to leave this relationship, than to make a child the enemy in this situation.



Faewds
by Member on Apr. 2, 2013 at 2:32 AM
1 mom liked this
What stands out the most to me is you said that you are not a mother and don't WANT to be.

Being a step parent is being a parent. Its hard for typical children let alone a child with autism or any other disability to get used to another adult. It takes a lot of commitment and underatanding from all sides and a child with autism especially may not completely understand or be able to process emotionally or tell you what they are feeling.

My son is 12 with Aspergers (basically high functioning) he can not tie his shoes, he can not hold a pencil correctly, he is a messy eater and needs to be reminded to hold a spoon or fork. He can not hold the spoon correctly because he has fine motor issues. He gets freaked and runs off in public at times. He has a teerible temper at times. He is going through puberty dealing with school and can't stand my boyfriend (who we live with for 3 years) It is HARD!!


There are many times where I am embarrassed by my child. Slapping himself in the face at the stores or callimg me a liar over and over in a line at a store loudly cause we did not stick to our list so that means I lied. He has issues and we all have to work hard and know that it is going to be a lot of work to get him sell sufficient. You're not going to get their if your worried about how it makes you look.

You have two choices Roll up your sleeves and be A PARENT or get out and save everyone the heart break.

Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)