Reactive attachment disorder, #Autism and the intentions behind behavior

  • Post author:
  • Post comments:4 Comments
  • Reading time:4 mins read

One of the most difficult thing for me as a special needs parent is understanding the motives behind certain behaviors.

Take Elliott for example.  He having a very difficult time listening and doing as he’s told. This is somewhat out of character for him.  He’s also incredibly anxious a day whiny.  This makes day to day life,  frustrating and exhausting.

However,  I keep asking myself,  why is he doing this?

Is this just a phase? Is he simply being defiant? My personal belief is that he is reacting to an understanding stable home life,  as one of my readers pointed out today. I’ve felt this way for a while and my opinion is backed up by the fact that when you remove him from the environment, he improves.

Emmett is another example.  His behavior improves as well, when his environment is changed.

With the two youngest,  I feel that much of their behavioral challenges are situational and not so much inherent. Does that make sense?

Gavin is the real mystery for me.  Everyone involved with Gavin is in agreement that he’s scary. I know how that sounds but it’s the truth.  The reason he’s scary is because of the combination of his high intelligence and the various mental health issues he has. I know without a doubt and from years and years of personal experience, what hes capable of. 

Gavin can and will do things that most people would never believe a 12 year old capable of.

Having said that, he also a 12 year old boy with Asperger’s.

How in the world are we ever supposed to know why he does something?  Take last night for example.  He exposed himself to Lizze and I in our living room. 

Gavin has a very long history of sexual aggression. This includes countless instances of making horribly inappropriate sexual contact with people from both genders. When dealing with a child,  like Gavin, who is incapable of making emotional connections and literally has no conscience or regard for how those around him are affected by his actions,  reacting to anything he does is very difficult.

For every 10 things he does on purpose,  I’m sure there are a 1 or 2 that are either completely or mostly innocent behaviors.  Not ike they still aren’t a problem but at least he hadn’t set out to hurt someone.

Make sense?

The hugely overwhelming problem we face is how to know the difference between the two?

We never want to punish him for innocent behavior, even if the behavior needs to be corrected.  However,  and this is a big however, we also can’t allow him to get away with purposefully hurtful behavior. 

Because Gavin is so intelligent and because he doesn’t care how his actions affect others,  he is very self-motivated. This means that if he wants something,  he’ll do whatever it takes to get it. We’ve seen that materialize when he plotted revenge on a fellow student for two weeks before attempting to extract it.

The safest thing we can do is assume that all his behaviors are malicious in nature and question everything.

However,  as a parent that feels so incredibly wrong,  even if it’s the right thing to do.

I just wish Gavin wore a sign over his head,  displaying what his intentions are.  This would make parenting for both Lizze and I far less guilt filled and stressful. We would know better how to handle these things without having that lingering doubt in the back of our heads.

This was posted via WordPress for Android, courtesy of Samsung’s Galaxy S III. Please forgive any typos. I do know how to spell but auto-correct hate me.

Please join our Autism Help Forums

Look for “Autism Help” app at the Google Play Store

Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
0 0 votes
Article Rating

Join The Conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

most voted
newest oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

 @Theramatch15 That is a correct definition.  Is there anything else you wanted to add or ask about?


Asperger's syndrome is a neurobiological disorder identified as a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) within the autistic spectrum.


 @DLaubacher  LOL–all my time would be spent there as well.
Rob, you & Lizzie might be interested in taking a course online on ABA (applied behavior analysis)  if you haven't  already done so.  It teaches you how to determine the ABCs of behavior:  Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence.  Sometimes this allows you to replace one behavior with another.  Here is a link that has the basics on the site:&nbsp ;  
This allows you to step back and be more dispassionate about the behaviors of your child.  I know it helped a lot with my younger girl. You say that Gavin is scary, and he is because he is missing "theory of mind" as the experts call it.  No understanding that others have feelings nor concern for harm to others as long as he gets to do what he wants.  With the younger boys, you have made strides in recognizing behaviors that are situational rather than compulsions.  Now you can work on extinguishing the behaviors that are unacceptable or intolerable to you.  Give yourselves a pat on the back and keep pressing forward!  


I wish they all came with instruction manuals, and I know I'd be looking in the "troubleshooting" index constantly!