Communicating with my adult #autistic son

I’ve mentioned this a few times before but Gavin and I have a unique relationship. We’re very very close and direct with each other. I’ve learned over 20 years that Gavin needs people to be very direct with him. If you give him any room to interpret the meaning in your words, he will often struggle to understand. That’s just part of who he is and that’s okay.

From the outside, it can seem like I’m being mean but in reality, I’m not. If I used this approach with someone else, I might agree but sometimes we have to cater our approach to the needs of the person we’re trying to approach.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

If Gavin is talking too much, which he’s known to do, I can’t just nicely ask him to give me a break. I mean, I could ask him that way but it will go right over his head. I could tell him that my ears need a break, but that doesn’t usually work either. I have to be very direct and simply tell him to stop talking. I do it with very little affect and in a stern voice because that leaves no room for him to get confused about what he needs to do.

From the outside, it might seem like a harsh approach but it’s not done out of anger. There might be a little frustration in there but that’s because I’m human.

If I need him to stop talking to me, I simply tell him to stop talking. He will reply with okay Dad, I say thank you and we go on with our day. I’ve found that this is actually less frustrating for him as well. He doesn’t like making what he perceives to be mistakes. If I ask him nicely to please give me a break or that I need a break from his talking because I’m trying to work, he will often keep going. It would take multiple attempts to get him to understand what I need and by the time he does, he can become frustrated with himself for not understanding the first time. Meltdowns can follow and that’s not good for anyone.

I’ve found it best to be direct. It’s not mean. It’s not cruel. It’s not disrespectful and it’s certainly not because I don’t love him. Most importantly it works and it doesn’t upset Gavin at all.

We all have to coexist and problems arise when Elliott and Emmett try to get Gavin to stop doing something and he won’t listen. In fairness, they’re both guilty of doing the same thing. The difference in that they’re often choosing to not listen, which frankly, is worse. In Gavin’s case, he usually isn’t understanding where they’re coming from. Most arguments are the result of misunderstandings. Elliott and Emmett aren’t always very forgiving because they take things at face value and view the world in black and white. If Gavin says something, their knee jerk reaction is to take him literally. That doesn’t always end well. Gavin rarely says anything out of anger or to hurt anyone, so I’m working with the boys to remember that.

I’m trying to help Gavin learn to sorta read the room a little better but that’s proving to be a difficult task. I’m also trying to get Elliott and Emmett to better understand that the world isn’t black and white. There’s a lot of color and nuance that my guys just don’t see. It’s an uphill battle but we’ve made progress and that’s awesome. Everyday is an adventure in this house and I’m very clearly the odd man out but we’re making it work.

Gavin’s looking to move out at some point in the near future, so practicing his interpersonal skills is really important. My only goal is to help him learn to better navigate this crazy worlds we live in. He’s already come such a long way and I couldn’t be any prouder of him. He’s such an amazing human being and he makes the world a better place.

Rob Gorski

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