I always write this first when writing about my 12 year old son; he is a high functioning autistic child although I don’t believe this issue is related to his autism diagnosis. We have had issues for years in regards to breaking house rules and lying; and talking to him seemingly falls on deaf ears every time.
I’m all about action and consequences; for every action, there is a consequence. We have set up a system where our son has to make his own decisions and take the consequences of those decisions. We allow him 14 hours of “electronic game time” per week, which he can use as he pleases; but after that time has elapsed, there’s no more game time for that week, this seems to be working well overall.
But I recently discovered that he has been using his blu-ray player to indulge his gaming, let’s call it obsession. Watching YouTube videos of other people playing video games. He spends all his time in his room when not playing video games as we don’t allow tablets, consoles and laptops in his room.
Each time we enter his room, knocking first and waiting a few seconds, I see him frantically changing video sources on his TV. But he gets caught as it’s an older LED TV that takes 5-7 seconds to change source. Every time we ask what he is doing and he has used such excuses as “you scared me”, “it was an accident” and “I pressed the wrong button”. We have expressed how suspicious this looks, if he is not doing anything wrong, then why does it happen one or two times nearly every day?
Our son clams up because he knows he is a terrible liar and gets busted every time; so this time I forced the issue telling him I am taking his TV away if he doesn’t tell me. Again, he says nothing until I go to his TV and start pulling out cables and suddenly he says “I was watching PLEX”. Something I know was a lie as our home PLEX server was offline at that time. The net result was the removal of his TV and “game time”.
This is when the penny dropped for me; I realized that his blu-ray player has YouTube built into the firmware. I quizzed my son about it and he admitted that he was watching YouTube; something he knows is only allowed as part of his game time as he only ever watches video game content; usually others playing, he had taken a broken PS3 controller into his room, pretending to be playing the game.
It’s easy to say “let him go; he’s not doing any harm”, but I disagree with that sentiment. We all have to abide by rules; and he needs to be taught that even as adults, we cannot simply ignore rules; there are consequences to our actions. I honestly think there is a general lack of respect for adults by children given the way kids act today, I would never had dreamt about acting like that when growing up in the 80s.
I feel that if we let him get away with it; this behavior will snowball as without consequences, it only encourages this kind of behavior. Autistic or not; children need boundaries, without these boundaries, we end up with someone like Donald Trump, who will lie, cheat and take no responsibility for his actions. My son is heading that way, it’s someone elses fault or he doesn’t believe the rules should apply to him.
I find our son’s behavior disappointing and frustrating; I find myself not taking what he says at face value anymore. I always fact check what he tells me as he has lied so much that I can not trust what he says anymore. I know this is a horrible thing to say about your own child, but what else can I do, I can’t live life with my head buried in the sand, pretending everything is hunky dory when there is clearly a problem.
We are at a loss to what to do to combat this rule breaking and lying. I have read articles that say we should not punish an autistic child, instead talk to them, explain what they did wrong; which in our case does zero to curb the behavior. We have not raised him to be like this; I see this as a lack of respect for us as parents given that he knows he is breaking the rules, his trying to hide his actions and lying proves this.
I don’t think he’s a bad kid; I think some of it comes down to genetics, his biological father who has had zero relationship with him has the same traits. How can we combat genetics if that’s whats causing him to lie consistently. He has lied about everything, last year it was school grades and bullying related.