Autism and Breaking up
I have broken up with my son’s therapists, schools, and recently an organization. Why? Because all relationships run their course and when they’re no longer working, they need to end. It’s the same with romantic relationships. Once the love is gone, or has shifted, we often hold on for too long. It can be detrimental to yourself or your child when you avoid autism and breaking up.
This Valentine’s Day I’m exploring autism and breaking up. When it’s time to break up, why to break up and then how to do it! I know it can be hard, especially if you don’t have a lot of therapist options or organizations to chose from. Be persistent and find the best places at the best time for your child.
Time to Break Up
Often when we have a child with autism, we need to evaluate our child’s cognitive and emotional health. First, if your child is in any sort of abusive situation, remove your child immediately. Whether it be by a teacher, peers, therapist, coach, anyone! Have a zero toleration policy! Beyond abuse, there can be several reasons it’s time to break up.
Child is bored. If your child is no longer thriving and engaging with a therapist or in a program, it’s time to stimulate them in different ways. I’m not talking about non-preferred tasks, I mean really despondent and doesn’t care if they go or not, then the therapy is not helping.
Teenager is angry. I knew it was time to break up with a mental health therapist when my son started acting out with angry behavior. He hated going to this particular art therapist so much he’d have epic meltdowns. I quickly learned that this was not good for him at all. Now, we have a new therapist that he not only loves, he’s eager to talk to.
No Time. Don’t overload your child with therapies or activities and think they will thrive. Some individuals with autism need down time to relax, stem, and regulate themselves. With no breaks, sensory or otherwise, you could be causing more harm than help. We all need time to rejuvenate.
Past Time to Break Up
Being shunned. Parents need to know what is going on with their child and their peers. Are they being bullied at school? Or shut out from the group? In this day of social media, its easier for us to visually see proof of what is happening in our children’s social circles. When I saw my son was being ousted from an after school organization, I pulled him out. Done. Finished. It would be worse for him to be continually subjected to that behavior from peers.
Therapist Burn Out. Okay, we’ve all met teachers that have been teaching too long. There are therapists that have reached their limit as well. I’m not judging, these people work hard and it’s understandable that they’d loose their momentum. But when this happens, you need to let them go. Bye-bye. Set them free. Think of your child’s health first always.
Outgrown Situation. As our children age out of different systems, they also developmentally age out. Maybe we love a certain coach and our child has fun playing on their team, but you have to gauge if this situation is helping them grow, or if it’s just babysitting. Are they learning anything? Are they making progress? Working on social skills? If it’s become redundant, it’s time to move on.
How to Break Up
With autism and breaking up things can get tricky, or messy. I guess all break ups have the possibility of being bloody metaphorically. Since transitions themselves can be a challenge, you may have to tread lightly. You know your child best, but meet with a trusted friend or therapist for advice is needed.
- Find a new (insert therapist, friend, coach…) first. Yes, I know when it comes to love it’s brutal to find a new partner before breaking up with your current love. BUT with autism and breaking up this can be very helpful. By finding, or trying out, a few new therapist before breaking up with your current one, you may make the transition process easier for your child. A therapy safety net.
- Be honest. Most therapists know if it’s not a good match. Tell them that while they’re a wonderful therapist, they’re just not for your child. Or tell the teacher why you’re switching classrooms, or schools. Not enough one-on-one support, or need more peer interaction. It’s okay to tell the truth and not worry about their feelings. Hopefully it will help them with the next group of kids they get.
- Be Brutal. If ever there is a time to be a mama warrior it’s finding good people to surround your child with. No one will fight for your child like you will, so make sure you’re fighting for good people. If it’s not working – break up. Simple as that. And do it quick like a guillotine. Life is not a popularity contest and even if they feel like friends, it’s mostly business. Remember that and cut all cords when needed.
Autism and Breaking Up Romantic Relationships
Yes, the inevitable high school break up has happened in our house. I saw it coming from about a mile away and there was nothing I could do to stop it. As always, it’s become a learning experience. There are pros and cons of dating during high school. The biggest con – you still have to see each other every day.
Individuals with autism are going to fall in love and break up just like everyone else. All we can do is support them through it as we would any child, and chocolate definitely helps.