Father’s Day gathering. The family was there. I was lounging on a… lounge chair. Braden, my son who has autism, came over and crashed on me. He was feeling physical. He wanted to grind his head into my temple and wrap his arms around me. His left hand accidentally landed right on my crotch. He put a lot of his body weight on his left hand, but thankfully, that hand was slightly off place. Still, I’m constantly working on teaching my son boundaries. He had just crossed one of them.
So I calmly explained to him that was Daddy’s penis and that he didn’t need to touch it. I removed his hand as I continued to say that he has his own penis (not that I wanted him to start fondling himself right then and there) hoping that my comments would divert his attention away from my genitals. No such luck.
Braden is going through a serious stage of rebellion right now. If we tell him not to do something, it’s almost a guarantee that he will do it… again and again. And he will fixate on it to the point of having a fit.
Reverse psychology works on him pretty well. In fact, if I was to say, “Braden, touch Daddy’s penis again” I’m sure he would’ve left it alone. But, come on, that’s not an option. I don’t want to sound like a pedophile. What would my family think if I said something like that? I’m sure I’d be behind bars until that little conundrum was sorted out. So, reverse psychology wasn’t an option in this situation.
Another little technique that tends to work with Braden right now is this; Just let him do whatever it is until he just gets it out of his system. Let him do it until it’s no longer fun. Obviously, I wasn’t about to go there with the touchy situation at hand. This was one of those things that needed to stop and stop now.
What should I have done? In retrospect I know the answer. I should’ve ignored his hand and I shouldn’t have brought it to his attention at all. I should’ve chosen another time to teach him about this boundary. Looking back vision is always 20/20. Raising children with autism is a constant learning experience for us parents.
So Braden dropped a palm on my genital area. I tried to correct him and teach him. He then had to continue reaching for my penis, and attempting to touch it with more force. I repeatedly told him to stop. Then, because he wouldn’t stop, I pushed him away from me, fearing that he’d make contact with my testicles and put me in pain. So my son had a big screaming fit right there in the living room on Father’s Day. We decided it was time to head out.
• Antecedent: Denied access to touching my crotch.
• Behavior: Screaming, hitting, throwing a fit.
• Consequence: We left… and rewarded him by going to the college campus nearby to ride his scooter.
Yes, we rewarded him. No, it was not intentional. Taking him to the nearby college campus where he could ride his scooter all around was a way of getting it off his mind. It was an unintentional reward.
We could’ve used a better consequence. But I didn’t feel this was the place, at a Father’s Day gathering where half the family was present. My son didn’t understand why he couldn’t touch me there. If we were at home things would’ve been different. He still probably would have had a fit, but I would have sent him to his room to cool off.
Oh, boundaries. It’s not fun teaching our children these kinds of boundaries. I won’t even talk about the time he kissed his male behavioral therapist on the lips. Ugh.
Only Mom and Dad get kisses on the lips. Other family can have a kiss on the cheek, but a hug is even better. As parents, we have to be right there during hello’s and goodbye’s to ensure that Braden adheres to the boundaries… boundaries that he cannot see and has little understanding of. And when we quickly step in to say, “Only hugs” Great Grandma Jones is offended. She doesn’t understand autism and so she doesn’t understand why we deny her a kiss from her Great Grandson.
Braden doesn’t understand relationships in regard to who gets a kiss, a hug, or just a goodbye. It’s going to take time. But he’s got to understand that we don’t touch anybody’s crotch, even Dad’s.