Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Aspie Alpha Squad - An #Aspie Insight into our attachment theory.

Angry childI had a reflection/realization of an aspect of Aspies that is very different from that of neuro-typical people.

We sat down with the school board social worker before Easter, and I listened as he laid down the latest pedagogical theories that he has been learning and is now trying to instruct teachers on.

You see, our Aspie daughter has been having issues in school with her behaviours (go figure), and her teachers just don't know how to deal with her and get her to move away from her rigidity, which comes across as stubborn, and disrespectful. It has been getting increasingly worse so they brought in the school board social worker to help us parent her better.

This social worker explained to us that over the last 50 years our society has moved from an adult-centred teaching/discipline style to a child-centred style. The concepts of time-outs and counting are some of the functions of this style. He told us that based on new evidence over the last few years of the way children's brains work, that every kid has an absolute need to centre themselves to an Alpha - a strong dominant person who they can be assured knows and has everything they need.

The problem he says now is that Alpha's (parents/teachers) in kids lives now are either deferring most things to their child's wishes, or are "discipling" kids by trying to "modify" their behaviours and having them spend time away to "get them to think of what they've done".

An example that this social worker gave us is when a child is acting up in class, the teacher will tell the child to stop, then if it persists, she will countdown to the child to stop, then next step is to take or send the child to some place in the class for a "time-out", and finally if that doesn't work, the child is remove from the classroom to sit in the hall or to go to the office.

Each of these steps is to encourage children to change their behaviours. This may work with some children, for others they get an experience of the teachers attention, which they are seeking. Each step rewards the child, rather than drives the child to "behave". And for these children, they learn that negative behaviour gets this attention that they are desperately seeking from their "Alpha".

I have to admit that I have used these parenting techniques with my children, and it has miserably failed with my Aspie daughter.

According to Gordon Neufeld, in his book Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More everyone has a built in need for attachment. If someone doesn't get it from one person, they will seek it from another. He believes that for children if it's not primary caregivers, then it will be peers.

However the more I thought about my daughter and myself as both a child and now as an adult, the more I thought that some of what he said may be right, but it just didn't hit the mark with my daughter.

My daughter doesn't attach to anyone, rather she ends up causing others to attach to her. She may seem at first to be a very engaging girl. Watching her go out and play with new kids that she has never met before at a McDonald's playland would make you think she has excellent social skills at first. But what is she doing? She is trying to get the kids to play games that are part of her created world. She seems fun and exciting, so kids are eager to play with her. But after awhile, she keeps playing but the other kids start moving away, or complain to her or their parents that they don't want to play her games anymore, or that she is being mean. It's not the kids that my daughter was attached to. She was attached to herself and pulled others to her.

It's the same with adults, teachers and even us her parents.

Now that is a big part of my problems parenting her. I am Aspie who feels the world revolves around me and my way is best and really should be followed for the world to work it's best... If I'm really honest I have to say that's a core belief that I have, as do a lot of other Aspies I know. It's not right, and intellectually know this ( as I have been occasionally been proved wrong), but my gut reaction to situations around me come from this innate feeling that I'm right.

I'm an Aspie. She's an Aspie. They say iron sharpens iron, but that means a lot of sparks will fly.

When I say that Aspies seem to self-attach (and my evidence is very limited qualitatively), I don't mean to suggest that we don't have any attachments or relationships with others including our parents or teachers. My interpretation of attachment means someone to defer to for having our needs met and having rules defined and enforced.

When I was a young kid, I loved my mom (I still do, Mom - don't worry), but I didn't really believe I had to follow her rules or the rules of others if they didn't make sense to me. I may have obeyed the rules sometimes (most times, right Mom?), but I intrinsically believed I was right so these rules were wrong. This has caused lots of struggles and consternation in my life as both a child and as an adult.

Only in my last year and a bit have I begun to see the cracks in my core belief, and even though I immediately react from my core belief, I am getting better at reflecting in these "outbursts" and rationalizing the correctness of my perspective. I can tell you it's not easy or natural for me to do this.

I asked my two youngest daughters tonight who was the most important person on earth to them. My older aspie daughter hummed and hawed and then said her fairy book. However in the background my youngest daughter  said "Mummy and Daddy". And that pretty well validated my theory.

Attachment Parenting - Are we knowingly causing our children to feel anxious?

The trick for me now is to figure out how I can take and use this insight to aid and guide my daughters along this treacherous path called life, and help the both of us learn how and when to attach to others outside ourselves.  It will certainly make life interesting...