Menopausal mom to 2 young adult sons (one with ASD, ADHD, tic/seizure disorders and the other with attitude).

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Getting all "Suited Up" for Graduation!

Image from MorgueFile
High school graduation is just around the corner. For some of Riley’s upcoming grad festivities “proper” dress wear, while not required, would be a good idea since I am pretty sure most kids will not be wearing running pants and t-shirts. You never know though…I could be wrong. So in preparation G had Riley try on J2’s grad suit jacket. Bonus...R looks up to J2 and actually prefers to wear J2’s hand-me-downs as opposed to new clothes. Yah…how many teenagers can you say THAT about?


The following night R came down to eat his 2nd dinner wearing J2's suit jacket. He had gone into the closet in the guest room, got the jacket out of the suit bag and zipped it back up. He is a sneaky monkey neat and tidy like that.

Now remember…Riley does not appreciate negative feedback. Even if you are calm, anything you say to him that is negative sounding upsets him. When we insisted he not wear the jacket when eating his dinner he got quite agitated.  “SHUT UP YOU STUPID!  I AM GOING TO WEAR MY JACKET ON!”  And something we had not heard before…“I’M GOING TO KILL YOU.” You gasped didn't you? I am pretty sure I heard something. I know both G and I were taken aback.

Riley is not an aggressive person. If anything he is overly very sensitive to anger/violence. If you look back at those three statements, one is grammatically correct; one is fairly close and one well…is not. For the most part any out-of-the-ordinary phrases that come out of R’s mouth perfectly are usually lines from a movie that he has watched.

So…here was our dilemma. Do we let him wear the jacket because really…it is just a jacket that can be cleaned if he were to get it dirty; do we “give in" to R’s outburst/need to assert himself OR do we stand our ground that what we were asking was a reasonable request for an 18 year old? Not as simple as one might think. Let me explain. When Riley was younger there wasn’t always an option. He needed immediate reinforcement/ consequence to a request/behaviour otherwise he could not make the connection. Now that he is older the immediate response is not as crucial. We have some leeway.

Instead G went to get one of his old suit jackets. R was not having any part of that. Fine. His choice. He finished eating his dinner sans jacket grumbling the entire time. When he was finished he grabbed J2’s jacket from the chair and started to head upstairs. We stopped him. He was NOT happy. “I’M GOING TO KILL YOU.” Cue hitting the wall and screaming “I’M AT A 5!” (This is in reference to the Incredible 5 Point Scale by Kari Dunn Buron). Well at least he was using his words. Oish. Next came the tears. In an effort to diffuse the situation G took R upstairs to show him all his suit jackets and to offer him a choice. R begrudgingly decided on the first jacket...the one G had brought downstairs in the first place. 

About 10 minutes later I went upstairs to check on him. He was not wearing the jacket but had it on the floor around him. He looked up at me and said “I was very angry. I was at a 5.” He was on the verge of tears. I sat down beside him and he broke down. He was pleading with me. “Please. I want to wear J2’s jacket. Pleeeease let me wear it on.”  It broke my heart. The word sure was on the tip of my tongue. He said please. He was remorseful. He so desperately just wanted to wear the jacket. Besides…who was it going to hurt right? J2 had not worn the jacket since his graduation. Yet I just could not bring myself to say yes. Riley is now old enough and has some control over his behaviours. As hard as it can be on the both of us, sometimes he needs a reminder that his behaviours have consequences no matter how trivial they may seem and with R’s cognitive challenges talking it through is not a productive alternative.

When I went to say goodnight later that evening R was still emotional. Tears and pleading to wear J2’s jacket was almost more than I could take. One last Hail Mary and I was ready to accept defeat. I said he could wear J2’s jacket in June for his graduation and we needed to keep it clean until June. R seemed to accept that. That was when the halogen lightbulb blinded me. He now had a timeframe he could work with. 

It has been almost 15 years and I am still learning how one four letter work can make all the difference in Riley World. Oi-vay.

Here is R the following day wearing G's old suit jacket. You can't see but he is wearing shorts with no socks/shoes.  :)

We have since discovered that his need to wear the suit jacket was because James on the DVD cover of "James and the Giant Peach" also wears a suit jacket. Why didn't I think of THAT!?!  


13 comments:

  1. Maybe R would like to join B at VV and pick up a few more of those suit jackets so he can "wear them on" every day. I thought B created that phrase - "wear it on" - funny that R likes it too. Oh, and the "I'm going to kill you" thing? Another one of B's old favorites, that I am happy to say has faded away and I'm still alive to tell the tale! Enjoy waiting patiently for June, R!

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    1. I am NOT looking forward to him "expressing" himself out in public with this line. Then again...can't be any worse then when he was little and used to say "DON'T HIT ME!" That used to be fun.

      I think we need to get together for a "session" soon. :D



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  2. Wow Diane, so much to learn about this. I have a friend whose daughter has two autistic children. The eldest is severe and has violent tendencies. The mother is a single Mom who in my books is just the best. Take my friend:)

    ross

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    1. Thanks for popping by for a read Ross! You take care too, DI

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  3. ah HAH! Glad the light bulb went on. Lily has things like this. Like she will not get off the potty unless the timer goes off. She will SCREAM no at you that she's not ready, and because she's not really potty trained...we try to mostly honor that. BUT...if you set the timer on your iPhone RIGHT THEN AND THERE and say, "Okay, Lily, one more minute" and the "duck" quacks. She hops up neat as you please.

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    1. We used to have a timer to limit R's video/computer time. Looking back I think it was more for me than him because I would always forget until the noise level got too loud. Ha! It's been great since he started telling time. We tell him a time and he'll be ready to go at the designated time. He's our own personal alarm clock. :D

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  4. omg its like you live in my HOUSE!!!

    So many good things happened in all of that. Communication all around! He was mad and you let him BE mad. I'm still working on that one. Hubs always wants to END the "being mad". If he's pissed off, so be it! (so long as nobody or noTHING is getting hurt. At home, he curses and its allowed. He's made the connection that it's not appropriate to use the language in public)

    Tommy would wear his suit every day if I'd let him. If there's a holiday on the calendar, he dresses up for it! (he celebrates canada and UK holidays as well as Muslim, jewish and 2 years ago he started celebrating kwanz).

    Here was my compromise- The jacket comes off. He can leave the shirt and tie BUT he has to wear an apron to keep the tie clean. Since R didn't have the shirt and tie on.. i think I would have done stood my ground too. Tommy LIVES for timeframes. Seriously. I can't stress how GOOD time frames are. For the past 2 months he has been BEGGING to go to los angeles and see sony pictures studio. lmao! I told him June 2016. I was stunned that he was ok with that!!!! I've got 3 years to save up lol

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    1. oh and the kill you thing... OUCH!!! I've been waiting for that one to creep out but surprisingly it hasn't.

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    2. OMG...LMAO!!! I love that Tommy celebrates ALL the holidays AND dresses up for the occasions. He does have a mighty fine tie collection. :D

      Time and number (how many more of anything) are huge in Riley World. 2016 huh? That sure made me smile.

      Yea...even though we know it's a line from a movie still was a shocker and not pleasant to hear. :(

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  5. I needed this post. I struggle all the time with if I should give in or not! Today, a very similar situation happened only mine was over a train that he lost due to bad behavior. Thanks for this post. PS. How do you get Riley to wear clothes!? We are going through a naked phase right now! PPS. Do you think ads on your blog downgrades the blog? I'm struggling with this now too!

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    1. As you can see I still struggle with it. :)

      Fortunately as R's gotten older it doesn't happen as often as when he was little. I remember as hard as I would try to be consistent, there were days when I just didn't have the energy and would "give in" for my own sanity. You have to do what works best for you and your family. The only thing I can offer is try not to beat yourself up about it too much...easier said than done right? ;P

      As for the clothes...in the last 2-3 years R prefers to wear his "PJ's" (shorts and a t-shirt) whenever he's at home even now in the winter. Have you heard about Sensory Processing Disorder? It is not uncommon for kids with autism to have difficulties with their senses and may experience tactile defensiveness. Here are a couple of links that may help explain it:
      http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/tactile-defensiveness.html
      http://www.spdfoundation.net/about-sensory-processing-disorder.html
      If you have any concerns, I would suggest you talk to your doctor.

      As for ads...I'm afraid I can't offer anything at all as I don't know anything about them. :(

      Thanks for reading Lisa! You aren't alone. I can't wait to see who wins your next blog topic. :D

      Diane


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  6. He looks very handsome in that jacket! You are amazing with him.

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    1. Thanks Stacie! The basketball shorts and bare feet were a nice touch. :)

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