9 Wrong Ways to Manage Your Autistic Child



This list is a compilation of  real experiences I have had with my autistic son over the years.  I scribbled them down one day sitting in car pool and forgot about them.  As I recall these “wrong ways” I attempted to manage him, I am amused.  But let me assure you that as it was happening the MK (Missionary Kid) inside me – (a post for another day) was horrified.  


  1. Never push your child who is sitting in the basket of a shopping cart between narrow store isles.  With arms straight out to each side he/she will rake all the items off store shelves.  As you attempt to put said items back on the shelves, your child will manage to escape from the cart and continue this outrageous behavior on two feet.
  2. Do not assume that just because you have cooked a fantastic Holiday dinner for your family and guests that you can formally sit down to eat it.  If you do, you will have to abruptly leave the table because your child will not eat anything you have prepared.  You’ll be back in the kitchen throwing chicken nuggets in the microwave oven for him/her to eat while smiling  saying to “Don’t wait for me, please go ahead and eat!”
  3. Chances are, the library is not a good choice for this child.  Disruption to the quiet space will occur when you attempt to stop him/her from happily pulling ALL the books off the shelves he/she can reach.  Just don’t go there.   Literally.  There’s never a happy ending to THAT story.
  4. Any space large enough for his/her head to fit in is fair game. So, unless you just enjoy watching other people’s reactions (ha-ha, which is hilarious by the way), don’t allow your child to get close enough to try it. A good example is a the The Bruster’s ice-cream ordering window, or at the dispenser opening of drink machine in the hallway of the movie theater  (because your child just got very loud in the movie you took your family to see and you are attempting to keep him/her happy)
  5. Speaking of movie theater, don’t take the kids to the movie without having another adult driving a separate vehicle coming with you.  One of you will have to leave with your child during the movie, especially when what I just mentioned in #4 happens and your child’s head gets stuck in the drink machine dispenser and you had to pull him out screaming.
  6. Food dropped by your child on the floor is food to be eaten.  You can’t stop him/her from picking it up off the floor and eating it.  If you do, there will be loud yelling and gnashing of teeth .  You will have to leave the establishment and miss out on Your meal. (or if it’s at the movie, you’ll miss the rest of the feature.)  Just don’t watch them do it. It’s easier to deal with the reality that they probably are ingesting microbes or something that was once stuck to the bottom of a shoe.  Chances are they’ve done this before and have developed some kind of immunity.
  7. And, I hate that this one involves the movie again, but if it’s a theater that has the really nice drapes hung down the walls (I guess for sound absorption purposes?!) DON’T sit near the wall where your child can see those nice drapes.  Apparently, there is something very exhilarating to a child to get behind the drapes and walk down the wall all the way to the theater screen.  It looks like a really big rat is back there and it freaks out the other movie goers when they realize the drape is moving like that.
  8. If your child MUST completely finish the drink at the end of every meal, (even in the crowded restaurant  where he/she just got very loud and disruptive and security has just been summoned and they are staring at your family like you are outlaws,) Just let him/her take the drink with you as you exit to your car.  Chances are they won’t even notice that you didn’t bother to ask for a go cup and your child still has the glass in his/her hand.
  9. If your child loves tearing paper, remember that many things are made of paper: like, um MONEY.  You know the two $20 bills you put in an envelope and placed in the folder in your child’s school back pack because you forgot to get online last night and put money in the school’s lunch account? They may end up torn into bits and pieces and dumped in the trash because you got distracted for a few minutes with your other children who are running late for school.  And then there’s the Six-flags tickets you bought online and printed them out and hung them on the fridge…yea, those are paper too.  (btw, this is a great opportunity to get well-skilled in the art of taping paper back together.)

More Wrong Ways to come next post…

This entry was posted in Autism, Behavior, Language develpment, Life Lessons. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 9 Wrong Ways to Manage Your Autistic Child

  1. Robyn says:

    My son went into the drapes at the movie theater too! Thankfully we were seeing a sensory friendly film – so it was a pretty supportive environment – but mine went for the drapes UNDER the screen. Holy cow, I ran fast for that one! Fun post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Karen F. says:

    Thank you for sharing! I think, all in all, it boils down to knowing how your child reacts to certain stimulii, and making sure to avoid it, or at least know how to minimize the harm. You mentioned waiting until the drink is done before leaving the restaurant- you could have the child’s favorite cup handy to put the drink in and leave, or have a separate “to go” cup that stays in the car and is used “what it’s time to go”. Having distractions (like a show on your phone) handy will also help you to calm you child down if they are having a meltdown.


    • vjstoddart says:

      Thank you for that insight! Great solutions. My son was born in 1992, so the story about the drink in restaurant actually happened when we all didn’t carry around smart phones. Haha


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