Editor’s Note: Rocky Parra spends her time raising awareness for autism and Asperger’s syndrome. Autism is a complex brain disorder that often inhibits a person’s ability to communicate, respond to surroundings, and form relationships with others.
Impacting 1 in every 270 people in the world, autism challenges many areas of one’s life. Some of the profoundly affected areas include social, communication, and behavior. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are usually nonverbal, or they have restricted or repetitive behaviors. ASD also affects people of all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
You can find more about Rocky and her family by following her on Facebook at Mrs. Mommy Writes or reading her book, “Embracing Mrs. Mommy.”
Recently my son Matthew and I argued over something.
I cannot even remember what specifically we disagreed over. I just remember it was important enough to hold my ground, but Matthew was far more upset than I was.
He looked at me angrily, started to say something, and then stopped.
After a pause, he said, “I did not say a bad word, I thought in it my head instead. That’s good, right?”
I stifled a giggle and pondered my response. I decided to go with, “Yes, Matthew, it is better to say bad words in our heads than to say them out loud. God would like us to not say them or think them, but it is definitely better to just think them.”
He replied, “So I did the right thing,” and moved on to something else.
I stood struck by what a big moment we just experienced. So much progress in this simple exchange. Let me give you some background without divulging details.
A few months ago, Matthew was sent home from school for the day because he said something completely inappropriate. Everyone involved knew he did not mean or understand what he said, but all agreed he should have consequences so he would not repeat it. It was a perfect storm kind of day that involved fire drills and substitute teachers, and Brett and I were out of the country.
The school and Grand handled the situation perfectly and we all learned from it.
Of course, I did not actually realize just how much Matthew learned from it and our conversations afterward until this recent experience. Obviously, his consequences and subsequent discussions made an impression, and he remembered in a moment of anger that he should stop and think before he spoke, and he followed through. I watched it happen or I might not have believed it.
Since that day, he has now utilized this technique several times with me, always using the words, “I should not say bad words out loud, I should only say them in my head.”
His progress is slow and steady, and his lessons are valuable. Lessons not just applicable to those on the spectrum, but applicable to us all.
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