So today Jojo started slapping me because I told him “Please, do not step on the cat.”
I showed him to “touch Daddy soft,” and he did. Then, a moment later, he paused, doubled-down and slapped me again, which earned him a timeout in his room because this slap WAS actually malicious.
Jojo cried. He didn’t melt down. He cried. Like any other toddler when they are disciplined.
You see, Jonah isn’t just “autistic.”
He has a stubborn streak. And that has NOTHING to do with his autism. So while you can’t discipline autism out of someone, you CAN discipline willful disobedience, and there IS a difference.
You just need to know how to tell the difference.
So after about a minute of timeout, I let Jonah out of his room and showed him to “touch Daddy softly,” which he did. This is always required for him to be let out of time out.
You see, before, while he was in time out, I would have him touch me softly, he would do so, and then hit/slap me again a moment later, which would earn him more time out time. He would cry again.
It got to a point where I would put him in time out, shut the door, wait a minute… then I would open the door to make him touch “softly” and instead, he would slam the door in my face.
The choice was then on HIM as to when he wanted to open the door because he KNEW I would make him touch me softly and he couldn’t leave his room until he did so WITHOUT hitting/slapping me last.
I would shut the door. He would cry. I would open the door. He would shut the door. Because he didn’t want to touch soft.
This would go on for up to an hour sometimes. But he understood WHY he was being disciplined and what he had to do to “not be in time out” so it never digressed into a full meltdown. It was just a battle of wills.
And eventually, he would touch me softly, and wouldn’t immediately hit me again and that earned him his freedom (and lots of praise for touching me softly).
So now, he has learned that hitting me maliciously earns him a timeout, so now he at least hesitates a bit before unloading on me.
Fast-forward to today’s episode.
Well about 5 minutes after timeout for today’s episode, which only happened once, thankfully, Jonah came up to me with a smile, looked at me, and gently placed his hand on my back.
That is Jonah’s way to show affection. It can mean “I love you.” It can mean “I’m sorry.” It can mean “Hi,” “snuggle me” or any number of “warm fuzzy’s.”
It can mean a lot. And it means an awful lot to me.
“I forgive you buddy. And I love you too.”
Jason is a freelance photographer and graphic designer. He is also a parent of Jonny (9) and Jonah (4) who was diagnosed with Autism in December 2016.
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