Dear Dr. Barb,
My teenage son with ASD is angry because he says that we do not give him enough independence. He has started to lie about where he is after school. We hope that he becomes independent, but he has made several bad decisions such as "loaning" money to "friends" who do not pay him back and acting aggressively in public places. How do we give him independence without too much risk?
Dear Concerned Parent,
Many teens and young adults with ASD do not understand that past events continue to affect how others think and feel. They may believe that because they tell you that they will not repeat the error, and honestly believe at the moment that they won't, that the past should be forgotten. It sometimes helps to explain that trust is like a bank account and every action can be a deposit or a withdrawal. Explain the specific behaviors and their outcomes that have led to an "overdrawn account." The next step would be to have a specific contract about what behaviors constitute deposits and how many deposits in a specific time period would lead to increased freedom. For instance, calling to tell you where he is going is a deposit. At first let him know that you may check up on him to see if he is being honest. You might agree that after calling you every time he goes somewhere after school for two weeks he will have an increased privilege such as being allowed a slightly later curfew.
Dr. Barbara Luskin, PhD, LP
Autism Society of Minnesota
The AuSM Mental Health Services Team offers therapy and support:
- Diagnostic, functional or behavioral assessments for children, adolescents, and adults
- Individual therapy
- Family therapy
- Developmental therapy
- Behavior consultation
- Marriage and couples therapy
- Training for organizations and service providers
To inquire about our services or to make an appointment please contact Jane Hubbard at 651.647.1083 ext. 10 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.