Imagine your child does not like playing Dodge Ball. He or she might choose to complain about the game to a classmate. This is much better than refusing to play at all when the gym teacher barks out directions. Your child feels better but does not get sent to the Principal office.
It would be nice if your child would do what he or she was suppose to do without complaining but really you want your child to be able to respond with the full range of positive and negative responses to life. Complaining is one of the mild negative responses and these "shade of gray" emotional responses need to be taught because otherwise, most children with autism get stuck in an all or nothing emotional world.Think of complaining as a way of expressing how we feel but not letting this feeling dictate our behavior in every situation.
Here are some examples of phrases you can teach your child to use--probably by using these words yourself. Be dramatic. Use these words in situations when your child might be feeling annoyed or starting to become upset.
This is hard!
I don’t like this.
I don’t want to…
Not so good.
I know this is hard! I know this is not your favorite thing! I know this is not something you don’t want to do! Yucky!
I will help you!
You are brave to do this.
I am proud of you because it is hard for you but you still do it.
Listen to what you say in your family and exaggerate and demonstrate the kind of complaining that you do for your child. Use appropriate versions that are short, easy to say, and not likely to get your child in trouble at school.
If there are two people to help model complaining, even better! One person can complain about an unpleasant task in front of your child. The other person can sympathize. The important things is that the complainer then clearly carries on with the unpleasant task in relatively good spirits.
some situations, you may choose to explicitly teach your child that he
or she can tell you when something is not pleasant and you will
sympathize and he or she will do it anyway. With some kids, you can
discuss that sometimes we need to do unpleasant things, get along with
unpleasant people, or continue after an unpleasant event, but verbal
discussions can be a bit like water off a duck's back with children who