No Power Struggles/No Undue Compliance
"The goal in parenting is not to have obedient children who are easily controlled, but children who will eventually operate autonomously, " says Jan Faull, M. Ed. in her book Unplugging Power Struggles.
Achieving the balance between these two is hard even for parents of typically developing children. For the parent of someone with autism, this is even more dicey.
At times, one does need to have absolute and immediate obedience. When there is personal safety involved, you want the child to trust you that when you say to "Jump", he needs to jump and jump right then.
Most of the time, though, we need to relax our control and let the child figure out what he needs to do next. That does not mean that we let the child do whatever he wants. It means that we need to lead the child to discover what is required.
In some ways, our almost fifteen year old son is like any other teen. He doesn't want to do chores. He doesn't want to do things that suit the family when it is time to do them. He wants to run his own life, until, of course, he needs to be driven somewhere.
In other ways, he is definitely autistic. He doesn't want to shower at any other time than the time he self-appoints. Yesterday, he let me cut his hair. His dad and I wanted him to shower to get rid of the bits of cut hair that stuck to his head and his clothes. Nope, he didn't want to shower then. Shower time was at 8:16. (In case you don't know the significance of that time, it is fourteen minutes to 8:30, which is also why he wants to go to bed at 9:16. He plans to move it back to 8:15 and 9:15 on January 6, his fifteenth birthday. How autistic is that?) Eventually, by telling him several times that he could also shower at 8:16, he was persuaded to get into the shower to rinse off.
So, we continue the see-saw of figuring out what we need to tell him to do and what we can have him figure out he might do and probably should do.