Sarah Pagdin

Arguments (by Alexis)

Living in a household where people are autistic can be challenging at times. Just like most other households, communication will sometimes become strained, and this will lead to arguments breaking out. When this happens, what’s the best way to deal with it?

In my case, I work very closely with my mother on our 2diverse projects and we often disagree on how to do something. A misinterpretation of what someone said leads to expectations not being met and then frustration. Whatever the reason is, arguments happen a lot for us, and so it’s important that we know how to deal with them.

The first step of the process is setting expectations. It’s very important to be aware that arguments are not the end of the world, and that, chances are, half an hour later the involved parties will all be over it. I find that this mindset helps me get over arguments and confrontations as quickly as possible, because time spent being moody is not time spent productively. People get annoyed with each other; it’s just a fact of life, and especially so if you live together. Taking it too seriously is pointless.

Another important point is to understand the personality of the person you’re talking to. My mother knows that I can get very snappy when things don’t go my way. If I blow up at her, it almost always goes the same way; I complain about something not being done properly, blame everyone else, go to my room and sulk for 10 or 15 minutes before I calm down, then start to properly assess the situation. I think about what went wrong, whether or not it’s directly anyone’s fault or was a simple mistake, what could have been done better, and then how to avoid it happening again. Then I go back downstairs, apologise to my mother, and talk about the conclusion I’ve come to.

In 9/10 cases, it turns out that it was nobody’s fault; whatever caused the argument is almost always a miscommunication in some way, and so it’s easy to swiftly move past it. Because my mother and I both understand that I have a short temper, we’re able to not take it too seriously when this happens, and this helps us get back to normal as soon as possible once things are resolved.

On my end, I try, as much as I can, not to get angry about things not going the way I want them to, because I understand that the other person has almost certainly not done whatever has upset me on purpose. Additionally, conflict is usually not productive, so talking things out calmly is a much better alternative when you can manage it.

If you find that your autistic child tends to shout at you a lot, do your best to respond to them in a calm, level tone of voice. Pay attention to whether or not they hold a grudge afterwards. If they’re like me, chances are they’ll have completely forgotten about whatever was bothering them in half an hour at most. If they have this kind of personality, then try not to take it personally when your child gets angry at you. Take them seriously for the time while they’re complaining, evaluate whether what they’re talking about is really a problem or just a nitpick/one-off, and if it’s the latter, let it go unless they bring it up again.

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