Help With Cousins Autistic Son

11 Replies
Samantha - September 14

My cousin brings her special needs son, age 4, to my home when she visits. My own son is 4 also, and in pre-K, and I am 8 months pregnant. I get a break from my son while he is at school so I can do chores and clean the house, but when my cousin comes over with her son, it's hard to do anything and I get stressed out. He is so bad, but I do feel sorry for him and her. I know it must be hard for her, and she really does not have anyone to help her. I don't know how to tell her that I just can't handle being around her son right now while I am pregnant. I am afraid that he is going to hurt me or my baby. He hits, bites, punches, spits, sctatches, pulls hair, throws heavy objects, and breaks things out of the clear blue. She does not discipline him, I guess it would be impossible to do so anyway because he does not understand. What scares me is that he seems to laugh and smile when he hurts someone, like he can care less. My cats hide when he comes over, and my usually friendly dog will either go outside to escape him, or growl until he gets the point he does not want to be bothered. (he almost sliced my dogs ear off with a knife a few weeks ago) And my son will not play with him at all because he is scared of him too because he hit my son in the head with a TV remote, gave him a bloody nose, and hit him with a wire hanger. I want to know how I can tell my cousin gently that I don't want him around anymore, without sounding like I have no compassion. I know he's a special needs child, but I cannot deal with this in my present condition (8 months pregnant, unable to move about quickly to rescue my child and my pets from his abusive advances) Or is there no nice way to tell her this? I love my cousin like a sister, and we heve been best friends since we were kids, but her son is driving a wedge between us. Honestly, I am terrified of the child and I think he's diabolical. What can I do?


chelsey - September 14

Wow, sounds serious. I really dont think that there is a nice way of setting things down on the table. You need to be honest and straight forward with you cousin about your concerns. Just like you have been on this post. Autistic or not, that child needs to be controlled. I dont blame you at all for not wanting him around. Your child, pets or even yourself can be seriously harmed. My Aunt is handicapped and can be difficult or even violent at times. And boy is she strong! When I was little, I was so afraid of her. She didn't always intend or know what she was doing, like squeezing the bejeesus out of you or scratching. Mom always taught us to remove ourselves from the situation, seeing as how my Aunt didn't know right from wrong, and couldn't comprehend. But seeing as how this is happening in your home, you need to set guidelines for your cousin to follow. Its her job to keep her son controlled, especially in someone elses home. What does she say when this stuff is going on? Does she blame his autism for his behavior, and shrug it off? He can learn that this behavior isnt acceptable, with repetative positive reinforcement. It could take days or years, but he will learn it. Your cousin needs to stay away from you and your home until she can control the situation. You will be having a baby in a month, god forbide anything happen to it! You need to be honest with your cousin. She may be mad, or upset with you. She may think you're insensitive or cruel, but she will get over it. Remember, your immediate family should always come first. Put an end to this now, before he gets bigger and more violent, and somebody really gets hurt.


Jamie - September 14

I don't think the son is the only problem...what was a 4 year old Austic child doing with a knife? Why didn't his mother take it from him? Same with the wire me, that's just common sense, whether he's special needs or not, he's still a child.


Samantha - September 14

I beleive that she feels sorry for him, and also, she blames herself for his problems. I think that is why she does not discipline him. He always gets away with his obnoxious behavior, no matter what. I can't beleive that she gave him a hug and told him it was OK when I scolded him for cutting my dog and almost lunged at him when he hit my son. We have gotten into it a lot about discipline issues with him, and in the end, she always says "Well, he can't help it" or something to the effect. It truly p__ses me off, because I know how strong this kid is and he seems to lack a conscious and enjoys inflicting pain on others. He also seems to be cognizant of the fact that his mother is not going to reprimand him, and he can terrorize whom he pleases with little consequence. I feel out of place telling her what I feel at times because I have no idea what it's like being in her shoes and having to deal with him day in and day out. I know she has her hands full. I do not know much about autistic kids, but I am doing some research now. I must say, though, he is the worst kid I have ever encountered in my life. I am sad to know my cousin and I may have a strained relationship after I tell her I cannot deal with him anymore.


B - September 14

Awww, this is a hard situation. I totally understand why your cousin is the way she is and I totally understand how your feeling. I know you can't make excuses your whole life but I would probably just say I was going to the grocery store or was too tired for her to come over...something like that. If she comes over without notice, act like no one is home. I know it sounds mean but it will get you a bit of space every now and then. Don't do it often but maybe you can do this while trying to figure out what to do overall. I feel bad for you and your cousin, you have difficult situations. I really hope things get better for you. Good luck.


Robbie - September 14

I have an austic nephew too. I believe his case is mild because he has no where near the problems you have described. However he can become unruly, but his parents and I don't encourage the behavior. He understands when he has done something he shouldn't because we don't dismiss it or make excuses for his behavior. I tend to agree with Jamie, kids need boundaries and it sounds as if he isn't getting any. So, in that case I would tell her that I felt uncomfortable and why. She may be angry but who can blame either of you for your feelings.


N - September 14

Samantha, i'm really sorry it has turned out this way. Dealing with autistic children is VERY hard to do, even for the parents, but the bottom line is, he is four years old and should be in a program/school designed to teach autistic children (and their parents) basic life and social skills. Maybe make suggestions to her about it.. there are some really wonderful programs that could literally turn his behavoir around in a matter of months, but the parent has to try too (the government subisdizes alot of them). She should be taking cla__ses as well to learn how to better deal with her child, and control his outbursts.. I honestly can't stress that enough.. The plain fact here is that autistic children become autistic adults, and something needs to be done NOW inorder for him to function somewhat normally in society. It is in her childs best interest to do this, or he will spend his adulthood in a home of sorts because he can't take care of himself.. which is just said, because he shouldn't have to. Some things that might help you if you can't avoid another visit with them, is to find him something to do. Autistic children have specific, systematic tasks they love to do. Many like to sort things.. some really love math games.. it is different for every child, but there must be something. Another thing is it may be very very scary for the child when you move things.. your actually better off rearranging a whole room rather than simply removing a coffee table (or something small)... which is another point you could bring up with your cousin, that things are not consistant enough and he should either be there often, or not at all (or until he's made progress in his therapy/treaments).. it could just be too traumatic for him.. I hope everything works out for you..


N - September 14

*sad not 'said'.. sorry, typo


karine - September 18

If she would have disciplined him from the begginning (toddler years) i dont think he would have been this bad, special needs or not...every child needs an extent of discipline. He should be told its bad to hurt. And yes i beleive she loves her son, but the best she can do for him is to try and teach him, yes it will take a long time cause its somthing that should have been done when he was 18months, around. Its not cause he is a special needs child that he cant learn anything, he CAN but it just takes ALOT of patience and TIME. You should let her know that maybe you can still have him over...less often,and that while he is under your roof, that she will atleast have to try and discipline him,she must feel very alone and maybe she enjoys being around you. give it a try she may agree with you, if not tell her it will be impossible for her to bring him, if she does want to. MAybe she could go over once a week or less often, and only a couple of hours, and put the dog out, maybe put your cats in your room, so they dont get armed. make sure nothing dangerous is at arms reach. And let her know....she cant let this go on....can you imagine when this child is a teenage????the streght he will have???? he may really arm somone.


kEEKEE - September 18

Have your cousin tried a birth to 3 program for her son? Autistic kids have problems (schools) to help the parents handle the child. I know when he is around you it is hard just imagine when he is at home. Your cousin is likely tired and stressed out over her son's behavior. He likely think he is playing and not hurting anyone he bites and kicks that is why he's smiling. All kids need to be taught soft touch and right from wrong. Try this...Grab his hand and say NO!!! and Soft touch each time he kick and bit. Autistic kids really don't understand when they are hurting someone. You need to sit down and talk to your cousin about what is on your mind. Maybe the both of you can come up with a way of disciplining him without causing more damage. I don't advise hitting/spanking. He will only become more violent. Hopefully with some help he will learn a how to interact with people.


kEEKEE - September 18

not problems but programs


Jbear - September 19

My neighbor has a 6 year old autistic son. He and my 3 year old daughter play together all the time, but we usually go to the playground, or play at his house, or if I feel like it's my turn to have him over, we go to McDonalds, because it is overwhelming to me to have my daughter and her playmate running in circles in my living room. He's not violent, though. Your cousin should look into programs in her state for special-needs children. The department of human services can tell her where to get help. She needs to start learning strategies to calm him down before he gets so big she can't control him.



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