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Autistic/Genius child with dark streak--HELP!!

Recently a 12-year-old autistic boy has come into my care (without divulging too much detail I shall simply say that his parents weren't doing the job), and he has presented me with some very unexpected challenges. Let me first tell you a little about him to give you an idea about the sort of mind and character I am dealing with.

While disabled in speech (his talking sounds rather strange and doesn't really make much sense), it is clear beyond any shadow of a doubt through his visual artistic expressions that he understands what is going on around him with an aesthetic, poetic, and even symbolic sort of perception that is utterly brilliant and impossible to compare to anything I have ever seen elsewhere. When he is happy, he displays a sort of tenderness and affection that reveals a depth of sentience beyond any child I have ever seen, and at these times he uses his artistic genius to create works around the house that would blow anybody's mind. (For example: To tell me he loved me once, he arranged three colored lights I had in my bathroom in such a way that red heart-shapes were created flawlessly in the middlemost facets of the crystal ornaments I had hanging around my mirror, the surrounding facets filled with light of green and blue.)

Recently, however, he has been showing me his dark side and dealing with this has been quite troubling. Just as his expressions of affection will stun me with the inherent display of creativity, awareness, and emotion, his negative expressions will stun me with how utterly sick, twisted, and disturbing they can become. (For example, in anger toward me once he created a series of images which depicted me happily holding an infant [he knows I want a baby of my own], after which he broke the infant's neck and forced me to cannibalize it.)

At first I decided to show him through direct displays of emotion (the hateful use of his art made me cry on a few occasions) that his behavior was hurtful to me and made me sad. There were times when this technique was effective and he showed me his regret immediately afterward with remorseful and sweet displays of physical affection (softly holding my hands while rubbing them in a circular motion with his thumbs and kissing me gently on the cheek), but to my great sadness and dismay, there seems to be a part of him which became fascinated by this power to wreak havoc on my emotions and the disgusting, hateful creative expressions have slowly grown to be the main usage of his artistic brilliance.

His greatest enjoyments come from two things: Experiencing with me the sort of affection I described earlier such as holding hands, and his art. Ergo, in an attempt to bring and end to the negative use of his gift, I not long ago began letting him know that he wouldn't be allowed to experience the happiness he desires when he comes to me for affection if he continued to express his creativity in ways which are purposefully designed to hurt and disturb me. (And before you tell me that I should deny him access to art supplies first, let it be known that all such measures would only be a joke--like a true genius he can and does make art out of ANYTHING!!) I will try to describe in breif the saddening and unnerving results of this action.

*Emotional control seems to have become a power game for him. He will act sweetly when he wants affection, then do a complete 180 and revert to the negative creations soon after, seeming elated by my hurt/disturbed reactions.

*I have unfortunately realized, upon closer inspection of some of his seemingly loving recent creations, that hidden within them are images which suggest threats toward me as well as personal mockery. (He once crumpled a sheet of aluminum foil so that in my room's main lighting it reflected an image of him giving me a jewel, but later I found that my room's secondary lighting revealed a very clear depiction of him injuring me.)

*At times, he does make art for me which appear to be honest expressions of love (which I believe and reward with lavish amounts of affection and praise), but then he will destroy them and replace them with sick and hateful expressions soon after.

*Sometimes, when coming to me for affection, he will push me to give him the kisses and hand rubs he loves to receive, but coldly refuses to give any back. (When this happens, I generally stop and let him know that his behavior is unkind and not how one should behave toward someone they care about. I also let him know that it is not the way to get what he wants from me.) On a few occasions this has resulted in retaliation through both his art and tantrums.

*He has recently developed a strange and unfortunate tendency to latch onto my left foot (Why?? Beats the hell outta me!) and pull on the tendon until it hurts when he is upset. When he does this, I let him know that hurting me physically won't help anything or get him what he wants, then I will move away... But more often than not he will try to follow me and do it again.

To my own heartbreak and misery, I am now finding that the boy I once wished to spend all my time with and constantly give all my love to has begun to make me feel escapist desires, as well as some undeniable (and regrettable) amount of resent. Two days ago I let him know that his actions have not only hurt me deeply, but that the cycle of negativity has also proven to have become a constant. I told him I need to spend some time seperate from him in order to decide what I should do, and he became so upset at this that he screamed horribly which is not normal for him. The feeling of this scream seemed to be both of anger and heartbroken pain.

While away from him, the only idea I have been able to come up with is to focus on providing him with the happiness he desires through physical affection (so long as he behaves lovingly in return) and ignoring his art until it seems that it has returned to the non-threatening, non-mocking, fascinating beauty which was once the main form of its appearance. This solution, however, troubles me for two reasons: 1- I do not wish to appear hardened against his creativity, and 2- What next if this action only inspires him to create a power-game more insideous and complex?? He has easily proven an intelligence capable of this and my purpose is to get back to love, not create a criminal genius...

I have also thought that it might be good to again start creating art of my own to show my love for him, which I once did regularly but... Well, I admit that stream of inspiration has ebbed a bit recently in the wake of all that has occurred.

So now, my question is: ANY FREAKIN' SUGGESTIONS??! WHAT IN THE HECK SHOULD I DO???

And what about that weird foot thing??

This kid means the world to me and all I want is to return to the beautiful and special relationship we once had... Well, which I feel we still have but has somehow gotten all rancid and moldy over the last few months. It is with great regret that I realize it is partially due to my own inexperience that things have gotten this out of hand. If I can only get things back to the way they once were (or possibly even better?) I would surely consider it one of the greater successes of my existence. Seriously!!

To answer a few questions you might have in mind from the above story/info before offering a response:

*I have no children of my own or other parenting experience. (So please be kind; honest-to-God I am doing my best!)

*He shows no readily-detected signs of abuse but I guess I'm not really sure.

*The time I generally spend with him is most of the day, every day.

*Our communication is good for the most part; yes there occur misunderstandings (occasionally severe ones) but generally we understand each other.

Thank you for reading this novel and I shall indescribably, ETERNALLY appreciate all the help I can get!!

-Cami
1 Responses
Avatar universal
The thing that I am getting from this is that he has obviously suffered some form of neglect, whether intentional or unintentional for him to end up in your care in the first place. unfortunately, by letting this child know that you were upset it sounds like you are correct in thinking that he has gained some form of kick out of upsetting you. the first thing i would wonder is if he has suffered some sort of ill treatment from a mother figure before and because he cant take his frustration out on her he has started taking it out on you. through sheer frustration. It is also possible that someone has treated him badly and he has been aware of someone else getting a kick out of upsetting someone. Since most children learn social behaviour from a parental figure first and foremost and autistic persons find it difficult to differentiate normal social behaviour, perhaps he thinks that it is normal to occasionally treat someone badly and gain some sort of pleasure from it. Obviously this is disastrous because the longer it continues the more cemented the behaviour and associated emotions become and the last thing you want is an adult who enjoys hurting people. I would guess that he has started to latch to your foot at an attempt for more attention. I would suggest first of all, as hard is this would be, to just ignore the negative art as much as possible and give as little attetion to the physical grabbing your foot as possible. At first he is likely to become upset and confused by this behaviour, particularly if he is recieveing any sort of attention for the negative art (remember it dosent have to be good attention - just by telling him that it hurts you you are rewarding this behaviour with attention). I would guess that after a while he will realise that he will only get attention for the good art and will start to create that more often. You would need to be consitsent though and stick to the new behaviour of ignoring him when he has tried to hurt you with his art. Bear in mind that the first thing he will probably do is escalate his behaviour - he will grab your foot - just ignore him and remove yourself - he will possibly shout or slam doors or throw things - just put him in his bedroom and walk away silently - you will spend several hours doing this the first time - he will leave the room every two minutes and cry and shout - just keep putting him back and dont speak to him even when he has a complete meltdown. you will only have to do this once or twice until he realises you arent backing down and he will recieve no attention for bad behaviour and he will recieve a negative consequence for that behaviour like being put to his room. I think its really important you do something even if you decide not to take this advice. You need to stop this behaviour now because he will only get bigger and harder to deal with. It will be really difficult, especially because you dont want to hurt him but you will be doing him a massive favour in the long run. In conclusion I think you should reward behaviour you want to continue with attention and ignore behaviour you dont want to continue and provide a negative consequence for any physical,y violent behaviour such as grabbing your foot.
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