April 20, 2019

Don’t spank your kids. Please, just don’t.

My parents were extra careful to remind me that they loved me, and that spanking always made them very sad. However, because they didn’t know about my autism, they didn’t realize two important things.

First, everything hurts worse when your senses are heightened. Imagine the feeling of a spanking as vividly as possible, and then assume it’s ten times worse for an autistic child. Is it still worth it?

Second, I was trying my hardest to be good. Sometimes I broke rules I didn’t understand. Other times I felt overwhelmed and unable to control my actions. My parents thought I was being defiant on those occasions, but that was never my intention. The pain of misunderstanding added to the pain of the spanking itself.

We’ve talked about it now, through hugs and tears. They remember how obedient I was most of the time, and how helpless they felt when occasionally I wasn’t. If I couldn’t behave, and I couldn’t explain why, spanking seemed to be their only option.

Now, they wish they had reacted differently – helping me get away to a quiet place, giving me time to gather my thoughts, listening to how I felt, and calmly discussing the problem.

My parents are good. They didn’t know.

Your kids are good, too. Remember that they’re trying harder than you know.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.