Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

I’m Not Mad I’m Sad April 28, 2015

Parents and teachers and therapists of autistic people spend a lot of time working on emotions.  It’s thought that autistic people have a hard time identifying emotions and responding to them correctly.  Now understand that I can only speak for my Jay – And even then I’m speaking for him based on what I can see and how I think.

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The other day I was tired and it was coming upon the boys bed time and I was just DONE.  Jay was at the table working on some artwork.  Lately, he’s ALWAYS drawing or painting or colouring something – And I have the PILES of papers and the dried up brushes and the bits of crayons all over our apartment to prove it.  Ace was watching cartoons.  I told them it was bed time and that they should turn off the TV and put away the papers and crayons.  Ace obeyed (which is only because he had gotten in trouble earlier) but Jay yelled at me that it was “NOT BED TIME YET“.  Then he picked up and threw his Easter Dog across the room.  (Don’t ask. OK do.  It’s a stuffed dog with a pink rabbit ears headband).

I made him pick it up and told him he wouldn’t get any more stuffed animals if that’s the way he was going to behave and then I made him go to bed.  It wasn’t easy.  We both used our outside voices and there were tears.  He literally threw himself in bed and roughly pulled the comforter over his head.  When he was under the covers, I continued to chastise him by saying that his behavior was not acceptable and that he can’t behave that way every time he gets mad.  I told him he can’t get mad every time I tell him to do something that he doesn’t want to do.

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“But Mom, I’m not mad.  I’m sad.

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OMG!  Mad and sad are 2 totally different things.  He wasn’t mad AT me like I thought.  He was sad at not being able to finish his picture.  That’s it.  Nothing else.

He pulled me in for a kiss and I was left in awe of my son.  How many times have I said that I CANNOT BELIEVE how far he’s come.

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His reaction to being sad was not the best one.  It would have been better if he had calmly asked for permission to finish his picture.  We need to work on how he expresses himself but I think it’s fair to say that he can identify his own emotions quite fine – and I need to do a better job of not jumping to conclusions about why he does the things he does.  And I definitely could have expressed MY feelings in a better way too.  Ya know, teach by example and all that. Although for the record, I’m not a “things thrower”. I dunno where he got that move from.

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p.s.  When he’s actually mad he tells me that too – and it’s usually accompanied by him crossing his arms over his chest – so he definitely knows the difference.  Sad isn’t a “catch all” emotion for him.

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4 Responses to “I’m Not Mad I’m Sad”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Oh my goodness, that is huge!! We are still working on expressing emotions effectively, but it’s coming along. I am so happy for Jay…and for you. It helps tremendously when our kids can express themselves effectively!

  2. That is so wonderful that he knows the difference and can communicate it to you. I am still not 100% sure that DC really understands the difference.

  3. NickyB. Says:

    Awesome that you recognize that in your son. He definitely knows the difference.

  4. Brilliant boy! I have a son whose emotions are often not well regulated, and they tend to run big; especially if he’s tired/ hungry/ fill in the blank. I’ve definitely had moments with my son that were not my finest; but afterwards, we always talk about it.


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