Saturday, July 7, 2012

You will not be a shoplifter, my boy.

As a mom, I have been changing the way I have been acting. For example, when he was little and was throwing full-on fits at stores, I would tell whoever was starring, "He has autism. Sorry." Basically calling him out. As he is growing, I am growing as a person and realizing that it isn't OK for me to do that anymore.  Sometimes it can be tough not to say anything. 

A few days ago we went to Home Depot.  He enjoys going to Home Depot because of all the isles of tons of stuff and I like going because my creative juices get started.  Anyway I had to pick up something that I wasn't familiar with so to save time, I found someone to help.  George asked, so I handed him a small list and we were off to collect the items.  As we were filling up the cart, George told Benjamin to steer the cart because we were turning left.  Hesitation on my part because did he know right from left?  Turns out George sorta steered the cart left so my son then continued it.  While I was getting a brief explanation on how the product worked, my son kept pestering my daughter.  She started complaining, he kept after her and I had to take many breaks from the conversation with George to say, "Stop.  Stay away from each other.  No candy when we leave."  Not that I promised candy but sometimes there is a level of desperation to try to get them to behave.  This happens with typical I am told.

Thanks George for all your help but we were heading down a spiral path.  You could just tell that in a very short time there would be trouble....autism trouble.

The candy that started it all.
At check-out, he grabbed M&Ms and brought them to the counter but I stuck to my guns and told him no. He then took the candy and started to put it in his pocket when the check-out guy looked at him and said, "Don't even think about it." He put the candy back then walked back to the cart. As we were walking out of the store I told him that by putting the candy in his pocket without paying for it would be shoplifting. If you shoplift you would be in trouble with a police officer and he would then have to go to the police station in the police car without Mommy. I explained it as if I were telling my NT daughter. Without hesitation my son understood what I was saying and immediately said sorry with tears in his eyes.

He got it.

I resisted temptation to tell both George and the check-out guy about his condition.  Would it have made a difference anyway?  Autism looks typical.  If he would've put the candy into his pocket and gotten in trouble, would an explanation of autism have been enough to get him out of it?  I don't want to know...I think.  He needs to know that shoplifting is not OK and hopefully he doesn't attempt it again. 


  1. Sometimes, we need to tell it like it is. No candy coating it!! Good move and I am glad that your son got it and apologized. You may need to reinforce it the next time you go into a store that is different from the Home Depot to generalize it. I know I have to.

    My daughter was the shoplifter in our family. She was about 2 or so and I had just run into the grocery store to get something for her lunch before daycare. I was surprised to be the shopper of the day or some such winner and was being awarded a $75 gift card. While I was signing for it, she apparently had different ideas of she wanted for lunch. We got to the car and she started talking about how it was yellow and not brown. Finally she brought forth her treasure... a yellow bag of M&M's. I marched that little girl back in the store... returned the contraband... and marched her out again... I heard all of checkers giggling. She never did it again and I never one another gift card. I wonder if there is some kind of cosmic correlation?

  2. I handled it pretty much the same way you did. I told my son that taking stuff from the store that he did not pay for is stealing. He asked if that was illegal and if he could go to jail and I said yes to the first one and said that kids don't go to jail, but that he could get into lots of trouble from the police for stealing. I didn't want to frighten him too much, because he is generally a good kid that follows the rules as long as he understands them. As an aspie, I remember having so much anxiety as a child and I was terrified of going to jail and really didn't understand the concept fully. I thought that any naughty thing would land me there and I worried about it all the time. I didn't want my son to feel that way, so I left that part off for him, but all kids are different

  3. I would have done the same thing. Back in the began whenever A acted up I would say sorry he has autism he can't help it. The truth is though some of the behavior can be helped and I just didn't know it at the time.

    Now anywhere we found we make sure he has something to keep him entertained. He can block most of the sensory things out as long as he is distracted. We don't have any issue with him asking for candy though because he knows he can't have it since he's allergic. Toys are another matter though.