How an AutParent Handles Event Complaints
What is an AutParent?
AutParent is short for a parent with a child or children with autism.
What happened to this AutParent?
My son attends gaming tournaments. He plays one game in particular, Super Smash Brothers Ultimate.
Honestly, I don’t really know much about the game, nor do I have much interest in any video games. I can (sort of) watch the game and (sort of) know what’s going on.
In addition, I can follow when someone wins/loses.
That’s about the extent of it.
The Gamer Tournaments
For the most part, when I take my son to these tournaments, I write. I actually get a lot of work done!
Sometimes, when it’s been a few hours (these tournaments can go on for hours!), I watch some of my favorite shows, read, or (yes) nap.
I spend a lot of this time in my car.
When my laptop battery runs out, I have to find a place to plug in.
I go into the tournament facility and there’s always a place for me to sit and charge my phone.
The event organizers are always accommodating.
Some facilities are better than others, and some events are better than others. Some organizers… well you get my point.
My son plays this game with a lot of emotion.
Unfortunately, a lot of it is anger.
He gets so wrapped up in the game, so passionate, and so angry, he screams. At times, he throws his controller and pounds his fists.
Play in public
Now, when he first began to play in public, he didn’t even know some of the etiquette for tournament play. There was a learning curve.
What I’m discussing here, though, is his emotion, and and how he struggled with his anger when game playing.
It has created a lot problems. I recently learned that this problem is bigger than I thought.
What am I getting at?
For a long time now, whenever my son played at home, he would get angry if he wasn’t playing well.
This anger created a lot of conflict in our house. My husband and I aren’t crazy about him screaming at his game or throwing his controller.
We have had many fights over this negative behavior. We explained to our son (time and time again) that we strive for a peaceful home. Getting this angry and upset at a game isn’t peaceful.
My son, however, swore that his behavior at tournaments was much better. He swore that he knew (because he was in public) that he had to control himself more so than at home.
I guess my son figured that he had a bit of defense…”I do better in public and that’s more important, isn’t it?”
Well, not really.
We had never accepted this defense, even though he tried it many times. We explained to him that decent behavior is expected in both places—at home and at tournaments.
I was at a tournament recently and had come inside the venue to charge my laptop.
I approached by one of the tournament organizers.
This person asked me if I was the parent of this gamer. (My son is a minor and this event organizer knows me. We have attended many of their tournaments.)
This person was not the head of the tournament, nor was it any of the check-in people (they know me). Thinking back on it, I didn’t recognize this person.
Still, he knew who I was. He said to me that my son was seen too often playing with this “emotion.” He (more or less) warned me that if my son’s behavior (throwing his controller and getting angry) didn’t improve, he was going to be asked to stop attending these tournaments.
I promised this person that my son would improve. He loved playing and would understand that his behavior needs to be acceptable—at home and at tournaments.
I was a bit taken aback. No parent likes to be approached by someone and told that their child’s behavior causes problems.
It is embarrassing and doesn’t make a parent feel all that great.
Did I get it?
Perhaps. I do know my child. He can have issues with the game playing.
I quickly connected the dots.
My son wasn’t able to separate at-home verses at-tournament behaviors.
He struggled with consistency.
His defense that he can keep it together at tournaments wasn’t quite accurate.
My son wasn’t all that pleased to hear this news. He did admit that he “sometimes” got angry.
However, he felt that his behavior wasn’t that severe.
In addition, he was concerned about the threat of being locked out of tournaments.
I was able to leverage this into (finally) reaching some approved behavior at home. “If you can’t play without acceptable emotion limits at home than you can’t do it at tournaments (therefore I won’t be taking you to tournaments).
We came to a new understanding and my son has re-committed himself.
So far, so good.
As a side note, I approached one of the tournament organizers that I’m friendly with and the organizer hadn’t heard of any need to approach me about my son.
She hadn’t heard of a problem.
She said she would look into it. In addition, she said I shouldn’t worry about it.
Additionally, she intimated that the person who approached me might have been a player. I described the person and she wasn’t sure who that was. I told her that I didn’t recognize the person.
How do we move forward?
Our son has improved his behavior at home and he promises (and promises and promises) that his tournament behavior will not be a problem ever again.
I will continue to take him to tournaments.
We both enjoy going (for our own reasons). I can only hope that things improve.
How an AutParent Handles Event Complaints
Here are some tips for helping your child/teenager with autism attend big events:
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