Politics and AutismPolitics and Autism

 

One of my son’s obsessions is politics.

Politics?

How did that happen?

Well, for history class last year, he had to watch the presidential debates.

Also, his dad and I talked a lot of politics, especially around the time of the elections.

Then, the election didn’t go the way we were hoping.

We were disappointed, and so was my son.

Then, what happened?

Well, my husband and I, and some family and friends, still talk about politics at times. No always, of course, but politics definitely makes it way into discussions. 

My son also got into the discussions.

He asked decent questions and was seriously interested in learning more about the topics.

That’s all well and good, to a certain point.

What does that mean?

Well, I have a child with autism and he has a tendency to take things into…obsession levels.

He’s taken politics into obsession.

What’s wrong with that?

First of all, we are aware of that particular quality of our son. Obsession.

When it happens, we do our best to keep things as balanced as possible, as possible as you can in regards to obsessing on something.

I don’t steer my son away from things he’s obsessing on, rather I try to find a reasonable balance. When to talk about it, when to invest some money into it, and when to take a break.

I believe, now that my son is fourteen, he has some awareness that he’s—maybe—overdoing something, that he may be obsessing on something.

And, one of those things (now) is talking about politics.

What advice do we give him?

Politics is always divisive to some extent, but within the last, say, ten years, it’s gotten more and more so. Physical confrontations can begin, these days, over whether you voted for Trump or Hillary.

That’s crazy, of course.

A political discussion, in my opinion, can always be ended with “We Agree to Disagree,” and a handshake.

That’s just not always the case.

Too often, these days, it’s not the case at all. It’s downright dangerous.

I do not want my son to get into any confrontation—physical or not—due to a political comment.

Most of the time, I tell him to keep his opinions to himself.

What is “reading the room?”

We recently had a family gathering. I have two brothers, one is liberal, the other republican. In the past, they have clashed over politics.

At this family gathering, we just wanted to have a decent time visiting with one another, we didn’t want any politics in the house because we didn’t want any hurt feelings or arguments or anything like that.

We wanted peace.

It was hard for my son to understand how to “read the room.”

My husband and I had to explain it to him later, “Person X and Person Y have disagreed about politics in the past. During this visit, we’re just trying to have fun. So, no politics.”

He had a tough time with it. Perhaps it was because he doesn’t always like being told “no” to something that he’s passionate about. But, he also had it in his head that he had to talk about politics because of that very same passion. It’s one of his obsessions and we talk to him about it, so why can’t he talk freely?

Because he has to learn to read the room. He has to learn when to, maybe, be quiet for the sake of peace.

Not that my brothers are going to start to physically fight one another, that’s not going to happen, but who needs the tension during a family visit?

Once my husband and I explained it so that my son understood the ramifications, he was okay with it. Not happy with it, but he did…agree to disagree. (He still believed he should have the right to talk about the issue, but agreed not to talk about it to keep the peace.)

Side Note: I like the fact that my son wants to be informed about the world. He asks me questions about topics in the news and he likes to know how our government works and why, etc. He’s curious and sensitive about issues. I love that. As a mom, though, I just need to keep reminding him that political views are sometimes taken very seriously. I just don’t want him to get hurt. That’s my mom job!

Politics and Autism

Here’s a great article about engaging your teen in politics:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-moment-youth/201210/are-teens-confused-about-politics

 

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