Input Required

I had a friend ask for ideas, I’m generalizing here for anyone it might help.

Kiddo asks parent for proprioceptive input.

Parent either can’t or can only offer some input.

Kiddo can’t handle the refusal – they already are disregulated and needing input, so they escalate.

My suggestions came from my experience:

1 One, it’s ok to have boundaries, and the less someone respects your boundaries, the bigger the boundaries have to be.

I’ve described it like the following distance when driving – if someone in front of you or behind you is tailgaiting, you need a larger following distance. That way if the person in front crashes from tailgaiting you have time to brake. If the person behind is too close then you also need time to brake slowly so they don’t hit you like they would if you had to stop suddenly.

What this looks like is stopping your kiddo farther away and asking them to slow down and ask first. If they are too disregulated to respect the boundaries, then you know to take action to protect yourself and help them get regulated. For example my personal bubble with the kiddo is my head and my back, if he wants to go behind me he has to ask, and if he wants to touch my face he has to ask, and if he wants to give me a hug, he doesn’t have to ask unless he’s trying to come up behind me.

2 Two, if they are asking for input you can’t give, try to give them or help them get the input they need. I’ll offer “squeezies” – a big bear hug, “squishies” – squishing the kiddo between me and a counter/wall/etc. or “jumpies” – holding hands and the kiddo jumps while pushing down on my hands, similar to holding a gym bar or pushing down on a counter or table and jumping.

In this case kiddo wanted what we call “shoulder bup” – sitting on shoulders. The two alternatives I thought of was doing a piggy back and then leaning against the wall to take some of the weight off or doing the shoulder bup with leaning back so that most of the kiddo’s weight ends up on the back of the seat if available.

If those aren’t options, a headstand or handstand might help or the other types of input mentioned. Another one we like is “Timber!” where they call that and you are a tree that then falls down on them – usually sitting side by side and leaning into them.

How do I get people to take my advice?

First I have a question – how do YOU feel when someone gives you unsolicited advice?

  • Patronized? (Mansplained)
  • Condescended to?
  • Defensive?
  • Criticized?
  • Angry?
  • Annoyed or irritated?
  • Appreciative?
  • Grateful?

If it’s more like the first ones and not the last two, why would someone else feel differently?

What would happen if instead you asked if they were open to you sharing ideas or your experience?

What if you respected if they weren’t ready to hear it, but at least they know you’re available if they want it?

What if you asked them what they think they need or what they want, and why they want it? Could you ask leading questions so they could figure things out on their own?

What would happen if you took your own advice first? What would it look like to be the change you want to see?

What are you missing if people aren’t listening to you? Are you not connecting first? Are you regulated? Are they?

Cassandra from Greek Mythology embodies the anguish of seeing the future and not being able to do anything about it. But it’s a misleading tale – we can do something about it, but not the thing that is easy for us – telling others.

We have to do the hard work of helping them see for themselves, or the even harder work of connecting with others so strongly that they trust us to be looking out for their best interests as well.

The Daffodil trait… I mean Narcissism

Narcissism is a trait, if you have none, then you can’t care for yourself, if you have too much, then you can’t care for others.

Empathy and compassion are learned skills.

A “Narcissist” is someone who needs to improve those skills.

Most folks learn some degree of those skills on their own.

Some ND/HSPs do not learn self-regulation without being directly taught. So some ND/HSPs with neglectful/traumatic/unhappy childhoods can develop narcissism as a coping strategy. NTs tend to be more resilient.

The core of narcissism is anger.

If you only understand your own mind – then if someone does something different from your expectations, it makes sense that you would assume they are being mean and get angry. Anger is an emotion that is supposed to protect us, encourage us to defend our boundaries. At the bottom I have an example of how this works.

Correlation is not causation. And being HSP doesn’t imply Narcissism. I believe being a Narcissist, especially the vulnerable kind, implies being an HSP with childhood attachment trauma.

PersonA & PersonB – both have autism.
PersonA may or may not be aware of it in themselves and is not aware of it in PersonB. PersonB is not aware of it in either of them.

Having a discussion.

PersonB replies to PersonA.

PersonA: You just hurt my feelings. (see trauma)

PersonB: (had no intention to do so, feels like they are being gaslit as hurting the other person is not their experience)
“<Explains why PersonA is wrong/mistaken/shouldn’t feel that way – without first acknowledging PersonA’s experience.>”

PersonA: (feels gaslit and ignored/unheard)
“Why is it so hard to apologize? Don’t you care that my feelings are hurt?”

PersonB: (Now confused and angry, why should they apologize for something they didn’t do? Feels emotionally blackmailed. In addition to feeling gaslit, is also hurt that PersonA thinks that PersonB would try to hurt PersonA. Gets defensive and lashes out in anger – says something deliberately hurtful = Narcissim.)
“Why would I care when you don’t care about what I’m feeling?”

This is why starting with I statements and sharing needs is so important. Both people had a chance to get things back on track.

PersonA could instead say:
I’m feeling really hurt, I need <support/connection/clarification>.

Or PersonB could have replied with:
You’re feeling hurt in response to something I said? Do you need a hug? And can you explain what part was hurtful and why? I’m confused and I want to understand because I care about you. Hurting you was not my intention, so I think there must be a misunderstanding/miscommunication occurring.

Post Oct 5 2022 ^

Edit Jan 10 2023

I can only speak for myself. Before I learned more about Autism, I thought my husband was a Narcissist. I think the reason most Narcissists don’t agree with that label is because it is a label of the external behavior that others observe more so than a description of their internal experience. So if you try to explain to someone exhibiting Narcissistic tendencies they will believe you are trying to attack or gaslight them, so then of course they get defensive and strike back.