Thank you for your post! We have worked with many teenagers who are higher functioning as your son and some do initially protest. First it is really useful to get a deeper understanding of where your son is in terms of his social development. It sounds like he is very motivated to have interactions with his peers. That is wonderful. We encourage you to carefully review our Social Developmental Model http://www.autismtreatmentcenter.org/media/pdf/developmental_model.pdf.
. Here you can get a clear picture of what exactly you want to help him with. After reviewing the principle in each stage: Attention Span, Communication, Eye Contact, Flexibility and Perspective’s to Teach then narrow it down to 3 areas that you clearly see he is challenged in.
Consider your attitude. Why do you want this for your son? Are you excited to present it or are you apprehensive. Our children are amazing at detecting when we are tense or not fully getting behind something. Check in with yourself, are you really excited and joyful about the idea? Okay, now you have a clear understanding of why and what you want to help him with, let’s try again! Approach you son and speak to him as you would any neurotypical teenager clearly explaining why you think having some time in this special room would be totally amazing. You mention that he wants to be with his friends at school. Ah ha! We have a motivation. He likes having friends. Has he conveyed any challenges he is having in keeping friends or how to make them, does he have aversions to other peoples judgement of him? Let him know the time in this focus room is going to be a way to help in his relationships outside of the room. Make the room fun. Get to know all the things your son is motivated for! This absolutely key. Is it a particular subject, video games, or movie? Get excited about learning about these things so when he is in the focus room it is REALLY about him. This is his cools space, sanctuary, chill out spot with you and others where he gets to do what he wants.
Be open to presenting negotiations. We often negotiate with our higher functioning teens. Maybe you can present leaving the door unlocked as long as he does not leave the room, if he wants to go to school M-F then he can spend an hour after school and a couple hours on the weekend in the focus room. If he wants to sleep in then, “Sure you can sleep in until 10:00 and then we will hang out in this awesome room that is all about you for the rest of the day.” Be willing to take away TV and videos at this time. These are just ways for your child to be exclusive. Be consistent in your negotiation. Get behind it!
Once you are in the room he get’s control and joined! The room is in many ways a way for time for his neurological system to get a tune up. He will be able to get a sense of control and a clear message of being accepted for who he is then he can relax more into his environment, ultimately making deeper connections in his relationships.
Remember you can really do the attitude and techniques of Son-Rise every day in or out of the focus room. Get some inspiration of the techniques and attitude we use with our children by you watching http://www.autismtreatmentcenter.org/contents/other_sections/autism-solutions.php.
You will also see different aged children being worked with.
Since you are going to be inspiring your son, really get behind why the room is fun. Be emphatic that this is going to be a great experience. In your post you elude to your son being larger than you. If you would, let us know the details of your son’s “mighty protest.” Here maybe we can help you in ways to handle his “mighty protests.”
We hope this is useful. Please let us know what specifically you say or do and what your son’s response so we can further support you.
With fun and supportive thoughts,
The Son-Rise Program® Instructor/Senior Child Facilitator