How can I communicate with my daughter and not cause her to shut down?

My daughter needs me to respond to her differently now. I don’t know how to help her. She shuts down when we talk. Even when she reaches out. I think she needs more compassion and empathy. My default is to go into fix it mode.

2 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    You just answered your own question.

    Make a rule for yourself that you cannot respond with something contrary or negative to anyone. Ever. You have to make that rule for yourself or you’ll think every moment is an exception.

    So when someone you know does something stupid, shut your mouth. Look for something positive to comment on.

    And when your daughter calls, be a listener and give her empathy. You fare in as bad a spot as she is. So you know what it feels like to not be able to get where you want to go. It’s frustrating and disappointing and it’s hard to feel understood. Your daughter wants you to show you understand her by giving empathy. Anyone can give advice to autistic women because we are trying so hard to succeed in normal ways and we are doing abnormal things. Giving us advice is useless. Giving us empathy is a really big deal. Do that to your daughter.


  2. minami
    minami says:

    I love the advice to give empathy. I realized something like that while working with high-risk boys with behavior issues. When you showed them empathy – even while giving consequences for misbehavior, or maybe especially then – they responded way better and over time trusted you a lot more, which in turn brought better behavior.

    It’s a really nice feeling when a kid goes from distrusting you to the opposite. And I think it’s really rare for kids and teens to get empathy from adults, which is why it’s so important. It means a lot to them.

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