You shouldn’t say that! Autism – ADHD

Do you remember the last time you thought – I better not say that out loud?

Just the other day, I was waiting at the deli section at the grocery store. Some guy came up on the other side and tried to cut in front of me.

I thought.

“OH HECK NO! You better step back!”

Why didn’t I say it out loud?

Probably because-

  1. I didn’t want to appear rude.

  2. I was too tired to argue with anyone.  

  3. I’m not about to unnecessarily create a ruckus that may result in my son not getting his favorite cheese.

Let’s talk inner speech for a sec.

When typically wired children are really young, 2-3 years of age, they say whatever comes to mind which is usually communicating a want or a need. When they get a little older, they tend to talk to themselves and start to notice what behavior and words get them in trouble and what gets them what they want. As they develop further, talking to themselves gets quieter and quieter until it’s internalized. 

Well developed inner speech helps in so many ways, including-

  • Calming oneself

  • Delaying ones own reactions

  • Adjusting expectations

  • Social understanding

For the purpose of this post, we are focusing on saying “not so nice” words in our heads.

The bottom line is –

Children who are wired differently tend to have more difficulty with inner speech and need extra help to learn this skill.

Step 1

  1. Be patient with your child and understand that they aren’t trying to be mean.

  2. Remember that we say a lot of mean things in our heads.

  3. Understand that your child may have a developmental difference and that is why they haven’t developed inner speech like typically wired children.

Step 2

  1. Designate a time, place and person with whom your child can say whatever they want without getting in trouble – even if it’s perceived as “rude”.

  2. Thank your child for telling you what he/she was thinking.

  3. Praise him/her for thinking without doing. For example, I understand why you thought about throwing a chair in class. I’m so glad you didn’t. I wouldn’t want you to get in trouble.”

Step 3

  1. Notice when your child says words that may be perceived as “rude”.

  2. Stay calm and tell your child that it is OK to be mad.

  3. Ask your child to say those words in his/her head (not out loud). For example, say, “Say it again in your head two times and tell me when you are done.”

  4. When your child tells you that he/she is done, PRAISE!

  5. Remind your child that they won’t get in trouble if they say mean words or think mean things in their head. EVERYONE DOES IT!

If your child is asking for something in a “rude” way –

  1. Model what to say.  For example, “Say, ‘Please give me the drink”.

  2. When your child repeats what you say, PRAISE and give your child what they asked for:)


Holly Blanc Moses
The Mom/Psychologist/Behavior Analyst Who Gets It


I’m THRILLED to announce the start of a fantastic Facebook group for parents of children who are wired differently.


  1. You are a parent of a child who is wired differently.

  2. You want to support and be supported.

  3. You are not a jerk face

  4. You want a no judgment zone!

Join Here

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