4 year old having trouble at preschool

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by geekologie, Feb 8, 2010.

  1. geekologie

    geekologie New Member

    Hi everyone. This is my first post here, and I'm hoping you all can provide me some insight on how to discipline/handle problem behavior that really only happens at school.

    My son is a very bright and happy little boy. He met all his milestones. He is chatty, loves art, music and lego. He has close friends with whom he has regular playdates, including sleepovers, with no problems. He has been in daycare since the age of 12 months, again without issue. I take him to playgroups several mornings a week and he behaves perfectly.

    He started school this past September and it has been a disaster. Here is a list of problem behaviors that we got from the teacher:

    Lashing out at others unprovoked
    Jumping on children during play
    Non-compliance when teacher is attempting to disengage him from negative behavior - lashes out hitting, kicking and screaming
    Imaginative play is singluar - when others do not engage with his idea frustration erupts
    Concern for others does not seem to be evident during these situations
    Awareness of seriousness of the situation does not appear to exist

    They said that the biggest issue is transition time - getting him dressed and ready to go outside to play is a daily struggle.

    We were shocked and surprised when presented with this - we see none of these behaviors at home. That is not to say that he does not misbehave from time to time (and what four year old does not?), but when he does he accepts his time-out calmly, and gives hugs and says sorry after the time-out. At school he has damaged doors and walls during time-outs (ripping a panel off the door, for example). He has never done anything destructive like this at home.

    We have tried using positive re-inforcement - a small reward for each day of good behavior with a special big reward on the weekend if he behaves all week. So far this has had no effect. We have cut added sugar from his diet. This is complicated for us because everything we have read indicates that any consequence should be immediate at this age... we employ this at home but we are not at school with him so we cannot even discuss these problem behaviors with him until he returns home from school - far too late for us to use any type of discipline, by that logic.

    We have been to our family doctor and he has referred us to a specialist for a formal assessment. In the meantime, do you have any suggestions of strategies we can use to encourage him to behave at school?

    I should add that he says he wants to behave. Each day on the way to school we "review" the list of things he is going to do and not do. Every day he comes home with a bad report and says that he tried to be good but he just couldn't. It breaks my heart because he is such a great kid, it hurts to think that at school they view him as the trouble-maker.:(

    There has been a lot of change in our lives over the past six months (we moved, he started school, new baby in the family) and my hope is that he is acting out as a reaction to all this change... but why don't we see it at home?

    Thanks in advance for any advice or insight.
     
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Welcome geekologie.

    I've read your post twice and honestly I'm going back and forth on this. My first thought is that if he was fine and daycare and he's fine at home, I'd change preschools first and see if that helps. Preschools vary tremendously in how they do things and maybe this one just isn't a good fit for him. If this is the only red flag, I'd be inclined to try another preschool before scheduling a full assessment.

    Or maybe he's just not ready for school. Modern American society makes a really big deal of preschool but I can assure you that many generations of children did perfectly fine without it.

    That being said, his reactions are pretty strong and if something is going on it would be better to learn about it now.

    How did he do with the transition of moving to a new home?

    How does he transition with you when you do things like leave home or leave the library?

    Are you seeing anything else unusual in his behaviors--speech differences (such as delays or very advanced speech?), interests/obsessions that are unusual for his age group, extremely picky about clothing or foods, overly sensitive to sounds or lights?
     
  3. geekologie

    geekologie New Member

    Thanks so much for your reply.

    I should have included in my original post that we have already tried this. He was having these issues at the first school, we assumed it was something in the environment there and tried a second school with the same results.

    This has also occurred to us, however a teacher at his current school has told us that she does not feel it is a maturity thing. I'm not sure what she is basing this on other than that there are younger children in the school who do not behave this way.

    He did quite well. He was excited about his new bedroom and the park across the street. He did start wetting the bed after being night trained for several weeks and was back in pull-ups at night time for several months.

    He does fairly well, as long as we give him lots of notice that a change is coming. I often have to ask a few times for him to put his boots or mitts on, but I see his friends parents having to do the same so I'm assuming this is just an age appropriate behavior.


    His speech is normal - maybe a bit advanced for his age but not incredibly so. His interests have always been age appropriate - trains as a toddler, superheroes as a preschooler. He couldn't care less what he wears for the most part, unless he has a new batman shirt or something that he wants to wear to school to show his friends. He is a picky eater, puts ketchup on everything and resists trying new foods. He doesn't like loud noises or the sun shining in his eyes in the car... but it is hard for me to define "extremely sensitive".

    Thanks again for your reply. We are really at a loss. We have eliminmated TV and roughhousing at home. We took all his superhero toys and books and packed them away until he is more mature. We have a chart to track the days where he behaves at school and gets a reward. I'm not sure what else we should be doing.

    Where we live he will be starting "real" school in September (age 5) so we want to figure out the cause of this behavior before he enters the school system.

    Thanks again for your insight.
     
  4. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    If you've already tried two preschools then I would move forward with an assessment. It can take months to get an appointment with some specialists so it's best to get the ball rolling now. Often a pediatrician will refer to some kind of behavioral therapist or child psychiatrists but around here we prefer specialists who dig deeper into what might be underlying the behaviors. The two we usually suggest for the little ones are developmental pediatricians or pediatric neuropsychologists. In addition to that we usually suggest audiology to check hearing, plus speech and/or occupational therapy if there's any indication of differences at all.

    Sometimes kids just aren't ready for the school environment or some part of the school environment (structure, noise level, anxiety, whatever...) when the calendar rolls around and says they should be. If it's just a component of that and you can identify it, then adaptations might be able to be put into place to help. For example, a child who doesn't handle transitions well might benefit from a checklist of what is happening that day. Or a child who has unidentified speech or language processing issue could benefit from information presented visually (ie a visual schedule).

    One other thought I have for you and you can do some thinking and/or observing on this. Sometimes when our kids have some potential problems issues we parents naturally adjust our language or actions to them. For instance, if one has a child that has some language processing problems those might not show up at home because the parents is giving very clear single step instructions instead or multi-step instructions. In such cases the child does much better with the parent because communication, expectations, etc is so much clearer.

    Here's a couple of things for you to check out:

    Sensory
    http://www.tsbvi.edu/seehear/fall97/sensory.htm

    A book recommendation for you:
    What Your Explosive Child Is Trying to Tell You: Discovering the Pathway from Symptoms to Solutions by Dr. Douglas Riley
     
  5. geekologie

    geekologie New Member

    Thanks so much for the reply, and the book recommendation. I have it on hold at the library and will pick it up tomorrow in the hopes that it will shed some light.

    We have an appointment with a behavioral psychologist in two weeks - I will inquire about a neuropsychologist as well.

    Thanks again, it is nice to have somewhere to turn for advice and support.
     
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Welcome, sorry you need us.

    You've already tried two pre-schools, so I agree, you need to move towards getting him assessed. I think the teachers are being a bit simplistic on maturity angles though - just because there are younger kids there, doesn't mean that he is automatically more mature. I get really cranky with teachers who equate maturity with chronological age.

    My first thought as I read your post, was - what is the difference between the previous child care, and the current pre-school placement?
    Part of that question is rhetorical - we all know that a big difference, is the beginning of much stronger expectations. The change from what he was used to, to what is now increasingly expected of him, could be one trigger factor for him. He's been in child care for years now and been happy. Now he's somewhere where they want him to do more, to conform more and be a bit more personally responsible. He's picked up on this change and resents it. Anyway, that's one possible thought.

    And of course, the other one is - you are in a pattern of giving him plenty of support with transitions. In pre-school they may be expecting him to transition a lot better than this, and this could also be triggering problems.

    It is natural for pre-school to do this. It is, after all, preparation for "big" school where there will be even more expectations of personal responsibility and ability to transition. They are doing their job. But it has shown up these problems in sharp relief.

    You do bend over a long way to give him support - this tells me you are plugged into him more than a lot of others in his world. Perhaps more than you realise. That is going to be useful for you, but it could be why you feel blindsided now.

    You mention he's fussy about his food and puts ketchup on everything - that also can be indicative of a number of things, but Asperger's is one thing jumping out at me. A lot of what you describe would fit this. However, it's not the only possibility so you need to go for that evaluation.

    With how to handle him, follow up on "Explosive Child" links and books. It can really help.

    The problems at pre-school - have you talked to him about the changes? Asked him what it is that seems to be happening, right before he gets angry or upset? Try to talk to him with blame not on the table, and just view it as fact-finding.

    The purpose of discipline is to teach that certain behaviour is unacceptable and needs to be replaced by more acceptable behaviour.
    The problems here -

    1) He already knows what's the right thing to do.

    2) He is already motivated to do the right thing.

    IN which case - punishment to teach these two things and discourage bad behaviour are not needed and will therefore be ineffective.

    The bad behaviour is continuing. Why, if he is already aware of what is wring, and motivated to be good?

    The answer is obvious - he is not able to control his actions at the time of transgression. In other words - it is either impulse control, or he is easily enraged and loses control he had previously. Punishment is only going to make him feel bad about himself, because it's basically punishing him when he can't control the behaviours, so it is only going to increase his stress (increasing his likelihood of blowing up) and make him feel less confident and also "a naughty child who is basically a bad kid".
    You say he is not basically a bad kid. But how does HE feel about himself? And how does he feel about what is happening?

    I'm not saying that he is right or should control what is going on (although he may want more control!) but listening to what he has to say about it, could give you a lot of clues about what is going on in his head.

    The assessment - even if his speech is great, it wouldn't hurt to get a thorough speech pathology assessment to identify exactly what, how, where etc his language is at. Similarly - Occupational Therapist (OT) would help, with the sensory issues because food faddishness can often be sensory. So can bedwetting. Although from your description, the house move may have been a contributing factor here. But there could be more to it.

    Don't stress, don't panic. And remember, he's fine for you at home so you're obviously already doing a lot of things right, whatever the problem is.

    Let us know how you get on. And in the meantime, keep good notes. Keep a diary on the issues, on any events and as much as you can find out about them. be careful how you question him, try to not ask leading questions. Example - don't ask, "Did you hit Jason?"
    Instead, you ask, "What happened with Jason?"
    If you need to prompt, you say, "I heard that Jason got hit. What can you tell me about what has been happening?"
    The reason you need to be careful - if a kid senses what answer you expect, they can give you what you expect even if it's not what really happened.

    Another true example - difficult child 3 had been bullied at school, a group of boys were involved. difficult child 3's friend told me that the boys had pushed difficult child 3 over. he came home with bloodied knees and insisting to me that the boys had deliberately tripped him over.
    I carefully asked him what happened and got the story - difficult child 3 had been running through the playground, ran near these boys and one of them stuck his foot out and difficult child 3 fell while running, onto rocks.
    I sent a note to the school, to the teacher, to try to sort out the bullying. I got a note back - difficult child 3 had been mistaken. The teacher had questioned him, said the teacher, and difficult child 3 now understood that he got it wrong. I found out that the teacher had said to difficult child 3, "Now, the boys didn't really trip you, did they? You just fell over your own feet, didn't you? You realise that because of your autism you sometimes misunderstand what is really happening."
    difficult child 3's response to this - Mr S told me that I didn't really get tripped, that sometimes what I see didn't really happen. I didn't know that. I was so certain I saw John stick his foot out, but Mr S said I couldn't have."
    difficult child 3's friend was silent and embarrassed. He'd also been threatened by the bullies. And the teacher - he'd just taken the easy way out, so he wouldn't have to confront the bullies' parents (who were scary people, I gather).

    So always go carefully and try to avoid leading the witness.

    There is so much more we can help you with, but it's best to not overload you for now. So stay in touch, let us know how it goes.

    Marg
     
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Welcome, sorry you need us.

    You've already tried two pre-schools, so I agree, you need to move towards getting him assessed. I think the teachers are being a bit simplistic on maturity angles though - just because there are younger kids there, doesn't mean that he is automatically more mature. I get really cranky with teachers who equate maturity with chronological age.

    My first thought as I read your post, was - what is the difference between the previous child care, and the current pre-school placement?
    Part of that question is rhetorical - we all know that a big difference, is the beginning of much stronger expectations. The change from what he was used to, to what is now increasingly expected of him, could be one trigger factor for him. He's been in child care for years now and been happy. Now he's somewhere where they want him to do more, to conform more and be a bit more personally responsible. He's picked up on this change and resents it. Anyway, that's one possible thought.

    And of course, the other one is - you are in a pattern of giving him plenty of support with transitions. In pre-school they may be expecting him to transition a lot better than this, and this could also be triggering problems.

    It is natural for pre-school to do this. It is, after all, preparation for "big" school where there will be even more expectations of personal responsibility and ability to transition. They are doing their job. But it has shown up these problems in sharp relief.

    You do bend over a long way to give him support - this tells me you are plugged into him more than a lot of others in his world. Perhaps more than you realise. That is going to be useful for you, but it could be why you feel blindsided now.

    You mention he's fussy about his food and puts ketchup on everything - that also can be indicative of a number of things, but Asperger's is one thing jumping out at me. A lot of what you describe would fit this. However, it's not the only possibility so you need to go for that evaluation.

    With how to handle him, follow up on "Explosive Child" links and books. It can really help.

    The problems at pre-school - have you talked to him about the changes? Asked him what it is that seems to be happening, right before he gets angry or upset? Try to talk to him with blame not on the table, and just view it as fact-finding.

    The purpose of discipline is to teach that certain behaviour is unacceptable and needs to be replaced by more acceptable behaviour.
    The problems here -

    1) He already knows what's the right thing to do.

    2) He is already motivated to do the right thing.

    IN which case - punishment to teach these two things and discourage bad behaviour are not needed and will therefore be ineffective.

    The bad behaviour is continuing. Why, if he is already aware of what is wring, and motivated to be good?

    The answer is obvious - he is not able to control his actions at the time of transgression. In other words - it is either impulse control, or he is easily enraged and loses control he had previously. Punishment is only going to make him feel bad about himself, because it's basically punishing him when he can't control the behaviours, so it is only going to increase his stress (increasing his likelihood of blowing up) and make him feel less confident and also "a naughty child who is basically a bad kid".
    You say he is not basically a bad kid. But how does HE feel about himself? And how does he feel about what is happening?

    I'm not saying that he is right or should control what is going on (although he may want more control!) but listening to what he has to say about it, could give you a lot of clues about what is going on in his head.

    The assessment - even if his speech is great, it wouldn't hurt to get a thorough speech pathology assessment to identify exactly what, how, where etc his language is at. Similarly - Occupational Therapist (OT) would help, with the sensory issues because food faddishness can often be sensory. So can bedwetting. Although from your description, the house move may have been a contributing factor here. But there could be more to it.

    Don't stress, don't panic. And remember, he's fine for you at home so you're obviously already doing a lot of things right, whatever the problem is.

    Let us know how you get on. And in the meantime, keep good notes. Keep a diary on the issues, on any events and as much as you can find out about them. be careful how you question him, try to not ask leading questions. Example - don't ask, "Did you hit Jason?"
    Instead, you ask, "What happened with Jason?"
    If you need to prompt, you say, "I heard that Jason got hit. What can you tell me about what has been happening?"
    The reason you need to be careful - if a kid senses what answer you expect, they can give you what you expect even if it's not what really happened.

    Another true example - difficult child 3 had been bullied at school, a group of boys were involved. difficult child 3's friend told me that the boys had pushed difficult child 3 over. he came home with bloodied knees and insisting to me that the boys had deliberately tripped him over.
    I carefully asked him what happened and got the story - difficult child 3 had been running through the playground, ran near these boys and one of them stuck his foot out and difficult child 3 fell while running, onto rocks.
    I sent a note to the school, to the teacher, to try to sort out the bullying. I got a note back - difficult child 3 had been mistaken. The teacher had questioned him, said the teacher, and difficult child 3 now understood that he got it wrong. I found out that the teacher had said to difficult child 3, "Now, the boys didn't really trip you, did they? You just fell over your own feet, didn't you? You realise that because of your autism you sometimes misunderstand what is really happening."
    difficult child 3's response to this - Mr S told me that I didn't really get tripped, that sometimes what I see didn't really happen. I didn't know that. I was so certain I saw John stick his foot out, but Mr S said I couldn't have."
    difficult child 3's friend was silent and embarrassed. He'd also been threatened by the bullies. And the teacher - he'd just taken the easy way out, so he wouldn't have to confront the bullies' parents (who were scary people, I gather).

    So always go carefully and try to avoid leading the witness.

    There is so much more we can help you with, but it's best to not overload you for now. So stay in touch, let us know how it goes.

    Marg
     
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If your son is truly fine at home and everywhere else and has no quirks, I'm not sure what to offer, but I was wondering if he tends to do poorly in crowded, loud, noisy, distracting places. Or if he is ok with kids he knows, but nervous around different kids. Or if there really is more going on at home, but that you adjust to it because school will not unless he has some sort of diagnosis.

    Does he ever seem spacey or kind of out of it, then, at other times, quite with it? Do his interests become obsessions to the exclusion of everything else? Does he like to repeat by rote stuff that he hears on television or that other people say?

    Although nothing jumps out at me, Aspergers-lite crossed my mind...
     
  9. braydensmum

    braydensmum New Member

    OMG! what you have described here is exactly how my son has been behaving this past week. Brayden started kindy last Monday and immediately commenced this behaviour. He has been in daycare from the age of 5 mths and the transition to "big school' has brought on this. He also has never really been an angel but timeout does work really well at home and the promise of treats and outing after a good day at school didnt work for me either.
    I took him to my paediatrian who diagnosed him with ADHA/ODD over 18 mths ago. Braydens ODD/ADHA has been controlled previously with behaviour managment, but this past week we have tried Ritalin. I'm not sure I like my son being on this medication but I am giving it a few weeks to see if there is any change. I have had to pull him out of school as he has bitten three teachers, head butted a child , trashed a classroom and constantly has lashed out at other children and running past and slapping children. The schools only suggestion was to bring him in for two hours a day.
    I was informed by the school counseller that there is an early intervention program for children with behaviour problems to do with transition into school , they can sometimes start mid year. Early intervention schools are government funded and they have behaviour managment specialist programs . If you hear of any thing else that has help pleae let me know as i will you. Im not sure I have helped at all but i was really blown away reading your post as it is as if im reading about my own son. Thanks Karen
    karrenlee34@hotmail.com
    p.s I didnt mention above what a loving and precious child Brayden can be and is most of the time.
     
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    G'day, Braydensmum. I hope you haven't used his real name - you may find you need to maintain confidentiality, so if at some stage you need to vent about a teacher, a doctor or a relative, you can do it knowing nobody knows you could be talking about THEM! Same goes for email addresses - it's OK to send them by PM, but it is really important for your sake, to keep your personal identifiying details off the publicly available areas.

    Post in your own right when you get a chance, do a sig for yourself.

    Don't feel guilty or abusive for putting your child on stimulants at a young age. If they work, they're justified. Anyone giving you a hard time about it, if the medications are working - ignore those people. I also felt bad putting my very young son on stimulant medications (in our case we put him on dexamphetamine, you can get it compounded into a sustained-release form) but the improvement was so wonderful, we did not want to go back to how it was.

    It wasn't a cure of course, but it helped him gain more self-control and to make considerable progress. In our case, it helped him a lot with language.

    And our lad was 3 years old when we started the stimulants. We felt very apprehensive, but it paid off.
    Brayden'smum, you probably need to begin your own thread in introduction so you can get the support you personally need rather than risk getting missed at the end of someone else's thread. But a suggestion in the meantime - try and organise a second opinion through Westmead Hospital. They have some really good services in this area for kids. They see a huge range of kids with a lot of different issues, it could give a more accurate picture. It doesn't mean needing to change doctors, just maybe confirmation or added support for your current pediatrician.

    Again, welcome.

    Marg
     
  11. tracy24w

    tracy24w New Member

    It sounds like you and I are close to being in the same boat!! My difficult child is ready to get kicked out of his preschool too. Real school starts this fall, and I'm pretty anxious to find out what is going on with my son as well!! His pediatrician has diagnosed ADHD/ODD/Mood disorder by my family history, his dad's family history, difficult child's behavior, and Focalin really made his attitude worse!! I dont have a complete evaluation either. We just started Lamictal 4 days ago. We have an apointment with Early Intervention coming up on the 31st. I am very anxious to hear what they have to tell me and find ou more!!

    difficult child has been in daycare for 2 2/2 years, and didn't really have much problem until the new pre-K teacher took over. The directors tell me she likes to have control, and runs a tight ship. I strongly feel that she & difficult child just do not fit each other. None of the other teachers he's had have had any behavior problems. SO & I thought maybe we weren't discipling enough, and started cracking down. This BACKFIRED! I'm not sure if Focalin brought some of it out. We've tried talking to new teacher, told her to take some time and diffuse when she sees difficult child getting frustrated. Her reply was that she has 20 other kids to attend to and can't take the time to talk down difficult child. I know that 5 minutes to talk him down is much better than a tantrum, but I don't think she cares too much, no matter how much she says she wants to help.

    difficult child started back in the beginner preschool class today. He was pretty upset about it. We tried to explain that because he fights with PreK teacher, he has to go to the other room. SO & I decided that we are going to take him to daycare only 3 days a week now.

    I know he can't really control how he reacts, and daycare teachers constantly disciplining has got to have some kind of negative effect on his esteem. I can't wait to find out what is really going on in his little brain, so we know what to do and what to tell teachers to do!!

    Real school is coming up this fall, and there is laws that they need to help. It does feel pretty desperate. I can definately relate to how you are feeling!!
     
  12. geekologie

    geekologie New Member

    What is Aspergers-lite? The child psychologist was able to say that it is definitely not ADHD, and that he has some signs of Aspergers but not enough to diagnose him at this time. His challenges seem to be mainly in social interaction, so she has given us some books to work with, role playing games, etc. to help him better navigate social situations.

    I am curious about what "Aspergers lite" is... from what I've read about Apergers it doesn't really fit except for his rigid attitude during play - either the other kids play his way or there is a meltdown. He is very unwilling (or unable) to compromise. But he doesn't go on and on about a favorite topic, has no problem with eye contact or back-and-forth conversations... he really seems like a typical four year old in most ways.

    The "What your explosive child is trying to tell you" book was a big help, thanks so much for the recommendation. The "Big Kid/Little Kid Brain" game is a huge hit!
     
  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi, and welcome.
    We call my son Aspie-lite, a phrase I "borrowed" from a mom on the board. :)
    It's just a milder manifestation of symptoms. It's used for kids and adults who are highly functioning, IOW, they can fly under the radar and get away with-a lot of behaviors by being clowns, or very polite, or otherwise not having a meltdown or being too rigid. My son's behaviors now, during puberty, are much better in some ways, but worse in others. Once he sets his mind to something, it's like moving heaven and earth to get him to change his mind. I sometimes wonder if the old guy who lived under the shadow of Mt St. Helens when it erupted so many yrs ago wasn't Aspie. If you recall, park rangers and police repeatedly told him that the volcano was going to erupt and he needed to leave, and he wouldn't leave his home. So they left him ... and the home was covered with-lava.
    Autism/Asperger's is a spectrum disorder, meaning that it can run the gamut from being severe (unable to speak or even stay clothed) to being barely noticeable, just a bit quirky. No two Aspies are alike, but there are enough similarities that at some point, it is possible to make a diagnosis.
     
  14. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Aspie-lite basically means that you have spectrum symptoms but are mildly enough impacted to be able to function. I don't think I coined the phrase but I was certainly an early adopter as I'm on the spectrum myself.
     
  15. geekologie

    geekologie New Member

    Thanks for the clarification. That may well be what we are dealing with here, but I will await further diagnosis I guess.

    We are having some success using the tools that the psychologist suggested - social stories, social picture books and drawing "comic strips" that help him think through how to behave during a 'trigger' situation such as transitioning from the classroom to the gym or to go outside to play. We are emphasising discussing our feelings and he seems to find this very helpful and is thrilled when I tell him how happy or proud his behavior has made me.

    That said, I would appreciate any advice on helping him deal with his inflexibility. For example: If he and another child are playing with blocks and he gets it into his head that they should build a hospital but the other child wants to build a rocketship, there will often (but not always) be trouble. The other children seem able to compromise, and my son does too, sometimes, but other times he wants it his way or a complete tantrum ensues. Any tips on how to handle that type of inflexibility would be appreciated :D

    Thanks for all the advice and information, this site is a wonderful resource.
     
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I found using "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene gave me tools to help difficult child 3 deal with inflexibility.

    Redirection can work; compromise can work. But never try to force the issue. If there is direct conflict with another child (say, your son wants to build a hospital and the other child wants to build a carpark) then you have to separate them, divide up the resources, try to redirect one of them so the other can do what he wants. Or find something else for the other child to do in the meantime.

    Food can help redirect, because these kids often 'forget' to et, and when they remember, they are often ravenous.

    We found the inflexibility is not something we can over-ride in any way. It's something you have to work on a tiny bit at a time, slowly. We had multiple inflexibilities which often clashed especially with food, so we got into the habit of cooking multiple meals and sometimes even serving them at different times. difficult child 3 would come home from school mentally exhausted by the efforts of the day. Plus he was fairly restricted in what he would eat - various forms of bolognese sauce. So I would give him choice of what form he wanted today (nachos, or spaghetti bolognese, or chilli con carne) and then I would serve it up to him. Then when the rest of us ate later, difficult child 3 would be fed and comfortable, working his own way through his bedtime routine. Often he would be in the bath while the other kids ate their own dinner.

    It wasn't so difficult - modern conveniences made it possible. I would cook one weekly batch of bolognese sauce and freeze most of it. We had other preferred meals that other kids chose (easy child 2/difficult child 2 being especially fussy but in a totally opposite way to difficult child 3) so I did the same for them. When it was meal time, the kids could choose what to have from the range available. We would simply microwave whatever they wanted from what had been prepared earlier in bulk.

    Some people find this appalling, that I allowed the kids to have such control. But it worked for us and as the kids got older, they had to take some responsibility for cooking their preferred foods. We also began to develop ways to introduce new foods and get the kids to try them. We developed some good techniques to the extent that now difficult child 3 is far more flexible about what he will eat. However, I still have a freezer full of meals I know he will eat, if what I have cooked for everyone else is just not to his taste. He really will starve himself rather than eat what he doesn't like. They say kids won't do this, but I suspect Aspies and autistics are exceptions to that rule.

    Basically, we dealt with inflexibility by not challenging it. As he got older, he got more flexible and more able to cope with challenge. Keeping his anxiety under control and working with him to help keep his anxiety checked was a good start. A lot of the inflexibility comes form fear and anxiety.

    Marg
     
  17. geekologie

    geekologie New Member

    Oh, thank you - you have given me cause to hope! ;)

    We are more than able to handle his rigid "episodes" at home, either by redirection, coming up with a compromise and most definitely by picking our battles. The problem is his explosions at preschool. The other day he wanted to pretend that the climber was a pirate ship and the other boys wanted to pretend it was a spaceship. He ended up exchanging blows with one boy and kicking another boy in the head as the other boy attempted to climb up. :( The school is quickly losing patience with this type of behavior and with so many children to care for they don't have the ability to be "on top" of him at all times to distract him before he blows up. I just don't know what to do. :sad-very:
     
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    A big part of the problem at school (and will be for some time) is the need for play to be structured and supervised.

    Of course they are losing patience with him, because they are trying to handle his inflexibility by being inflexible themselves. This only teaches the child to be even more inflexible.

    Schools tend to resist change (I tend to treat schools and education departments in general, as if they themselves are autistic with ODD). They also do not like having to put in services for a child "who only needs a bit of firm discipline". But really, a small investment now in terms of time, energy and supervised, structured play will really pay off for them down the track.

    difficult child 3 had an aide at pre-school. We were lucky; a child with severe cerebral palsy moved out of area just as difficult child 3's diagnosis came on board, so we were able to segue into the previous aide's employment and keep her on staff as well as have someone who had already experienced difficult child 3 in action. The aide would remove difficult child 3 to play with him elsewhere, if he were becoming disruptive. They would gently push him as much as he could handle, then back off to give him space where he clearly needed it. The important thing is to keep challenging these kids (to help them manage transitions or to cope with challenge) but to pull back BEFORE they explode. Once the kid explodes, the damage is done, the bad habit has once more been enabled and more unlearning will be needed than would have been the case if they had prevented.

    You can't handle these kids with strictness and control, it will backfire. But it is amazing how well these kids will behave, with the right sort of attention and support.

    Marg
     
  19. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I have not read all the replies so forgive me if I repeat something (just think of it as me saying I agree with someone else).

    You are correct about the immediate disciplining /rewarding. Your son is too young to plan so far ahead. Once the reward is lost, then in his mind why bother the rest of the day? So, I have a few questions:

    1. Have you spoken with the teacher to find out the exact steps she takes in redirecting him? She has indicated that transition time is a challenge then she should know that is an area to work on. Is she giving him a longer warning of the transition time? Is she learning how he transitions? For going outdoors, what is the routine? Does she get upset if it is not exactly as she thinks it should be? (like who cares if he puts on his jacket BEFORE putting something away in his locker? Is he being pressured to put something away before putting the jacket on?) Sometimes kids need to be allowed to do a few steps in a different order if the end result is the same.

    2. How big of a class is he in? Do you feel the teacher has enough control over the class? Is she calm at the end of the day? Does she show frustrations over a busy day? Is she gentle or does she come across as rough to the kids? Is she strigent in what she expects from the kids? Do you feel there is a personality clash with the teacher?

    I would suggest that on your way to preschool, drop the list of what not to do and focus on the what to do. Get those negative actions out of the picture. Push the being kind and listening behavior. He can only focus on one behavior at a time. If you are listing the what not to dos last, that may be what he is remembering. Ask the teacher to help by writing down some good things he did during the day that he can share with you (aka: that you can praise him for). He can even go up to the teacher and say, "Teacher, can you help me remember to tell my mom how well I stood in line today?" Maybe during transition times he can "check in" with the teacher to see what she has written for him so far. It only has to be one thing between each transition - "Good listener today" "Let so and so go first in line" "shared a toy". That may also get him in a better relationship with his teacher.

    Just you being proud of a good day would be a good enough reward. However, if you want to celebrate a good day, find something that does not cost money (or is inexpensive). 1/2 hour watching one of his DVDs with you before bed time - choosing which vegetable to have with supper - going on a walk together.

    When my 5th grader was having problems with behaviours, his teacher and I came up with a short check off list. At the end of the day, they would go through it together and mark how well he did in certain areas like respecting others, listening to the teacher, ect. You could have a very short age appropriate one for your son that lists, "listening", "sharing", "following directions", "being kind". Maybe make a chart with the main transition times so as he "checks in" with the teacher, she can just put a "+" next to the ones he did well in during that time frame. Make several copies of these for her. It is very important that she be willing to take the time to participate in this throughout the day. He can not wait until the end of the day to hear when he is doing well in these areas.
     
  20. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    O.K., I just read one of your posts: If the school has so many kids to care for that they can not keep on top of each kids' behaviors then that school has way too many preschoolers. Is it possible to find a smaller setting for him? A school can not properly teach social skills to children if there are so many that they can't watch them all at the same time. Preschoolers need a lot more supervision than older kids - schools can not allow them to free play without proper supervision. I would venture to guess that transition time is one that the kids are told "OK, be ready for _________ now!" and there is really no supervision of how the kids transition - there may not be any rules and your child can not handle the chaos of how many other preschoolers transitioning without a lead of how to transition because there are too many kids to make sure they all do so properly.

    If there are blows on the playground, then they are not being taught how to take turns. Part of a preschool education is to teach taking turns and how to get along politely.

    It bothers me also, that instead of working with your child, the staff knowingly is putting him in unsupervised situations. If there is a child having difficulties handling frustrations, than staff better be keeping a closer eye on him/her. By now, they should know the warning signs of when a child is about to blow and jump in before the trouble happens. Or, are there too many kids acting out that none of them are getting the help they need?

    If you feel the school is telling you, "Well, we can't watch him every second." knowing that he does need to be watched during transitions and free play time, then I would look for a third school, one with a much smaller class size. Your child may not be "naughty" but may just be frustrated because other kids are not following the rules to a "T". I used to be one of those kids (never struck out but was always on edge) who would get upset when the teacher said to take out a pencil and another kid would take out a crayon and the teacher would allow it. NOT RIGHT! You have to do exactly what the teacher says, exactly. So, school was frustrating for me because there was always someone who didn't do EXACTLY as told. I also hated the chaos of transitioning - the noise, the absense of rules - I just wanted to scream at the top of my lungs or push kids down to get their attention to tell them to be quiet and orderly.
     
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