Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Risorgimento, May 26, 2013.

  1. Risorgimento

    Risorgimento New Member

    Has anyone had experience with severe perfectionism in their children? My son has High-Functioning Autism (HFA)+ADHD. He is on Tenex (guanfacine) .5 mg/day -- he JUST started this medication a few days ago. The reason I finally decided to do medications was because of his extreme anxiety about making mistakes, leading to severe meltdowns. He's fine at school (first grade, mainstream class with supports) but it's at home and other situations that are very difficult. He is a gifted violinist (my family of origin has been musicians for generations and I'm a former opera singer), but he is terrified of learning new pieces because of course there will be mistakes in them. And he gets these Aspeger's rages when he makes a mistake OR when he's corrected. It's made the violin situation unbearable both in lessons and in his daily practicing. BUT he doesn't want to quit, and won't switch to a different instrument either. Violin is one of the hardest instruments to learn but he decided on it when he was two and he is single-minded in that Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) way. He responds well to children's books about difficult childhood situations, but I haven't found one that addresses this issue yet. He has some social stories written by me and his home-visitor social worker but that hasn't helped either. He intellectually knows self-calming techniques but cannot use them independently. Any advice would be appreciated!
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Yikes. Sounds like some Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) mixed in there with the High-Functioning Autism (HFA). I sort of know where you - and your difficult child - are coming from... but no answers.
  3. TeDo

    TeDo CD Hall of Fame

    At that age, my difficult child 2 was like that. He has since kind of gotten out of it but it isn't easy trying to reason with a 5 year old. On many occasions, I have simply told both my kids "You get frustrated every time you do A but you won't quit A. NO human is perfect and we all learn from our mistakes and we can't get better at something if we're perfect. You either need to quit doing A until you can handle it or continue with it but I DO NOT want to hear a sound when you make a mistake." The hard part is when they continue doing it and still get frustrated and all I can do is remind them that they chose to do it and I was serious that I don't want to hear it. It's a hard place for a kid on the spectrum to be.
  4. Risorgimento

    Risorgimento New Member

    Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), oh yes, just a wee tad.:wink:

    Actually, I like the reasoning of "if you're perfect, you won't get better." I'm going to try that, though I'm not sure it will work. The violin trauma was the reason I decided to medicate.

    I found a kids' book called The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, but it was actually pretty lame, and did not go into the towering angst and rage that some kids feel about this issue. There's also a chapter about mistakes in The New Social Story Book, but it's a very short chapter . . .
  5. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I have no book recommendations, but I would think long and hard before even considering taking him off violin. My kiddo is part time perfectionist, but when it hits, it is intensive (like everything with him) and could had turned crippling. He too has a passionate hobby (or well, it has turned a job now), not music but sport. And especially this one sport and one position on it. He saw it first time in television when he was about to turn two and from then on, doing that sport and that position has been only thing he really has wanted to do when he grows up. Still is. He was much too young to start at two, but he played playing that position at home, we took him to other sports and things partly to prepare for starting that sport and the moment he was old enough, he has been on it. And he was, and still is, a total perfectionist with it. When he was young (under ten or twelve) kicking screaming tantrums over that were quite common also during practises. Slowly his coaches trained him to have them after practises and learn to take corrections and deal with mistakes. Long, long process, but has done worlds of good for him. And first we saw results in his other activities. Chores and learning everyday skills, school work, music (he played piano and sang in choir), other sports and finally in his favourite sport. Doesn't mean he doesn't tantrum over his mistakes any more in sports, but that is not unusual among others either and he is considered to be only somewhat more tantrumy than average for his sport. During games he is in fact more disciplined than average, he throws his tantrums afterwards. Of course we were lucky he happened to pick a sport and position where practically everyone is a perfectionist and over competitive and prone to tantrums over that, so from the beginning he had coaches who knew how to handle him, to utilize that competitiveness and perfectionism and install discipline over those behaviours. And because he was so driven to do the sport, he was ready to work hard also with his behaviour and to manage his perfectionism. If we had had to work with the issue only at home and at school, I think we would had been screwed, because he would had always been inclined to choose option to not do anything or to yuk it up, instead of trying to overcome the issues perfectionism caused.
  6. Angela41

    Angela41 New Member

    My son has some Aspergers "traits." He's both perfectionistic and highly competitive to the point where he has trouble enjoying activities that he judges himself to not be "good" at. We recently had an IQ test done that put him in the highly gifted range. Perfectionism is also a common issue with the gifted population- which, based on your description, your son falls into. We put my son in Taekwondo for better self control and on a low stress swim team to teach all of the values of competition (not just winning). I would not remove your child from an area of giftedness/ talent. Instead, work with a psychologist on ways to teach your son to accept and learn from mistakes. I tell my child that if we were perfect there would be nothing left to learn- how sad! We are a Christian family and talk about "perfect" as a trait reserved only for God and his son Jesus. God and Mommy and Daddy are most proud when we do our best and treat others with kindness.
  7. Risorgimento

    Risorgimento New Member

    Thank you so much, these are both such wise responses. To be honest, I am completely against "making" a child quit an activity of interest, especially one that's a source of achievement for him, and that's especially true for music, which has been such a huge part of my life and my profession for many years. I got to the point where I couldn't take the rages and meltdowns, and suggested quitting to my DS, but it struck me that it would be unfair to make him quit because of MY discomfort, especially something he really loves and excels at.

    Also to frame it in a Christian context makes sense for us -- I will try that.

    Yes, DS is gifted in many ways, 2e is I guess the term, though it's a term I dislike. And now giftedness is also starting to be seen as spectrum-y, a special need, interestingly. . .
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ok, you got two great responses. But being gifted is not on the spectrum most of the time. I have two twin nieces who are very gifted. They both got both academic and sports scholarships to college and had straight A averages in high school and both are also doing very well in college and have lofty goals, which I'm sure they will achieve. They are not on the spectrum and have a variety of interests and lots of friends, both of them.

    Perfectionism in one area only is sort of spectrumy because spectrum kids tend not to have a lot of interests or friends. They obsess over one thing, not expanding their horizons like these two girls are doing. I believe your son's obessive perfectionism IS part of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids tend to obsess and get very upset with mistakes and are often excessively good in one area, but they tend not to be well rounded and struggle socially. And they are tantrum throwers, which most kids outgrow very young, if they tantrum at all (not all kids do). If your son is good in other areas too, he is not on the spectrum. You are actually lucky. Most spectrum kids do not excel in anything that is useful. My son excels in videogames and it isn't going to help him in the job Your son may grow up to be a musician in a prestigious orchestra :) It's a good thing.

    I would not stop his lessons, and when he gets upset, being that he has High-Functioning Autism (HFA), you may have to go to him and remind him of how to calm himself down. This may help him calm down faster and eventually teach him how to get to that calmer place on his own. This is a very special boy and since most ASDers improve with time and interventions, I suspect he'll be a very successful young man. His quick mind will help him very much in life!
  9. Risorgimento

    Risorgimento New Member

    Thank you, Midwest Mom. My DS is gifted in several areas, but he is just absolutely textbook for High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and probably always will be. But you're right that not all giftedness comes with spectrum-ish stuff.

    Interestingly, I read a study a few years ago of classical musicians which concluded that they possessed autistic traits to a far greater degree than the general population. This does not correlate to autism, but take it from someone who lived it -- you have to be a little spectrum-ish to be able to shut yourself into a practice room alone for hours and work on your music. :)