How do U help a difficult child with- fixations?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by lovemychocolate, Mar 1, 2009.

  1. lovemychocolate

    lovemychocolate New Member

    difficult child has not been officially diagosed yet, but he is probablly odd and asperger's. Friday was a bad day at school. When I picked him up I could tell by the look on his face. It was RIF day and he came home bookless. He says that he and his friend, J, went together to get their books. My difficult child shows J the book he wants to get and J grabs the book instead. difficult child spends the rest of the day stewing. He says he talked to the school vp, but she was gone. I called the librarian and she told me they have extra books for kids and they can pick up on Monday and Tuesday.

    difficult child wouldn't get in the car, so we sat on the curb and on the sidewalk for almost an hour--with his sister in tow. difficult child was angry and this is when the fixations happen. I mirrored his feelings and was emphathetic to his situation. I asked if we could go to Border's to find a similar or even better book--He was yelling and crying--not one of his worse explosions, but I realized that he has been having many fixations recently.He said only that book was the book he wanted, he wanted NOTHING else! I diffused him for the time being, but when we got home, he got angry again and wanted to be alone. He kept coming out of his room and throwing things and slamming his door. I did find time to talk about what to do when he's angry. I gave him options and told him which behaviors I didn't want to see: slamming doors, being mean to his siblings.

    The next day we went to the park and along the way he found some used, scratch off lottery tix. He loves finding these, but got dissapointed when he realized there was no excess silver stuff to wipe away. He had a meltdown and he was screaming, crying in the middle of the park. He goes extreme with his thinking and from this situation he extrapolates that he NEVER finds good lottery tix. He continued to yell and cry for the next 30 minutes. I had his siblings with us, so I had to tend to them.

    He came over to us in the playground area and when he was calm I asked him if he understood why people had thrown away the lottery tix? I tried to insert some logic into the situation as difficult child usually very logic oriented. I kept it brief and then asked difficult child to play with us. He wanted instead, for me to give him things to do, How many times can you do ___. I made him get tired out with the physical activity and he actually later thanked me for helping him calm down.

    I'm already dreading what will play out tomorrow when difficult child see's "J" and the book issue comes up. How do I help prepare difficult child for tomorrow when all his emotions about the stiation with J getting his book come up?
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    How old is he and has he always had obsessions? Did he have any early speech or other delays? He sounds to me more Aspergers than ODD. I dont find ODD a useful label anyway--it describes defiant behavior, but doesn't cover the cause of it. I hope you can get an evaluation soon. As for what to do, when L. was younger, I used to ALWAYS prompt him for any bumps in the road that could happen the next day. Heck, I'd prompt him for the next five minutes. He did not do well when things didn't go the way he felt they SHOULD go. This was not ODD. This was autistic spectrum disorder. They can't handle changes or things not going smooth or the way THEY feel they SHOULD go. Good luck tomorrow!
  3. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I'd rehearse with him. Role play.
    That's all I can think of right now.
  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Oh, also, my son isn't so bad any more, but when he was really little he would do something similar to what your son did, and then he'd get the item back, and he didn't want it any more. It was like it had a disease and he wouldn't touch it.
    Whatever. :(
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I don't blame him for beingupset, but he sounds like he's nnot good at explaining exactly what he is upset about. He seems to be saying he's upset because J grabbed the book he wanted, but I think it goes deeper - J disrespected him, badly, by grabbing the book like that.

    Now some kids are like that. J probably didn't mean to be horrible, or even if he did - he probably doesn't realise the pain he's caused.

    I would be sympathetic to him, let him know that he is allowed to be upset about being disrespected, but if he lets it continue to eat at him, he's going to have an even more miserable time than he needs to. Yes, that is the book he wanted - but because of the incident, he is now "stuck" in that moment and needs to move on, at least for a few days, to do something else instead. Then when J brings the book back, he can get it then. And maybe next time he won't show J the book that has taken his fancy!

    Sounds to me like these two need supervising when together...

    On the subject of J, I remember some otherwise quite decent kids who used to play together by grabbing each other's things and running off with them. Usually it was a more immature kid who didn't really do too well with social interaction and who was trying to fit in with a group, and who thought this was how you tease a friend good-naturedly. I remember one boy, I had to stop him because the kid he'd upset was REALLY upset. Teachers often didn't intervene because it was the sort of stuff they felt the kids could sort out for themselves. I also noticed that as these kids got a bit older and wiser, this behaviour stopped. They simply didn't know that it was unacceptable and hurtful.

    I think what should have happened, is someone should have stepped in and sorted this out, maybe had a quickmediation session with the boys. J needed to know that it wasn't funny, it was hurtful' your son needed to kow that there are other choices and J probably didn't mean to be nasty, it was his hamfisted attempt to play.

    As for what to do now - your son is going to be stuck, until he can get himself over his hurt. And maybe you need to talk to J, or talk to J's parent (if you know them well enough) to see if you can resolve things BEFORE they meet again.

    As for the way our Aspie-ish kids use obsessions as a way to cope - I've learned to live with it. They do adapt as they get older, but with the degree of extreme anxiety they feel so often, ritual and sameness (as well as some comforting behaviours) do make it easier for thme to handle it. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy can also help; he needs to learn to recognise the somatic (body manifestations) signs of anxiety - the knot in the stomach, the rapid heartbeat, the muscle tension. Then he needs to learn ways of reducing his symptoms. difficult child 3 has been given a daily exercise before bedtime - breath in for six seconds, breathe out for six seconds. He's thensupposed to use this when he's feeling anxious - breathe in for six seconds, breathe out for six seconds.

    An alternative handy obsession for when you can't find "scratchies" - bubble wrap. If you keep a few squares of it in your handbag, you can hand him a piece and let him pop the bubbles. It's really good for reducing anger and anxiety. But if you try to remove obsessions, you can be also removing coping strategies. The best thing you can do is direct him to coping strategies you find preferable.

    For example, popping bubbles on bubble wrap is more acceptable than taking a chainsaw to people.

  6. lovemychocolate

    lovemychocolate New Member

    I think the book is gone. The boy's parents are pretty indifferent so I thought it might make things worse to call them. I think difficult child might get teased if I intervened.

    I like the idea of helping difficult child recoginze the symptoms before they take control of him. I like the bubble wrap idea--I'll get some.

    What did you mean by if I remove obsessions, I might be removing coping strategies?

  7. lovemychocolate

    lovemychocolate New Member

    Thanks for the insight with the ODD. I was on the fence about it and am in the middle of changing insurance so testing is on hold. difficult child is 8 and in 2nd grade.

    This child has always had extreme difficulty with transitions or disruptions. Obsessions...they've been more noticable recently, but he's always been a rigid child. Went from a very high threshold for pain to a very low threshold for pain.
  8. lovemychocolate

    lovemychocolate New Member

    Yeah, he does do this, too. I'll give the role playing idea a try. Sometimes difficult child doesn't like to be given too much information.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    What I meant about being careful not to remove obsessions willy-nilly - they are like a safty valve, often. The more stressed and anxious, the more the child tends to follow certain rituals. If they are causing more trouble, then clerly you need to try to steer him in a more acceptable direction, but if they're not causing you or him any problem then let him do what he feels he needs to do. It's like when kids stimulant - if his stimming is socially unacceptable, then you need to intervene. Some parents for example try to stop their kids flapping their hands to stimulant, and often the child who is more socially aware will modify his own stims and obsessions to something more acceptable. For example, easy child 2/difficult child 2 was obsessed with the texture of fur, fur fabric and velvet. At home she would carry her teddy everywhere, buth this wasn't acceptable in high school so she made a fur fabric cover for her school folder out of cow-print pattern. It looked cool and because her folder as so big, she carried it everywhere and so was discreetly getting her cuddle of fur while people just didn't realise. All they saw was a studious girl with her school folder.

    I think the best bet for your son, once he gets over how he was treated, is to go pick out the book he wanted from the local library or Borders (you had a good idea there). I understand that for him, the magic of that moment has been lost (he was happy when he found the book, wanted to share his happiness with his friend, friend just wrecked everything, only THAT book has a chance of recapturing that sense of happiness in that moment in your son's mind).

    I remember when I was about your son's age, I found a tennis ball. I didn't have much, I was happy to have a tennis ball of my own but a ball is not as much fun on your own.
    A boy at school grabbed the ball from me and threw it up on the classroom roof. I was upset andcried, the boy was sorry and offered to get me another ball. But I didn't want another ball; I wanted THAT ball. He didn't uderstand, there had been something about having found THAT ball that had spoken to me, it had been alone and without anyonoe and we had found each other. No way could I explain that to anyone (yes, I do consider the possibility that there are some Aspie components in me!).

    There really was no way around it, I just had to get over it and learn to live with it. But it hurts. What also hurts is the memory of how I behaved at the time. I perhaps could have done better if someone could have REALLY talked to me, encouraged me to talk about why I was so upset, maybe helped me try to identify what it was that had upset me. Then maybe Icould have moced on sooner.

    The thing is, so often adults tend to be dismissive of such things, the child has to get over it and the sooner they pull themselves together, the better. But if you have a child prone to anxiety and obsessionality, don't make the assumption that whatever is upsetting him is only a little thing. You just don't know.

    Once achild feels "heard" it does tend to reduce their anxiety in future as well; they feel more secure in knowing they've been listne3d to before, they'll be listened to agian. it can get VERY wearing, the things that bother them seem so silly, but it can make such a big difference to a child to feel more secure. It then flows on to their own self-esteem because if someone values them enough to listen to their feelings, then those feelings are worth acknowledging.

    Good luck with this.He really does sound VERY Aspie, with anxiety problems at the moment. Maybe you could role-play this with him. Make it clear he did nothing wrong, just maybe unwise considering that his friend seems to be impulsive and also socially inept. We learn from our experiences, and it's not necessarily a matter of being right or wrong, just happier in the future.

  10. lovemychocolate

    lovemychocolate New Member

    My timing was great tonight with difficult child. I waited until he was calm and lying on his bedroom floor. I gave him notice I wanted to talk and we ended up having a nice talk. I did the role playing and he made the cutest and oddest smirks at my display. I gave him options aobut the book choice--he couldn't come up with any--so I offered mine. I told him he didint' even have to choose a book, or he could look for a totally different type of book. He had wanted a book in Science. I ended doing a role playing about him and his brother so he wouldn't go to bed thinking of "J" who he'll see tomorrow.

    Thanks for sharing your personal story about the tennis ball. You're right, the majic in the moment was taken from him. I hope I validated his feelings about the incident.

    How very creative and discreet your daugher and the book cover is! I really love that.

    I can read my difficult child so well, that I know when something's off!! It's husband that is dismissive. I'm working on him.

    Thanks, Marg. Appreciate your kindness and help ;)

  11. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I agree about obsessions and coping. in my opinion, children with AS are accustomed to living life with a certain level of obsessions. It's almost has the same effect as a medication: too much or none/too little and they are out of sync.

    I think that this gets better with age, especially if they are tuning into their peers at all who aren't losing it at the drop of a hat. Role playing is one good idea as are social stories. Stopping and putting the options down in writing can help some kids as well. If he's getting social speech in school they can write in goals for working on coping with disappointment.

    To me this is the key. What you want to shoot for is that your difficult child comes to trust you that you will take his concerns seriously so that he doesn't have to melt down or become overly anxious about it. We had to deal with this in the area of obsessing about gifts and I would drill it (into all the kids really): if you get something you already have or don't like, just say thank you and then quietly whisper it to mom and mom will take care of it. In the early years that meant mom would arrange for an exchange or a gift swap. I was a little worried at the time that I'd be still swapping out gifts when my kid got married, ;) but that arrangement soothed the meltdowns and anxiety enough to allow room for growing into more appropriate responses down the road.

    If a lot of issues are happening at school, a home-school log can help. Once a child learns to trust that the communication will bring about addressing and resolvign the problem, instead of having to deal with a problem all weekend you can write it down in the notebook on Friday after school.
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Sometimes difficult child doesn't like to be given too much information.

    Yes, ditto.
  13. Star*

    Star* call 911

    What if - you had a Mom's MAGIC suitcase or bag? And in that there were the neatest toys that he ONLY got when he became fixated and obsessed to the point of making you sit on a sidewalk for an hour sis in tow?

    There could be books in there that have lights or music when you open them. There could be pop up books. Books that are just NEAT beyond neat. And a few things like puzzles and snacks - Or a new little drawing pad with the invisible ink stuff? Car bingo, a soft squishy stuffed animal. (thinking sensory here). Puppets? A puppet that comes out to help him and talk to him when he's really out of sorts. This helped Dude a lot. His name was Luigi - and he called Dude Piasan. Luigi always made Dude laugh when he was angry-fixated. But dude wasn't Autistic.

    I dont' have much experience with Autistic kids - My sister the genius is an Aspie. But I know when someone/anyone becomes fixated on and obsesses about something you can try to distract them.
  14. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Wish I had an answer for you but I don't. I was told to "redirect" his attention.

    Yea, right. Not possible with-my difficult child 98% of the time. If it was something "wow" enough to redirect his attention, it just replaced what he had just been obsessing about.

    difficult child hides it now, but if you know him, it's still there.

    I call it Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) tendencies; the pros call it perserveration.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Sheila, you're right. When it's too intense, you can't redirect. It'salways worth a try, but frankly sometimes the best, and quickest, way to deal with te problem sometimes, is head on. Just sit with him, take the time it needs, and help him deal with it. Trying to hurry a kid through can often take you far longer than it would have to just sit tere and get him to talk it out.

    Serious suggestion for all of us - let's all take our own crash course in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and learn how to help him change focus by really identifying and thinking about what is bugging him. Because we can't always have a pocket therapist handy for such occasions, we need to be sufficiently capable to be able to fill in the gaps and do the job.

    And at least WE know OUR kids.

  16. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Marg, I love the fabric book cover idea! So neat!!!

    Lovemychocolate, that is awesome that the role playing worked so well. It was also brilliant on your part to play the part of brother, rather than J. I would have blown it. ;}

    "The magic of the moment," is the perfect way of phrasing it.
  17. Not sure how old your son is; when mine was younger I would go to the people that would have the answer if I could. He was more receptive to listening if it wasn't my idea. In a case like his, I would email the teacher and tell her difficult child's concerns and what he needed to hear and then read him the email reponse.
  18. compassion

    compassion Member

    difficult child's therapist has been workin gwith her to get out of the badegring and wheedling. It is the focus on "what" and pragmatic soltuions. This week was much better. I also like the suggestion to have them deal with other people as much as possibloe. That helps a lot. I have also found that as much structure and routine as possible is optimum: to hav eit written down, to not vary it if at all possible. Comp;assion