Someone help us please :( (long sorry)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by aishacbell, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. aishacbell

    aishacbell New Member

    Hi there everybody, I'm hoping you might be able to offer me some advice on my 8 yr old son :(.

    He is on the Asperger's scale, and has Dyspraxia. I am also totally absolutly convinced he has ODD but the health visitor just wont have it and says its a 'made up disorder'.

    He argues ALL the time, every question is answered by shouting and screaming, even simple thing like what did you have for lunch, he blames his younger brother for everything, he gets really stressed if you try and talk to him.

    A typical example of what happens daily in our house -

    Son throws rubbish across the room/ spits / draws on coffee table / jumps across sofa / pushes brother over etc etc
    Mum - Why did you do that??
    SON - (Shrugs shoulders) I don't know
    MUM - But you know its wrong to do that don't you?
    SON - Yes
    MUM - So why do it?
    SON - I DONT KNOW (shouting angrily)
    MUM - I'm not shouting why are you?
    SON - I DONT KNOW (Getting louder and louder and almost crying at this point, foaming at the mouth, stamping feet)
    MUM - OK Lets count to ten to calm down
    SON - (crying) I'm tired (falls on the floor, throws arms about)
    MUM - Please get up
    SON - But I'm tired, i hate it here, (more throwing himself around)

    After about 10 mins of the 'I'm tired', he will give in and stand up. When you try and talk to him again, he just stares blankly at you, ignoring every word you say, waiting for you to finish what your saying.

    Things we have asked him not to do he does anyway. Its like he really doesn't care about what we say or have any respect for us.

    Everything is a battle.

    We don't ever shout at him, we don't smack him, though i do had to restrain myself sometimes.

    He is absolutely fine at school, teacher have no trouble with him. Lots of friends, though none of them wants to come around our house anymore because he takes over and breaks there toys.

    Everyday is a battle from the minuet he wakes up, just getting him to get dressed & brush his teeth is like WW3.

    We just don't know where to turn anymore HV isn't interested, just says, 'ignore the bad, praise the good' and get a reward chart, but they just don't work, that's just a green light to carry on.

    Help us please :(
  2. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member

    Get a new Health Visitor. What is the role of a HV anyway? I have never heard the term.

    ODD is not made up. It is a real, diagnosable disorder that is listed in the DSM-IV which is a book of mental health disorders, sort of a mental health handbook for doctors. It is published by the American Psychiatric Association.

    I know my difficult child absolutely HATES for anyone to ask her a question when she is in a mood. I try to tell her it is the only way to communicate with her, but it just angers her.
    I try to limit my questions - and turn them into statements if I can find a way.

    Who diagnosed your son with Aspergers & Dyspraxia?
  3. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member

    Oh yeah - WELCOME!! LOL!
  4. aishacbell

    aishacbell New Member

    Thank you. We saw a paediatric doctor about 6 months ago who gave him that diagnosis, we went because i thought he had ADHD but he says it more Aspergers and referred us to Occupational Therapist (OT).
  5. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member

    I think it would be good to have a multi-disciplinary evaluation done at a local children's hospital. This would be a team of doctors that evaluate your son's behavior.
    At the very least he should be seen by a neuropsychologist - there would be one on the team of doctors in the multidis evaluation.
  6. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Definitely welcome. You really have found a great place with a lot of help, comfort, humor.

    It really doesn't sound like your HV is helping at all. Charts, etc., work for many kids. They don't work for many others. Can you switch workers or is this one of the no choice things?

    Honestly, I've found asking Why my daughter did something to be a recipe for disaster. It could be discussed after the incident when eveyone was calm and even then it had to be in the lines of: "I know you were frustrated when you threw the cup. Can you think of something you could have done other than throw it?"

    A lot of times, kids really don't know the why of their anger or their actions. They just know it was in their hands and went flying. Ditto other impulsive acts -- they just did it, not thought about doing it. Aspie kids are even less likely to know the whys. At our home, the first line of "defense" was you made the mess, you clean it up. You hurt your brother, so he gets one of your toys (Mom picks the toy, not brother and it has to be a fair repayment foe the hurt). Spitting is just not acceptable to me. That would get my child removed from the room and into a quiet room faster than she could take another breath. Of course, a lot of what consequences you dole out really do have to be tempered by how severe he is on the autistic scale. Even so, if he's articulate enough to voice his anger, you should be able to give consequences that will, ultimately, turn into a cause and effect thing for your son, especially if you calmly state why his behavior has caused X to occur.

    I'm sure others will come along with other advice.

    One other thing, if you haven't done so, I'd recommend reading The Explosive Child. It really can be helpful.

    Best wishes.
  7. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Hello and welcome. I am assuming from your vocabulary and spelling that you are either in Canada or the UK.
    I know the approaches are different. If one's child is diagnosed with AS, there are services that are appropriate for your son through the school.
    Occupational Therapist (OT) is great but he may need some behavioral modification program to be done in school and at home.
    Most of our kids don't socialize well in school for a variety of reasons so I'm not sure if your son fits the criteria from your explanation. It's hard to understand how he has friends at school but they won't hang out with him outside of school. AS is a social/developmental delay.
    An evaluation by an Asperger's specialist may be in order. Start doing research on how to help your son handle his highly volatile emotions.

    I understand completely about wanting to lash out at a child who is so oppositional but that would make me feel better(then worse) and do nothing positive for my son. It's not effective.

    Your younger son is entitled to have a home that is free of fear of his brother. Keep him safe and try to balance time for each separately. Most of other easy child's suffer as a consequence to difficult child's behavior.

    Hang in there, you aren't alone anymore.
  8. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Hello and welcome!

    I echo what Meowbunny said, the book "Explosive Child" may be your best friend in dealing with a challenging child.

    I have found, too, that asking why in the heat of a meltdown just adds fuel to the fire. It is a mommy instinct to try and teach the child a lesson, or at least get them to see and admit to a wrongdoing. As a parent of a challenging child, I have had to learn to be flexible and very creative. The first thing on the priority list is to diffuse the situation. Talking about it can come later (WAY later). Find a way to redirect the child without triggering him/her.

    Yes, it seems backwards, but our kids are wired differently. They are not bad kids. They process information differently and sometimes have a hard time coping with simple questions or commands (ie, please brush your teeth).

    I agree that your child may need a more thorough evaluation. While ODD is indeed a real diagnosis, sometimes Aspergers mimics ODD.

    Again, welcome to the board, Glad you found us, but sorry you had to!
  9. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    I just wanted to add my welcome, and to say that I have been there done that, right down to the "I'm tired".

    Something to think about...Aspies often have a unique relationship with language. When my son says "I'm tired", what he means is "My brain is shorting out and you are asking me to do or say something that I'm not capable of doing right now, and I'm close to overload". Since he can't articulate all of that very well, and since overload is very draining for him (not to mention the rest of us), he has applied the word "tired". I wonder if your son is doing a similar thing when he says he's tired.

    I agree with Meowbunny and BBK that asking Why is a recipe for disaster. It is difficult to answer the question, especially if your child is struggling with impulse control issues, and then the frustration mounts when they can't produce the answer you want. It usually doesn't end well.

    With Asperger's syndrome, you often get a host of related issues, such as language processing problems, executive function problems, oppositional behaviour and defiance, etc. When your son is refusing to obey you, it might be that he can't do what you're asking him to do, rather than that he won't do it.

    My husband compares this to asking someone in a wheelchair to run down to the corner and pick up the newspaper. Until you provide the right tools, there's no way it's going to happen. And even when the tools are in place, it's not going to be easy.

    I'm glad that you found us. You'll get lots of support and ideas here.

  10. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I believe health visitors are in the UK and in that case, the whole system of diagnostics is different and not all disorders are recognized with the same leverage as in the US. She was probably fortunate to get the Asperger's recognized.

    There are going to be a lot of things that you can't change about your son so for now you need to concentrate on how you deal with him. for instance, you will likely have more success by trying to see things through his eyes than expecting him to see it through yours.

    This book has been helpful for many of us:
    [ame=""] The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated Chronically Inflexible Children: Ross W. Greene: Books[/ame]

    Help in adapting it to young children can be found here:

    Wrong Planet is a support site for those with AS and their families. You may be able to find out about some local resources there:
  11. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member

    My difficult child also has 'tons' of friends according to her. But, the phone is not ringing and she is in her room all the time, so she is not getting any invitations to hang out from these 'friends'.
  12. aishacbell

    aishacbell New Member

    Hi there, thank you very much for all of that, and yes i am in the UK!!!
    Trinityroyal - that makes a lot of sense, thank you.

    So what do we do then when he does the examples i listed? We have tried the 'naughty step' but he just sits there singing to himself and as soon as his time is up, he just carries on as normal - he shows very little remorse and doesnt seem to recognise when he has done something wrong?
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Welcome from an Aussie.

    I echo the others - get "The Explosive Child". Get it yesterday. From the library if you can, because you may need to order it in to a bookshop (it's very popular). For an advance idea, there is some discussion on it in Early Childhood.

    I also watch SuperNanny, and wonder how she would have dealt with difficult child 3. Or easy child 2/difficult child 2, for that matter! She's good, darn good, but she's mainstream and orthodox. The Naughty Chair won't work the same way with our kids, because it's focussing on naughtiness, not on catching the child out when he's good.

    Today is Autism Day, the radio said this morning. I tried to ring in and tell them, "I have two and a half kids on the spectrum," but their switchboard was jammed. There are a lot of people in the same boat as us.

    Your son needs an evaluation. You've had a doctor say he's Aspie, plus dyspraxia - red flag for misdx, in my book. It does depend on how it's all defined in your area, but Down Under, the docs we've seen have been clear - Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) is the umbrella term. Within Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) there are other categories including Asperger's and autism. difficult child 1 is Asperger's, because he has all the classic signs of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), is high-functioning and has extreme special interest and skill areas. difficult child 3 is autistic because as well as being a lot like difficult child 1, he also had quite significant language delay. He started school at 5, still with major language deficits. He has now caught up (and now he can talk, he won't shut up!) but the diagnosis of autism is for life. It includes his history, which says that he HAD language delay.

    As for ODD - it is not a 'made up' diagnosis. However, my working hypothesis (don't yell at me, people - it's just how I approach it with difficult child 3) is that ODD is induced as a result of his way of thinking/operating coupled with my original use of traditional discipline techniques, which were exactly wrong for him. By changing my discipline technique and also doing my utmost to connect with his way of operating, we are eliminating the ODD signs in difficult child 3.

    Now there may be kids out there for whom the DSM IV criteria mean that have something which makes them automatically, instinctively and permanently oppositional despite everything you try to do. If so - I pity you. At least using my methods (which mostly adopt "The Explosive Child" methods), we have seen what was called ODD in difficult child 3, evaporate.

    I suspect you will find the same.

    You're already doing some things right. By not yelling, by not shouting at or hitting him, you are already paving the way for him to model his behaviour on yours.

    Star charts can be useful in some limited areas, but if you have a particularly bright kid, he will find them embarrassingly condescending. We still have a merit system - I bribe difficult child 3 to get his schoolwork done FAST. The merit system was originally linked to his evening behaviour, which was a huge problem. For every day he didn't have a meltdown (defined as having to be sent to his room - that never worked, either, not for him) he earned fifteen minutes with me playing a computer game with him. I chose Mario Party" because it's like a fun board game and didn't need too much skill on my part. It's important for the reward to be non-material, although I have relented and he earns a packet of Maltesers for each credit. Currently he's trying to cash in credits for Wii points. But now, the meltdowns are no longer being dealt with in this way because they are far less a problem.

    I had to get into his head. Why does he do, say, feel what he does? What triggers him? What sets him off? What calms him down?

    You've had some good advice already, about questioning him when he's mentally exhausted. You need to stop and think - what are you trying to achieve? Are you trying to turn it into a lesson for him? In which case, once you get to the point where he can no longer stay focussed on the task, then drop it, you are not achieving your aim. Short bursts only, then stop BEFORE he gets to the "I'm tired" or meltdown stage. Preferably, talk about it when he's not stirred up.

    Discipline only works when the lesson is being learned from it. You should never discipline out of a desire for justice (= revenge, in the mind of the child). As a result, we accept natural consequences. If difficult child 3 deliberately knocks over a plate of cakes and they get eaten by the dog (hypothetical - we don't have cakes or a dog, plus difficult child 3 doesn't do this sort of thing) then nobody gets any cakes. The natural consequences of this are that difficult child 3 has everybody else mad at him. difficult child 3 also gets no cakes. And the dog follows him around hopefully.
    Another example - difficult child 3 wants to go outside without his coat but it's snowing. I first try to get him to wear his coat, but it's likely he's in too much of a hurry to get out and have fun. If I didn't make a federal case out of it, he doesn't have to worry about losing face in coming back and getting his coat. But if I try to argue with him about it, he will get angry and I might lose the fight (one day, I will). And then when he feels cold, he will be VERY unwilling to admit he was wrong.
    So now - if he goes outside in winter without his coat, I will put it near the door for him, for when he realises.
    Another option is to ask as he dashes out, "Do you want your blue coat or your red one?"

    These kids need choice, they need self-determination, they need to learn to control their world which for them seems so often to be out of their control. This doesn't mean handing the reins over to them, but it DOES mean letting them try, make mistakes and at least own their own decisions. Begin by letting him have freedom in choices which don't matter to you.

    Also recognise that he probably has a lot of stress at school, from trying to hold it together all day. he will need to vent and behave badly when he comes home. So instead of having him dump all his negative behaviour on you, find something very physical for him to do immediately after school. Preferably NOT team sport or anything organised; he needs to be able to control his own body in what he does. A trampoline is good. Chopping wood would be marvellous, if you could trust him with an axe. difficult child 1 used to throw his throwing knives at a block of wood against the back fence. Going for a run, alone (but supervised, if other people are around). The school day can build up a lot of adrenaline which needs to be burnt off before he can cope with being civil.

    For a while we had a jogging trampoline. We could use it indoors (good for wet weather) and it was great for burning off that extra adrenaline. Now it's computer games. They can play something violent and get the anger out of their system that way.

    But then you have to bring them back. Homework can be a huge issue, especially if they're on medications for ADHD, because when the medications wear off, it's so hard for them to stay focussed on homework. I would make it easier on them by either getting homework scheduled on a weekend, or shoving food at them as they worked. Encouraging them to work solidly for half an hour, then to reward themselves with a game, was good.

    Something else important - task-changing. This can be a HUGE trigger. No matter what the task, even if it's something they don't like, they will not want to stop it without warning. Following the evening routine was horrendous, with the list of things to do. Having the list written down on a chalk board helps.

    We find that we need to give time warnings. For a while as we established this, we had to use post-it notes. Example: difficult child 1 was playing a computer game. "difficult child 1, you need to have your bath in fifteen minutes." We would write "BATH" on a post-it note, with the time he had to go, and stick it to a corner of the monitor. We would give him a five-minute warning, and then tell him to go when he was ready. By using the note, he couldn't say he hadn't been warned. Whenever he HAD insisted, "But I never heard you tell me!" we finally had to accept he couldn't remember being told, even though we had heard him reply.

    By giving him a timed warning, we usually included, "get to a save point, or pause. Your choice." Both boys now know that when we give them a timed warning while they're playing a game, they must use the time to get to a logical point at which to stop. If this happens before the allotted time, then that's good. But if not - well, they had time in which to make a choice.

    We give a little leeway and it's paid back to us in compliance and politeness.

    Both boys had problems increasing at school, due to difficulty getting started on a task followed by the rest of the class instantly changing before they were ready. It was sequential - the tasks were changing too fast, and the boys got nothing done. Once they began correspondence, they found that they preferred to stay working on one subject at a time and finish it, rather than spend half an hour on English, then half an hour on maths, etc.

    I've gone on a fair bit, but if you take this and then think about how your son thinks and functions, you should see how you can begin to apply this.

    Remember, he is learning social skills from the way you handle him. Try and avoid punishments organised by you. Instead, natural consequences (so he can't blame you, he has to accept his own responsibility). He will shout at you now and then. Carry on as you have been. Don't punish when he's reacting out of frustration or fear, just deal with his frustration or fear first, THEN later on talk to him about how he reacted.

    And if he doesn't seem to 'get it' in an area, no matter how hard you try, then drop it. he may just be not ready to handle that yet. Either he's unable to comply, or unable to control himself sufficiently to comply in a crisis. Either way, he will be punishing himself more harshly than anything you could do.

    Stick around. Tell us how you're getting on.