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myboysmom

Undiagnosed Aspie- A mom with questions

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myboysmom

Hi all!

 

I think my 10 year old son may be an Aspie... actually, I feel pretty sure about it, but he's what some people would call "high functioning" so I can't seem to get a doctor to recognize it. Also, I'm not sure it would be beneficial for him to have the official label because he would definitely be unhappy if he felt people treated him differently.

 

Anyway, I'm here because I'm hoping to get some insight into how to make our home life smoother. Most of the time he's very happy and extremely active. He's also really smart and funny.  He's social, as long as he gets down time when he needs it, and he excels at school and in martial arts.

 

What we struggle with the most:

 

He's unable to regulate himself when he gets frustrated and if we try to help him, it seems to grow into anger and then a big argument between me and him or him and his dad.

 

So, for example, he may ask me to help him with downloading a minecraft mod. If minecraft has updated, often the mod won't have been updated yet so I won't be able to install it (well, also because he never wants to downgrade his minecraft updates). I will try to explain why I can't update it and he will either get upset with me because he thinks I'm not looking for the answer hard enough OR he'll get upset with me for trying to explain to him why I can't do it. Then he'll raise his voice and say things that I feel are disrespectful and he can't understand why I feel that way and he gets upset because I try to correct him... and the next thing you know, we're either yelling at each other or he's melting down.

 

This often happens when I can't find a solution to something that's frustrating him. He gets angry, he starts to get super frustrated, he keeps insisting that I help him, but he can't seem to answer any questions I have that might help me to help him find a solution and he disagrees with every suggestion I have using a really awful tone of voice until I get angry... and then he melts down.

 

I have no idea what to do in those situations. I've tried asking him what he'd like me to do or if he has suggestions, but that just makes him more upset. Any questions seem to make him upset...

 

I'd love any advice or suggestions you guys can offer me. 

 

Also, I wonder if any of you have or had problems sleeping alone when you were younger?  Right now, he only seems to be able to sleep if he's touching both me and his dad (one on either side).

 

Thanks for the help (and please let me know if I'm writing too much. I'm an explainer which seems to make my son really upset, so I apologize in advance if this bothers any of you as well.)

 

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Ala

It's hard to say from what you have described that this specific issue is related to autism as I imagine there may be other issues responsible for the behaviour you have described. I think that people are usually diagnosed with an autistic disorder when they exhibit a myriad of behavioural problems that are primarily related to social impairment. Anyway I may be wrong.

Perhaps your son could speak to a child psychologist in order to address these specific behavioural problem?

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jenny.wren76

Don't take his tone of voice personally. What exactly happens when he has a meltdown? Does he become violent?

What do you do to try to help soothe him when he's frustrated? If it's say lots of things to him then that's probably not actually soothing, it's just adding to his frustration.

 

I hate being asked questions, and I always have. It's just a trigger for me that will likely set me off especially if I'm already in a bad mood or if it's about a touchy subject. They are just like knives stabbing into my brain at times, and at other times they are just like giant intense eyes prying around in my thoughts. Some questions are just very invasive, and others are pointless. 
Sometimes it's better if someone asks me a question via email, text message, or just write it down on paper or a Magna Doodle. If it's written then I have more time to comprehend the

question and think about the answer. Answering is still really hard for me lots of times though.

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Ala

I hate being asked questions, and I always have. It's just a trigger for me that will likely set me off especially if I'm already in a bad mood or if it's about a touchy subject. They are just like knives stabbing into my brain at times, and at other times they are just like giant intense eyes prying around in my thoughts. Some questions are just very invasive, and others are pointless.

Sometimes it's better if someone asks me a question via email, text message, or just write it down on paper or a Magna Doodle. If it's written then I have more time to comprehend the

question and think about the answer. Answering is still really hard for me lots of times though.

I find this exact thing difficult too, however I can generally cope, how upset I get is dependent on my mood.... But yeah it can be painful... A similar kind of pain that I feel with my hyper sensitivity. I also get really frustrated if someone doesn't understand me as I find it very difficult to try and say it again in a different way.. This can be really upsetting and confusing... With my partner I feel like he is intentionally upsetting me by asking me too many questions when he doesn't understand what I am saying and I can easily end up having a melt down... I think we had a big chat about it and we figured out that at this stage I kind of need to warn him if I am starting to get upset and he will stop asking me questions..

It kind of sucks to have to construct these restrictions. :(

Edited by Alana

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Nesf

As Alana said, Asperger's is a combination of symptoms related to social communication impairment, and without the social communication problems, the doctor is unlikely to refer him. I think that speaking to a child psychologist who knows a bit about ASD is a good idea. Also, you could look at a list of ASD symptoms in children and see how many boxes he ticks, so to speak. There's a good one here http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/signs.html  Regardless whether he has ASD or not, it does sound like he has anger management issues, for which I'm sure he can get help. Also, if he's melting down, it's probably best to wait for him to calm down a bit before trying to talk or explain to him, then he's more likely to be receptive to you.

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spiderwoman0_2

Maybe you could tell your son to look for tutorials on how to work Minecraft, my son does this all the time on youtube and he won't be happy until he has sorted the problem out and he takes great delight doing everything himself.  If you find your son is getting too upset or shouty, in a low calm voice just tell him that you're not going to talk to him until he has calmed down.  Sometimes you have to push them out of their comfort zone so that they can learn and grow and deal with things better.

 

Maybe at bedtime you should get him into a routine of watching a film or his fave program or read him some chapters from a book and sit with him on his bed.  Explain to him that he is growing up and big boys don't sleep with their parents.  Have some kind of reward chart where he can earn stars for trying new things and learning to control his temper and when he reaches his goal you can give him his reward, something like going to his fave place to eat or bowling or buying a small gift.  Give him plenty of encouragement and don't worry if he get's worse because he is learning that he can't always get what he wants.

 

Always tell him that he can talk to you about anything so that if something is bothering him he will feel comfortable coming to you and telling you his problem.

 

Whatever you do, try to stay calm even if you feel like screaming at him, I've always found that if they are brought up in a calm and caring environment, it rubs off on them and they are happier.

 

Hope I've been some help and if you want to ask me anything then don't hesitate to ask.

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myboysmom

Don't take his tone of voice personally. What exactly happens when he has a meltdown? Does he become violent?

What do you do to try to help soothe him when he's frustrated? If it's say lots of things to him then that's probably not actually soothing, it's just adding to his frustration.

 

I hate being asked questions, and I always have. It's just a trigger for me that will likely set me off especially if I'm already in a bad mood or if it's about a touchy subject. They are just like knives stabbing into my brain at times, and at other times they are just like giant intense eyes prying around in my thoughts. Some questions are just very invasive, and others are pointless. 

Sometimes it's better if someone asks me a question via email, text message, or just write it down on paper or a Magna Doodle. If it's written then I have more time to comprehend the

question and think about the answer. Answering is still really hard for me lots of times though.

Don't take his tone of voice personally. What exactly happens when he has a meltdown? Does he become violent?

What do you do to try to help soothe him when he's frustrated? If it's say lots of things to him then that's probably not actually soothing, it's just adding to his frustration.

 

I hate being asked questions, and I always have. It's just a trigger for me that will likely set me off especially if I'm already in a bad mood or if it's about a touchy subject. They are just like knives stabbing into my brain at times, and at other times they are just like giant intense eyes prying around in my thoughts

When he melts down, he becomes extremely upset, he starts to cry, he makes this loud moaning sound, and often rocks or hits himself in the thighs over and over until we make him stop. He's my youngest of three kids and this is different from a temper tantrum. When he melts down, he's unable to calm down for several hours and when he calms down, he's wiped out for the rest of the day. When he melts down, he can't calm himself or express why he's upset or anything... he's not violent to us, but he will tear up things or throw thongs in his room. And he always gets very depressed and says we think he's horrible and that we wish he hadn't been born. (And we've NEVER said anything like that to him!)

I think my son must feel like you about questions... i do try to explain or talk things out when he gets upset, but it seems to make things worse. I don't know what to do about asking questions... if I don't ask questions, I'm guessing at his needs and then he gets upset because I don't get it right.

Normally I will ask him to take deep breaths to calm down, but he says that doesn't help...

The reason I think he's on the spectrum is because he has a lot of sensory issues. Like, he will say something he wears feels too loose when you can look at it and see it's really tight. He has extreme reactions to noise, he can't eat out in restaurants very often because it bothers him to see/hear other people eat.. he also can't bear to eat with metal silverware and has to eat only from special dishes and one specific cup. He's also very routine... if we have to break routine, I know it's going to lead to a melt down...

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jenny.wren76

When he melts down, he becomes extremely upset, he starts to cry, he makes this loud moaning sound, and often rocks or hits himself in the thighs over and over until we make him stop. He's my youngest of three kids and this is different from a temper tantrum. When he melts down, he's unable to calm down for several hours and when he calms down, he's wiped out for the rest of the day. When he melts down, he can't calm himself or express why he's upset or anything... he's not violent to us, but he will tear up things or throw thongs in his room. And he always gets very depressed and says we think he's horrible and that we wish he hadn't been born. (And we've NEVER said anything like that to him!)

I think my son must feel like you about questions... i do try to explain or talk things out when he gets upset, but it seems to make things worse. I don't know what to do about asking questions... if I don't ask questions, I'm guessing at his needs and then he gets upset because I don't get it right.

Normally I will ask him to take deep breaths to calm down, but he says that doesn't help...

The reason I think he's on the spectrum is because he has a lot of sensory issues. Like, he will say something he wears feels too loose when you can look at it and see it's really tight. He has extreme reactions to noise, he can't eat out in restaurants very often because it bothers him to see/hear other people eat.. he also can't bear to eat with metal silverware and has to eat only from special dishes and one specific cup. He's also very routine... if we have to break routine, I know it's going to lead to a melt down...

 

You probably shouldn't stop him from stimming by hitting his thighs. I know it's really hard to see a child doing something that hurts their body, but that's how he's able to deal with the frustration at that point. Making him stop doing that will make it worse. Does he break things before being made to stop hitting his thighs? Or is it only after? It's helpful to try to plan a way to redirect them when they aren't upset. But don't phrase suggestions as questions. Just say something like, "I'm going to make sure there's a pillow here so you can hit/punch it as much as you need to when you're upset". You should not try to make him stop moaning- when a person is in meltdown mode like that they may not even be able to understand your words that you are saying, and forcing them to be still or be quiet takes away their form of expression and they are left desperately trying to find a way to express their very BIG feelings of frustration. You should not stop him from rocking either. All of those things are self soothing measures that he is taking to help him deal with whatever has 'set him off'. It's normal to be exhausted after having a meltdown. You shouldn't be worried about trying to make him act neurotypical- that ends up just being concern about your comfort and not his. I don't mean that to sound harsh, and I hope it doesn't- I do feel it's important for you to try to understand his point of view though, and why he does those things.

My son gets really down and melts down frequently when he feels 'stupid' or just is having a problem understanding how to do something or if he's been playing online with people who are cheating/griefing. He'll be 13 this summer, and it's gotten better- but only after I've stopped trying to control his behavior. I know that hugs comfort my son, so I'll often just offer him a hug- by opening up my arms and he'll come let me hug him until he's calmed down. He also has a huge stuffed alligator that he hugs for a long time afterward. Often he needs a snack after exhausting himself.

 

I plan to get/make him a heavy lap pad, as I think that may help sooth him when he's having an upset day but hasn't melted down yet.

 

He may think that you hate him/think he's horrible because of how you react to his meltdowns. It is highly stressful to reach that point, and knowing that your behavior is upsetting others only adds to the stress/overwhelm. He already knows that he is different than other people, he just doesn't understand what the difference is right now and probably thinks he is just a failure because he can't do the things that 'normal' people can do. I think that if you were to talk to him about Asperger's it might be a relief to him at some point. He may balk at first, but knowing that he's not 'broken', and he's just different and it's not bad could really help him.

 

 

 

 

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myboysmom

Thank you Jenny.Wren76!  To answer your question, he does generally start to tear things up in his room when we've made him stop hitting and/or making the moaning sound. He's a very strong boy, so it's hard to sit by and see him strike himself... I mean, when he's just roughhousing with me (he loves to wrestle), he leaves bruises, so I can't imagine just letting him hit himself... it doesn't bother me so much with the moaning, but it makes my husband crazy because my husband is very sensitive to sound himself, especially if he's frustrated or tired...

 

You said:

 

He may think that you hate him/think he's horrible because of how you react to his meltdowns. It is highly stressful to reach that point, and knowing that your behavior is upsetting others only adds to the stress/overwhelm. He already knows that he is different than other people, he just doesn't understand what the difference is right now and probably thinks he is just a failure because he can't do the things that 'normal' people can do. 

 

We were going to a family therapist for help with his anxiety and inability to sleep alone and one of the things he told as at home was that we needed to "stop trying to change him!"  He's gotten quite upset and told us that on several occasions when we talk about the therapist helping him with sensory and/or anxiety issues. In fact, he pretty much refuses to go because of that.

 

He also gets upset if we ask "what's wrong with you?"... trying to figure out why he's upset about something. He very much seems to take it like we mean it in a "you're crazy" way, rather than trying to determine what's bothering him...

 

I suppose we have been trying to get him to behave in a neurotypical way... mostly because it seems like it would make his life easier. Like, if he could express what was bothering him, we could help him... or if he could learn to ignore hearing people chewing, he'd be able to always eat lunch at school, instead of skipping lunch because hearing his classmates chewing makes him lose his appetite. And, of course, it is also hard on our family at times... my husband and I have to take turns eating in another room because it seems like he's more aware of us eating than anyone and if we eat near him, he's constantly telling us to "stop making that noise" (believe me, we've tried, but I'm not sure how either of us could eat any quieter without just making out food into liquids and drinking them.)

 

It feels like he's going through a growth spurt or something and it's making all his sensory issues worse right now too and I feel worn down trying to manage...

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