My 9-year old son won't go upstairs on his own, even at home. He follows me to the back door if I go into the garden. I used to think he was just being difficult and annoying, but now I know that children with Asperger's or Autism are often anxious. He tells me that he feels lonely and afraid, not that I'll leave him, but of monsters and bogeymen and other vague fears that he cannot put into words.
CD needs help in so many areas: with handwriting, social skills, sensory difficulties, but the two that worry me the most right now are anxiety and anger. And they seem to be related. After meltdown month, I persuaded the local services that my son needed help urgently, and so we are now in the system. Not a lot has happened yet... a meeting with a senior registrar, some forms to complete, and then I was sent an invitation to a workshop on anxiety. It's rude not to accept help when it is offered, so I went, even though I wasn't expecting much. And, well, how wrong can you be?
There was lots of useful information about anxiety, and I came home with the tools to develop a plan that I hope will help. I now realise that CD's meltdowns are usually about something that has been brewing for some time. He will have complained about it, but he complains about lots of things. So I need to listen more carefully to his concerns in future and ask the school to do the same. That's preventative measure number one.
We were also told that children can be taught to calm themselves down, and that you should work on this every day. Four types of activities were mentioned that calm children down and organise their sensory system - not sure what that means, but it was on the handout, which will get a gold frame if it works!
I have to be realistic about what I can manage right now. So this is it...
My Anxiety KISS* List
Listen: I am going to do this.
Predictability: All upcoming outings and activities to be posted on his 'Wolf' Calendar.
Exercise: Bouncing on the trampoline, extra-curricular activities (Judo starts today), pushing Smiley, and a personal trainer (Angel): am hoping this will further improve their relationship as well :)
Deep pressure: I used to think that CD was weird when he asked me to sit on him. Now I understand.
Slow Rhythmical Movement: Rocking chair and therapy ball...
Chill Out Zone: He has his den.
Choice: I do this already - he even helped choose his new school - but I will try and add more choices.
Social Stories: I still don't quite understand these, *sighs*, and the thought of writing them is a bit scary. But apparently they can be downloaded from the internet. And I already have one idea. Now I just need to know how to use them effectively: what time of the day? How many times to read them? Somehow I don't see our current bed-time story being replaced by a social story.
Meltdown strategy: Need to work on this one and have a plan ready.
Time to press print....
I would love some feedback on this!