Monday, February 11, 2013

I'm not a bad parent, but what am I doing wrong? #aspergers #autism

Smiley's school report is almost the same every day - at least since Christmas, when I made some changes:

She was on great form today, she did some 1:1 object exploration work, went to the darkroom and participated very well in sensory sport in the afternoon.

But despite everything I've tried, aspie boy still comes home with some really bad reports.  Like today's, which read a bit like this:

He had a bad morning, refusing to do any work due to 'exhaustion'. After an hour's rest he was given his school work for the day so that he would not have to do it for homework.  He got very angry at the mention of homework and started shouting and throwing things at staff, and was also aggressive at break time. 

The exhaustion was apparently due to Sunday activities (of which more in a minute), which means he's blaming me.  The anger was due to the threat of extra homework, ie his teacher's fault *sigh*.

Sunday started off madly, with a meltdown at midnight.  It was all about fears and obsessions.  I've tried to be understanding, but sometimes they are very hard to believe.  Especially when they are not consistent.  He says it's complicated.  But I don't understand how he can run upstairs one minute to ask his sister to order pizza and then have a meltdown when I refuse to accompany him to the bathroom.  Which is what I did.  And as his meltdown got worse, I just shut down. So everyone woke up in the house and probably several ones nearby too.  It got sorted of course eventually.  And he was actually penitent the next morning, so penitent that he agreed to stick to the plan to go on an outing to a playcentre organised by a local autism group.  He thought he'd get bored, but I didn't see him for two hours!

A successful day?  Well so it seemed.

Today's behaviour just came out of nowhere.  At least to me.  What tripped his switch this time?  Could he really be exhausted 24 hours later after a bit of running around?  I am too close to see what went wrong, can you?

****You'll note that I'm writing about my son.  Again.  You see he'll be starting secondary school in 6 months time, and I don't think that this kind of behaviour will be tolerated then.  I have to find a better way of parenting.  So all insights are welcome.  And even though I have no spare time, I have signed up for RDI.  I've tried everything else....****



32 comments:

  1. Firstly, I am sending you hugs across the ocean..I know that the first thing most of us do as parents-is to say "What am I not seeing? What am I doing wrong!!?" Sometimes-the answer is..nothing..there is nothing you are doing wrong. I understand your frustration from my own experience-if that helps..Could he be very anxious about his next schooling step? My oldest was..he had terrible anxiety many months before he went to secondary school. Change really scares him-and this was a big one. Add hormones-and he was a terrible mess emotionally. Like your boy-mine would tell me "it's complicated." *sigh* What his primary school di (because my boy would NEVER have done this for me) was to start bringing him over for visits...to meet the teachers, one day he had lunch there...he was able to see what was waiting for him-what changes were in store..and it did alleviate some of his stress-not all of it by any means..but some. It took a month or so of actually attending the new school before he was really able to calm down and find some peace within himself...I do hope that maybe this helped a bit..((()))

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    1. Kathleen it helped a lot - I hadn't actually looked at secondary school anxiety as a problem (I thought it was me that had that on his behalf!). Luckily it is across the yard and I have already taken him on one visit and the boys do go over there from time to time with the school, but it still could be the root cause x

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  2. Candi, you are not a bad parent at all. Like a lot of us experience at some point, you're having a challenging spell. As for advice, I'm no expert in raising ASD children but what I have learnt is what works (sort of) for my son and daughter. If Im honest Im still learning and always will.

    Reading your extracts about school though, it sounds like there are issues relating to school life that need looking at.How far do the school understand your son and prepare him for what's to come. For example when he was given his school work was this a change to his schedule that has upset him?

    As for homework, this is difficult for a lot of autistic kids. They tend to compartmentalise their lives and not see why they have to do school work at home. We used to get massive issues with this and in the end stopped it because it was causing such distress.I'm not advocating stopping homework; you have to do whats right for your son but if its such a big deal it may be worth chatting with the school.

    Regarding exhaustion; my daughter gets this a lot. All the work that it takes for her to process the world around her causes her a lot of exhaustion so much so that she often hides under her quilt. But as soon as she's rested she is usually a lot happier and more able to do things. Maybe a few slobby days of doing nothing will help your son to feel less tired?

    Also, when you said secondary school not tolerating his behaviour do you no think they have a duty to understand his behaviour and to put in place appropriate supports? We shouldn't feel pressured to make our children conform if they just can't. To me this isn't just about our parenting but about schools accommodating and supporting our children.

    Sorry for the long post but I hope you find a way through and that RDI helps. Deb

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    1. Deb, no need to be sorry, I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to all the issues that I mentioned.

      With regard to the school, I think they are pretty good and understanding, but I am maybe not always assertive enough with them. Partly because I' not always sure that I know what my son needs - hence posts like this one.

      Homework is not so much of an issue as it was - unless he is threatened with extra work, which I think is what happened.

      I have read autism advocates talking about 'burnout' which I presume means exhaustion, but if that is the case, does that mean that outings during school term time are just too much for him?

      Well said about secondary school and supports. In an ideal world that is certainly the case, but I know that in real life it doesn't always work out xx

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    2. I think this burnout/exhaustion is a real issue for our children. Its certainly worth looking into this more. Fortunately for my daughter she is able to retire to her bedroom to rest but she can do this quite easily at the moment because she's not in school. How she'd manage this if she was in school FT I don't know. However, I have heard parents who discretely keep their son/daughter off school for a day or two to rest and recharge.Deb xx

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  3. I felt for you throughout this post. You are only human and you are only one person! You have little support and you are most definitely doing the best you can!!! None of this is your fault. Good luck with the RDI (((hugs))) xxxx

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  4. I haven't had the challenges you have but maybe it would be a little encouraging if I mention that I recognise these things - exhaustion, fury about homework, inconsistency, sometimes wanting close support, sometimes being spontaneous - in my own children (who do not have Aspergers). It may be that what you are experiencing here is what all families are challenged by in one way or another when their children reach this age; that your son's behaviour may be perfectly 'normal' for boys at this stage in their growth/schooling only it comes out in an exaggerated way because of his special difficulties. There's even the thing about girls getting on with what school offers and boys not. I've seen this in my family too. So this may also be as much about schools failing boys as it is about your son as an individual.

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    1. That's really interesting and I appreciate your perspective: he is my first boy and so a bit alien to me! My eldest daughter was a breeze at 11, so that could be another reason why I am finding it hard to cope x

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  5. xxx can't offer any constructive advice but cut yourself some slack, you are undoubtedly the best mother he could ever have xxx

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    1. I absolutely agree with you auntiegwen :) *HighFive*

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    2. Thank you auntiegwen :) and irishminx :)

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  6. Candi, you are a great parent. I seriously don't know how you do it all. Sending you much love. I had a look at the RDI, as I didn't know what it was. If you find it is not suiting you, don't stay. However, with all my heart, I hope this works out wonderfully for you. If nothing else, it will give you great insights and learning and learning is never lost.

    Warm gentle hugs xox

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    1. Even if RDI doesn't suit, I think I will learn from it xxx

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  7. My heart aches for you - always asking what you are doing wrong. Trying to be the perfect parent.
    Sometimes there's just no working kids out. They are unpredictable. And while they often tell you how they're really feeling, sometimes they just make things up for the hell of it. And I'm not even dealing with Aspergers.
    You are being the best parent you can be. And your kids are lucky to have you.
    Sending hugs x

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    1. Thanks Donna, the making things up bit really sucks, doesn't it x

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  8. Many hugs from afar... remember you are not to blame...you are looking trying searching all the time... be kind to your self.

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    1. Searching and looking are big in my life certainly x

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  9. Sending lots of hugs. I think it is so hard to find that switch. Personally I would love to find the switch and throw it deep in the ocean. With Boo the switch may be different every day. What worked today will be obscene tomorrow. Of course you shut down, how can you not? You need to be kinder to yourself. You are doing the best you can without a safety net.

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    1. Very hard when there is a different switch each time ((hugs))

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  10. ((((hugs)))))))
    Cos sometimes there are no words i can say to help

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  11. Have you ever considered it might be absolutely nothing to do with what you have done right or wrong missus... Anxiety and obsessive thoughts have no rationale at times and him lashing out over certain things might just be because he doesn't understand even himself why he's feeling a certain way so melts down over something tangible. You are a fantastic mother and have done everything possible to make life easier for him but until he figures it out himself you're only second guessing. Just be there for him and let him know that its ok to not feel ok sometimes xxx

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    1. Thank you, you have more understanding than anyone else I know xxx

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  12. Will he be at a good state school? I work at a state senior school, the staff try to be understanding, more so than Junior school staff so I hope he fairs better there.

    Home is for home stuff/school is for work...they (the school) should understand that. Junior school can be horribly inflexible - in my opinion! Hopefully senior school will differentiate the homework, meaning that some won't need to be done at all.

    Fingers crossed for you and him too.

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    1. Homework is a key problem: there is a homework club at secondary school and he has already asked can he stay at school for that, so yes, that could make a big difference :)

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  13. Candi, M came back from school with a note "he was sluggish and weepy today". When we asked him why, he said he hurt himself on the corner of a desk - but didn't say that to his SNA or the teacher. Aspie boy has a totally valid reason for feeling as he does - he may not admit it or even realize it, but he does. Don't punish yourself. It is hard to live in fear of another meltdown.

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    1. Thanks Truf, it's great to hear that M could tell you what was wrong x

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  14. Sounds so hard to know what to do. Not got any advice to offer I'm afraid, but interested to read as my nephew has high function autism.

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    1. I'm glad you found it interesting, autism is a whole different world!

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